Wednesday’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. charon says:

    This appears to me like a super spreader event in progress:

    $15,000 Fine after secret Hasidic wedding draws thousands of guests–and hardly a mask in sight

    Pretty shocking photo:

    Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered to celebrate a wedding inside a cavernous hall in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood earlier this month, dancing and singing with hardly a mask in sight. The wedding was meticulously planned, and so were efforts to conceal it from the authorities, who said that the organizers would be fined $15,000 for violating public health restrictions.

    The wedding, organized on Nov. 8 by the leaders of the Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, is the latest incident in a long battle between city and state officials and members of the ultra-Orthodox community, who prize autonomy, chafe at government restrictions and have frequently flouted guidelines like mask-wearing and social distancing.

    Compared to the size of this event, a $15,000. fine looks like a minor incidental expense.

    The photo is comparable to a crowded sports arena (I don’t know if you can see it without a NYT subscription).

  2. CSK says:

    The photo is eminently visible. Yes, it does look very much like a superspreader event.

  3. CSK says:
  4. charon says:

    Somehow, the concept of an “asymptomatic carrier” is something people just instinctively resist with all their might, even when we already have all these cultural references to it (“Typhoid Mary” etc)

    People who aren’t showing COVID-19 symptoms but have the virus are causing most of the spread, the Centers for Disease Control said in a new guidance.

    In most COVID-19 cases, people do not begin to show symptoms, such as coughing, fever and shortness of breath, for about six days after they are infected. During that time span, people are highly infectious and typically unaware that they have the virus, leading to unintended spread. People can also be asymptomatic and have the virus but never show symptoms.

    “Most SARS-CoV-2 infections are spread by people without symptoms,” the CDC said. “CDC and others estimate that more than 50% of all infections are transmitted from people who are not exhibiting symptoms. This means at least half of new infections come from people likely unaware they are infectious to others.”

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Headline of the day: Lame Duck pardons Turkey.

  6. CSK says:

    We have a winner in that one.
    Is it me, or is Melania’s hair getting blonder? Are her eyes getting slittier?

  7. Jen says:

    @CSK: She’s very much blonder. My guess is that she’s graying–it’s less noticeable when your hair is much lighter, therefore less frequent touch-ups required.

  8. CSK says:

    I assume the blonde highlights are covering up the gray.
    She really ought to curtail the plastic surgery; she’s beginning to resemble a space alien.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Are her eyes getting slittier?

    I read that as “shittier.”

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: I tell my wife that I’m getting blonder every day.

  11. CSK says:

    Well, six of one…
    That woman’s appearance is very unsettling. She has always, to me, resembled the evil mistress of a high-ranking Nazi in a WWII movie.

  12. Michael Cain says:

    I’m sure it won’t stand up, but his heart is in the right place. He wants to keep from filling his local hospitals with people from the neighboring county that refuses to implement tighter restrictions despite worsening pandemic numbers.

    Longmont mayor wants to restrict hospitals’ treatment of Weld County residents due to lack of COVID-19 response

  13. grumpy realist says:

    @Michael Cain: …it’s progressing along the lines I suspected….

    Societies end up with the ethics they can afford.

  14. CSK says:

    @Michael Cain: @grumpy realist:
    But suppose an individual resident did comply with the regulations, and despite his or her best efforts, contracted Covid-19 anyway? Should that person be denied care?

  15. JohnMcC says:

    @CSK: Depends on the results of a biopsy of that person’s wallet?

  16. CSK says:

    How so? I know you’re joking, but I don’t get it.
    Fortunately, I live in a town, county, and state that takes Covid-19 very seriously. (Massachusetts is supposed to be the gold standard for prevention.) Despite that, people still contract it; two towns adjacent to me are in the red zone. This isn’t the fault of public health practices or the town residents; the latter seem to do all they can.

    But suppose I lived in a place where people were careless? I could mask up, practice social distancing, hand-wash, and seriously limit my grocery shopping (I’m not doing any other kind of shopping at the moment), and I still come down with corona because the people I encounter are fools. Should I be penalized?

  17. Kathy says:


    In Babylon 5, Marcus once says something like “Wouldn’t it be terrible if life were fair, and all these awful things happen to us because we deserve them?”

    COVID-19 is extremely unfair. A Covidiot can flout all mitigation measures, and contract a fully asymptomatic course. They may also spread it to others who take all precautions, and who may not be so lucky on how the infection progresses. There’s nothing fair about that.

