Open Forum

Where you can't be off-topic because there IS no topic.

The floor is yours.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Is this thing on?

    Anyway, since it’s commencement season I figured I would throw out there what you remember about your commencement speakers. Here were mine:

    High School — Our speaker was the Superintendent of Schools. I don’t remember anything he said but I do remember thinking “It’s way too hot to be sitting out here listening to this guy.”

    College — Once again a boring speaker in the form of the University President. Utterly forgettable, which is why I have forgotten it.

    Law School — Our commencement speaker for law school was a Federal Court of Appeals Judge. Which was pretty cool. Even cooler was the fact that it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg and this was about two months before President Clinton nominated her for the Supreme Court in 1993 and it was already known that she was on his short list should there be a vacancy. I don’t remember the speech in detail but she did talk for a bit about her own graduation, the fact that she was only of the only women in her class and the extent to which that has changed in the decades since.

    (Good lord I just realized that was 26 years ago. Sigh.)

  2. Michael Cain says:

    The only commencement I actually attended was for high school, where I was one of the speakers. I was nervous enough that I wasn’t paying much attention to the others. The class sponsor and I had butted heads over the content of my speech. He said it was too informal. I said that it was me speaking to my classmates. I offered him choices: “You can bump me from the program. You can make me write and turn in a more formal version. But this,” waving my papers, “is the speech I will deliver. You could run across the stage and tackle me away from the microphone when I start, which I’d be fine with because of the entertainment value. Or you can relax and let me do it my way.” My humorous speech of reasonable length was well received. People laughed in all the right places. I got better applause than the others.

  3. Stormy Dragon says:

    Kenny Rogers hospitalized for dehydration, will have physical therapy to get ‘strength back’

    Visiting hours are 10am to 3pm if anyone want to just drop in to see what condition his condition is in.

  4. Michael Cain says:

    The NYTimes is reporting that this weekend, 14 of the people seeking the Democratic nomination are in California working the state’s annual Democratic convention, and one is campaigning in Iowa. I’m curious about how well the Democrats’ national issues will play in CA. Eg, will gerrymandering and voter suppression be a thing in a huge state with independent redistricting, a motor voter registration program, and that is heavily vote-by-mail?

  5. gVOR08 says:

    I sometimes bitch about Federalist Society Stepford judges. VOX has an article up on the effects of another program to influence judges, the corporate funded Manne Institute, which from 1976 to 1999 offered two or three week “training camps”, at luxurious lotions, to federal judges. They were ostensibly non-partisan, but based heavily on the conservative/libertarian law and economics movement.

    There seems to be growing realization that anti-trust law in this country has become thoroughly corrupted. The Manne seminars are one reason. You may think Robert Bork is an asshat for firing Watergate prosecutor Archiblad Cox after his betters refused to in the Saturday Night Massacre, but I’ve seen the claim that his influential book, Antitrust Paradox, based on law and economics, was his real evil influence.

    The Manne seminars are an example of how corporations and the wealthy influence government without such crudities as bribery. Read Piketty, we are in deep trouble.

  6. Teve says:
  7. SenyorDave says:

    Laura Ingraham is under fire for featuring eight “conservative voices” who have been banned from Facebook. Of course she neglected to mention the reasons they were banned. One was Paul Nehlen, a known anti-Semite who was seen in a T-shirt that celebrated the shooter of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Another was Alex Jones, who has pushed the idea that the Sandy Hook school shooting was some type of false flag operation. Ingraham (and others, including Trump) don’t mention that this is not a First Amendment issue. Naturally Fox issued a statement saying that Ingraham was certainly defending Nehlen’s views.
    Fox has done an amazing job normalizing the abnormal.

  8. Moosebreath says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I had a similar experience with speakers:

    High School — I think it was the State Representative for the area where the school was located, but I don’t remember a single thing he said or even for sure who it was.

    College — Secretary of the Treasury Regan. He said nothing at all memorable.

    Law School — Joe Biden. This was in 1987, and he was in the early stages of running for President. He managed to turn his stump speech which we later learned was cribbed from Neil Kinnock into a pretty good graduation speech. On some level, I hope Biden does win next year, so I can say I shook the hand of a President twice (the other time was years later, when he was giving a speech in the same hotel as the rehearsal dinner for my wedding, and he remarked how lucky I was to be marrying my wife, which is no doubt true).

  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    As I’ve made mention in the past, I’m of the belief that significant numbers of evangelical Christians secretly want to murder LGBT people and only say otherwise because they know they have to hide their beliefs from the general public.

    People usually tell me this is just paranoia, but then every so often the mask slips:

    Just a Florida Republican Musing About Killing Gay People

  10. Stormy Dragon says:
  11. Gustopher says:

    I’ve been thinking about Cassandra a lot lately. Blessed with foresight and prophesy (because Apollo fancied her), cursed with never being believed (because she spurned him, or was upset that he raped her, or went back on her word to sleep with him after getting the promised payment of prophesy).

