Thursday’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. Rick DeMent says:

    U.S. bishops urge senators to oppose revival of the Equal Rights Amendment

    I need some help here, can anyone interpret exactly what the Argument is here from the Catholic Bishops is that they seem to be terrified that this amendment will make arguments for a right to abortion more solid in a way that the current equal protection clause does not.

    But more to the point, what right do they have to subject the rest of the country to the laminations of bronze age sheep herders? The First amendment already protects the church from their 1st century ideas about sex and gender roles.

    What I find especially chuckle worthy is the claim by old school constatives that the rights made explicit in the ERA are already redundant since the 14th amendment already protects the rights of women (by virtue of them being a US citizen). It is fascinating to point out that it took over a half century to get women the vote after the 14th amendment was passed and women always seem to be the ones who require special treatment especially according to religious leaders in the country who are largely men.

    Also, one can cite the long litany of “special rules” regarding what women could and could not do economically such as get credit in their own name, owning property, and yes, deciding what to do when they are pregnant. There is no law that will compel priests to stop calling abortion from the pulpit. That is the guarantee of the first amendment. But this stance by the Catholic Bishops is outrageous. They are explicitly saying the country should be led around by the nose by their idiosyncratic beliefs and the freedoms of women should be neutered because that is what they believe.

    The 14th has never protected women as “citizens” of the US, and frankly we can’t move forward as a people clinging to outdated bronze age thinking. The arrogance is stunning. This interpretation of Religion freedom as the freedom for them to impose their beliefs on others belongs in the dust heap of bad ideas like “tax cuts raise revenues” and “cutting regulations makes us all safer”.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    I need some help here, can anyone interpret exactly what the Argument is here from the Catholic Bishops is that they seem to be terrified that this amendment will make arguments for a right to abortion more solid in a way that the current equal protection clause does not.

    From the article you link:

    The bishops noted that activists for abortion rights, such as the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) have touted the ERA as a means of overturning pro-life laws throughout the country. NARAL stated in 2019 that the ERA, if ratified, “would reinforce the constitutional right to abortion by clarifying that the sexes have equal rights, which would require judges to strike down anti-abortion laws because they violate both the constitutional right to privacy and sexual equality.”

    In at least two states with equal-rights amendments with language analogous to that of the federal ERA — Connecticut and New Mexico — courts have interpreted the amendments to require government funding of abortion, the bishops said.

    “Both supporters and opponents of abortion believe that the federal ERA would have this effect, as well as restrain the ability of federal and state governments to enact other measures regulating abortion, such as third-trimester or partial-birth abortion bans, parental consent, informed consent, conscience-related exemptions, and other provisions,” the bishops wrote.

    “While in the early years of the ERA debate some considered these abortion threats to be remote or ‘scare tactics,’ abortion advocates in recent years have freely admitted that they intend to use the ERA to litigate such abortion claims and anticipate that such cases would be successful.”

    Additionally, the bishops warned that the amendment could also promote a redefinition of sex discrimination that could affect the ability of churches and other faith-based organizations to obtain and utilize conscience protections whenever there is a claimed conflict with the sexual nondiscrimination norms that the ERA would adopt. The ERA could also lead to requirements that would require health care professionals to perform, and secular and religious employers to cover, “gender transition surgery,” the bishops said.

    “Since the equal protection clause already subjects sex discrimination to a rigorous constitutional test, the ERA presumably is intended to do something more. And that ‘something more’ is an opening for proponents to argue that the ERA has applications such as those described above. There is little question that the ERA would unleash a generation or more of litigation to determine its meaning, likely resulting in some, if not all, of the consequences described here,” the letter says.

    That seems pretty clear. There is already precedent for such rulings.

    But more to the point, what right do they have to subject the rest of the country to the laminations of bronze age sheep herders?

    They have the same rights of free expression as other Americans. I happen to think that groups who engage in political lobbying should lose tax-exempt status but that’s never been the law here.

  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    If you need a reason to support revival of the equal rights amendment, knowing that the Catholic bishops oppose it is a pretty good one.