    At work, masks are mandatory, to be worn at all times. But there are plenty of exceptions for taking them off for short periods, when having coffee, say, or going to the parking lot for a smoke. That’s the least of it. There is no enforcement for those who don’t wear them, in particular when they are the owners and high executives. We get plenty of emails and signs reminding us to wear masks, and instructions on how, but no enforcement over those who wear them wrong.

  18. CSK says:

    Oh, I understand. And I sympathize.
    But here’s the problem: When someone’s brought into a hospital, do you deny him or her care solely because that person comes from a place known to flout the Covid rules? How do you know for sure that that individual person wasn’t sufficiently careful to observe the various protocols concerning prevention?

    This is not a good precedent to establish. A great many lifestyle choices can cause or contribute to serious illness: obesity, addiction to drugs, alcoholism, lack of exercise, etc.

  19. Kathy says:

    You know, the Trump touched on a valid point over the weekend. He said COVID isn’t just running rampant int eh US, but in other countries as well.

    Never mind he admitted the pandemic is a problem for the US, he is right: there have been way too many infections in a second wave in countries that had managed to control the spread. Look at the daily case graphs for France, Spain, Italy, Holland, etc. Not to mention the basket cases in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and others.

    I know the problem in Mexico. Too little testing, too little federal coordination, and no support, too many covidiots, etc. But what gives in other countries, especially in Europe? Is it as simple as mroe people gathering indoors, or is there more to it?

  20. CSK says:

    I think in Italy the surge was attributed to indoor gatherings. When the restrictions were reimposed this past October, there were riots. This is awful.

  21. charon says:


    Look at the daily case graphs for France, Spain, Italy, Holland, etc.

    EU v. U.S. compare and contrast.

  22. mattbernius says:


    Headline of the day: Lame Duck pardons Turkey.

    I wish I could find humor in this. The Turkey Pardon ceremony is something that really needs to go in general, but especially in a year where (1) Trump and Barr reinstated and expedited Federal Executions, and (2) are continuing to carry them out until they are out of office.

    As part of Biden’s criminal justice reform platform, he needs to push Congress to eliminate the Federal Death Penalty.

  23. CSK says:

    So…any bets on if and when Sidney Powell plans to file that “biblical” lawsuit in Georgia today? She’s been threatening to do it for the past couple of days, hasn’t she?

    Even some Trumpkins are getting to the “oh, ffs, put up or shut up” stage of the game.

  24. Kathy says:


    That’s what’s so infuriating about Europe: they had controlled the spread rather well.

  25. mattbernius says:

    My previous posting about the reinstatement of the federal death penalty under Trump was the shot. Here is the chaser, he’s also actively trying to bring back firing squads and the electric chair. To some degree, I hope he’s successful in so much as maybe that’s what it will take to finally ban the fucking thing outright (at the Federal Level at least, because USA).

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Heh, I can see the resemblance.

  27. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: If a state is worried about running out of supplies/access for its own inhabitants (taxpayers), it’s not going to care if the person in the other state over was masking properly or not. Your own state should be taking care of you.

    Especially heinous, such as in this case, where the territory that is being sloppy about masking is saying “oh well, we can always depend on using the hospitals over there.”

    I’ve gotten extremely allergic to the whine “but it’s not FAAIR!” Mainly because I’ve been hearing it over and over again from people who aren’t prudent, don’t take care of themselves, and then whine like crazy when the expected effects hit like a load of bricks.

    This is the territorial equivalent.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mattbernius: As part of Biden’s criminal justice reform platform, he needs to push Congress to eliminate the Federal Death Penalty.

    While I agree with you, my only response is “Good luck with that.” because as long as Mitch and friends control the Senate, it is DOA. Republicans love to punish people, nothing else matters to them.

  29. CSK says:

    And she would be the one who devised the most diabolical means of torturing hundreds of thousands of Jews.

    Speaking of loathsome creatures, the NYTimes had an article today about how Jared and Ivanka are expanding one of the “cottages” on the grounds of Bedminster as a residence, it having finally dawned on them that they won’t be any more welcome in Manhattan than Trump himself.

    I’m sure Ivanka will revel in her exile to New Jersey, away from the Met Gala and, indeed, her place on the lowest rung of the NY haut monde. Poor thing. She worked so hard to claw her way up there, and now Daddy’s spoiled it all for her.

