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. Guarneri says:

    The illustrious Mueller Team:

    John Dowd, Trump’s lawyer, left a voice message with Michael Flynn’s attorney.
    Mueller, or the serpentine Weissman, or both in combination, selectively edited the message to cut out the perfectly-legitimate reason for the contact: namely, that if Flynn were planning to speak of confidential information he’d spoken to Trump about about, then Trump had every legal right to interpose executive privilege to keep his confidence.

    Mueller/Weissman chopped that part out to make it sound as if Dowd were delivering a Capo’s order to a soldier.

    The special counsel’s report:

    [I]f . .. there’s information that implicates the President, then we’ve got a national security issue, . . . so, you know, . . . we need some kind of heads up. Um, just for the sake of protecting all our interests if we can…

    That portion of the transcript released Friday:

    If, on the other hand, we have, there’s information that. .. implicates the President, then we’ve got a national security issue, or maybe a national security issue, I don’t know … some issue, we got to-we got to deal with, not only for the President, but for the country. So… uh …you know, then-then, you know, we need some kind of heads up. Um, just for the sake of … protecting all our interests, if we can, without you having to give up any…confidential information.
    Dowd also claims that Mueller’s report falsely suggests that the contact with Kelner was improper. Dowd said Monday that he “had an obligation as counsel to the president to find out what was going on.”

    Time and again, the Weissman Report, er, Mueller Report takes perfectly legal actions by Trump, such as firing an insubordinate like the leaking and lying FBI
    director, and tries to frame Trump as having committed a non-crime.

    Just one more sordid example.

  2. Guarneri says:

    Comedy Gold:

    In their attempt to move forward with impeachment, the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee is reaching way back, calling Watergate star John Dean to testify on June 10.

    No word on whether Rachel Maddow and Don Lemon will be similarly asked………..

  3. Teve says:
  4. Teve says:

    But none of this addresses what should be the core question: why is right-wing grifting such a big problem? After all, it’s not a big problem on the left. What’s the difference?

    Part of the problem, sadly, is that the right trends older than the left, and the elderly have always been prime targets for scammers for reasons having nothing to do with politics. But I think there’s something more fundamental at work: namely that the modern right is a scam at its core. I don’t mean this in the sense that the Republican Party doesn’t always deliver what it promises. No political party does that. What I mean is that since at least the late 70s, the cold, hard nugget at the heart of the conservative movement’s electoral strategy is an attempt to win working-class votes for a party that’s dedicated to the interests of corporations and the wealthy.

    Let me be clear: I don’t mean that conservatives expend a lot of energy appealing to conservative social values. There’s nothing dishonest about that. Plenty of people are willing to vote their social consciences over their pocketbook interests, and every big political party has to find a way to win votes from people who agree with them only partly. It would be political malpractice not to appeal to different audiences with whatever arguments are most likely to win them over.

    No, the problem is that this isn’t enough. Emphasizing social issues to the working class and economic issues to the rich just won’t get the job done. Conservatives know that they also have to directly appeal to working-class pocketbook issues, and that’s a circle that can never be squared honestly. It just can’t. The modern conservative movement is fundamentally dedicated to the economic interests of the upper classes.

    This means that the success of the entire movement is intimately tied to a huge, relentlessly repeated lie. Tax cuts boost the economy and are good for the working class. Light regulation of Wall Street frees up money and is good for the working class. Right-to-work laws provide job opportunities for the working class. Social Security is a scam that won’t be around by the time the working class retires. “Dangerous” chemicals are just a left-wing myth designed to strangle the economy and hurt the working class. Allowing more oil drilling and more coal mining provides lots of jobs for the working class. Etc. Every policy designed to benefit the rich has to be deliberately twisted into a fraud for public consumption.

    This is inexorably corrosive. It’s impossible to base an entire movement on a working-class scam and not create the conditions for other working-class scammers to ply their trade. As long as this is the case, scammers are simply the price modern conservatives have to pay for the way they conduct politics.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    [Reposted from the sputtering end of 5e last open forum]

    Finally an answer to the question, “Have we ever had a more lazy and stupid President?”, Trump today appeared unaware that Theresa May has already resigned as Prime Minister, effective Friday.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: He’s a very stable genius.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @Guarneri: I know this is the latest outrage from the Faux News crowd, but I’m sincerely puzzled. The excerpt that Mueller published seems to capture the thrust of that comment: Dowd was trying to get a heads up if Mueller had evidence of Trump’s illegal activities. Note that Dowd seems to assume that the evidence would prove true because he doesn’t say “and the president would be happy to testify so as to explain any misunderstanding.” Mueller includes the fig leaf that “we have a national security issue” and the only thing he cuts out is Dowd saying that again in a couple of different ways. But most importantly the idea that if Trump created a national security issue by committing crimes then Mueller is obligated to give a heads up to the criminal is absurd.