    Realistically, there is no hope for the adoption of the equal rights amendment. It failed previously in a time when the politics were fare more favorable than they are today.

  4. Rick DeMent says:

    @James Joyner:

    Sure but despite the protections of the 14th woman were still treated as second class citizens for a long long time, that’s the point, and still are in many ways. The ERA would make plain what should have been a no brainer. That they want to make it about abortion is on them, not the amndmentment.

    Yes they have the right to free expression but as you pointed out, they have become a tax exempt lobbying group for a policy that a decent sized majority has rejected over and over. Free expression is one thing, but trying to make the beliefs of 2000 year old sheep herders into law is a few tokes over the line of “free expression”.

    Here is another example, it fine to say that you don’t believe in “Woke ideology” but now the GOP apparently wants to enshrine into law in more then a few places that you can’t use certain social metrics in your investment decisions. Where is the defense of “free expression” there? No where Mon frère. It’s almost like contemporary conservatives think that it’s Freedom for me but not for thee. And every time we give these people an inch they take a mile.

  5. Jen says:

    I was busy with work yesterday, so sorry if this is a repeat, but, wow this is…off:

    Dark money and special deals: How Leonard Leo and his friends benefited from his judicial activism
    The Federalist Society co-chairman’s lifestyle took a lavish turn after he became Donald Trump’s adviser on judicial nominations.

    Leo’s own personal wealth appeared to have ballooned as his fundraising prowess accelerated since his efforts to cement the Supreme Court’s conservative majority helped to bring about its decision to overturn abortion rights. Most recently, Leo reaped a $1.6 billion windfall from a single donor in what is likely the biggest single political gift in U.S. history.

    Fundraising reports for 2022 have yet to be filed but spending by Leo’s aligned nonprofits on his for-profit business in 2020 and 2021 demonstrates the extent to which his money-raising benefited his own bottom line. And it shows how campaign-style politics — and the generous paydays that go along with it — are now adjacent to the Supreme Court, the one U.S. institution that’s supposed to be immune to it.

    This stinks to High Heaven and I really hope the IRS leans hard into this because this is exactly the sort of nonsense that dark money makes possible.

  6. CSK says:

    Donald Trump demands that Rupert Murdoch apologize to Fox viewers for denying Trump’s election lies.

  7. just nutha says:

    @Rick DeMent: “Freedom for me but not for thee” is a longstanding conservative principle, going back to the divine rights of kings.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @Jen: MSNBC did a bit on this POLITICO story last night. They noted that the IRS has basically stopped enforcing dark money rules, both because of lack of resources and a Trump appointed director. They expressed some hope, or at least a wish, that the current director would be more aggressive. Someone said, without a cite, that Leo et al have spent 500 million shaping the federal judiciary. They also pointed out that a lot of money was originally spent legalizing dark money and now protecting and expanding the rights of dark money.

    Koch et al money set out decades ago to find ways to impose minority rule. Apropos our discussion yesterday on the major questions doctrine, they’ve largely succeeded in being able to control a country of 330 million with only five votes.

    Conservative acquaintances have expressed the idea that democracy* means the poor majority will vote to take everything away from the rich. It’s never been my impression that the rich are without means to defend themselves. No matter the form of government, some “elite” of cream and scum will rise to the top. The question has never been whether the rich or the poor shall rule, only whether the poor, and the middle, and the not quite as rich, will have their interests represented at all.

    * re the old chestnut, “We’re a republic, not a democracy”. There’s phrasing in the education bill DeUseless is pushing through the FL lege that state colleges and universities must “promote the values necessary to preserve the constitutional republic”. I don’t know what that means. The legislators don’t know what that means. And professors who won’t know what it means will err considerably on the side of caution.

  9. wr says:

    @Rick DeMent: “Where is the defense of “free expression” there?”

    You are absolutely entitled to free expression as long as what you want to express freely is what the Republican party claims to believe at any given moment. You have a problem with that, commie?

  10. CSK says:


    Excuse me; I believe you meant to say “globalist” rather than “commie.” “Globalist” is the new Satan.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: It’s so hard to keep up with conservatives’ immutable, eternal verities.