    Aside from the treatment of women in this myth, I’m thinking Cassandra just had the wrong attitude. If she was motivated entirely by spite, her curse would have been a blessing.

    Imagine, going through life, telling your enemies of the horrible things that would happen to them, and then giggling and laughing when you aren’t believed. And then, when those horrible things have happened, being able to remind them that you told them so.

    Wouldn’t that be nice?

    There’s a lesson in the story of Cassandra, and it’s not that you should just sleep with Apollo. It’s that you have to learn how to take lemons and make lemonade.

  12. Teve says:

    John Bolton on the warpath. New Yorker article by Dexter Filkins.

  13. CSK says:

    The White House just denied that Trump said Megan Markle was “nasty.” There’s a transcript and audio of him saying “I didn’t know she was nasty” to a Sun reporter.

    Gonna be a fun lunch with Prince Harry.

  14. Teve says:

    @CSK: I would have claimed I misspoke, and I meant to say Megan McArdle was a nasty skank.

  15. CSK says:

    @Teve: The hilarious part is that the Trump Cult over at hasn’t yet seen the WH denial, and they’re all congratulating Trump on calling Markle a skank.

  16. Jax says:

    @CSK: Hahahahaha…..I’m thoroughly enjoying the mental image of Harry kicking his orange ass…..would either one’s security detail get involved, do you think? I mean, as long as they don’t “kill” each other, what’s the harm if two heads of state get in a boxing match, right?! Duel at dawn!

  17. Jax says:

    How long has it been since de Stijl commented on anything? I just realized it’s been a while since we got any late night musical commentary. Hope everything is all right, buddy!!!

  18. dazedandconfused says:
  19. Mister Bluster says:

    Independence Hall Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Thursday May 31, 1787
    William Pierce from Georgia took his seat.

    In Committee of the whole on Mr. Randolph’s propositions.
    The 3d. Resolution “that the national Legislature ought to consist of two branches” was agreed to without debate or dissent, except that of Pennsylvania, given probably from complaisance to Docr. Franklin who was understood to be partial to a single House of Legislation.
    Resol: 4. first clause “that the members of the first branch of the National Legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several States” being taken up,
    Mr. SHERMAN opposed the election by the people, insisting that it ought to be by the State Legislatures. The people he said, immediately should have as little to do as may be about the Government. They want information and are constantly liable to be misled.
    Mr. GERRY. The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots. In Massts. it had been fully confirmed by experience that they are daily misled into the most baneful measures and opinions by the false reports circulated by designing men, and which no one on the spot can refute. One principal evil arises from the want of due provision for those employed in the administration of Governmt. It would seem to be a maxim of democracy to starve the public servants. He mentioned the popular clamour in Massts. for the reduction of salaries and the attack made on that of the Govr. though secured by the spirit of the Constitution itself. He had he said been too republican heretofore: he was still however republican, but had been taught by experience the danger of the levilling spirit.

    FRIDAY June 1, 1787
    William Houston from Georgia took his seat.

