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:

    To the surprise of absolutely no one:

    A failed Republican state legislative candidate, who authorities say was angry over losing an election last November and made baseless claims that the vote was “rigged”, has been arrested in connection with a series of drive-by shootings targeting the homes of Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico’s largest city.

    Albuquerque Police chief Harold Medina held a news conference on Monday evening hours after Swat officers arrested Solomon Pena at his home.

    Medina described Pena as the “mastermind” of what appears to be a politically motivated criminal conspiracy behind four shootings at, or near, the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators. The shooting took place between December and early January.

    Pena lost an election in November to incumbent state Representative, Miguel P. Garcia, the longtime Democrat representing House District 14 in New Mexico. Garcia won by 48 percentage points, or roughly 3,600 votes.

    Police said Pena had approached county and state lawmakers after his loss, claiming the contest had been rigged against him despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud in New Mexico in 2020 or 2022. The shootings began shortly after those conversations.
    Hartsock said additional arrests and charges were expected in the case but declined to elaborate, citing the ongoing investigation. He said some individuals, including Pena, were in custody Monday night.

    TBH, I expected these shootings to be the acts of a single person but I’m not surprised there were 5. Of course, we have trump to thank for the conspiratorial thinking running rampant on the right.

    Then, during the first week of January, shots were fired at the home of state Senator Linda Lopez – a lead sponsor of a 2021 bill that reversed New Mexico’s ban on most abortion procedures. Lopez said in a statement that three of the bullets passed through her 10-year-old daughter’s bedroom.

    But they are pro-life.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    From Brian Klaas in The Atlantic:

    Unfortunately, loosening the grip of conspiratorial thinking in politics is extremely difficult; it means trying to make the storytelling animal give up on one hell of a story. But here is one nugget of wisdom for how to start, drawn from H. L. Mencken: “The way to deal with superstition,” he wrote, “is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous.”

    QAnon is crazy. The notion that vaccines cause spoons to stick to you is moronic. Anyone who tells you that a best-selling historian is part of a secret plot to turn you into a cyborg is, with insincere apologies to Mike Flynn, a complete idiot. In the battle for reality, ridicule is a powerful weapon.

    I agree 100%. Politely reasoning with nonsense just puts the nonsense on equal footing with reality.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Did not have this on my Bingo card: Scientists steer lightning bolts with lasers for the first time

    Writing in the journal Nature Photonics, Houard and colleagues in Switzerland describe how they carted a powerful laser to the top of the Säntis mountain in north-eastern Switzerland and parked it near a 124m-high telecoms tower that is struck by lightning about 100 times a year.

    The scientists waited for storms to gather and between July and September last year, fired rapid laser pulses at thunderclouds for a total of more than six hours. Instruments set up to record lightning strikes showed that the laser diverted the course of four upward lightning discharges over the course of the experiments.

    Only one strike, on 21 July, happened in clear enough conditions for the researchers to film the path of the lightning from two directions using high speed cameras several kilometres away. The footage shows that the lightning bolt followed the laser path for about 50 metres, suggesting that the pulses helped steer the strike.

    The laser diverts lightning bolts by creating an easier path for the electrical discharge to flow down. When laser pulses are fired into the sky, a change in the refractive index of the air makes them shrink and become so intense that they ionise air molecules around them. This leads to a long chain of what the researchers call filaments in the sky, where air molecules rapidly heat up and race away at supersonic speeds, leaving a channel of low density, ionised air. These channels, which last for milliseconds, are more electrically conductive than the surrounding air, and so form an easier path for the lightning to follow.
    More powerful lasers that operate at different wavelengths could guide lightning over longer distances, he added, and even trigger lightning before it becomes a threat. “You avoid it going somewhere else where you cannot control it,” Houard said.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Yep. Pointing and laughing is far more effective than arguing.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A Baltimore man who stood trial four times for the same killing had all charges against him dropped on Friday.

    In a statement, the Baltimore state attorney, Ivan J Bates, said his office had dismissed all charges against Keith Davis, 31, who was accused of the 2015 killing of Kevin Jones, a security guard at Pimlico Race Course, after police alleged Davis’s gun matched casings found at the scene of the shooting.

    Davis maintained his innocence.

    “Today’s dismissal is about the prosecutorial missteps of my predecessor in her pursuit of a conviction at all costs,” said Bates, referring to Marilyn Mosby, the former Baltimore state’s attorney, who repeatedly brought the case to trial.

    “As state’s attorney, I have a duty to ensure justice for all, not just the victim but also the accused.”
    Davis underwent four trials, all of which resulted in mistrial or overturned convictions of second-degree murder. A fifth trial was scheduled for May, before the charges were dropped on Friday.

    “It is clear that a blatant disregard for the rules of professional responsibility and the law has permeated throughout the attempted prosecutions of Mr Davis,” Donnelly said. “The handling of the Pimlico case up to this point, as well as the timing and manner of the … charges, have caused serious questions regarding the integrity and legitimacy of any further prosecution of Mr Davis.”

    Definitely way too woke to ever be a prosecutor in Florida.

  6. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Read an interesting comment… Among Republicans, there have been two groups: in the past it has been Conservatives, and a smaller group of illiberal (anti-liberals).

    Conservatives have a core concept that could be summed up as Reaganism, while the Anti-Liberals are just, well, against anything the liberals/Democrats may propose.