  12. Kylopod says:


    Donald Trump demands that Rupert Murdoch apologize to Fox viewers for denying Trump’s election lies.

    We need to take a moment to appreciate the implicit logic of Trump’s argument. We know the reason Murdoch made this admission is because he’s afraid of being charged with perjury, and in his personal cost-benefit analysis, that’s a greater risk than the financial loss Fox might incur from the admission. But since Trump is claiming Fox was telling the truth when they questioned the election results, that would imply that Murdoch is now lying under oath as well as throwing his own network under the bus. Why in God’s name would he do that?

  13. CSK says:


    I don’t think they know what globalist means.


    Murdoch wouldn’t do it, but Trump is incapable of thinking things through to their logical conclusions.

  14. Kathy says:


    Murdoch wouldn’t do it, but Trump is incapable of thinking things through to their logical conclusions.

    That is so not true.

    Benito is incapable of thinking. Period.

  15. Gustopher says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    The 14th has never protected women as “citizens” of the US, and frankly we can’t move forward as a people clinging to outdated bronze age thinking.

    The 14th Amendment was just ignored, and I’d much rather have the equal protections clause strengthened as is — whether through judicial interpretation or an amendment that says “really, when we said equal protections for all citizens we meant it, regardless of race, gender, religion or whatever other bullshit divisions you fuckers think up next*” — than an Equal Rights Amendment that singles out women and implies that others aren’t protected.

    *: I think we can all agree that there aren’t enough f-bombs in the constitution.

  16. CSK says:


    You’re right. Forgive me.

  17. Kathy says:

    And this is why you should keep your seatbelt on through the whole flight, except when you need to use the lavatory.

    I don’t recall ever experiencing strong turbulence. One time there was extensive turbulence. It’s harmless, but unnerving. Especially capped off with a crosswind landing.

  18. dazedandconfused says:


    My cynical mind has convinced me that Rupert fessed up because he knows it will make no difference. He’s a gifted businessman who knows his market share very, very well….and he knows the difficulty in cross examining an honest man. Dance around and quibble and you’re up there for God knows how long. Speak the truth and it’s over.

  19. CSK says:

    Not exactly turbulence, but…

    Once when I was flying back to Boston from London, one of the exit doors opened shortly after take-off; we were about a mile high. That was alarming. A flight attendant calmly shut the door and held it shut till we got up enough so the air pressure would hold it in place.

    The flight attendant earned her pay that day. No muss, no fuss.

  20. Mister Bluster says:

    Wayne Shorter

    All Blues

  21. Mikey says:


    I don’t recall ever experiencing strong turbulence.

    One time on a flight from DC to Frankfurt we took off straight into a storm. That was the worst turbulence I’ve experienced and I’ve flown several times a year for the last 20+ years. I’m not sure if it qualified as “strong” turbulence, but many passengers were shrieking in terror and I got as close to throwing up as I ever have on a passenger jet. Fortunately since it was just after takeoff, everyone was buckled in.

  22. Kathy says:


    I’d never heard of anything like that happening in the cabin.

    A cargo door opening brought down a Turkish Airlines DC-10 over France in the 70s. It was the largest loss of life single aircraft accident to that day.

    BTW, the cabin crew is responsible for checking all the exit doors are locked and armed. You may have heard the pilot or first officer issue the command to arm and crosscheck before takeoff. it means half the crew locks and arms a set of doors, then checks those the rest of the crew took care of.

    I don’t know if this includes the wing exit doors, though, as these are never opened while on the ground.

    Any clue how the slide didn’t deploy? They do when the doors are armed.

  23. Mikey says:

    Brought to you by “the party of small government and individual liberty.”

    Florida bill would require bloggers who write about governor to register with the state

    Florida Sen. Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary) wants bloggers who write about Gov. Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and other members of the Florida executive cabinet or legislature to register with the state or face fines.

    Brodeur’s proposal, Senate Bill 1316: Information Dissemination, would require any blogger writing about government officials to register with the Florida Office of Legislative Services or the Commission on Ethics.