    The Committee of the whole proceeded to Resolution 7.”that a national Executive be instituted, to be chosen by the national Legislature-for the term of —— years &c to be ineligible thereafter, to possess the executive powers of Congress &c.”
    Mr. PINKNEY was for a vigorous Executive but was afraid the Executive powers of the existing Congress might extend to peace & war &c., which would render the Executive a monarchy, of the worst kind, to wit an elective one.
    Mr. WILSON moved that the Executive consist of a single person.
    Mr. C PINKNEY seconded the motion, so as to read “that a National Ex. to consist of a single person, be instituted.
    A considerable pause ensuing and the Chairman asking if he should put the question, Docr. FRANKLIN observed that it was a point of great importance and wished that the gentlemen would deliver their sentiments on it before the question was put.
    Mr. RUTLIDGE animadverted on the shyness of gentlemen on this and other subjects. He said it looked as if they supposed themselves precluded by having frankly disclosed their opinions from afterwards changing them, which he did not take to be at all the case. He said he was for vesting the Executive power in a single person, tho’ he was not for giving him the power of war and peace. A single man would feel the greatest responsibility and administer the public affairs best.
    Mr. SHERMAN said he considered the Executive magistracy as nothing more than an institution for carrying the will of the Legislature into effect, that the person or persons ought to be appointed by and accountable to the Legislature only, which was the depositary of the supreme will of the Society. As they were the best judges of the business which ought to be done by the Executive department, and consequently of the number necessary from time to time for doing it, he wished the number might not be fixed but that the legislature should be at liberty to appoint one or more as experience might dictate.
    Mr. WILSON preferred a single magistrate, as giving most energy dispatch and responsibility to the office. He did not consider the Prerogatives of the British Monarch as a proper guide in defining the Executive powers. Some of these prerogatives were of Legislative nature. Among others that of war & peace &c. The only powers he conceived strictly Executive were those of executing the laws, and appointing officers, not appertaining to and appointed by the Legislature.
    Mr. GERRY favored the policy of annexing a Council to the Executive in order to give weight & inspire confidence. Mr. RANDOLPH strenuously opposed a unity in the Executive magistracy. He regarded it as the foetus of monarchy. We had he said no motive to be governed by the British Governmt. as our prototype. He did not mean however to throw censure on that Excellent fabric. If we were in a situation to copy it he did not know that he should be opposed to it; but the fixt genius of the people of America required a different form of Government. He could not see why the great requisites for the Executive department, vigor, despatch & responsibility could not be found in three men, as well as in one man. The Executive ought to be independent. It ought therefore in order to support its independence to consist of more than one.
    Mr. WILSON said that unity in the Executive instead of being the fetus of monarchy would be the best safeguard against tyranny. He repeated that he was not governed by the British Model which was inapplicable to the situation of this Country; the extent of which was so great, and the manners so republican, that nothing but a great confederated Republic would do for it. Mr. Wilson’s motion for a single magistrate was postponed by common consent, the Committee seeming unprepared for any decision on it; and the first part of the clause agreed to, viz-“that a National Executive be instituted.”
    Mr. MADISON thought it would be proper, before a choice shd. be made between a unity and a plurality in the Executive, to fix the extent of the Executive authority; that as certain powers were in their nature Executive, and must be given to that departmt. whether administered by one or more persons, a definition of their extent would assist the judgment in determining how far they might be safely entrusted to a single officer. He accordingly moved that so much of the clause before the Committee as related to the powers of the Executive shd. be struck out & that after the words “that a national Executive ought to be instituted” there be inserted the words following viz. “with power to carry into effect the national laws, to appoint to offices in cases not otherwise provided for, and to execute such other powers “not Legislative nor Judiciary in their nature,” as may from time to time be delegated by the national Legislature.” The words “not legislative nor judiciary in their nature” were added to the proposed amendment in consequence of a suggestion by Genl. Pinkney that improper powers might otherwise be delegated.

  20. Franklin says:

    @Stormy Dragon: God bless The Onion.

  21. Teve says:
  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Moosebreath: I was in the school orchestra in both high school and college, so I’ve been to 6 commencement exercises and don’t remember who the speaker was or what was said at any of them. For my own actual commencement, I was excused from playing in the orchestra because I was graduating, so I availed myself of the opportunity to work my shift at the warehouse I worked at while I was going to school. I think most of us have similar stories because hardly anyone goes to schools that command “big name civic stars” to speak at commencement.

    Didn’t go to the commencement for graduate school because I graduated in an off term and it didn’t make sense to go back to walk at the end of the year.

  23. Teve says:

    Lawrence H. Summers
    Arthur Laffer is as close to being a serious economist as I am to being a pro tennis player. I’m not in the Hall of Fame for obvious reason. And he should not be receiving the nation’s highest honor.

  24. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Didn’t go to the commencement for graduate school because I graduated in an off term and it didn’t make sense to go back to walk at the end of the year.


    For my high school graduation, the speaker was a local celebrity TV news guy who was wildly popular in the DC area. I was happy to have him. For college, it was the actor John Houseman, for some reason. For grad school, I got an August diploma and started work a few weeks later, so no ceremony.

  25. Gustopher says:

    I’ve really enjoyed the anime Yuri On Ice! — it was adorable and character driven and suspenseful in a fun way. Lots of men’s figure skating.

    Delightful… some gay bits, if that’s a plus or a minus, but it stays PG-13 (again, if that’s a plus or minus).

    Best thing I’ve watched in a while.

  26. James Joyner says:


    Arthur Laffer is as close to being a serious economist as I am to being a pro tennis player. – Larry Summers

    I hate this sort of hyperbole.

    Laffer earned a B.A. in Economics from Yale University (1963) and an M.B.A. (1965) and a Ph.D. in Economics (1972) from Stanford University. [8]

    Laffer was an Associate Professor of Business Economics at the University of Chicago from 1970 to 1976 and a member of the Chicago faculty from 1967 through 1976. [9] From 1976 to 1984 Laffer held the status as the Charles B. Thornton Professor of Business Economics at the University of Southern California School of Business. [10] During this time Laffer helped pass Proposition 13, the California initiative that drastically cut property taxes in the state in 1978. [11] In the mid-1980s, Laffer was the Distinguished University Professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, and a member of the Pepperdine Board of Directors. [12]

    Laffer was the first to hold the title of Chief Economist at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under George Shultz from October 1970 to July 1972. [12] During the years 1972 to 1977, Laffer was a consultant to Secretary of the Treasury William Simon, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of the Treasury George Shultz.

    He was later named Distinguished University Professor of Economics from Mercer University in 2008.

    Has Laffer become something of a hack? Yes. Does he deserve the Medal of Freedom? Nope. Is he a real economist? Of course.