    (For a humor break, watch Grouch Marx as the GOP House of Representatives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHash5takWU )

    So here we are, again, with another Debt Ceiling. And the House is filled with folks that have no understanding on how Government functions. (Some intentionally ignorant for their benefit, and some truly ignorant)

    The conservatives primed the pump with talk of defunding our government “to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

    And the Anti-liberals ran on this idea with spurs on, with no other concept of what to do or how any alternative may work. And this would be devastating for all of us except the billionaires (who are funding the anti-liberals).

    So here we go, into months of performative bullshit, intended to do nothing but create soundbites for Fox News and Newsmax.

    What the hell.

  7. Mimai says:


    Ridicule is oh so satisfying to deploy. Too satisfying in fact. Leading to indiscriminate use that is sometimes effective, sometimes ineffective, sometimes counterproductive.

    This is important to keep in mind if one is truly interested in changing (nudging) hearts and minds.

    One consideration: who is the target?

    Ridicule probably is most effective when the targets are charlatans, grifters, manipulators, etc. And even here, it is not uniquely effective (but damn, it feels so good). It’s also most effective when targeting conspiracy stories rather than conspiracy storytellers.

    Ridicule is not very effective (indeed, it is often counterproductive) when the targets are individual true believers.

    I wish Klaas had made these distinctions and cited the relevant research. Instead, I’m concerned that the take-home message is: “Ridicule works, use ridicule, and be proud about it!”

    That said, Klaas is correct — we are storytelling animals. Hence, the allure of conspiracy.

    We are also status seeking animals. Hence, the allure of ridicule.

  8. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    In the battle for reality, ridicule is a powerful weapon.

    This x 1,000.

  9. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    Ridicule has been soooo effective against Trump, as displayed by Biden and, to an even greater extent, by Obama.
    Sure, not every weapon is effective in every case. But against the grifters in the GOP…*chef’s kiss*

  10. MarkedMan says:

    This is a pretty good overview of where the Tesla self driving technology is at (no subscription needed). The reporter drives around with one Tesla owner and support who no doubt would describe himself as “fact driven” and “realistic” and has gotten cross wise with the Musk fanbois for posting video of Tesla mistakes. Despite this, he obviously is guided by wishful thinking. In the hour or two that he drives around with the reporter, his car makes multiple errors which require him to jump in and take control. If he hadn’t, they almost certainly would have had bad accidents.

    The journalist also does something that is, unfortunately rare: he takes an argument Musk makes and presents it as Musk would, i.e. in the best possible light, but then also deconstructs it and explains why it might be flawed. In this case it is Musk’s oft cited statistic that self driving Tesla’s are 1/10th as likely to have an accident while under self driving mode. But – self driving is most often used on the highway, which in general have 5 times fewer accidents than surface streets. Tesla ownership skews to California, with little rain or snow. Tesla ownership skews middle aged or older, pretty much eliminating the most accident prone metric of 25 and younger. And newer cars get in fewer accidents than older cars, although the reasons for that aren’t clear.

  11. Just nutha says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl: I’m more in the “ridiculing Trump has changed zero minds” camp, but follow your muse wherever it will lead you.

  12. Mimai says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    I want ridicule (anything, really) to be effective against Trump. I’m just not so sure it has been. Trump has been ridiculed for years. Decades. And yet he ascended to the presidency of the USA!

    And the ridicule continued. Intensified. And yet he retained his position, esteem amongst followers, etc.

    Yes, some of the shine has worn off recently. And some of that may be due to ridicule. My intuition though is that ridicule has not been the primary driver of this. So many other factors seem to be as, or more, relevant: time, fatigue, alternatives, boredom, etc.

    That said, although I’m well-versed in the broader social (neuro and behavioral) science, I am by no means an expert in the political science. So my intuition on such matters should carry little weight.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha: The reality is that ridiculing a trumper has no effect. They believe because of belief, end of story. The benefit comes from the trumper adjacents becoming embarrassed to be associated with the losers.

  14. MarkedMan says:


    And the ridicule continued. Intensified. And yet he retained his position, esteem amongst followers, etc.

    It’s not like flipping a switch. A few years ago I would hear low information friends and relatives say things like, “But after all, he’s a self made billionaire. He’s smart about some things.” I hear that much less often now. I think the steady stream of well deserved ridicule has had an effect.

  15. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @Just nutha:
    Let’s neglect the fact that the only reason Trump actually ran is that Obama RIDICULED him.
    Trump has never won a popular election, won ONE election by a fluke of math, with the aid of Putin intelligence services and, far more importantly, Jim Comey blatantly violating DOJ guidelines.
    He lost the House, and the Senate, and the White House.
    Y’all give the man far too much credit.
    Has he established a cult? Yes. So did Manson and Jim Jones.

  16. gVOR08 says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: There are two kinds of people in the world, those who divide people into two kinds and those who don’t.

    I see Reagan, along with Thatcher, as the face of neoliberalism, not “Conservatism”. Corey Robin wrote a pretty good book, The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump arguing that conservatism has never been anything but reaction to liberalism, which is to say a book length version of Cleek’s Law,

    Today’s conservatism is the opposite of whatever liberals want today, updated daily.

    Brad DeLong’s new book, Slouching Towards Utopia makes a good case that the world was getting along pretty well on Keynes and Social Democracy until the big inflation of the 70s which was taken as a failure of Keynes and SD and introduced neoliberalism as it’s replacement. So maybe now that neoliberalism has obviously failed badly we should try going back to Keynes and Social Democracy. Especially as the Great Stagflation was mostly just war and oil.

