Sunday’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. Kylopod says:

    The other day, reporting on Pence’s public statement that he had no “right” to overturn the election, the initial headline over at Political Wire was, “Pence Says He Had No Power to Overturn Election.” (It was soon corrected–perhaps in response to my comment, perhaps not.) The power to overturn an election vs. the right to do so is an important distinction that a lot of people overlook.

    It’s actually part of a larger conversation I’ve been having since a while before 2020, regarding Trump’s authoritarian tendencies: what exactly is meant by saying Trump (or his cronies) can’t do something? I kept running into misunderstandings over this. For example, when there was speculation that Trump would try to postpone the election, I would tell people that was not within his power. Then, I frequently got the response, “He’s done a lot of things that aren’t within his power.” But when I said it wasn’t within his power, I wasn’t saying it would be illegitimate or illegal for him to postpone the election, I meant it was literally not within his power, i.e. ability. In other words, nothing Trump could conceivably do as a person, legal or otherwise, was going to cause the election to be postponed. Even that explanation often led people to accuse me of being naive and complacent. But when you look over his presidency, while I definitely agree there were things Trump did which were corrupt abuses of his authority as president, there were many things he clearly wanted to do but was unable to simply because they were out of his tiny hands.

    That brings me to Pence’s statement. What would have happened if Pence had declared Trump the winner of 2020? My assumption is that it would have been a big mess that would have further eroded the democratic system–but the end result would most likely have still been a Biden inauguration. The vp simply doesn’t control the levers of succession; his or her role is ceremonial, similar to the “powers” of the Queen of England or the presidents in some other parliamentary democracies. Now, it’s conceivable that Trump could have used the ensuing chaos as a pretext to take over through other means. I’m not denying that possibility. All I’m saying is that what Pence did or didn’t do in the Capitol wasn’t going to directly hand Trump that power.

    Our system has its vulnerabilities, and the possibility that Trump may find a way to exploit them to regain power is still very real. But he and his cronies can’t just wave a magic wand and make it do their bidding. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  2. CSK says:

    What you say is true–but Trump’s supporters either don’t know that, or, in some cases, refuse to believe it’s true. Trump himself either doesn’t know it, or–entirely possible–does know it, and disregards it.

  3. Sleeping Dog says:


    To borrow from David Frum, “the pterodactyls have learned to use doorknobs.”

    Yes, there is a difference between a right, the power and the ability to make something happen. Trump could steal the 2024 election, but he will need the cooperation of one or more state legislatures and the court system. He won’t have the right, the power and likely lacks the ability to successfully execute a steal.

  4. Sleeping Dog says:


    It won’t matter what Trump and his supporters believe or want. There will still be a process that needs to occur, that he and they can’t control. He would need compliant state legislatures in enough states to garner the required number of electoral votes. That might require near unanimity on the part of R’s and it is one thing to vote for bills to suppress the vote and another to ex post facto strip the voters of their say. Then its off to the court system and in 2020, even Trump district court judges denied his filings.

    Is it possible, maybe, but not likely. Trump’s best chance to stay in power was when he was prez and had the ability to declare a state of emergency.

  5. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Oh, I know. You’re quite right. But again, that’s doesn’t matter to Trump’s most ardent supporters. You’ve heard the threats of Civil War II. I don’t actually believe them, even though the Trumpkins claim to have all the guns, but there is the possibility of some conflict, I suppose, if/when Trump loses in 2024.

  6. Sleeping Dog says:


    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ you can’t fix stupid.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    Underlying everything TFG and his minions tried to do was an assumption that the Supremes would approve it. People will argue that the integrity of the courts held. But the courts were presented with trivia.

    Had Pence refused to accept the results of enough states to throw a disputed election to the House, had enough state legislatures gone along with it to create cover, and had the House (which votes then as states, with Rs having majorities in a majority of state delegations) selected Trump, the Supremes would then not be ruling on trivia, but on whether a D or an R became prez, And the Supremes have the power to declare legal whatever five out of six Federalist asshats vote is legal. They’re not going to throw away their legitimacy over trivia, but would they for a win?

    The Rs need an improbable setup to try again, but they’re trying to improve the odds. And I have no confidence the Court, as currently constituted, would be a final bar to their success.

  8. Kathy says:

    Kamala Harris should declare herself the winner of the 2024 election now and spare us two years of primaries, debates, and a very expensive election.

  9. Mu Yixiao says:

    My project for this weekend: My Deda’s* scythe.