  30. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:
    I think the article said that it was the next county over, not the next state, so they would indeed be caring for instate residents. But so what? Is there anyway to prove that any potential Covid-19 sufferers didn’t follow the protocols?

  31. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I have to, respectfully, disagree that nothing but punishing people matters to GOPs. What matters to them is doing whatever their plutocrat funders want. That they also get to punish people, especially those people, is just icing on the cake.

  32. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That’s not the way I misread “slittier”.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: You have a point.

    @gVOR08: Heh.

  34. CSK says:

    Let me guess. Sluttier?

  35. Michael Cain says:

    @CSK: No argument that those are all appropriate considerations. In this case, there’s the added complication that the county that isn’t enforcing precautions is also rural enough that they’re part of the perennial rural health care crisis — a shortage of beds, particularly for specialized care, so they often go to the adjacent denser county for specialty care. That’s okay in normal times. The questions are harder? different? in a situation where statistically crappy attitudes in the rural area are capable of overwhelming the urban hospitals. Or not. I’m glad I’m not having to answer them.

  36. CSK says:

    @Michael Cain:
    Quite so. I would say that all we can do is urge, as strongly as possible, people to follow the preventive protocols. But that’s hard. A lot of them probably believe that Covid-19 is no big deal.

    It’s not common around here to see people without masks; indeed, it’s very, very rare. I get irritated on the extremely infrequent occasions I see people unmasked. It’s not a lot to ask, is it? But I live in a small-sized state with a large population.

    I’m not excusing rural people, but those who live in rural areas–as opposed to a major city–may feel that their risk is lower. And possibly it is. Berkshire County in Mass. is relatively unscathed. But it’s also the woods–literally.

  37. Mister Bluster says:

    What does fair have to do with anything in life?

    (It’s not fair that the edit function does not work some of the time.)

  38. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: It’s like the vote for Brexit. There’s a sizeable percentage of people in the U.K. that voted against leaving the EU, but they’re still going to have to deal with the results of leaving.

    Fair? Not fair?

  39. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:
    No. It’s life. Sometimes things work out they way you want, and sometimes they don’t. And sometimes, in the end, we muddle through.

    In 2016, I didn’t want Donald Trump to become president. How did that work out for me?

    It’s not a question of fair or unfair, and I wouldn’t use the term.

  40. Sleeping Dog says:


    … now Daddy’s spoiled it all for her.

    No, she spoiled it herself. If she had advocated for humane policies from Daddy’s administration and was the person who he friend’s claimed she would be, she could have returned to NY. She chose to be just another grifter and NJ is what she deserves.

  41. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    True. But I’m sure la principessa would rather blame Daddy.

  42. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Cain:

    The questions are harder? different? in a situation where statistically crappy attitudes in the rural area are capable of overwhelming the urban hospitals. Or not. I’m glad I’m not having to answer them.

    King County, aka Seattle, just voted to increase funding our hospitals. We also have Idaho sending covid patients here because they are running out of space. And much of Washington State.

    I don’t think it’s such a hard decision. At the very least we should be getting cash up front before we accept additional patients.

  43. Sleeping Dog says:
  44. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    It sure has. I can just imagine Real Housewives of Chestnut Hill.
    No, actually, I can’t.

  45. Sleeping Dog says:


    It would have to be the Real Housewives of Watertown.

  46. Kathy says:

    4 years ago many pixels were spilled* analyzing how Clinton managed to lose to El Trump. The impetus for a similar analysis this time, on how The Cheeto managed to lose, is weaker, seeing as how the polls predicted an even worse loss, and the fact that neither Pessimus nor his party have admitted defeat.

    Nevertheless, an analysis is warranted.

    Once he admits defeat or at least leaves the White House, El Minimus will no doubt claim it all boiled down to fraud, perhaps occasionally gaining enough logic to blame instead the timing of the Pfizer and Moderna announcements about the effectiveness of their vaccines (a reverse Comey letter or October surprise).

    We can dismiss the former, and ask what weight, if any, the latter had.

    There’s more. We had several reports about waste of campaign funds, like the ad during the Super Bowl, as well as mismanagement (see Brad Parscale). The one development, or rather non-development, I can’t wrap my head around is that El Cheeto did not press enough for a COVID relief bill, even late in the campaign.

    A decent bill by mid-October would have, IMO, increased his chances. One in late October would have been better, even if it didn’t pass because the Democrats wouldn’t support it. That last might be even better electorally, as it paints the opposition as impeding much needed aid for the populace, and tars Biden with the same brush.