  17. Kathy says:

    I’m in the midst of a Great Courses lecture series on misconceptions in science. Not the common ones like science is magic or vaccines give you super-WiFi powers, but the simplified, incomplete way science is taught in schools.

    It’s a broad overview, so the level of detail isn’t that deep. But it has added quite a bit to some subjects I thought I knew. For instance, lift is far more complicated than the Bernoulli principle.

    Oh, and humans share 15% of their genome with bananas.

  18. Kylopod says:

    The problem with ridicule is that different people can have very different perceptions of what’s ridiculous. The right thinks the entire concept of trans people is ridiculous. Conversely, all that QAnon shit that we tend to think sounds like some demented parody, is believed in full sincerity by some people. I’ve never been able to wrap my head around the fact that millions of people take televangelists seriously; they’ve always come off to me like the most cartoonish caricature of supervillains. Yet they’ve got loads of followers who believe their every word.’

    (Trump, by the way, has long had much of the aesthetic of a televangelist, despite his very secular public personality before his rise in politics. And it isn’t something he just adopted with his rise to the presidency; he’s been involved with Paula White since the early 2000s. I’m convinced he’s consciously patterned himself off some of their beats.)

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: And newer cars get in fewer accidents than older cars, although the reasons for that aren’t clear.

    Probably the obvious: New car drivers are far more protective of their spotlessly gleaming treasure than a guy like me driving an old rustbucket p/u with a slew of dents and scratches.

  20. Sleeping Dog says:


    Saw this article earlier and I’ll second your recommendation. What’s interesting about the two owners that were interviewed, both have an overriding belief that the tech will succeed, given enough time and enough accidents. Despite one of the owners having been in a Tesla under self driving that hit a parked police car.

    A few years ago, self driving was to be the next big thing and it was imminent, but of the promoters and those developing the systems, only Musk still maintains that belief, the others have backed off from the predictions.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha: @Mimai: I’m not trying to change anybody’s mind,* I’m just trying to shut them up.

    *if they bought what trump was selling, they are disgusting sociopaths whose minds are so poisoned there is no reasoning with them to begin with

  22. MarkedMan says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl: Trump is a Republican Base Rorschach test. He is what they need him to be. It’s why I say if Donald Trump hadn’t come along someone else would have filled the spot. THEY might have practiced insanity in a different way and their specific weird-isms would manifest in unique ways, but the Base would still be the Base. Trump didn’t fundamentally change them.

  23. Sleeping Dog says:


    Oh the joys of driving a beater. Nothing eases your merge on to a crowded freeway than a beat up old pickup with a massive steel, step and tow bumper on the back. The thing screams, I don’t care, I don’t have too.

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl: “Let’s neglect the fact that the only reason Trump actually ran is that Obama RIDICULED him.”

    Yeah. How’d THAT work out for ya? But I get it. Ridiculing Trump makes you feel like a tough guy. As I said, follow your muse where it will take you.

    (And yes, I’m ridiculing you right now, is it working? I’ll guess no and await your next attempt at putting me in my place. 😉 )

  25. Mimai says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    Let’s neglect the fact that the only reason Trump actually ran is that Obama RIDICULED him.

    Accepting this as true, was ridicule effective, ineffective, or counterproductive in this case?

    Your other points seem adjacent to the question of: Does ridicule work? (which I suggested needs more nuanced framing that considers the “who” and “what”)

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I thought it was from watching him being a moron 24/7, but we all have our own articles of faith. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: The trick is to mock the belief, not the believer. Very hard to do. Biden has, I think, done good by trying to distinguish between MAGA and Republican. You’re mocking the believers, but distinguishing them from Republicans generally. (A somewhat arbitrary distinction, but it’s politics, not a doctoral thesis.)

    I like Lakoff’s truth sandwich ,

    Berkeley linguist George Lakoff recently came up with the strategy that he decided to call the truth sandwich. Here’s how to build one: Lead with the truth. In the middle of the report, briefly describe the falsehood. And then fact-check the misinformation and repeat the truth.

    “That’s the truth sandwich—reality, spin, reality—all in one tasty, democracy-nourishing meal,” Margaret Sullivan, the Washington Post’s media columnist, wrote of Lakoff’s suggested method for journalists.

    (The name is actually a bit of a misnomer, as pointed out in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, since the truth isn’t sandwiched in the middle.)

    Lakoff has said that he thinks media organizations are unintentionally spreading misinformation when they repeat lies or quote politicians who are asserting falsehoods.

    “Avoid retelling the lies. Avoid putting them in headlines, leads or tweets,” Sullivan wrote of Lakoff’s advice. “Because it is that very amplification that gives them power.”

    ‘Trump’s inaugural drew a smaller crowd than other recent inaugurals. Trump, however, tweeted his was the largest crowd ever. The Park Service no longer issues crowd size estimates, but these pictures support press estimates of X compared to Y for Obama’s first inaugural.’ And this is “Just the facts, ma’am,” without challenging a believer. The supposedly liberal MSM might argue this is partisan. But it isn’t, next time a Dem lies about the size of her inauguration crowd, fact check her.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I’ve thought for a few years now that Tesla has held back the development of industry wide self driving technology by setting completely unrealistic expectations and asserting that they have already happened when they clearly have not. I had a vision in my head about how self driving would proceed and it involved things like auto manufacturers working with shopping malls and the like to embed special transceivers and other infrastructure to allow patrons to get dropped off under a canopy and have their car go off and park itself. It would then proceed to adding similar equipment to certain roads, perhaps highways. And eventually designating specific lanes so equipped to be self driving only lanes, and then finally having certain city streets falling into this category. Instead, Musk’s claims make such steady growth seem like small potatoes, and not worth doing.

