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. JohnSF says:

    Going to reply to some comment from yesterdays thread; missed then because of time zones 🙂
    On “reshuffles” of UK Cabinet:

    …doesn’t that sort of thing either follow a serious problem or precede an election?

    Not really; can happen any time. May follow a serious problem, but often not. And relatively rare to be close to an election.
    Prime Ministers love them: they, and the periods before, are always the time of maximum dominance over both backbenchers greedy for office, and ministers eager for promotion, or fearful or demotion or ejection.

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Did anyone get “kicked upstairs”?

    Well, Raab essentially.
    He’s got a whole spangly casket of titles:
    Lord High Chancellor; Secretary of State for Justice; Lord Keeper of the Great Seal; Deputy Prime Minister!
    But everyone knows it’s a demotion due to the “on holiday as Kabul falls” debacle.
    Also a generally useless git; but that would eject more than half the Cabinet.
    And the PM.

    Interesting (for arbitrary value of interesting) Brit-fact!
    Nominally the Lord Chancellor is senior in “court precedence” to the First Lord of the Treasury, which is the formal office held by the Prime Minister.
    The office of Prime Minister actually has no statutory or formal constitutional basis, but is purely a matter of convention!
    In practice a Lord Chancellor who tried to pull rank on a PM would be unwise
    Note: the Lord High Chancellor is very distinct from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is the Second Lord of the Treasury. Clear?

    Actually the old “kicked upstairs” thing of booting someone from the Commons by appointing them to the Lords rarely happens these days.
    An ex-minister will, though, continue to formally be a sworn Privy Councillor, and almost inevitably gets a life peerage on retiring from the Commons, if they want to become a Lord/Lady and arent severely tainted by scandal.
    So I can probably look forward to their Lordships Jenrick and Williamson.

  2. JohnSF says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    But from a legal standpoint, what stops them from just paying out the $1 billion and if the numbers don’t match up, so what?

    Best to ask an American constitutional lawyer; probably one of the Acts relating to the establishment of the Federal reserve, at a guess.
    In practice monetising the debt is one thing guaranteed to spook the markets as much or more than a default.
    Debt monetisation is really a break Glass (and Steagall 🙂 ) in case of emergency thing.
    In theory resulting inflation can be controlled by tax increases and by the Fed selling its own bond stocks (my head starts to hurt around this point).
    In practice? Maybe it works out; or maybe Weimar Republic says “Hi there!”.

    Its like one of those physics experiments best carried out
    – behind a safety wall
    – at a safe distance
    – and, above all, by someone else

  3. CSK says:

    Someone named Matt Braynard, director of data and strategy for the 2016 Trump campaign, is organizing a protest at the Capitol this Saturday on behalf of the “political prisoners” arrested and incarcerated after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

    He has described the January rioters as “a couple of boomers doing a self-guided tour pf a public building.” He has also urged those participating this Saturday not to wear pro-Trump or pro-Biden gear.

  4. Jen says:

    @CSK: Ah, yes. Mr. Braynard.

    Let’s take a look at his bona fides:

    Braynard, who worked for Trump for five months on the 2016 campaign before he was let go, has been Forrest Gumping his way through the postelection Trump universe. In December, he testified alongside Rudy Giuliani alleging mass voter fraud in Arizona. A week later, he told legislators in Georgia that he’d found 21,000 illegal ballots in the state (before his data was methodically torn apart by a Democratic legislator who tracked down several of the voters herself). He was a paid expert witness in three cases challenging the election results, none of which went anywhere. Long after Trump left office, he has continued releasing reports of “illegal ballots” in Wisconsin and Georgia and is working on one for Arizona, all states where pro-Trump Republicans have pushed for so-called audits of the election.

    Seems about right for the Trump orbit. Via Buzzfeed.

  5. CSK says:

    And to top it all off, even Trump–according to his aides, anyway–is waddling as fast as he can from this upcoming debacle. He fears the press will conspire to blame him whatever happens.

  6. Scott says:

    I didn’t read this NYT article but am posting because the headline just made me laugh out loud.

    As G.O.P. Digs In on Debt Ceiling, Democrats Try Shaming McConnell

    Don’t know if the humor was dry and intentional but headline writers tend to amuse themselves often.

  7. Stormy Dragon says:


    Reason I was asking:

    1. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 sets a limit on how much debt can be issued.
    2. The Impoundment Control Act of 1974 requires the president to obligate all funds appropriated by coungress

    So either there’s no act actually requiring debt to be issued to make up short falls, in which case the President is legally required to monetize the debt, or there’s is a law requiring the issue of debt, in which case we have three mutually contradictory laws (any two of the three work, but all three don’t work together), so the question is which of the three loses?

  8. JohnMcC says:

    Anyone still searching through the Gen Milley — treason issue ought to check Adam Silverman’s entry in this morning Balloon Juice.

  9. Jax says:

    @Scott: Ha! Mitch McConnell hasn’t felt shame in decades, if ever.