    The blade and all the other iron bits (iron, not steel!) were completely rusted. I pulled them all off and cleaned them up (see below), sanded down the wood and gave it two coats of poly. The only things I replaced were one wood screw (the existing was was rusted away, and I needed a bigger one to fit in the existing hole) one washer, and 2 hex nuts.

    OMG! Anyone who works with metal: If you haven’t heard of it, I highly recommend Evapo-Rust. Bio-degradeable, reusable, non-toxic, “safe for skin and eyes” (not going to test that last part), and makes rust disappear.

    I can only assume it’s made from the unicorn tears and the blood of consecrated virgins, because nothing this amazing can have originated anywhere but in the black arts.

    I’d previously spent hours working on that blade with a wire wheel–to zero effect. I just got smoother rust. One night soaking in Evapo-Rust, hit it with a wire wheel for a couple minutes, and it was shiny!

    ETA: I’ve been getting video of my projects. If I ever get around to editing them, I’ll post the links.

    * That’s Croatian for grandfather. He’s always been Deda or Gumpa (Gum Grandpa–because he would hand out Wrigley’s White gum to all the kids in the neighborhood (after getting permission from the parents)).

  10. gVOR08 says:

    The website “WWII Today” has a review of a book titled Hitler’s Court about the insiders and sycophants in Hitler’s inner circle. This, from the review, sounded familiar.

    A picture emerges of a group of unattractive individuals all vying for attention and influence with Hitler. It is clear that he too was dependent on them to varying degrees – although the extent that they were able to influence him is less clear.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: thanks for the rust remover tip. I’m going to order some right now

  12. CSK says:

    Yes, that does have a familiar ring, although the description “unattractive” strikes me as a staggering understatement regarding those who flocked to Hitler and Trump.

    Unattractive physically, morally, temperamentally, and intellectually. “Loathsome” is probably a better word.

  13. Stormy Dragon says:

    The scandal around Joe Rogan’s show as the scandal around the show continues to grow, from his anti-vaxx stances, to his frequent use of racial slurs, to the extent he has become a “trailhead” for alt-right radicalization. Spotify has now deleted more than a hundred episodes of the show to cover up the degree to which Rogan has provided the venue where his listeners get introduced to the white-supremacists speakers and organizations that will lead them deeper into the movement.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Mu Yixiao: @MarkedMan: I’ll second the recommendation. Good stuff.

  15. Stormy Dragon says:

    Ginni Thomas has apparently hosting weekly secret meetings between her husband and GOP politicians including Ron DeSantis:

    Emails we obtained, reported on by @politico, suggest that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is in regular contact with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.In a June 2021, Ginni Thomas said DeSantis should be familiar with her because “my husband has been in contact with him[.]”— American Oversight (@weareoversight) February 4, 2022

  16. CSK says:

    We’ve known this for quite a while, but the extent of it seems to have confounded some people. Not me:

    I wasn’t, however, aware of the burn bags till now.

    I’s an object lesson in how little Trump cares for the law.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: Trump cares a good deal about the law. If he didn’t he wouldn’t be so eager to destroy evidence.

  18. CSK says:

    I should have said he cares little for abiding by the law.

  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Mu check these out
    Rust removal

    quick and dirty electro plating

    Then go out this guys page and go down a rabbit-hole

  20. Dude Kembro says:

    @Kathy: The debates are dead already aren’t they? Aren’t Republicans pulling out? Trump lost debates to Hillary and Biden, doubt they want side-by-sides of 78 year old Trump getting shellacked by Harris or Buttigieg.

  21. DK says:

    @CSK: Also another reminder of how phony the anti-Hillary Emailghazigatepalooza witch hunt was.

  22. DK says:

    @Stormy Dragon: It’s okay. Justice Barrett will soon defend Thomas and the Apartheid Court from claims of gross partisanship. At a closed-door Federelist Society fundraiser for DeathSantis 2024. While wearing a “Stop Woke Media” cap gifted her by Justice Alito.

  23. JohnSF says:

    Now for the important news of the weekend 🙂
    The first of the Six Nations:
    Ireland 29 Wales 7
    Scotland 20 England 17
    France 37 Italy 10

    Ireland off to a great start, thrashing last years champions (albeit Wales missing a lot of experienced players).
    Scotland vs England was a great match to watch, even if the Scots won 🙁
    The Scots played a blinder; they often do against England at Murrayfield, but this year they seem to have stepped up a level.
    Next weekend is France vs Ireland, and I reckon that’s likely to be the decisive match of the ‘Nations this year.

    Eastpondia sports report ends 🙂

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Looking good.

  25. CSK says:

    Good point. “Lock him up!”