  29. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Wouldn’t even say I necessarily disagree with you. Just trying ideas on for size.

  30. Michael Cain says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I spent some years in NJ when I was young. When I moved, my aunt and uncle who lived there gave me a copy of a satirical article on “How To Be a New Jersey Driver.” One of the hints was to never repair a damaged front bumper. “Tailgating is standard in New Jersey. Nothing will get the car in front of you to move over faster than coming up behind them with the bumper they see in the rear view mirror sending the message, ‘I’m not afraid to hit things.'”

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “there is no reasoning with them to begin with…”

    Yeah. That was kinda my point. In any event, I find that being extremely introverted helps with the wanting them to shut up tuning out the inanity (but I suspect you already know that, too).

  32. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    OOOh yes…be super careful about openly ridiculing a jack-ass, because someday he might catch a few lucky breaks and actually succeed at something.

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl: Having called my shot and hit it “nuthin’ but net,” I’ll leave the conversation now. Have a good day.

  34. CSK says:

    Ridiculing Trump doesn’t negatively affect how his base sees him; if anything, it makes them more defensive about him and protective of him.

    Trump himself can’t bear to be ridiculed. He’s spent his entire life trying to be taken seriously as a powerful, important man by the Manhattan haut monde, who will forever scorn him as a loudmouthed arriviste from Queens.

  35. becca says:

    Wyoming is talking about banning EVs and Youngkin nixed a Ford plant near Richmond because China-something-something, even tho he helped China buy Smithfield a few years back. Did I mention the Ford plant would build EVs.
    De whositz of FL is also on this kick.
    Add banning EVs to gutting SS and Medicare as the GOP platform. That and tying Ukraine up in a bow for Vlad.

  36. daryl and his brother darryl says:
  37. daryl and his brother darryl says:


    …if anything, it makes them more defensive about him and protective of him.

    Which in turn opens them to more ridicule.
    As MarkedMan said, it’s not a switch.
    It is a process. And is not a stand-alone strategy, it is a tactic. A single arrow in a quiver of weapons. And as with any weapon, there are times to use it and times not to.

  38. CSK says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    I think we’re talking across one another. I wasn’t suggesting that ridiculing Trump was or wasn’t a process. I said that it bothered him, but that it didn’t negatively affect his base’s feelings about him.

  39. Sleeping Dog says:


    Musk and self driving fall into the if wishes were horses category. And I agree with you that he has probably set back the development

    @Michael Cain:

    I grew up in the greater Boston area and one could describe driving in the area as “expect the unexpected.”


    That battery plant that Youngkin’s shut down would have brought 2500 well paying jobs to one of the poorest regions of Virginia. Then look at the network effects of bringing that many jobs to an area and his decision may well cost that area around 15,000 potential jobs.

    A problem with VA holding the governor to one term is that reelection is never a consideration. It would be hard to believe that Youngkin would pull that stunt in say, NC.

  40. gVOR08 says:

    @becca: Yesterday Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution had a thing about the right wing “beating” ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing. How do you “beat” EVs and ESG? You don’t like EVs, don’t buy one. You have different ethics, put all your money in Exxon and Gazprom.

    I had something of an epiphany years ago. The Cincinnati Enquirer had a conservative columnist, sort of a local yuck Cal Thomas. He wrote a column on hybrids. He argued that all things considered they weren’t environmentally sound and didn’t save the owners any money. OK, he might have been right, I didn’t check his facts or his arithmetic. But the tone wasn’t “oh you’re making an error” it was righteous wrath “you’re evil”. I was puzzled by his tone until it hit me that he had his deeply held normative beliefs. He by gawd knew right from wrong and these uppity Prius owners felt virtuous over doing something counter to his beliefs. It wasn’t just an error to him, it was blasphemy. And it must be defeated.

  41. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    Not sure if this is the math you mentioned, but a common tactic of the anti-environment folks is that they will take the embodied carbon of the initial construction of an electric vehicle and then compare that to the initial construction of a fossil fuel vehicle and draw their conclusion.
    What they fail to mention is that the fossil fuel vehicle continues to create carbon throughout it’s life.
    A proper analogy is if you take two glasses to represent the vehicles. You fill the one up, representing ev, to say .75 or whatever. Then you fill up up the ff glass to say .25. The represents the initial carbon. But what gets conveniently left out is you have to KEEP ADDING to the ff glass and it will soon eclipse the ev.
    Having said that…I’m a gear head. While I embrace electric vehicles and hybrids, I will never willingly give up my fossil fuel vehicles.

  42. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: I expect the real initial opportunity for self-driving vehicles to be in long distance trucking. I’d be happy with a self driving car that could handle Interstate cruising and wake me up when it was ready to exit or was approaching a high traffic area. Tax payers (and mall owners) have put a fortune into roads, traffic control, and parking lots to support cars. Economically and environmentally, if self driving cars are going to require huge additional infrastructure investments, I’d rather see the money go into public transit. And not into things like Musk’s (didn’t he fold it or sell it) use a commercially available boring machine to make a tunnel and run Teslas in it. Someone, I thought Yglesias but I can’t find it, did a good column recently about transit agencies putting money into fancy or trendy things when they should be concentrating on ridership. Put the routes where people want to go.

    Has anybody tried applying ChatGPT to spell checking? I looked back and found “Interstellar cruising”.