  10. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Jax: I think he had that part of his soul surgically removed in the mid-90s.

  11. KM says:

    Of course they will – the event is to talk about the riot he started with his BS and the dumbassess that decided to follow him right into jail cell. It’s really difficult to talk about Jan 6 and “political prisoners” without mentioning exactly why it’s “political” in the first place – all roads lead back to the Orange One. Even a best case, non-violent because nobody showed scenario still looks bad for him as those loser “boomers doing a self-guided tour of a public building” were only there on his behalf. More likely is the nuts will show up and start showing their asses in public, associating him further with people he thinks are pathetic failures.

    Even worse, it *gasp* won’t be about him but about those losers who got themselves caught! He won’t even get the praise he craves so it’s an no-go in his mind.

  12. Joe says:

    @CSK: The reporting is that the entire Republican Congressional caucus is keeping away from Mr. Braynard’s little party, even Marjorie Taylor Greene, FFS. This guy is a little tone deaf even for the tone deaf party.

  13. JohnSF says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    How ’bout adding a new law: any stupid senator suggesting blowing up the world financial and monetary systems as ploy of partisan gamesmanship should be put in the stocks and pelted with cow-pies?
    Just a thought.

  14. CSK says:

    @KM: @Joe:
    I’m hoping that the whole thing will be a bust:

    Without Trump in the White House urging them on, how much fun will it be?

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Stirling prize shortlist: from mosque stunner to neo-neolithic flats

    Speaking as a carpenter, I’d have given my left nut to work on that mosque. Absolutely stunning.

  16. inhumans99 says:


    Yes, the mosque is beautiful. I also got a kick out of the bridge and even the sheds with roofs that massively overhang the buildings.

    Finally, to be fair, if you ended up living in a sea of beige (the worker flats) you could do much worse than the flats with well landscaped courtyards. Nothing like looking out your window at a gorgeously landscaped courtyard.

    I am glad you linked to the article because pretty much all of the projects up for an award are solid picks. However, as noted in the article, the mosque has to a front runner for award.

  17. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @inhumans99:
    Mosque wins, hands down. Gorgeous.

  18. Mu Yixiao says:


    Holy shit.

    That would be hard enough doing as a stage set with lauan. I can’ imagine doing it with actual beams.

  19. Stormy Dragon says:


    While less entertaining, a better option would be to just say debt ceilings are unconstitutional under the 14th ammendment’s debt clause and that when congress acts to appropriate money, it is necessarily approving any debt so incurred.

  20. JohnSF says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Works for me.
    Anything that means there’s one less pick in the Republicans deck of “How Can We Wreck The World This Week? ” cards.
    But, does that need an act, or just an executive order?
    And if the latter, is it Supremes-proof?

    Also, not even one cow-pie? 🙁

  21. Stormy Dragon says:


    With the Caveat that the current SCOUTS just makes crap up to get their preferred outcome so who knows what they’ll do, SCOTUS has put itself in a real bind in terms of precedent.

    In Train v. City of New York, they not only ruled the Impoundment Act of 1974 constitutional, but went further and said that it’s just repeating something already in the constitution, so we have a hard brightline rule that the President CAN’T not spend money appropriated by congress. So while previous government shutdowns were all driven by failure to pass the budget (and thus the problem was there were no congressional appropriation), if we had one based on the debt limit, it’s not clear how the President could constitutionally implement it (since it’s now based on congress sending orders to both spend and not spend money).

    There are bunch of ways out:
    1. The previous congress which passed the 2019 debt ceiling can’t bind the current congress’s appropriations, so the appropriations win
    2. As a cannon of construction, a more recent or specific law wins over an older or more general one, so the appropriations bill wins over the debt ceiling
    3. Debt ceilings are unconstitutional
    4. The requirement to issue debt is unconstitutional and the president has to monetize the debt (ironically this would basically mean the Republicans are now mandating the government switch to MMT after spending years complaining it was Marxism)
    5. Overrule Train v. New York and the President does in fact have the power to not spend money congress appropriates. This would be a major change of the relationship between congress and the president and opens the door to the president essentially blackmailing congress and state governments by just refusing to release funding to them until they agree to whatever they’re demanding).

  22. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    5. Would also be effectively overruling Clinton v. City of New York (the line item veto is unconstitutional) as well

  23. JohnSF says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Thanks for that.
    Damn, but the American system is legally fascinating!

    I’m more familiar with US-ology than most, but it’s still difficult to internalise for a Brit; because it’s so based on law and the courts.

    For instance, I realised after my last comment that even if it was an Act of Congress, it could still face a court challenge re. constitutionality.

    Whereas in UK, if the executive has a majority to pass a statute (which it pretty much always does, or it would not BE the executive), that’s that.
    Courts have little purchase to interfere with whatever Crown-in-Parliament decides.
    The Statute of Frog is passed and everyone just asks “how high?”

    (Or even without statute: see my earlier comment about how the office of Prime Minister has, arguably, no formal constitutional standing!)

