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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    California in North America has ended up being at the frontline of the climate crisis in recent years, lurching between extreme drought and excessive rain. To understand what might have triggered these extremes, researchers modelled the interplay between the three major drivers of the weather in this region and the impact that greenhouse warming has had on these drivers.

    Their results, published in Nature Climate and Atmospheric Science, showed that the warming climate has shifted the path of the jet stream, increasing the likelihood of weather patterns getting jammed in place for a month or longer over western North America.

    Those Chinese don’t miss a trick.

  2. Tony W says:

    I’m still thinking of new downstream ramifications if SCOTUS decides presidents are immune from criminal proceedings.

    Impeachment will never happen, for example, because the president can just arrest members of Congress (and heck, their families too) who threaten to vote for impeachment.

    The concept is insane.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tony W: The concept is insane.

    Hence, the Court conservatives love for it.

  4. Stormy Dragon says:

    Nothing says you’re the righteous party like going “if you tell the cops about this, I’ll kill you” /sarc

    Israel tells U.S. it will punish Palestinian Authority if ICC issues warrants

  5. Kathy says:

    @Tony W:

    1 Lardass would die with a 9 mm. hemorrhage.

    2 99% of all Republicans in Congress will wind up in prison or dead.

    3 Biden wins the election with 99.9% of the popular vote and 538 electoral votes (take that St. Ronnie!)

    4 The civil war to end all civil wars.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The beatings will continue until morale improves!

  7. Barry says:

    @Tony W: “I’m still thinking of new downstream ramifications if SCOTUS decides presidents are immune from criminal proceedings.”

    This only makes sense under one of two assumptions:
    SCOTUS figures that Dems won’t take advantage of it.
    With Trump in 2024 and this doctrine, they don’t think that the Dems won’t have the Presidency in their


  8. gVOR10 says:

    I suspect when all is said and done the Federalist Society, conservative justices will screw around at the margins once they’ve created as much delay as they can. However, the idea of prez immunity has to be appealing to them. Conservatives seem to have a deep psychological need for a strong daddy and it’s consistent with their desire for a Unitary Executive. Apparently we’re calling it unitary executive now because imperial presidency sounded like a bad thing.

    But I’m struck by the through-the-looking-glass nature of the conservative questions. That no one’s ever thought the prez had more than very limited immunity is somehow an argument that prezes had immunity all along. There seems no recognition of the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Trump really did commit crimes. There’s a pretense that conviction on impeachment is a real possibility in our partisan reality. They’re pretending there can be a bright line between public and private acts. And Gorsuch wants to make a “rule for the ages” ignoring that the status quo rules, or lack of rules, worked pretty well up until Trump, who one hopes will be sui generis.

    Gerald Ford really screwed over the country by not allowing prosecution of Nixon to proceed.

  9. Scott says:

    Former generals warn of more Guard use in domestic, political missions

    The uptick of non-traditional or politically charged missions presents problems for troops, four retired National Guard generals said at an event on Monday that was put on by the Brookings Institution and Count Every Hero in Washington, D.C.

    Panelists argued that deploying the National Guard for some state missions, while Guardsmen are in state active duty status, threatens readiness and training for more traditional mission sets. State active duty status pertains to state-funded missions controlled by a state’s governor mostly meant for a state or national emergency.

    “If we overuse them for other things, like bus drivers, school teachers, prison guards and all the rest, that’s not really what the thought was behind the creation of the National Guard,” said retired Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, another former chief of the National Guard Bureau. “[Domestic operations were about] saving lives, protecting property and helping restore order if you need it. Some of these other things are new, growing and emerging missions.”

    There are some politicians who view the NG as their personal plaything.

  10. Kathy says:

    The Copilot site/app/plug-in* on the Edge desktop browser has five modes: Copilot, Designer, Vacation Planner, Cooking Assistant, and Fitness Trainer.

    I’ve been trying them on and off. I’ve found the cooking assistant mode helpful. Often I get an idea for a recipe, or a technique, and look up info online about similar things. Partly it’s to see how other people cook, partly to determine whether the times and/or temps I envision are right or way off (there seems to be little middle ground).

    I do get what I’m looking for, though often I have to wade into recipes to find the actual nugget I want.