  43. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    No, but I bet a bunch of people in the squishy middle are effected by the ridiculousness of the man.

  44. gVOR08 says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl: Like I said, I didn’t care enough to check his arithmetic or his assumptions. Part of it was likely assuming you’d have to replace the very expensive battery every X years. Last I heard the standard Prius owner answer to “how long do batteries last” is “I don’t know, I’ve never replaced one”. His basic error was probably that he was evaluating infant technology and making no allowance for evolution. (Complete aside -I find evolution to be a hugely powerful concept in many areas besides biology. But a concept many people seem unable to grock.) (In my previous comment I bitched about spell check. That grock came out frock.)

  45. CSK says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:
    I have little doubt about that. I wonder how many voters he lost between 2016 and 2020.

  46. Michael Reynolds says:

    Ridicule is a rhetorical tool, and like all tools it works best when used properly and in the right circumstances. If the goal is to knock someone down to size you need to know their vulnerabilities. If you’re knocking a person down for the benefit of a third party, you want to know their sense of humor and prejudices. Or, if you’re dealing with @JKB or similar you use ridicule just because it’s fun.

  47. MarkedMan says:


    if self driving cars are going to require huge additional infrastructure investments, I’d rather see the money go into public transit.

    This is probably a valid point but I suspect events and attitudes will overtake it. At some point it will be materially safer when cars are self driving and certainly more convenient and the pressure to accommodate them however necessary will become overwhelming. Eventually we will get to the point where anyone in an accident that wasn’t using a self driving mode will be viewed as “liable unless proven innocent”. And sufficiently intelligent self driving cars will help alleviate traffic jams and cars smart enough to talk to each other and the infrastructure could nearly eliminate them (think about the typical highway merge where two lanes come into one and imagine that the cars space themselves with gaps to allow a ‘zipper merge’ at full speed). Given such benefits cities will ban human drivers in more and more places.

  48. DAllenABQ says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Mr. Pena is also a convicted felon. He did 7 years for running a burglary ring that targeted big box stores. Felons are not prohibited from holding office in New Mexico.

  49. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: As I said above, my gut tells me that ridicule of trumper beliefs has a net benefit but I wouldn’t bet any money on it. But I separate “trumper”, which I use to designate people who and are attracted to conspiracy theories and loudmouths who act tough, from Trump himself. The trumpers were who they were long before Donnie J. came along and will remain who they are after he’s forgotten. That said, I have no doubt that ridicule is effective against Trump himself. A big reason that people are attracted to him is because they see him as a tough man, as a bully, and they want to be the Grover Dill to his Scut Farkus. But Trump loses all appeal to them if they see him not as a bully, but as a clown.

  50. Jay L Gischer says:

    @MarkedMan: Of course, I demur. Particularly from H.L. Mencken, whom I understand here to be talking his book. His whole game was making fun of people, mocking and demeaning them from morning to night.

    Shaming makes people shut up, but it doesn’t change their mind or behavior.

    What works doesn’t work fast, which is why shaming gets traction, because it does work fast.

    But to neuter the belief, one has to alter the ecosystem the belief flourishes in. Why are there, for instance, Flat Earthers? I think it because science has become (necessarily) more authoritarian. There was a time when you could fly a kite in a lightning storm yourself and verify what Ben Franklin said – that it was electricity. And most of Priestley’s experiments, or Faradays, could be easily carried out by anyone. There were magazines once upon a time that showed one how to do science for oneself.

    I cannot do experiments on the Large Hadron Collider myself. I cannot go to space myself (though that day is coming), and observe the spherical properties of Earth.

    Belief in a Flat Earth is a declaration of independence, “I’ll think what I want, not what those awful teachers commanded me to think”. It’s teenage rebellion of a sort. It’s school hating. That energy needs to resolve itself through reconciliation with the past, and/or find new outlets. Maybe a crusade against abuse in the classroom – which I’m sure did happen. We’ve all heard horror stories about that one bad teacher.

    Fundamentally, my way of dealing with this sort of thing is to direct those energies elsewhere and let the belief wither away. This does work, we did it in the dojo. People have lots of superstitions about how martial arts work, we don’t mock or demean those beliefs-we try not to mention them at all- just have them work on things that do help them.

  51. CSK says:


    But the Trumpkins could never admit even to themselves that Trump is a clown, because that would completely undermine not just their faith in him, but their own judgment.

  52. Stormy Dragon says:
  53. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Michael Cain: I grew up in NJ. That was required reading in my driver’s ed class.

  54. MarkedMan says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Why are there, for instance, Flat Earthers?

    Here’s where we differ: I don’t think there is any purpose in trying to change the mind of a flat earther. They believe what they believe for reasons unfathomable and I suspect that even if you were able to sow some doubt, the weeds would re-infest before the seeds took hold. So, mock or don’t mock, ridicule or not, makes no difference wrt the flat earther. The target of the ridicul-ing is different than the target of of the ridicule – it’s the flat earther’s cousin or coworker or drinking buddy who has not yet gone completely down the rabbit hole.

  55. MarkedMan says:

    Came across this and randomly saw in the comments that one Zachary Fox had presciently tweeted on September 30 last year, “Highly recommend getting off the Kanye train before the inevitable “Hitler was a good guy” stop.” Nailed it!

  56. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I read awhile ago in a source I can’t remember, that conspiracy theories are popular, in part, because they tell a story. This is partly why debunking/fact checking isn’t terribly effective, they don’t tell a story.