    There was some attempt at the latter, but it failed because the Democrats wanted 1) to spend more money, and 2) to include testing and other measures to reduce infections. They don’t come off as obstructive at all. No, Pessimus should have outbid the Democrats to the point they’d refuse on some other basis, like liability protection to employers.

    The Minimus also attempted to promise a relief package if he were reelected, but provided zero details of what would be in it. That, too, was a terrible move.

    Of course, there’s also the preceding four years of non-governance, half-assed attempts at implementing an agenda (such as it was), and 250,000 dead Americans and an economy wrecked by a pandemic. But none of that hurt him with his base or his party (and that deserves an even deeper analysis).

    * “much ink was spilled” still sounds better.

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: This brings up a pet peeve of mine: the f*ing suburbs. One thing urban America and rural America have in common is grievance against suburbanites. Both the rural areas and urban areas have to be self contained. Any public services have to be housed there, and by that I mean homeless shelters, jails and prisons, medical care for the indigent, treatment centers for addicts. The suburbs on the other hand, merely hire police to drive the “people who don’t belong” away. But if you go into those city and rural treatment centers and check where their patients are from, more often than not it’s the suburbs. Once a surbanite can’t afford house payments or a nice apartment they are pushed either into the city or out into the rural areas.

    I know these jokers in Red California all too well. They are “fiscal conservatives” who believe in small government. But they are “too small” to have the big fire department with the equipment that can handle a serious chemical fire, and “too small” to have a hospital with a decent sized ICU, and “too small” to deal with major water and sewage problems. And sure, they will pony up a few dollars if they ever need to use the city’s equipment or personnel but they will not against every dollar the city needs to stand that infrastructure up.

  48. MarkedMan says:


    I can’t wrap my head around is that El Cheeto did not press enough for a COVID relief bill, even late in the campaign.

    Whenever there is something about Trump that puzzles it can be explained by the fact that he is truly a moron, or that he is epically lazy, or a combination of the two.

  49. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kathy: Quoting Babylon 5? Plus a thousand.

  50. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Thanks, but, really, it’s very quotable. For instance:

    Delen: Why do you humans always ask whether one’s ready before doing something massively unwise?
    Sinclair: Tradition.


    Delen: Only one human captain has survived battle against a Minbari warship. he stands behind me.. You are in front of me. if you value your lives, be somewhere else.

    and one that applies to Trump’s boast that he banned travel from China (he didn’t): The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.

  51. Kathy says:


    Well, yes. but this was such a no-brainer, it eliminates half the explanation.

  52. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kathy: I remember these all so well.

    One of my favorites:

    G’Kar: They may never find you, but if they do, you will know pain
    Na’Toth: And you will know fear
    G’Kar: And then you will die. Have a pleasant flight.

  53. Mu Yixiao says:

    Sherriden: No boom?
    Garribaldi: No boom.

    Ivanova: No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow.

  54. CSK says:

    I must ask again:

    Where, oh where, is that “massive” lawsuit of “biblical” proportions Sidney Powell promised for today? The one she said would “blow up” Georgia?

  55. Mu Yixiao says:


    You might find this interesting:

    Data gathered by contact tracing an entire province.

  56. Kathy says:


    Did you check under the unicorn’s droppings?

  57. Tim says:

    Trump just pardoned Mike Flynn. No surprise, of course. I wonder how many more are coming.

    I wonder though, now that he has been pardoned, he can never plead the 5th when asked questions about what happened in court, but he CAN be cited for contempt for not testifying or perjury should he lie under oath? IANAL, so can anyone else confirm that I got that right?

  58. CSK says:

    I did. Nothing.
    Either this woman has no shame, or she’s crazier than a shithouse rat.
    I suppose it’s possible to be both.

  59. JohnSF says:

    Ivanova: “Ivanova is always right. I will listen to Ivanova. I will not ignore Ivanova’s recommendations. Ivanova is God. And if this ever happens again, Ivanova will personally rip your lungs out.”

  60. Michael Cain says:

    Well, at least we’re not quite to this one:

    “That’s a lie.”
    “Yes, it is. What’s your point?”

  61. Jon says:

    @Tim: Pardons only apply to past crimes, not future ones. If Michael Flynn perjures himself in the future (in contrast to the perjury for which he’s already been pardoned) it would be a new crime for which he could be charged. Not a lawyer but I was a big fan of Jerry Orbach so you know, grain of salt.

