Weekend reads and open thread

November 22, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Good afternoon:

The waiting continues as we are being told that the grand jury did not reach a decision yesterday regarding whether they should indict Darren Wilson.

I won’t bother to speculate about what is going on because I have already decided that the process is illegitimate.

Meanwhile, most of you have been following Shaun King’s fine work analyzing the Michael Brown shooting. Here is his latest, Video: Police lied. Mike Brown was killed 148 feet away from Darren Wilson’s SUV.

FYI: Here is an excerpt from a book by George Lakoff titled, The Strict Father Is at the Core of Conservative Ideology and Values.

For a pleasant change of pace, check out this article by Paul Bibeau titled, Should We Defund The Pentagon And Give That Money To Canadian Musicians?

Best wishes to all,

Fred and Crane

Open Thread Discussion: 8/27/2014

August 27, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Good morning:

We have pressing errands to run today and will be in and out.

I have three sobering articles for you all to read to begin the discussion.

The first article is from Mother Jones by Mark Follman. The title: Michael Brown’s Mom Laid Flowers Where He Was Shot—and Police Crushed Them.

The second article is from the New York Times written by Campbell Robertson and Joseph Goldstein. The title: In Aftermath of Missouri Protests, Skepticism About the Prospects for Change

The third article is from Firedoglake written by Massacio. The title is: Studies Confirm Huge Wealth Loss of Middle Class.

See you in the thread.


Monday Evening Open Discussion

July 21, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Good evening:

Welcome to the Monday Evening Open Discussion where off topic is on topic.

Jury selection started today in the Renisha McBride porch-shooting case with the judge conducting voir dire, instead of the attorneys.

Terrible idea.

No live television or live-stream coverage.

Terrible idea.

Jury selection resumes tomorrow at 9 am EDT.

The twitter feed is #TheodoreWafer

The burglaries, death threats and hacker attacks of last week appear to have stopped since Crane contacted the FBI. Unfortunately, Crane’s computer took a hit and had to go to the hospital.

We should sell tee shirts that say, Start a Blog Get Murdered

What’s on your mind?

This is our 1147th post.

If you appreciate what we do, please make a donation to enable us to keep the lights on.



Sunday Afternoon Open Thread Discussion

July 13, 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Good afternoon:

Welcome to Sunday afternoon.

To get you started, here’s Steve Kimock and Friends playing Shotgun House at Sweetwater.

Got some music you would like to share?

Saturday Evening Open Thread

July 12, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Good evening:

I am very upset about the continuing slaughter of Palestinian women and children in Gaza. More than 150 people are dead and now Israel is warning people who live in the north Gaza Strip to leave because they apparently intend to reduce it to rubble.

There isn’t anywhere for them to go.

This is not self-defense.

This is genocide and it has to stop.

Israel’s response far exceeds the amount of force that is reasonably necessary to defend itself.

I realize Hamas continues to fire missiles blindly into Israel, but with only one exception, they have not caused any injuries.


Obviously no one in the ME gives a damn about what I think. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to add my voice to the growing scream of protest.

The pool is open. Let us know what you think.

Wednesday Evening Open Thread Discussion

July 9, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Good evening:

Welcome to the Wednesday Evening Open Thread Discussion where off topic is on topic.

We have three articles for you today:

(1) Bioprospecting in Panama

(2) Texas Republican Party Belongs on Mars

(3) Freedom Industries fined $11,000 for West Virginia chemical spill that poisoned drinking water for 300,000 people

Meanwhile, the insanity continues as Israel is on a roll killing innocent Palestinian women and children along with a few members of Hamas in retaliation for rockets fired into Israel.

Do you think Pistorius will be acquitted or convicted?

The pool is open.

What’s on your mind in these troubling and difficult times?

This is our 1124th post. If you appreciate what we do, please toss some money into the hat. We can use it.

Thank you,


Open Thread Tuesday Evening

July 8, 2014

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Good evening and welcome to Open Thread Tuesday Evening where off topic is on topic.

I have several topics to get y’all started, or start your own.

(1) Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post has an article today regarding the role of deforestation in the spread of Ebola.

(2) Boston.com has an article on the crazy election in Afghanistan where, despite a separation of 1 million votes, both candidates are claiming victory. Loser Abdullah Abdullah accuses his Pashtun opponent, Ashraf Ghani, of monumental ballot stuffing and apparently intends to form his own government. Looks like another civil war is brewing. Guess that means we will need more advisors just like in Iraq. Yikes.

(3) Discovery.com has an article today about the discovery of an Iron Age Temple (2,500 years old) in present day Kurdistan in NE Iraq.

(4) The New York Times Magazine has an interesting article about economics professor David Brat, who upended House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary in Virginia. He’s a believer that Christian virtue is all that is necessary to tame the lust for greed that is both the motive and the bane for capitalism. Brat calls it Hand of God economics. I call it bullshit.