    One of the ways to combat disinformation/conspiracy type thinking is to show how the actual facts fit into narrative and story of their own.

  57. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Double post deleted.

  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Here on our twisty narrow assed roads with all the half drunk, lane crossing hillbillies on them it’s almost a necessity for survival.

  59. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: (but I suspect you already know that, too).

    Yep, I also have a lot of stickers on my truck guaranteed to keep them far away from me just in case I might infect them. Every now and again tho, I am confronted with the crazy and the quickest way to get them to move on is laughing at their inanities.

  60. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DAllenABQ: But they are prohibited from having guns. Mr Pena is in more and more trouble with every passing moment.

  61. Stormy Dragon says:


    Here’s where we differ: I don’t think there is any purpose in trying to change the mind of a flat earther. They believe what they believe for reasons unfathomable and I suspect that even if you were able to sow some doubt, the weeds would re-infest before the seeds took hold.

    Rational argument can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into to begin with.

  62. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Well put

  63. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: But if your decisions are without downline consequences to you because you can’t stand for reelection, why choose the maliciously destructive thing to do unless you actually believe the “China-something-something” bs you’re spewing? If Youngkin is either a malicious douchecanoe or a true believer in “anti-China-something-something,” that’s on the citizens of Virginia. If they don’t want right-wing-nutjob policies, don’t elect right-wing nutjobs.

    Part of the problem of debating whether RCV or something else would be better for outcomes is that you can’t get better outcomes with the same stupid voters you have now. The people of Virginia have gotten the government they deserve–one that said “no” to ~2500 good-paying jobs and the rolling effectgs that come from economic growth because “China-something-something.” So yeah, karma’s a beyotch.

    And Generalissimo Franco is still dead, too.

  64. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: The potential benefits of self-driving cars are indeed huge. The cost of driving in man-hours is massive without getting into counting body shop and medical bills. Any disagreement we have is over timing and probabilities. Like fusion energy, it’ll be wonderful when it happens, but it would be imprudent to assume it in current planning. Self driving cars are the future of transportation, and may be forever.

  65. MarkedMan says:

    Drum references a study that seems to show that while different countries fared better or worse during COVID 19, they clumped more by size and by location, at least as far as highly developed countries go. Among large countries, the US ended up slightly better than average wrt to excess deaths (considered a more reliable metric than deaths attributed to COVID). The Nordic countries did significantly better, even Sweden, which reopened way earlier than Norway in what many considered a reckless move. They had only a slightly higher death rate than Norway and still way below the bigger countries. Asian countries, despite their size, did better than the Nordic countries and dramatically better than the big Western countries. Why the countries clump the way they do is a mystery. Here’s the money quote:

    Nor did anything else studied by the authors make much difference:

    Our primary finding is that almost no form of pandemic preparedness helped to ameliorate or shorten the pandemic. Compared to other countries, the United States did not perform poorly because of cultural values such as individualism, collectivism, selfishness, or lack of trust. General state capacity, as opposed to specific pandemic investments, is one of the few factors which appears to improve pandemic performance.

    In other words, what’s important is not so much preparedness as the willingness to take quick action. That willingness is found mostly in countries that have experienced a recent pandemic and are therefore on alert for a new one.

    From this Drum concludes that there is not much we can do but I would disagree. First, in this pandemic the R number (a measure of how fast the virus spreads) started out too high too and only got worse with each variant. That’s why the message was “flatten the curve” so as not to overwhelm hospitals. But with a different variant with a lower R number we might see real differences in effectiveness of responses. Second, flattening the curve made a huge difference. After an initial horrible run on hospitals and equipment we mostly staved a repeat of that nightmare (except for the trumpiest areas) until we got a vaccination.

  66. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: It’s hard to say how many votes he lost considering that he got a larger total of votes than in 2016, but from a larger pool of voters. I would still guess that, because of the sorts of institutional factors some keep complaining about Dr. Taylor turning to, the number of votes lost was negligible. It may have been the increase in and distribution of votes that put Biden over the top more than people being swayed by Trump’s amazing incompetence.

    I do know that in the county that I live in–which has a fairly stable voter base because we’re mostly geezers here–Trump looked to have lost about 10% of his vote from 2016.

  67. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR08: Oh, I’m not making any prediction in timing. But there is a certain inevitability to it. I’ve lived long enough to see dozens of awkward, barely usable technologies end up taking over and becoming ubiquitous. If they really do offer a value, they eventually become reliable enough to use by non-hobbyists, and then they really start to take off.

  68. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yeah, but the real quickest way is to move on while they’re inanitizing. Rude, but effective.

  69. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Part of the problem of debating whether RCV or something else would be better for outcomes is that you can’t get better outcomes with the same stupid voters you have now.

    A bit of a tangent from what you were discussing (VA’s consecutive term limits on governors), but in general when I advocate for electoral reforms such as RCV or national popular vote, I avoid trying to imply it automatically will produce good outcomes. NPV gave Brazil Bolsonaro. RCV gave New York Eric Adams. (Okay, that was a low blow. I don’t actually believe Adams is in any way comparable to Bolsonaro in suckiness, but having NYC’s first experiment with RCV lead to his election did not, shall we say, give a good first impression for this method.) I tend to focus more on the idea that these reforms do a better job of representing the public will. If they end up electing a terrible candidate through these reforms, that’s when I’m willing to say the public got the outcome it asked for–for better or worse. I’m not willing to say that about 2016 or 2000.