    Your boy is a traitor based on what we have from his own mouth. He lied about Russia, and every time he got caught he simply came up with a new lie, lather , rinse, repeat. He refused to testify. He holds meetings with Putin with no other American present. His son-in-law tried to set up a back channel communication with Putin through the Russian embassy with the express purpose of making sure Americans couldn’t learn of their conversations. I could go on. The quisling Republican answer is that he hasn’t been found guilty of a crime but that’s a traitorous dodge – the standard for trusting someone with the keys to the United States is not criminal conviction but rather being actually trustworthy.

  8. Kylopod says:

    @Teve: From Jonathan Chait’s 2007 book The Big Con:

    There is also a natural–and, in many ways, commendable–skepticism about one-sided accusations of dishonesty. Those who confine their accusations to one side are usually partisans best taken with a grain of salt. Lying and spinning have always been a part of politics, and it is the rare elected official who prevails by offering the voters an objective and unvarnished assessment of his plans. Moreover, since we tend to think of lying as an idiosyncratic personal trait, there’s no reason to think that one side has more liars than the other any more than there’s reason to think one side has more drunks or adulterers.

    Yet, as will become clear, the fact remains that dishonesty has become integral to the Republican economic agenda in a way that it is not to the Democratic agenda. The reason is not that Republicans are individually less honest than Democrats. Far from it. It is simply that the GOP, and the conservative movement, have embraced an economic agenda far out of step with the majority of the voting public. Republicans simply can’t win office or get their plans enacted into law, without fundamentally misleading the public. Lying has become a systematic necessity.

  9. wr says:

    @Guarneri: Yes, because Dowd added they’re all working together “for the country” right before he mentioned “just for the sake of protecting all our interests,” that proves he was sincerely discussing issues of national security and not trying to save Trump’s ass.

    Is there anything you won’t believe?

  10. Mister Bluster says:

    Lest we forget.
    Robert F Kennedy was shot 51 years ago today. He died about 26 hours later in the early morning of June 6, 1968.
    I was at my parents home watching live coverage of his remarks to the press just after he had won the California Democratic Presidential Primary. It was a little after 2 am where I was. Moments after he had walked out of view of the TV cameras there was word that he had been shot. I couldn’t believe it!
    I remember my father calling out from the bed room. “Turn off the TV and go to bed.”
    “But dad!” I said: “Robert Kennedy has just been shot!”
    That evening two of my friends and I boarded the Illinois Central midnight run to
    Carbondale IL. It was our first trip to that college town to enroll in school and look for housing.
    The conductor had a small transistor radio and said he would let us know of news about
    Robert Kennedy.
    It was a 300 mile ride that took 7 or 8 hours because in those days the train stopped in every little burg and hamlet along the way. We tried to sleep in the coach seats but the events of the day and the excitement of going to our new home made slumber a chore.
    Not long before the sun came up the conductor told us of the news report he had heard that Kennedy had died.
    Robert Francis “Bobby” Kennedy

  11. Mister Bluster says:

    Independence Hall Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Monday June 4, 1787
    The Question was resumed on motion of Mr. PINKNEY 2ded. by WILSON, “shall the blank for the number of the Executive be filled with a single person?”
    Mr. GERRY’S proposition being now before Committee, Mr. WILSON & Mr. HAMILTON move that the last part of it [viz. “Wch. Sl. not be afterwds. passed unless by ——– parts of each branch of the National legislature] be struck out, so as to give the Executive an absolute negative on the laws. There was no danger they thought of such a power being too much exercised. It was mentioned by Col: HAMILTON that the King of G. B. had not exerted his negative since the Revolution.
    Mr. GERRY sees no necessity for so great a controul over the legislature as the best men in the Community would be comprised in the two branches of it.
    Docr. FRANKLIN, said he was sorry to differ from his colleague for whom he had a very great respect, on any occasion, but he could not help it on this. He had had some experience of this check in the Executive on the Legislature, under the proprietary Government of Pena. The negative of the Governor was constantly made use of to extort money. No good law whatever could be passed without a private bargain with him. An increase of his salary, or some donation, was always made a condition; till at last it became the regular practice, to have orders in his favor on the Treasury, presented along with the bills to be signed, so that he might actually receive the former before he should sign the latter. When the Indians were scalping the western people, and notice of it arrived, the concurrence of the Governor in the means of self- defence could not be got, till it was agreed that his Estate should be exempted from taxation: so that the people were to fight for the security of his property, whilst he was to bear no share of the burden. This was a mischievous sort of check. If the Executive was to have a Council, such a power would be less objectionable. It was true the King of G. B. had not, as was said, exerted his negative since the Revolution; but that matter was easily explained. The bribes and emoluments now given to the members of parliament rendered it unnecessary, every thing being done according to the will of the Ministers. He was afraid, if a negative should be given as proposed, that more power and money would be demanded, till at last eno’ would be gotten to influence & bribe the Legislature into a compleat subjection to the will of the Executive.