    At first Copilot did pretty much the same, but with added commentary (pressure cooking a chicken breast is a great way to add flavor to your meal!), and somewhat less clear links at times. Then I prompted “don’t look up recipes, just comment on the technique.” It agreed (enthusiastically**), and this worked better for my purposes than simple web searches.

    I know it’s still regurgitating on line content, but it delivers the info I want without extraneous data, links to sites with autoplay videos, etc.

    At home I use Chrome 99% of the time. Lately I keep an Edge window open with Copilot on, should I have need of it.

    *It’s a button on the upper right of Edge, that spawns a side bar that can be expanded to a tab. I don’t know what to call it.

    **All these generative AIs are entirely too cheerful, and overuse exclamation points. Sometimes it gets annoying.

  11. CSK says:


    The constant overuse of exclamation points is a sign of bad writing. When everything is emphasized, nothing is emphasized.

  12. CSK says:
  13. Gustopher says:

    The outside agitators thread got me thinking about ninjas.

    Specifically the French ninjas who are good at their jobs, and slip in and out unnoticed and leaving behind no evidence. The French ninjas are so good that people don’t even think they are real.

    Contrast this with the Japanese ninjas, who are bumbling Inspector Clouseau types, knocking things over and making a giant mess of the situation so everyone knows about them. Japanese ninjas just suck.

    (Alternately, the outside agitators are like dark matter — not directly observable, but only visible through the consequences of their existence.)

  14. Kathy says:


    Syndrome Principle! When everyone/everything is (something), no one/nothing is (something)!

    These days I pretty much use exclamation points as sarcasm or mockery. IMO, they are appropriate not for emphasis, but to denote alarm or panic. In dialogue, for example, it would be appropriate for a character to exclaim “Watch out!”

    But a sentence like “This crew can handle any ship in the world,” IMO works better by placing “in the world” in Italics, rather than adding an exclamation point at the end. Even if the praise is offered loudly and with a full complement of pride.

  15. DK says:

    Biden’s (new?) makeup looks good.

  16. Grumpy realist says:

    Question to the peanut gallery: does anyone have the foggiest idea as to what Elon Musk is doing with Tesla? About the only theory I’ve run into that has any sense is that Musk is terrified that the stock is going to get valued at a regular car company’s PE ratio so is frantically trying to dump all the car company stuff and shove in as many tech buzzwords as possible so the stock can continue to have the valuation of a tech company.

    …basically, he’s “future faking” in order to keep the stock pumped up.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Grumpy realist:

    does anyone have the foggiest idea as to what Elon Musk is doing with Tesla?

    I think we are just on the inevitable descent we can expect from someone who is drug addled, oftentimes manic and surrounded by enablers and fanboys. He is simply not capable of managing a company any more. I suspect Tesla shareholders will shortly realize that, but the board is in his back pocket so they won’t act to put it in more competent hands, as seems to have happened at SpaceX. Basically, the twitterification of Tesla.

  18. Kathy says:


    Oh, no. This is so the Xittification of Tesla.

  19. inhumans99 says:

    2 Republicans in Arizona crossed the political aisle to vote to repeal the civil war era anti-abortion law.

  20. Kathy says:

    I’ve been playing some more with Copilot.

    I tried asking whether it was safe to stare at the Sun from Pluto, a question I’d tried on Chat GPT3.something when it was first released for free use online. Seeing Copilot is a newer version and has access to the web, this seemed a fair comparison.

    It gave more detailed answer involving the inverse square law and told me the Sun would appear 1/30th the size and 1/1600 the brightness (this seems off*). In any case it would not be safe to stare at the Sun without protection.

    Next I tried the travel assistant mode. I got confused looking up flights, so I turned to asking about Valencia, Spain, in connection with the total eclipse for August 2026. It doesn’t quite answer my queries, but does provide some useful information that, at least, helps me ask other questions or know what to look up online.

    In Valencia, totality will take place close to sunset, so rather low on the horizon. It’s important to know where it will be visible, meaning a place where mountains won’t obscure the view. you’d still experience the peculiar lighting conditions and see the stars in, barely, the day time, but you’d miss most or all of the corona.

    I chose Valencia because it’s on the Mediterranean coast, and beaches are places that can accommodate lots and lots of people.

    But travel assistant didn’t quite know whether mountains would block totality.

    *It said Pluto is, on average, 30 times as far as Earth is from the Sun, therefore it would look 1/30th as small from Pluto. I suck at math, but this feels wrong given the inverse square law. It should look as small as it is dim.

