Wednesday’s Forum

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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:
  2. Teve says:

    The Unstoppable Machine

    Good wonderfully-long New Yorker article about Amazon, pros and cons.

  3. Teve says:

    The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives plans to break with 200 years of precedent this week by allowing members of Congress to vote by designated proxy during the coronavirus pandemic. The voting by proxy plan would negate cybersecurity risks posed by a true remote voting system and only allows for narrow, limited use of proxies, though some GOP legislators are trying to raise a ruckus around it. The top Republican on the House Rules Committee, Representative Tom Cole, characterized the plan as “wimpy.”

    Remote voting is probably constitutional given the considerable leeway given to Congress to determine its own rules. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and members of both parties were initially skeptical, though Democrats have settled on the proxy plan to restore some normalcy to votes after Republicans forced disruptive roll-call votes that required members travel back to DC to approve a coronavirus relief bill. Per BuzzFeed News, this week the House is preparing for a vote to allow members who cannot attend in person due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions to name another representative as their direct proxy for voting purposes. Roll Call reported the vote may happen as soon as Thursday.

    “A Member casting a vote on behalf of another Member would be required to have exact direction from that Member on how to vote and would have to follow that direction,” House Rules Committee chairman Representative Jim McGovern wrote in a statement last week, according to BuzzFeed. “There would be no ability to give a general proxy. Members would have to direct each and every vote.”


  4. Bill says:
  5. Bill says:

    The dining out headline of the day-

    Sheep flock to McDonald’s during lockdown

  6. Bill says:


    : ‘I believe in our deaths’: the governor who resists lockdown and stresses American liberty to infect as many other people as one might desire to

    There is one big problem with that headline- That quote isn’t anywhere to be found in the article.

    I am not defending South Dakota’s Governor. Just criticizing the journalists who post such @#$! without something to corroborate it.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Police in Canada have updated the death toll of the country’s worst mass shooting to 22, as more victims from the gun rampage in Nova Scotia were publicly identified.

    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had previously warned the death toll would increase as investigators combed through several homes intentionally set ablaze by the gunman in a 12-hour rampage that started late on Saturday in the town of Portapique. On Tuesday, 16 separate crime scenes were being examined across the province.

    Portraits of those killed if you aren’t already depressed enough.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bill: The journalists had nothing to do with it. It’s not the headline of the article, it is my editorializing of her actions. I do this from time to time and when I do it, it is sooooo over the top I figure most people can figure it out long before they ever click on the link.

  9. Bill says:


    It’s not the headline of the article

    Oops I goofed. My fault. So where is Nomad to sterilize me?

  10. Teve says:


    I actually cannot believe this origin story for “Stockholm Syndrome” which is basically just a “myth invented to discredit women victims of violence by a psychiatrist with an obvious conflict of interest, whose first instinct was to silence the woman questioning his authority”

    Turns out “Stockholm Syndrome” isn’t some psychological oddity, it’s just a situation where a woman is empathizing with an abusive man to increase her chances of surviving the situation. It’s just a version of a woman staying with a man who has threatened to kill her because she’s afraid if she leaves he will. No fancy psychological condition required.

  11. Kit says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m seeing James’s photo on your post. Is this a glitch?

    The comment was posted on the wrong thread so I moved it here. But it attached my gravatar to it even with MM’s name and email in the fields. – JJ

  12. MarkedMan says:

    A couple of weeks ago I was fulminating here about the recklessness of promoting malaria as a cure all (already definitely proven not to be the case at the time) and the dangers of promoting this powerful drug as a prophylaxis. A few on here took me to task, saying basically “it might work”. As was apparent even then, the first studies are coming back and they show a) there is absolutely no dramatic benefit in curing or reducing the effects of Covid, b) very likely there is no benefit at all in curing or reducing the effects of Covid, c) some strong indications that a Covid patient that takes it is more likely to die than one who doesn’t. And by the way, the mechanism suspected in those deaths, a lengthening of the QT interval which is a long known side effect, is just as likely to harm or kill a healthy person who takes it.

    We are now well into the phase where the true believers start picking through the ruins looking for a statistical justification that there is some small net benefit in some small number of cases. That’s the almost inevitable endpoint of these medical fads – massive claims of miracle cures -> reduced claims of significant benefit -> arguments about ever decreasing benefits that require a statistician to ferret out -> treatment only available in sketchy offshore clinics run by sociopathic charlatans who claim miracles that the FDA and big Pharma are deliberately suppressing.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The comment was posted on the wrong thread so I moved it here. But it attached my gravatar to it even with MM’s name and email in the fields. – JJ

    Ain’t technology a wondrous thing to behold? (and it is, but sometimes I wonder…) 🙂

  14. beth says:

    This title’s clearly from Talking Heads – Life During Wartime – but I cant remember any of the other open forum titles in their music. Am I on the right track?

  15. MarkedMan says:

    James, thanks!

  16. Kylopod says:

    HBO just finished its 6-part miniseries adaptation of Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, about a fascist demagogue rising to the presidency in the 1940s. I’d been wondering how they were going to adapt it, since the book, while brilliant in its conception, had serious flaws that were never totally possible to fix without radically altering the story, which the show wasn’t going to do. But it improved on the book in just about every possible way.