    Tuesday June 5, 1787
    GOVERNOR Livingston from New Jersey, took his seat.

    The words, “one or more” were struck out before “inferior tribunals” as an amendment to the last clause of Resoln. Th The Clause-“that the National Judiciary be chose by the National Legislature,” being under consideration.
    Mr. WILSON opposed the appointmt. of Judges by the National Legisl: Experience shewed the impropriety of such appointmts. by numerous bodies. Intrigue, partiality, and concealment were the necessary consequences. A principal reason for unity in the executive was that officers might be appointed by a single, responsible person.
    Mr. RUTLIDGE was by no means disposed to grant so great a power to any single person. The people will think we are leaning too much towards Monarchy. He was against establishing any national tribunal except a single supreme one. The State tribunals are most proper to decide in all cases in the first instance.
    Docr. FRANKLIN observed that two modes of chusing the Judges had been mentioned, to wit, by the Legislature and by the Executive. He wished such other modes to be suggested as might occur to other gentlemen; it being a point of great moment. He would mention one which he had understood was practiced in Scotland. He then in a brief and entertaining manner related a Scotch mode, in which the nomination proceeded from the Lawyers, who always selected the ablest of the profession in order to get rid of him, and share his practice among themselves. It was here he said the interest of the electors to make the best choice, which should always be made the case if possible.

  12. Kathy says:

    Given Trump’s new imposition of old travel restrictions to Cuba, I have to ask: does anything legally stop any American from flying to, say, Mexico City, and taking a flight to Cuba?

    Airlines are rather particular about checking travel documents before checking you in or letting you board the plane, and that’s pretty much it.

  13. Kathy says:

    Here’s the world’s latest paper airplane.

    By that I mean it exists only “on paper” (“on screen” doesn’t lend itself to a metaphor). I grant you it’s a novel(ish) take on the blended body/flying wing notion, and it has the backing of a major airline (KLM). I’ve no doubt it will be as efficient as its designers claim, either. But I’d bet it won’t ever be built.

    There are many paper airplanes of novel design littering the history of aviation. I recall actually being excited over Boeing’s 7J7 paper airplane, and the McDonnell Douglas MD-94, back in the late 80s.

    The 7J7 was particularly cool. aside form the unducted fan engines, it was pitched as a twin aisle narrow(ish) body, with 2-2-2 seating and two aisles. That would have changed passenger experience in a good way, and ended the promising career of the 737.

    At least for a while. As fuel costs rose, the 7J7 and any successors would have morphed into densified 2-3-2 seating, just as the 777 is now 3-4-3 rather than the intended 3-3-3.

    These engines were supposed to give the same performance as a regular turbofan jet engine, be quieter (I never bought that), and far more fuel efficient.

    Nothing ever came of it.

    Other notables include the McDonnell Douglas MD-12 double-deck 4-engine design (given what happened with the A380, perhaps it’s just as well it stayed on paper), the Boeing Sonic Cruiser, and the Boeing 2707 SST along with a plethora of other supersonic designs.

    Curiously I know of no airbus paper airplanes, though they keep coming up with innovative cabin ideas that never seem to make it.

  14. Stormy Dragon says:

    Another week, another Republican politician “accidentally” mentions wanting to kill LGBT people:

    Alabama mayor defends comments on ‘killing out’ gay and transgender people, ‘baby killers’

  15. Stormy Dragon says:


    Here’s the world’s latest paper airplane.

    I got excited and clicked the link expecting a super fancy plane made out of paper and now I’m sad.

  16. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Ask and ye shall retrieve.

    It won’t fly, but IMO paper airplanes don’t get fancier than that.