    ETA: Also, accepting a pardon is considered an admission of guilt, so technically he has now pled guilty to the same crime 3 times.

  62. Kathy says:

    About the latest and upcoming pardons by El Trump, someone ought to keep an eye on financial transactions between those who benefited from said pardons and Trump, as well as his business interests and known and suspected middlemen.

    While he may pardon whoever he wants without restriction, he cannot charge for doing so. That’s a criminal offense.

  63. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Cain:

    “There comes a time when you look into the mirror and realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. Then you accept it, or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking into mirrors.”

  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: It may not be that her eyes are getting slittier. It looks as though she’s genuinely smiling in that picture, although I don’t know why she would be. It’s not like she smiles a lot just in general, but it’s particularly rare to see her smiling while in the same room with her meal ticket husband.

  65. Michael Cain says:


    I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam.

    I’ve always accepted the first half, but not the second. I can be better. The world hasn’t managed to beat that bit of optimism out of me.

  66. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: When rationing health service that is genuinely in short supply, such as liver lobes, kidneys, and Covid-19 ICU spaces, I think the standard should take into account the likelihood of survival, the utility of saving that particular life (i.e. saving a young person has greater utility than saving a 68 year old lifelong asthmatic/COPD suffering cigar smoker with cirrhosis of the liver–even though it’s not alcohol induced), AND the possibility that, additionally, there are other patients with even better prognoses who aren’t infected with Covid-19 but still need ICU. These situations are why triage is necessary at times. And needing to triage is notably unfair and cold hearted, but I can’t help that.

  67. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @charon: Not an attack on you, but I’m curious about what your take on what the graph shows is for the sake of making the comparison between the US and EU. I’m not sure that the graphs tells a story at all, but I am an ignint cracker. Particularly as it relates to Covid epidemiology.

  68. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Of course. But turning away someone who could be saved, and who’s acted responsibly, just because she or he comes from a place that’s lax about heeding protocols is different from triage.

  69. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: @OzarkHillbilly: That comparison works, too, but I’ve always thought that she resembled Sand Saref from the comic strip The Spirit mostly. Now that she’s going blonder, the resemblance is lower because Sand was a brunette (in color on Sunday or in the Post Dispatch) most of the time.

    I didn’t get a link button and haven’t learned the whole code for making one yet, so I can’t include a picture. 🙁

  70. charon says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I suppose your take on it lies in the eyes of the beholder, a bit subjective.

    The person who posted it was seeing that the E.U. has reacted and is pushing the cases back down off the peak as a contrast to the U.S., but I agree that is a subjective not objective take on it, other possible explanations.

    You could look at this map here

    and see that in the U.S., the worst hit states currently like IL, ND, SD etc. have peaked which I interpret differently – in those states the low hanging fruit, the easiest people to infect because of their circumstances or behavior have already been infected, so the virus is now going after people less accessible to it, so the rate of new infections is declining.

  71. charon says:


    I tested the link, you need to go to the left sidebar and click “state of the union – map” to get the map I was referencing.

  72. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @charon: Thanks. I was just wondering how you process the data. I see your reasoning more clearly now.

  73. Mister Bluster says:

    I truly thought I would never forget the day that President John F. Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas Texas. But somehow it slipped by me this year.
    November 22, 1963. I was all of 15 years old. A Sophmore in High School.
    I remember watching this scene on TV three days later at my friends house.
    “That’s where we should be right now” he said.
    John Kennedy was buried on this day, November 25, 57 years ago.
    May he Rest in Peace.

  74. Jax says:

    Did you guys see the article about the virus mutating from what they first saw in Wuhan, and what made it global? They’re figuring that’s why the second wave has been worse in countries that did so well on the first lockdown. I’ll try to find it, I read it a couple days ago and can’t remember where at…..

  75. Jax says:

    I think it’s free…..if it’s not free for you, I’ll copy and paste the text.

  76. Jax says:

    The irony… not lost on me. One of only 13 states without a statewide mask mandate.

    On the plus side, all the locals I have seen at the store are wearing masks. Even the hardcore Republicans. They’re all still traveling for the holiday, though. 🙁

  77. flat earth luddite says:

    IMO, Lt. Gen. Flynn (Ret.) has earned his place on the podium for disgracing the uniform he used to wear, and the oath he took to faithfully defend this country, by his actions. Congratulations, sir, you may join Lt. Col. Oliver North and CPO Edward Gallagher on the podium for your silver medal.