  21. ptfe says:

    @Kathy: You need to imagine it as 2 triangles, one originating on Earth and one on Pluto. Each of them has a base that’s the width of the sun. I would draw it like this:

    SUN | ________ . e ______________ . p

    Connect each dot to the top and bottom of the vertical line, and you’ll get your triangles. The height of these triangles is the distance to each planet. But this is a very small angle subtended by the sun and a really big distance, so we can use a small-angle approximation to say that the diameter of the sun (call it D_sun) is approximately that distance times the arc length (in radians):

    D_sun ~ R_earth_orbit * 1/2 deg * pi/180

    But this is the same as at Pluto:

    D_sun ~ R_pluto_orbit * (angle) * pi/180

    Setting these equal, you get: R_pluto_orbit * (angle) * pi/180 = R_earth_orbit * (1/2 deg) * pi/180

    => angle = R_earth_orbit / R_pluto_orbit * (1/2 deg)

    So the angular extent of the sun from Pluto will be 1/30 the apparent angular extent from the Earth. That’s all of 1/60 of a degree, which is the angular extent of the ISS.

    The light emitted passes through every surface area spherical shell at each distance from the source (whether that’s R_earth_orbit or R_pluto_orbit). So it’s an area measure and not a linear measure.

    I’m intrigued that it did an inverse-square law then said it would be 1/1600 as bright. It would be 1/900 at 30x the distance to Earth – but maybe it’s currently 40x as far away so would only be 1/1600 right now. Eclipse glasses allow 0.00032% of light to get through, so taking that 1/1600, you still need to go down 2 more orders of magnitude. Gotta get 10x as far away as Pluto is to look at it safely with the naked eye.

  22. Michael Reynolds says:


    Gerald Ford really screwed over the country by not allowing prosecution of Nixon to proceed.

    That’s something I got wrong at the time. I wasn’t happy about it, but I could see the reasoning. Everyone was ready for some normalcy, especially in DC. The preceding decade had been a lot. At the time it felt like a national consensus had been reached that we were all just sick of everything, wrap it up, music had turned to crap, women had Farah Fawcett hair, the leisure suit was a thing, hippies were already going to rehab, let’s declare the 60’s finally over.

  23. Kathy says:


    I appreciate the time and effort you took to explain, but I’m afraid math and I are still on a permanent state of estrangement or hostility. Like the French aristocrat in the joke, I’m all too happy to take your word for it.

    As to distance, Pluto spends most of its time past Neptune’s orbit, but crosses it and then has a brief stint being closer to the Sun than the 8th planet. I think right now it’s past Neptune again, so farther away.

    Point is the Sun remains too bright at Pluto to be looked at directly.

  24. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    1) Which other criminals were pardoned by Ford in order to declare the 60s over?
    2) Disco music still lay ahead…

    On related news, one of Lardass’ lawyers asked Judge Merchan if he’d review their client’s social media posts beforehand, so he would not risk violating the gag order.

    The judge refused.

    In his place, I’d have refused as well with a comment like, “if your client needs a babysitter, let him hire one.”

    Seriously, gag orders are rather common in trials. I mean, few needed an explanation of what a gag order is. If such orders are not used in every trial, it’s because most people are smart enough not to try their hand at witness intimidation, jury intimidation, and overall pissing off the judge. They also tend to know it’s usually a good idea to take your lawyers’ legal advice.

    But then, given how much time Lardass has chosen to spend in courtrooms during his pointless existence, and his bad case of Dunning-Kruger*, he may think endless gag order violations help him to 1) dleay the proceedings, and 2) fundraise off the fines he receives.

    If this is so, then spending the rest of the trial in a cell should fix that.

  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    You heard about “VonShitzinPants?

    Trump who counterattacks on everything, is silent on the fart and shart stories. He knows it’s dangerous. It scares him, and he has a shark’s instincts for survival. We need to feed the story, but so far the timing of the groundswell is about right. We’re creating faux sense memory – every time people think Trump they’ll smell shit. This story is kryptonite.

  26. anjin-san says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Gerald Ford really screwed over the country by not allowing prosecution of Nixon to proceed.

    My dad, who was a Rockefeller Republican, was very unhappy about this, saying that Ford was putting his own political needs above the good of the country. Nixon deserved prison just for sabotaging the Paris Peace Talks, among many other things.


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