  17. Mister Bluster says:

    45 years of Cardboard Boats!

  18. Mister Bluster says:

    Downvoting the Founding Fathers!
    Goddamn Tories, get over it!
    You lost the war!

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: That paper airplane is a form of flying wing. Flying wings of one form or another come up now and again. The B-2 is a successful flying wing, but a design willing to compromise on everything else for minimum radar return. I loved the bit in Independence Day where they used the B-2 to quote the 1953 War of the Worlds scene with the Northrop flying wing bomber. However the Northrop plane wasn’t successful. The argument against flying wings is that for any given mission profile there is an optimum wing design, and that’s not it.

  20. Kathy says:


    In a regular plane, if you’re at an aisle seat far from the window, you can’t see the wing through the window. When the plane banks, you can see it on the side opposite the turn, as it rises when the plane turns. Now imagine sitting in the middle of the wing during that turn. That’s what passengers inside a flying wing would face.

    That’s the main reason why I think it won’t get built. Another is how the internal seating arrangement would be like, and where the exits would be located. A big part of passenger plane design consists in making sure it can be evacuated quickly.

  21. Stormy Dragon says:


    It also has to work with existing airport jetways, because airports aren’t going to do major renovations just to support a few planes.

  22. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    You know, I just assumed that it would. I did not check the specs and compare them to existing aircraft.

    The A380 needed special accommodations, and that was a small factor in its demise. Other wide bodies can make do with existing jetways, even when not optimized for their use. For example, Aeromexico, and Mexicana to a lesser extent, operated the DC-10 at gates with just one jetway rather than two for quicker boarding.

  23. MarkedMan says:

    Random airplane thoughts.
    – I used to travel a lot on long haul flights (>7 hours per leg), mostly in business class. There were exactly two things that would make me change carriers: lie flat seats and the 787. Lie flat (which only matters to first or business) for obvious reasons, but the 787 because they pressurize the cabin to the equivalent of 5000 ft altitude as opposed to the 8000 ft in virtually every other plane. Believe me, in a 10-14 hour flight you notice the difference.

    I flew the A380 once (twice?) but it didn’t make much difference to me as a passenger.

    The KLM plane would save fuel and that would be a great thing. But if I had to pick a few innovations that would make a real difference for passengers it would be things like jetways that allowed boarding and deplaning through more than one door (which is a feature of the jetways that support the A380). Nowadays, when I find myself sitting in the way way back and waiting 15-20 minutes before I can get out of my seat, I look longingly at that doorway just behind me. Another one would be some kind of standardized luggage that would allow bags to be snapped into universal racks. The whole rack could be loaded at luggage check, put on a flatbed and slid into the plane, then reversed on the way back. No belts when you got to luggage claim, just racks that were wheeled onto the floor. A sophisticated rack could even text you which rack and where on that rack your bag was.

  24. Kathy says:


    [..] the 787 because they pressurize the cabin to the equivalent of 5000 ft altitude as opposed to the 8000 ft in virtually every other plane. Believe me, in a 10-14 hour flight you notice the difference.

    I wonder about this a bit. I live in Mexico City, which sits at about 2,400 meters above sea level, or around 7,400 ft. From there to 8,000 ft doesn’t seem too much of a much.

    I do notice pressure changes when I fly, but they don’t usually bother me, not do I feel I lack enough air.

    The 787, though, also has higher humidity, which prevents dehydration.

    I recall in JFK boarding an El Al 747 once and an Aeromexico DC10 using two jetways. One near the front, one around the middle.

    In a few small airports that handle mainline passenger jets, they have no jetways but use portable stairs. Usually they open the door at the front and the one in the back, put up stairs for both, and board and deplane both ways. I’ve experienced this many times flying out/into Toluca (RIP) and Ciudad del Carmen. Getting out of the plane is particularly fast.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Fair enough. Coming from Mexico City there isn’t really any benefit. But from the coast it does make a difference

  26. Kathy says:


    I may have been even higher than 8,000 feet out in the open. Driving out of Mex City, towards the southeast, there’s a pass that’s really high (the city sits in a valley surrounded by mountains), I think like 3,000 to 3,200 meters, well over 9,000 ft.

    It may be lower, maybe 2,800 meters (still about 9,000 ft). There’s a sign marking the altitude, but I haven’t done that drive in years.

    In any case, you climb up to the pass very gradually and begin to come down almost at once. The rest of the drive towards Cuernavaca in Morelos state is all downhill.