  26. dazedandconfused says:

    @Dude Kembro:
    The incorporation of bear spray and billy clubs into Presidential debates stands to make them must-watch TeeVee.

  27. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Sleeping Dog:


    I counter with Alec Steele (nominative determinism),

    This guy–along with a little reinforcement from Adam Savage–is what got me back into the basement.

    When I got back from China, I had 6 months without work. I spent a lot of time in the basement building things. I set my style for benches–which I call “prairie style”. I built a lot of stuff–held back only by my need to conserve funds.

    And then… it dropped off. I don’t know why. I just… stopped. “Making” has always been a passion of mine. I was probably 6 when Dad first handed me a hammer, a can full of nails, and a pile of scraps from building our cottage.

    I would build “boats”. Or rather, I’d pound a bunch of scraps together and take them out to the lake to play with them. This is where I first learned about physics–specifically “center of gravity”. Yeah… lots of my boats floated better on their side. 🙂 So I learned about keels.

    When I switched from pre-med/engineering to theatre tech in uni, it was an epiphany. Making things was beautiful. It was amazing.

    I remember one day a couple years after graduating; I was working at the performing arts center across the street from the University Theatre. I was having an “off” day. I walked across to the University scene shop and went to the Technical Director (who was a fellow IATSE hand and a friend). “Mike? I need to build something.”

    There was a specific flat (scenery wall) in the show they were building that was really complicated. Mike didn’t think any of the students were ready for that level of build. He handed me the working drawing, I grabbed a pair of safety glasses, put in ear plugs, blocked out the world, and slipped into a completely different state of consciousness. I “became one with the wood”. It would have made an excellent montage for an 80’s movie.

    Alec Steele, Adam Savage, and a couple others have inspired me to recapture that feeling. AND… they’ve inspired me to set up cameras so I can edit down a video of each project. I’m a much better carpenter than I am a video editor, but I do well enough with the videos. Some will include me talking about what I’m doing, but some short ones will just be montages. I’ll let y’all know when I get the YouTube channel set up.

    And… Things are going to get better. I’m getting about $1k back on my taxes. That’s all going to tools. The biggest portion is going to pay for a bench planer and a sanding table. That leaves me about $300 to replace tools that were stolen or destroyed while I was in China, and add a few new small tools to my arsenal.

    If anyone has recommendations for $10 tools they absolutely love, let me (us!) know.

  28. Mister Bluster says:

    NYC Mayor Eric Adams apologizes for using racial slur

    Following is a sanitized version of the Mayors remarks. Scroll down to read the unedited script.

    Speaking to a Harlem business group, Adams said “Every day in the police department, I kicked those crackers’ a**, man! I was unbelievable in the police department with 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement.” The line drew applause.


    Speaking to a Harlem business group, Adams said “Every day in the police department, I kicked those crackers’ ass, man! I was unbelievable in the police department with 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement.” The line drew applause.

    At least he didn’t say: “Ignorant crackers a**!”

  29. senyordave says:

    @Stormy Dragon: He said that going to a black neighborhood was like going to the planet of the apes (I’m paraphrasing). But he’s a comedian trying out new material – he couldn’t possibly be garden variety racist.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    @Mister Bluster: While I have nothing to say about the incident you mentioned, I would just like to go on record with this prediction: Eric Adams is going to end his political career in jail.

    That is all.

  31. Mister Bluster says:


    I no nothing about New York City politics and I can not predict the future.
    Would a former President USA and a former Governor NYS and and two former Mayors NYC in the same prison yard at the same time be just an opium pipe smokers dream?

  32. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Alec bookmarked as well.

    If you are dealing with metals and particularly small parts, you may want to investigate and ultrasonic cleaner. I was surprised how inexpensive they were. I picked up a 2.5 L one at Harbor Freight for ~$85 and saw a 10L for under $200 on amazon. The small one is all I need as I have access to a large one if needed.

  33. Gustopher says:

    @senyordave: Of course he’s not a garden variety racist — he doesn’t garden.

    He’s more of a Garden State racist, as he comes from Newark, NJ.

  34. Gustopher says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Speaking to a Harlem business group, Adams said “Every day in the police department, I kicked those crackers’ ass, man! I was unbelievable in the police department with 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement.”

    Cracker has no power as a slur. The most offensive thing there is that if reported verbatim, “ass” should be “asses” — plural to match “those crackers,” unless the crackers in question were sharing a single ass.

    Adams may be a scumbag — he lies about being vegan according to many reports, which is like being vocally vegan but worse — but that line can easily be interpreted as how he had to work harder to succeed with the old fashioned racist white folks in charge.