Wednesday’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. CSK says:

    Well, today is Trump’s 77th birthday. I hope it’s lousy.

  2. Beth says:

    It’s way too early for my kids to be singing “Funky Town”.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A crowd of 30 killer whales met for a party in California’s Monterey Bay on Sunday.

    They did belly flops into the water, slapped the waves with their flukes and spewed water from their blowholes, surprising marine biologists who had never seen the animals engage in such playful behavior for so long.

    Nancy Black, who has been studying killer whales for more than 30 years, said Sunday’s show was the best orca sighting she’d ever seen. Black, a marine biologist with Monterey Bay Whale Watch and the director of the California Killer Whale Project, said the gathering was unique because the animals played in the bay for more than eight hours. Eleven family groups came together, or about 30 whales. Sometimes three or four whales would breach the water at once. Others slapped their tails against the water’s surface, wrestled with one another and swam in loops.

    “Just like kids that are in a park, they get excited and play with the other kids and may be more active,” Black said. “The little ones were wrestling and rolling like a bunch of puppies.”

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre violated the Hatch Act by referring to “mega Maga Republicans” before last year’s midterm elections, an official watchdog said.

    Ohh! The fainting couch… WHERE IS IT??? My pearls! Where are my pearls? I must find my pearls!!!

    The Hatch Act was often in the news during the administration of Donald Trump.

    It was? Say it ain’t so!

    In November 2021, a year after Trump left power, the OSC said at least 13 Trump officials intentionally violated the act, not least in connection with a 2020 Republican convention held on White House grounds. Officials named included Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state; Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff; Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House counselor; Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump, his father-in-law; Kayleigh McEnany, the press secretary; and Stephen Miller, a senior speechwriter and adviser.

    The OSC report said: “The cumulative effect of these repeated and public violations was to undermine public confidence in the nonpartisan operation of government.”

    The Trump White House ignored Hatch Act violations. In June 2019, for example, an OSC recommendation that Conway be fired over repeated Hatch Act violations did not lead to further action.
    Regarding that OSC report, the Washington Post noted the existence of “a two-tiered system of consequences” the OSC having “fined and in some cases fired hundreds of career employees for violations during the four years when Trump was in office”.

    I never would have guessed!

    In the case of Jean-Pierre, the OSC said the press secretary violated the Hatch Act at a briefing on 2 November 2022, in referring to “mega Maga Republican officials who don’t believe in the rule of law” and in references to Republican candidates for office.
    A conservative watchdog group complained.

    As well they should have!

    The OSC did not recommend disciplinary action against Jean-Pierre.

    See? Democrats get away with everything !

  5. Jen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I wonder if they are celebrating the success of the yacht attacks?

    New Hampshire’s unemployment rate hit 1.9% in May, the lowest ever on record.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    A couple of weeks ago, Apple announced its Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality headset and while there are all kinds of interesting things about it, both the system itself and the fact that Apple announced it now, I just read something in a review that caught my eye, although it not because of the headset. Here’s a quote:

    She explained that when she FaceTimes with someone, she wants to see their “real face,” and she wants the other person to see her “real face.”

    Some background: The reason this comes up is that, while someone wearing the Apple Vision headset can have a normal FaceTime call with someone who isn’t (it just shows up on a virtual monitor projected in front of you), it needs to also handle the person (or people) wearing the headset. After all, there is no camera in front of them and even it there was, it would capture someone with a headset. So what does it do? It creates an avatar of the person and then manipulates it in real time via a LIDAR sensor inside the headset, tracking hundreds or thousands of points on the users face. (This technology has existed in Apple products for a while but has mostly been used to unlock your phone in the dark using 3D facial recognition.) By all accounts the avatar is accurate and responsive enough that it might be on the verge of exiting the uncanny valley, but not quite.

    OK, with all that background out of the way, why did the quote catch my eye? Nothing to do with the headset itself, but rather an observation about how technology, even exotic technology, can fade into the background. The woman quoted above considered a FaceTime image on her phone or computer monitor as a “real face”, despite the fact that it is a series of electronic scans, broken down and highly processed and then compressed, sent across the Internet, decompressed and further processed – many times a second. When I think about the first video call I ever participated in (as a child visiting an AT&T display at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry), there is absolutely no way I would have referred to the blurry, jerky image on the screen as my sister’s “real face”, despite it being much, much less processed than a FaceTime call.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: FWIW, I think she was out of line for saying that. It was politicking, and something I would expect from Republicans, but also the reason I immediately put a heavy discount on everything that comes out of their mouths.

  8. Sleeping Dog says:
  9. Neil Hudelson says:


    Our school taught ours the hit Smash Mouth song “All Star.” They know 8 words, 4 of them incorrect, and they’ve been singing it nonstop for 48 hours.

    Gimme your address and I’ll send you some of the medicinal bourbon that’s been helping me through these times.