    People might consider the show’s ending to be a copout, but the book’s ending was even more of a copout–it was like Roth lost his nerve and stuck on a totally unbelievable deus ex machina. The showrunners, in an interview, implied pretty strongly that they did this adaptation partly as a warning about reelecting Trump. I’m going to link to the interview, but I urge you not to read it until after you’ve seen the show, since it discusses the ending in some detail. (If you don’t intend to watch the show, then by all means click on this to your heart’s content, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

  17. Gustopher says:

    I’ve been doing a lot of meditation, and reading about secular Buddhism, and incorporating bits into my life, to create a moment between experiencing something and reacting to it. Primarily to control my anxiety problem, but it’s also really cut down on my quick reflex to anger.

    I mention this for one reason — I’ve gotten to the point where now when I catch a bit of Trump going on about how something is beautiful and spewing his bullshit which is harming people’s lives, I don’t get that instant flash of anger that dominates my reaction. I pause for a moment, focus on my breath, and then choose how I want to respond, and that has a pretty significant impact.

    It’s really very liberating. Rather than just impulsively hating that man, I choose to hate that man.

    Also, these are trying times.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Not sure where to post this so I’m gonna drop it here:

    chris evans

    The President spend a month calling it a hoax.

    Republican governors are opening their states back up and it will spread.

    Y’all are really gonna send your kids back to school so they end up like this?


    Fair warning: The video shows a 4 year old with Covid trying to breath.

    As I said to the person who referred me to it:

    I finally watched that. I am now shaking with remembered fear and anger. Anyone who has ever held a child’s hand in such a situation, trying to help him or her with their fears, 24/7, not being able to do much more than give them love because it is all one has to offer knows what I am talking about. I said silent prayers to a god I knew doesn’t exist that the doctors would find the magic elixir that would save his life.

    I’ve never giving voice to that abject terror because there is no room for it. I buried it, but it is still with me, waiting, haunting, merciless.

  19. James Joyner says:

    @beth: Yes. Steven has been posting these but he’s been otherwise engaged the last couple days.

  20. An Interested Party says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Foreign readers of the Guardian see articles like that one and must think to themselves, “What the hell is wrong with these American idiots!?”

    The top Republican on the House Rules Committee, Representative Tom Cole, characterized the plan as “wimpy.”

    Cole should allow himself to be completely exposed to the Coronavirus, lest anyone think of him as being “wimpy”…

  21. Kathy says:

    There’s some speculation on the aviation blogs I follow about how air travel will change after the pandemic passes.

    Right now, many airlines are blocking all middle seats. this costs them nothing extra, right now, as most flights are almost empty.

    The long-term, and overwhelming, trend in recent years has been, in industry parlance, densification. This means adding more seats to all planes. In narrow bodies this means placing rows closer together, reducing the size of the lavatories and galleys (or eliminating the galleys).

    In wide bodies, which often engage in longer trips, this has meant some of the same, but also adding extra seats per row. For instance, a Boeing 777 commonly sat 9 people per row in a 3-3-3 configuration. Now many have changed to ten people per row, in a 3-4-3 mode.

    We could see de-densification from some of the major legacy airlines, but I don’t think the low cost, and less so the ultra-low cost, airlines like Spirit, Frontier, Ryanair, etc. would even think about it.

    Doing so would require a raise in fares, after all. There’d be less incentive to pay extra for more leg room, or even for first/business class or premium economy. And as there’d be more room for carry on luggage, fees for that would be out, too. No one would be glad to do this.

    Higher fares means less travel, which would help with climate issues, but would also hurt some tourist destinations.

    The first question to ask is whether it matters at all. Even in domestic first class, you can’t keep people 2 meters apart, as the current guidelines recommend.

    But it might matter. Assuming an infected person with some contagious disease in a plane can give it to, say, 80% of everyone onboard, then the fewer people per flight, the fewer infections result.

    I don’t think that will happen, though. Budget carriers aside, American has used the downtime of most of its fleet to advance densification reconfiguration in 737 and A320 models. It would require a mandate from the FAA in the US and from EASA in Europe.

  22. Monala says:

    @MarkedMan: I posted a comment on the Lawyers, Guns and Money blog about how many Trump supporters are suddenly infectious disease experts questioning the studies that show no benefit or active harm from using hydroxycloroquine with Covid patients. They’ll talk about how the drug was administered too early or too late; how the doses given were too big or too small; how it was or wasn’t administered in conjunction with zpak; how it was or wasn’t administered with zinc; etc. and how that’s why the results failed, not the drug itself.

  23. Sleeping Dog says:
  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Hey, Persians have no business even having boats in the American Gulf, obviously the American Gulf is and should be controlled by the American Navy, coming from 5000 miles away. Or are you one of those ‘locally sourced’ people?

    I’ve been reading about the conquistadors. One of their tricks was kidnapping local leaders, bullying and/or torturing them into swearing fealty to Ferdinand and later Charles V, (who as far as your random Mexican or Peruvian could tell might as well have been fictional characters), then, when they misbehaved, treating them as rebels. Thankfully we’ve outgrown that imperialist mentality.