  24. Mu Yixiao says:

    Sincerely held religious belief? Put your money where your mouth is.

    A hospital system in Arkansas is making it a bit more difficult for staff to receive a religious exemption from its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The hospital is now requiring staff to also swear off extremely common medicines, such as Tylenol, Tums, and even Preparation H, to get the exemption.

  25. JohnSF says:

    International news:
    It looks like President Biden is really serious about creating a coalition to contain China, including a serious armed option.
    US/UK/Australia agreement involving a fleet of nuclear submarines for Australia.
    (Encountered some speculation that the UK role is not so much direct as due to UK rights re. some shared-with-US submarine technolgies under the 1958 UK/USA Mutual Defence Agreement)

    In other sorta related news, looks like China is formally applying to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    If only the fool Trump hadn’t pulled the US out of the CPTPP, the US would not be operating in East Asia with a major handicap in the commercial/cultural space.

    Related: info that surprises some people re. China vs Japan investment in SE Asia.

    My side bet: keep an eye out for US diplomacy re. relations with Indonesia.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Huh.

    “Thus,” Troup went on, “we provided a religious attestation form for those individuals requesting a religious exemption,” he said. The form includes a list of 30 commonly used medicines that “fall into the same category as the COVID-19 vaccine in their use of fetal cell lines,” Conway Regional said.

    The list includes Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, aspirin, Tums, Lipitor, Senokot, Motrin, ibuprofen, Maalox, Ex-Lax, HIV-1, Benadryl, Sudafed, albuterol, Preparation H, MMR vaccine, Claritin, Zoloft, Prilosec OTC, and azithromycin.

    I never would have guessed any of those meds.

  27. CSK says:

    Tums have been around since 1930.

  28. Mister Bluster says:

    Preparation H
    The company that makes this product incorporated in 1926 as American Home Products (AHP) and “one of AHP’s earliest prizes was the acquisition of a sunburn oil in 1935 that the company transformed into Preparation H, which became one of the world’s best-selling hemorrhoid treatments.”

    Where the sun don’t shine?

  29. Joe says:

    Related: info that surprises some people re. China vs Japan investment in SE Asia.

    Of course the issue here, JohnSF, is Japan = good and China = bad. I remember back in the ’80s when I worked a Wall Street law firm and everyone’s hair was on fire about foreign investment “from Japan.” Everyone I worked with understood entirely that Japanese investments in the US were dwarfed by European investments in the US, about which nobody cared. At least we can now distinguish between different Asian economies.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: And aspirin even… Well since men first figured out that chewing on red willow bark was good for toothaches.

  31. Mister Bluster says:

    @Joe:..everyone’s hair was on fire about foreign investment “from Japan.”

    As I recall some of that investment was in real estate. I heard more than one astute citizen whine about the goddamned Japanese buying up American buildings. When I suggested that it would not be a problem if greedy Americans who owned the assests would refuse to sell those properties for profit I was always met with silence.

  32. JohnSF says:

    The “Japan panic” of the 1980’s was always silly.
    It’s not so much a question of good vs bad as what the power interests of the states concerned are.

    Japan post 1945 has never been interested in leveraging commerce into power, in the wholesale corruption of governing classes, or in “grand strategy” or political coercion.
    It’s a bit like the 19th century USA in world trade, who by and large, just wanted to make money.
    Japan does not need to be interested in Power: it generally operates within the US defined order.
    Just as the US from 1815 to 1940 essentially operated within the global order imposed by the Great Britain, the Empire, and Royal Navy.
    (And the Concert of Europe, a bit)
    (Monroe Doctrine = eyerolls in Whitehall)

    China is choosing to be a challenger to the current US/UN rule set, just as at different times France, Russia and Germany challenged the British/Concert rule set.

  33. Scott says:

    @Mister Bluster: My response to Japan buying real estate assets was basically “so what? It is not like they can ship a skyscraper to Japan?”

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Because you can’t be off topic on the OPEN FORUM:
    Given that the Chevy Bolt is the only EV that’s even close enough to my price range to even wave at it from the horizon, it’s looks like I’ll be putting off going green driving for a while. Of course, at my age, I bought the last car I’ll ever own in 2015–and I already have ~40,000 miles on it.

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Gee, I don’t know how hard it will be for evangelicals to lie about that. I can lie pretty easily myself. Is the hospital going to search my house? “Oh, I have that in my medicine cabinet for my family, and visitors who might need it.”

    But it is a good try and I commend them for the effort.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: What makes you think it was men who figured that out? 😉

  37. Joe says:

    @Mister Bluster: It was mainly real estate. Still dwarfed by European real estate investment.

  38. Jen says:

    @CSK: The basic formulation for Tums has been around that long, but my hunch is that the fetal stem cells referenced were part of new flavor profiles for them. That was the issue with Pepsi/stem cells.

  39. CSK says:

    Ah, thanks. I didn’t know that. Obviously.