  70. JohnSF says:

    Some news from Europe:
    The magnitude of the basic shift in the European energy markets is to some extent getting missed in the daily noise.
    EU states now import more natural gas from the US than from Russia; combined with other sources, the majority of Russian supply has been substituted.
    The remainder is being covered by reduced demand (especially domestic) eg in Germany.

    The other side is that, contrary to some dire predictions, European industry has NOT collapsed. On current indicators, Europe can sustain indefinitely at this level.
    German GDP figures for 2022 show overall growth of 1.9%; even for Q4, GDP not falling.

    Train done gone, Vova.

  71. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    It’s hard to say how many votes he lost considering that he got a larger total of votes than in 2016, but from a larger pool of voters.

    For what it’s worth, according to CNN’s 2020 exit polls, of voters who said they backed Clinton in 2016, 95% voted for Biden. Among 2016 Trump voters it was 92% for Trump in 2020.

    This looks to me like statistical noise, though it possibly suggests there was slightly more defection away from Trump than toward him.

  72. JohnSF says:

    Oh, and another aspect is, tens of billions are being spent on LNG terminals, associated pipelines and re-gasification plants. Probably hundreds of billions counting investment in export terminals, and the money put into boosting North Sea output.

    No serious politician in EU is now going to say, even after the war is over, “OK, now we just chuck all that money down the drain and go back to Russia.” Not going to happen.

    The Russian hydrocarbon trade in Europe is dead as a doornail; and Russian Urals oil is still trading at a discount of around 50%.

  73. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: @Kylopod:

    I wonder how many he’s lost since 2020?

  74. Kathy says:


    So, the solution is to develop fusion-powered self-driving cars.


  75. Kathy says:


    His basic error was probably that he was evaluating infant technology and making no allowance for evolution.

    You’d think it would be hard to miss how computers started out as massive, energy-intensive, difficult to use machines, and now are small, energy-efficient, and so easy to use even Benito’s voters use them.

  76. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Youngkin’s fancies himself presidential material. Being tough on China, he believes will be of benefit in the R primaries. He’s delusional.

  77. CSK says:

    Trump said today that he and his team will “handle [DeSantis] the way I handle everything” if DeSantis challenges him for the nomination in 2024.

    I’m afraid to ask what that means.

  78. Kylopod says:


    I wonder how many he’s lost since 2020?

    Depends what you mean. I’m sure there are a nontrivial amount of 2020 Trump voters who are seriously thinking of backing someone else in the primary. But I’m also sure the vast majority of those people won’t hesitate to back Trump in the general if he’s the nominee again.

    I’d guess that the number of 2020 Trump voters who are actually not willing to vote for him over a Democrat again is negligible.

  79. DAllenABQ says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yes he is prohibited from possessing a gun. I represented more than a handful of folks on federal felon in possession charges. Good times.

  80. JohnSF says:

    On the more military side of the war in Ukraine, the UK joins the countries supplying main battle tanks, and will be the first to send full-on NATO ones.
    Poland is planning to send Leopard 2’s but Germany is still baulking at transfer approval.
    Other countries have sent T-72’s, often much upgraded versions; Poland has also sent PT-91’s based on the T-72, but so upgraded and modified as to be a virtually new, and rather formidable at that.

    Announcement of supply is:
    Squadron (14) of Challenger 2 tanks with ARV support
    AS90 155mm guns. 1 battery of eight guns at high readiness and two further batteries at varying states of readiness.
    “Hundreds more” armoured vehicles will also be sent including Bulldog
    Manoeuvre support systems, including bridging, minefield breaching etc.
    Additional 100,000 artillery round.
    More missiles including GMLRS rockets, Starstreak SAM, and medium range SAM
    Equipment support package of spare parts.

    14 tanks may not sound much, but the UK problem is army politics since the early 2000’s have meant the heavy mob has been neglected in favour of the Special Forces/light infantry/air mobile lobby.
    UK now has only 225 odd MBT remaining in service, out of five hundred purchased.
    Total number of Challenger 1 and 2 was at one time near a thousand. Now the repairs/spare side has so rotted, it’s apparently hard to keep a hundred actually in fully operational condition.
    Still, even 14 Chally’s are no laughing matter, in an integrated armoured force.
    Hopefully it will breach the dam in Berlin; and/or encourage the US to send some Abrams.

  81. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod: I’m convinced that a lot of NYC voters are “liberals” in that they want colorful gay people and Broadway musicals, and want to feel good about helping the poor so long as they don’t have to see the poor.

    They are electing someone to either solve the problems of the largest, densest city in America or just sweep the problems under the rug and they don’t really care which. I’m sure they would prefer solving over sweeping, or even better solving and sweeping, but sweeping is good enough.

  82. MarkedMan says:


    If they end up electing a terrible candidate through these reforms, that’s when I’m willing to say the public got the outcome it asked for–for better or worse.

    This is essentially my ongoing and interminable argument with Steven. The reason the US constitution is chock full of checks and balances is to achieve good governance despite the vagaries of individual elections. More and more I’m convinced that while all these alternative voting schemes might better represent the will of the moment, they don’t add to the checks and balances needed for actual effective governance. In fairness, I will admit that I don’t really understand them well enough to say that outright, though.

  83. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: Another way to say this: Most people of any political persuasion are primarily concerned about their own problems and issues. Given this reality, it’s a miracle we make progress at all, but we do.