  25. Liberal Capitalist says:
  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Josh Marshall: Schrodinger’s Trump

    We don’t know what the result of the November election will be. But what is remarkable is how Republicans and actually Trump himself haven’t even waited for Trump to be driven from office. Trump is now both the head of state saving the country from the global pandemic and the hidden leader of the resistance to pandemic overreach and the forces which destroyed the best economy in the history of the universe. He is both fearless leader and embodiment of the state and rebel commander goading supporters to ‘liberate’ their country.

  27. Kathy says:

    Carolyn Goodman, the major of Las Vegas, pulled a gigantic Trump, saying she wants to open the city back up.

    Gems like: “I’m making the assumption that everybody is a carrier, so let’s go forward, open up the city, open up whoever wants to open up, but do it in a very responsible, cautious way.”

    Does she know what “carrier” means? If everyone’s a carrier, then there’s no need to social distance, stay home, wear masks, or wash your hands. You already have it.

    And, for a different source: As to how to protect the staff and visitors at casinos and hotels, she said, “That’s up to them to figure out.”

    She made a Trump out of herself.

    It’s worth noting she’s the wife of former major and mob lawyer Oscar Goodman. Both claim to be Independents.

  28. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Josh Marshall has it right. Trump is trying to have it both ways. I issued guidelines for shutting down / LIBERATE MICHIGAN. Everyone should wear a mask and stay 6’ apart / but I won’t. I have the power to open the states / but I can’t. Hydroxychloroquine will save everyone / hydroxy… what’s that? It’s gobsmacking that he gets away with the constant, obvious contradictions, but with his base, he does. I guess they think they know when to take him seriously, not literally. Or was it literally, not seriously? They know that he’s the mostest powerfullest leader ever and his hands are completely tied, or something.

  29. Kathy says:

    This is one of the most surprising things I’ve read about the COVID-19 pandemic thus far.

    “Our cross-sectional study strongly suggests that those who smoke every day are much less likely to develop a symptomatic or severe infection with Sars-CoV-2 compared with the general population,” the Pitié-Salpêtrière report authors wrote.

    On the other hand, it may just be a flash in the pan, like the hydroxychloroquine a few weeks ago.

  30. Kathy says:


    If you can get a copy of 1984, check out the scene where Winston attends a Hate Week rally. Everyone is high on hate for Eurasia, or pretending to be, when they find out they have always been at war with Eastasia, and Eurasia is Oceania’s ally. So they get high on hate for Goldstein and his agents instead.

    Later in the book, O’Brien explains to Winston that the party’s purpose is to hold and exercise power. That the purpose of power is power, the purpose of persecution is persecution, etc. IMO, the switch of enemies in the climax of Hate Week was done on purpose, as a form of exercising power.

    O’Brien asks Winston how one asserts one’s power over another. Winston replies, “By making him suffer,” to O’Brien’s approval. The switch in enemies produces humiliation, anger, a need to change one’s world-view, and for the employees of the Ministry of Truth a ton of overtime work for days on end. Is that not making other people suffer?

    Either by design or by instinct, this is what Trump does to his base.

  31. Kathy says:


    Straight from the horse’s mouth.

    O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, is notorious for making outrageous statements. He once suggested charging passengers to use the lavatory. Another time he said in the future airline tickets might be free.

    The last is not impossible. Given fees for carry-on luggage, checked luggage, seat selection, priority boarding, plus buy on board food and other items, it could be possible for an airline to make money with a fare of $0.00. I wonder if fuel surcharges would still apply (*).

    But governments would never allow that. They charge taxes based on fares, plus fees of their own (which would still be charged).

    Anyway, it’s the lost fees from the lost passengers that would hurt O’Leary, not the lost fares per se. I said ultra-low cost operations would never reverse the densification trend.

    Later in the piece, his idea of requiring passengers to wear masks is not a bad one, if implemented during epidemics or perhaps in cold and flu season.

    (*) given that oil prices are at an all-time low, it would take some gall for airlines to apply fuel surcharges. Not that they won’t do it.

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: Yep, is all I can say.

  33. An Interested Party says:

    Some here aren’t the only people criticizing Oprah for her boosting of quacks…

  34. Gustopher says:


    “Our cross-sectional study strongly suggests that those who smoke every day are much less likely to develop a symptomatic or severe infection with Sars-CoV-2 compared with the general population,” the Pitié-Salpêtrière report authors wrote.

    Smoking might have just killed off the weaklings.

    On the other hand, it may just be a flash in the pan, like the hydroxychloroquine a few weeks ago.

    There is recent reporting that Hydroxytrumpoquine has much greater mortality rates with covid than just supportive care. 2-3 times as many deaths, but the sample size is small enough that error bars are large.

    FoxNews trumpets that is offers “no benefits, and more deaths”.

    Now just idly wondering… if there was a drug that had the same death rate, but made people die faster, would we be using it to free up beds and ventilators? We would really have to if there was a shortage of beds, wouldn’t we? And how would we transform that into a trolley problem?