  10. Jax says:

    We’ve found some winter-killed deer and antelope on our ranch, but not as many as I was expecting. At this time of year we usually have at least 100 antelope in various groups, particularly does, they like to come back here to give birth. So far I’ve seen 6 pregnant does, and a couple of bucks, only one buck is very big. It’s so sad.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: Yacht attacks? One more reason to like orcas.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: She was, I just find the comparison of the trump admin’s record with the Biden Admin (or the Obama Admin) to be rather stark and defines just how criminal the trump presidency was. I also feel like the article was a bit overdrawn. It could have been just 3 or 4 sentences and conveyed all the necessary info.

    eta: also I find it hard to believe there are many elected republicans who would object to being called “mega MAGA.” Far more likely they would proudly embrace it.

  13. BugManDan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: If haven’t seen anything about the orca attacks here is a recent article. They are only attacking the boats, not the people if forced to abandon.

    Orca Attacks

  14. Kylopod says:

    The Republicans should have a song expressing their response to any and all legal charges against Trump. Set to the tune of “William Tell Overture.”

    Whatabout Whatabout
    Whatabout bout bout
    Whatabout Whatabout
    Whatabout bout bout
    Whatabout Whatabout
    Whatabout bout bout
    Whatabout bout bout

  15. Kathy says:


    On the one hand, orcas and dolphins are known for complex social behavior, including in interactions with other species. Dolphins in particular are known to engage in fads. A new behavior will be observed among a pod, then end weeks or moths later.

    On the other hand, how hard would it be to get some orcas to allow biologists to take blood samples to look for something that shouldn’t be there, maybe as a consequence of pollution.

    Captive orcas learn to cooperate with their veterinarians. Free orcas may not be so accommodating.

  16. Kathy says:


    On the one hand, orcas and dolphins are known for complex social behavior, including in interactions with other species. Dolphins in particular are known to engage in fads. A new behavior will be observed among a pod, then end weeks or moths later.

    On the other hand, how hard would it be to get some orcas to allow biologists to take blood samples to look for something that shouldn’t be there, maybe as a consequence of pollution.

    Captive orcas learn to cooperate with their veterinarians. Free orcas may not be so accommodating.

  17. Jen says:

    @BugManDan: Oops, thank you–I should have included what I was referring to in that comment!

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Beth: I just heard that song on the radio yesterday! I LOVE THAT SONG! If it’s too intense for you, send them over to my house, and I’ll sing along with them. (I do the top descant harmony line on “Well, I talk about it…”)

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @BugManDan: Thanx, I haven’t seen it.

  20. BugManDan says:


    I thought “everyone” had heard of it. But Ozarks question mark made me add the link.

    I find this sort of thing very interesting. Moby Dick was based on a true whale that terrorized whalers in the Pacific. And there was a pod of dolphins (?) in the Gulf of Mexico that helped a man and then his kid net fish. They would herd them to the shallows. I think he would then divide the catch with them.

  21. CSK says:

    The Senate Republicans have threatened to cut off funding to the FBI if the Trump indictment isn’t killed.

    J.D. Vance has promised to hold up all DOJ nominees to avenge the prosecution of Trump.

  22. Kathy says:

    NBC claims some Republiqans acknowledge Benito’s legal troubles are really serious.

    Not that this turns any of them against him. You know, the problem isn’t what he did, but that he got caught.

    One of them anonymously says:

    “This is something that if you were to get George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson and sit them down and explain to them what’s happening … they would disagree with what Donald Trump was doing and would agree that he should be prosecuted,” the person added.

    I think if you gathered these notables and explained to them what’s happened, they would rush to London and beg King George to take them back.

  23. CSK says:


    I don’t get this insane attachment to Trump, especially given that he wouldn’t hesitate to toss them under the bus, as he has so many already. What is it? Are they terrified of the MAGAs? Most of these people know full well
    that Trump is a deranged, incompetent,
    thieving buffoon. So why do they pretend to be so enamored of him?

  24. Kathy says:


    The former are bluffing, and the latter lacks any ability to materially affect anything. he may as well threaten to hold his breath until he turns blue.

    On other news, the FED was stopped raising interest rates, seeing as the inflation monster seems to be quieting down. Not to mention what higher rates are doing to things like debt, and making some banks fail.

    This probably means other countries will follow suit. Mind, rates aren’t dropping yet, just no longer being raised. So expect high interests until the FED decides to lower the rates. Who know when that will be.

    Just the same, as inflation is going down in other places too, but interests remain high, I’ve begun putting some money into long term fixed rate bonds issued by the Mexican government. Not that much money (who has any?), but I figure a little in 7 year bonds fixed at 11% with monthly coupons (interest payments) should age well.

  25. Sleeping Dog says:


    Schumer should call their bluff and schedule an up or down vote tomorrow.

  26. CSK says:


    By former and latter you mean…?

    @Sleeping Dog:

    That would be interesting.

  27. Kathy says:


    Former is the Senate Republiqans. Latter is what Benito uses for a butt plug when he visits Ohio.

  28. Mister Bluster says:

    Miami GOP Mayor Francis Suarez has filed federal paperwork to join the crowded Republican field for president, becoming the third candidate from Florida running for the GOP nomination.