  24. CSK says:


    This was one of the rear exit doors, as I recall. The plane was a 747. I don’t remember hearing the pilot or first officer issue any instructions to the cabin crew. I still have the memory of a young man racing up the aisle to the cockpit to alert the crew there.

  25. CSK says:


    Brodeur doesn’t seem too well-acquainted with the First Amendment, does he?

  26. Kathy says:


    Sometimes the order for arm and crosscheck is given on the intercom at the FA station.

    Still, someone did not lock the door and someone didn’t check. Fortunately, it wasn’t armed, either. A slide deploying mid flight will royally eff up the aerodynamics.

  27. CSK says:


    Indeed. I might not be here now if the slide had deployed.

  28. Beth says:


    So, I moved this response from the Dilhole thread, cause it fits better here.

    “Lesbian” is a porn category that has a strong appeal to straight men.

    It’s a bit silly to use a different word to describe gay men and gay women, but it polls so much better. Our society is dominated by men, and men are led by their dicks.

    So, I don’t know how my brain got on the subject, but I was thinking the other day about how the whole concept of “lesbians” sounded hot and amazing to me as a 13ish year old boy. Then I looked at my son, and then at my Partner.

    I realized then that we have single handed my ruined the idea of lesbians being hot for him. I had the mental image of a couple of teen boys grunting about how hot lesbians are and my son just turning to them all dejected and saying “Lesbians are my moms”.

    For the record, as an expansive Bi, I think pretty much any combination of consenting adults is pretty hot.

  29. de stijl says:

    I am confused by, and frankly annoyed by people calling out “spoiler”.

    My comment was “Just wait.” In response to someone asking a specific question about a character in a multi season show.

    Someone called me out for spoiling. My first initial response was “Fuck you!” which I decided was too provocative and decided not to post.

    But I was pissed.

    I think spoiler purity has gone way too far. Yeah, I get not intentionally raining on somebody’s parade.

    But what is the cut-off date? What is the circumstance?

    Spoiler: Rosebud is a sled. I’ve now ruined Citizen Kane.

    I haven’t. It’s a journey to get there and understand. That’s the fucking purpose.

    What are the rules?

    If you fresh brand new to The Last Of Us and have not played the games maybe don’t read the comments on reaction videos.

    I know what is going to happen next two episodes. Guaranteed. I know the outline. Next Sunday will be David. I know this. David will appear. I also know the show will change enough of the story to surprise me.

    I know what’s going to broadly happen in the season finale. And, man, will that be divisive!

    What is the protocol for spoilers? What is the time limit? I recently saw someone trying to spoiler shame someone about some random comment on the first Star Wars movie.

    Oi! I don’t want to be a jackass, but I also want to be able to freely discuss.

    I can appreciate the “no spoilers” mindset and it also passes me off on a fundamental level.

    People can’t critique because noobs are ignorant? That’s a really bad take.

    I acknowledge your ignorance, please catch the fuck up so we can have a good conversation. We’re waiting. And it isn’t my job to hold your hand through acquiring basic cultural competence, that’s on you. Rosebud is a sled. Santa isn’t real.

    Spoiler purity drives me nuts.

  30. Gustopher says:

    @Beth: Lesbians make me feel irrelevant. I never understood the interest other men have. Isn’t the measure of all things for a man his penis?

    There those lesbians are, doing their own thing, not needing me, or any man, or any penis. Why would I be interested?

    I just do not get it.

    I understand this makes me very weird as a dude who is attracted to women (not exclusively attracted to women, but should that matter?).

  31. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: if a movie or show can be ruined by knowing the ending ahead of time, it probably kind of sucks to begin with.

    However, there are are times when the surprise adds to it, and it is more fun to get the surprise — I wish the BBC did not tease the two Masters in one episode of Doctor Who before hand and spoil the entire audience (it would have been such a wonderful surprise, as he was wearing a disguise for most of the episode before revealing his identity at the cliffhanger).

    I think one week after something aired is completely fair game. And people very worried about spoilers need to be extra careful to avoid things anyway.

    (That BBC teaser trailer still bothers me… it would be like a trailer for The Sixth Sense starting with a voice over of “Bruce Willis is dead, and only this child can see him…”)