  84. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s been under-appreciated just how much long-term damage has been done to Putin’s oil bidness. It will be years before he can replace what he’s lost in customer base, if he can find new markets at all. It’s not just the billions he’s losing today, but the hundreds of billions over the next decade, and the knock-on effect of all that lost revenue on military preparedness, basic and applied research, etc, made worse by what appears to be a substantial brain drain. This is the strategic objective: to gut Russia economically, to so retard their technological development that they fall ever further behind.

    Putin’s a fool, still fighting the Great Patriotic War. His larger problem, long-term, is China. There are hundreds of millions of Chinese pressed up against a weak and dependent Mongolia and an almost completely unpopulated Siberia. Illegal Chinese immigration is swelling the numbers of Chinese in Russia, and the economic interests of Russians in the far east will increasingly align with China. Not thinking in terms of invasion, but you can’t fool geography and demographics for long.

  85. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Agree on the Russian hydrocarbons trade; by the time it’s fixed the damage, IMO the global hydrocabon markets are going to be dwindling away.
    First US/EU/G# will turn to net zero; and once they have you can bet heavily that “carbon footprint tariffs” on imports will follow.
    And Russia is now a high-cost producer; there’s good reason it has wanted western oil firms as development partners: for the finance, and technology, and management that won’t rob the whole thing down to the floorboards the moment they get the chance.

    But as for China re Siberia, I don’t know. The population of China now shrinking.
    Short of climate change turning Siberia into a temperate paradise, I expect the Chinese to stay right where they are, and simply buy anything they need from Siberia from the Russians.
    At a discount.

  86. gVOR08 says:

    @JohnSF: Thank you. I had seen the Britswere supplying a squadron of Challenger II MBTs, but hadn’t taken the time to find out how many in a squadron. As you say, fourteen isn’t much, but it’s not nothing.

    The missile that hit Dnipro is supposed to have been a Kh-22, a supersonic anti-ship missile, repurposed for ground attack and apparently not very accurate. But Ukraine has nothing that can intercept it. Only the most capable anti-missile systems, like the U.S. Patriot can intercept it. I saw yesterday what purports to be video of 100 Ukrainians arriving at a U.S. Army base for Patriot training.

  87. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I would like to say “hopefully enough to keep him off the GQP ticket in 2024, but that only means that DeSantis or someone worse gets the nod. I’ll stick with “don’t care, how Republiqans screw themselves is their own business.

  88. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: “I’m convinced that a lot of NYC voters are “liberals” in that they want colorful gay people and Broadway musicals, and want to feel good about helping the poor so long as they don’t have to see the poor.”

    Isn’t that what most people mean when they say “I’m pretty liberal?”

  89. Matt says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Well that and newer cars have safety features that older cars. ABS, traction control, stability control, auto adjusting cruise control, collision mitigation stuff. A whole slew of fancy stuff to help people avoid accidents are found on newer cars.

  90. Matt says:

    @MarkedMan: Thus a new market to jailbreak your car to always give you right of way and the fastest path is born…

    While your future sounds great it will not work that way in reality.

  91. Beth says:

    I have have to get this out of my brain or it will eat me alive.

    My partner just walked out of the bathroom, and out of absolutely nowhere asked “is A. J. Pierzynski a right wing nut job?”

    I mean, he’s a baseball player so, yes?

  92. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    What I think might happen in 2024 is that DeSantis will get the Republican nomination, Trump will run as a third party (MAGA Party) candidate, and a Democrat (Biden or someone else) will win the general election.

  93. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: I’m reminded of what David Plouffe said at the notion that Sarah Palin might be the 2012 Republican nominee for president: “Something tells me we won’t get that lucky.”

  94. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..What I think might happen in 2024 is that DeSantis will get the Republican nomination, Trump will run as a third party (MAGA Party) candidate, and a Democrat (Biden or someone else) will win the general election.

    I’m going to save this comment so I can find it after the 2024 President USA election. I want a Democrat to be inaugurated in January 2025 and I want large Democratic majorities in both houses of the United States Congress. While I’m at it I’d like majority Democratic State governments too.
    But since I can not predict the future I have no idea how things will shake out.
    Like some wise old guru once said: “Wish in one hand and sh!t in the other and see which fills up first.”

  95. CSK says:

    Palin had lost a lot of her luster by that point.
    @Mister Bluster:
    If Trump’s still alive in 2024, he’ll do this.

  96. Kylopod says:

    @Mister Bluster: This is roughly how I imagine the election would play out in this scenario.

  97. Kylopod says:


    Palin had lost a lot of her luster by that point.

    In retrospect Plouffe’s comments may arguably have been premature and unwise, since we now know a lot of Dems felt the same way about Trump when he first entered the 2016 race. Of course Trump and Palin are not the same, but the bottom line is that we don’t know how she’d have fared in a presidential race running for the top of the ticket, because in the end she never tried.

    Of course all that’s neither here nor there. I just was reminded of the quote because it sums up how I currently feel about the scenario of a three-way race in 2024 with a Democrat, a Republican, and Trump on the MAGA ticket. The link in my previous comment sums up how I imagine the map would look.

  98. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I have no idea whatsoever about the next election. The scenario you paint, doesn’t seem likely to me, but what do I know?

    Ah, but a [person’s] reach should exceed [their] grasp, or what’s a Heaven for?

  99. DrDaveT says:


    My partner just walked out of the bathroom, and out of absolutely nowhere asked “is A. J. Pierzynski a right wing nut job?”

    Former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillén summed up the situation as, “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.”

    National Review once published an article with the title Even A. J. Pierzynski Doesn’t Deserve This

    RWNJ? Wouldn’t surprise me, but I don’t have any direct evidence.