  29. Beth says:

    I’m currently on a 7 day course of prednisone for a spinal issue. This stuff is awful. It’s basically working on my neck, but it’s also making; my feet hurt, me voraciously hungry, and intensely irritable.

    With all that fun I headed to the post office to send 8 certified letters ($68 WTF DeJoy!). My biggest pet peeve about the post office is that they demand you sign the back of your credit card. Why, I have no idea. I have persistently died on this hill. There is no reason for it and the issuers don’t require it. The post office loves it though. Whatever.

    Today, the nice clerk tells me to sign the card. I bite my tongue and pull out my nice pink pen, just to be annoying and attempt to sign. NADA. I look the clerk in the eye and try again, NADA tambien. He hands me a black pen. Same results as he stares into my increasingly angry eyes. He takes the pen back, licks it, scribbles on something, then on his shirt, and again on something. I try to sign the card one more time. Hooooboy, NOTHING. He shrugged and let me pay. Lemme tell you, I felt the sweet sweet joy of winning a pointless and petty battle against the government. What could be better!

    @Neil Hudelson:

    The Prednisone tells me the only reasonable option is to burn the entire school to the ground.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Oh, its a banger. Great song. What’s not great is having your clones stop fighting each other long enough to do a brief Funky Town duet at 7 am. They resumed their fight immediately after the duet.

  30. Kathy says:

    Apparently Liz Holmes is so poor (how poor is she), she’s so poor she can’t afford to pay $250 per month as restitution when she gets out of prison.

    Later on in the piece we’re told the bill for her trial was $30 million.

    I can’t wrap my head around that figure. yes, lawyers can be very expensive, but just how many hours is that and at what rate?

    Right after that we’re told her partner’s home is valued at $135 million.

    I can’t wrap my head around that either. I mean, I can see a modern day gilded age palace being worth much more. what I can’t get is what justifies that much money for a place to live, or who pays that much for one (and yes, I know a lot of people do).

    Back to Liz, granted $250 a month won’t make a dent in the hundreds of millions she and Balwani owe as restitution, and granted the bulk of it would go to people who neither need it nor would notice if they got it, like Prince Rupert and Larry Ellison. Possibly, too, the estates of George Schultz and Henry Kissinger (what?). Maybe people like Mattis and others who got conned into serving in the Theranos board, too.

    At times it seems the world is going insane. At other times, it seems it’s always been that way.

  31. Stormy Dragon says:


    I’m currently on a 7 day course of prednisone for a spinal issue. This stuff is awful. It’s basically working on my neck, but it’s also making; my feet hurt, me voraciously hungry, and intensely irritable.

    My brother can’t take prednisone because it causes a psychotic reaction (which is apparently an uncommon but not rare side effect) and the last time they gave it to him, he had to be restrained by an orderly until it wore off.

  32. Kylopod says:


    I’m currently on a 7 day course of prednisone for a spinal issue.

    Last year I was put on prednisone and some other things for cervical radiculopathy, which leads to intense pain radiating from the neck down the arm, as well as a tingling sensation and numbness. I determined it was due to the setup of my desktop computer, which was leading me to contort my arm as I worked. The problem went away after I resolved that issue.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I miss Johnny Carson.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    voraciously hungry

    Be careful about that one. The endocrinologist I saw in Korea thought that the eating binges I used to have taking prednisone probably explain how I ended up with type-two diabetes and fatty liver disease. Of course, I took prednisone 4 or 5 times a year for 25 or 30 years, so your risk is probably a lot lower, but if this becomes a regular thing…

    I used to get great physical reward as an asthma relief factor from the adrenaline rush that rages gave me, so I didn’t notice the irritability factor as much. It was more like Bruce Banner in one of the Avenger movies where he turned into the Hulk and back while explaining “I’m always angry now.”

  35. CSK says:


    Me too.

  36. Beth says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Yikes. It’s wild how our bodies all process things differently.


    Mine is similar, but it’s caused by the discs degenerating in my neck. They aren’t as bad as last time. Lol, exactly 10 years ago one of the discs failed and I had to get a fusion. This is eventually going to go that route, but we’re trying to delay it. The “year of surgery” is trying to become the “decade of surgery”.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I think after this round if they want me to do another one I might see if they can find something else. It seems like it’s mostly working, but the downsides are awful. I haven’t been this angry and irritable since I started my transition. I don’t like it.

  37. Kathy says:

    We’ll see how effective maskas are (very).

    Two in the office have colds. One is wearing a pleated mask, intermittently, the other not. I’m wearing a KF94 (still!) Colds take time, but if I’m still ok this time tomorrow, I’ll count a bullet dodged.

    It would suck to get a cold three days before the start of my vacation.

    Speaking of which, the weather is going to suck for a while yet. Today the high was forecast at 30 C. I’d hoped for rains and cooler temps by the second half of June, which would let me sleep longer and better. I suppose I’ll take naps later in the day…

    On the upside, it should be easier to visit several museums if there’s no rain. I may even take a day trip to the pyramid at Cholula (my car does have A/C). I mean, if I’ll wake early, I may as well leave early and visit the site before it gets too hot.