(5) The defense rested today in the Pistorius case. What say you: guilty of murder, negligent homicide, or not guilty? Keep in mind that the two assessors can overrule Judge Masipa if they disagree with her decision. I wrote about it here.

(6) What do you think of the Republican civil war in Mississippi? Maybe, we’ll have to send in some military advisors there too.

The pool is open. No running on the deck or splashing the lifeguard.

This is our 1120th post. Please make a donation, if you like what we do.

Thank you,


Open Thread Friday July 4th

July 4, 2014

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

I spent the day watching and commenting on Gerrie Nel chewing up and spitting out Dr. Wayne Derman, Oscar Pistorius’s sports medicine doctor.

He testified that people with disabilities are 50% more likely to be assaulted than people without disabilities. As a result, they are more likely to fear being assaulted and more likely to startle and fight rather than flee (i.e., flight) since their disability prevents them from escaping.

His testimony is setting up the defense argument that Pistorius fired his gun without thinking after being startled by three sounds:

(1) the bathroom window opening and banging against the casement,

(2) the toilet room door closing, and

(3) someone hitting the magazine rack.

The problem with Dr. Derman’s testimony is that Pistorius fired four shots through a closed door when he was not actually threatened with harm by anyone and his conduct shows evidence that he was thinking rather than reacting automatically.

The Theodore Wafer trial is scheduled to start on July 21st.

Detroit may blow-up before then over the water and sewage shutdowns for delinquent users.

Since this is Independence Day, thoughts of revolution are in the air and on my mind. Here is an article by a billionaire, Nick Hanauer, titled, The Pitchforks Are Coming . . . For Us Plutocrats.

What’s on your mind tonight?

If you like what we do, please make a donation.

Open Thread Birthday

June 24, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Good morning:

I was born 67 years ago today in Karachi during Partition. My father was a Foreign Service Officer working for the State Department.

I’ve lived in Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador and the United States.

I am bilingual.

I am posting an open thread today and please wish our good friend Colin Black a happy birthday.


Thursday Evening Open Thread

May 22, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Good evening:

Welcome to the fourth day of the second week of our experiment with an evening open thread with four suggested topics in the news. This is your place to comment, a place where off topic is on topic.

Please let us know if you like the idea. We’ll incorporate it as a regular feature, if you do.

Or suggest something else.

Last night, we considered innovative strategies to peacefully change the dreadful circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Tonight we return to take a look at the people who are destroying the Republican Party and the rest of the world, including themselves.

(1) Marco Rubio sets the pace. Here’s Amanda Marcotte of Alternet,

No longer content just to claim to be “skeptical” of scientific findings they find disagreeable, Republican politicians have moved on to a more alarming anti-science strategy: confuse the public about what science even is, claiming it’s just someone’s opinion and ignoring the importance of evidence.

Marco Rubio’s recent remarks about climate change epitomize this new era, with conservative politicians deciding that “science” is whatever they say it is. “I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there—including scientists—that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate,” Rubio told ABC’s Jonathan Karl. “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientist are portraying it,” he added.

By making climate change a matter of what he “believes” or “agrees with,” Rubio was implying that climate change is a matter of opinion and not of evidence or fact. There’s the old saying, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Conservatives have figured out a workaround: redefine the facts as opinions, and by golly, now you get to have your own facts!

(2) And then there’s Jody Hice, who wants to succeed Rep. Paul Broun. Tim Murphy of Mother Jones has the story,

In his seven years in Congress, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) distinguished himself by calling biology “lies straight from the pit of hell” and accusing President Barack Obama of establishing a secret national police force to push a Marxist dictatorship. But the man who may replace Broun in Washington could outdo him.

In a 2012 book, that candidate—pastor and talk radio host Jody Hice—alleges the gay community has a secret plot to recruit and sodomize children. In It’s Now or Never: A Call to Reclaim America, Hice also asserts that supporters of abortion rights are worse than Hitler and compares gay relationships to bestiality and incest. He proposes that Muslims be stripped of their First Amendment rights.

Brilliant, just brilliant!

(3) And then there’s the Republican strategy to deny hundreds of thousands of people the right to vote by requiring voters to produce a valid photo ID before they can vote. They claim such measures are necessary to prevent thousands upon thousands of illegal immigrants from voting, despite the absence of any evidence that that is happening.

Here is just one more of the hundreds of thousands of reasons that have led the U.S. Department of Justice to file suit against Texas Republicans’ polling place photo ID restriction law.

The same law had been previously blocked by the DOJ and again by a federal court under the federal Voting Rights Act, after the state’s own data showed the law discriminated against racial minorities and others, while failing to deter actual voter fraud in the state.

But, literally minutes after SCOTUS gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act last summer, the section that was used to strike down the law previously, Texas Republicans announced their intention to reenact the law that, of course, they knew to be discriminatory.

As the Waco Tribune reports, 92-year old Ruby Barber has tried, but has so far failed, to obtain one of those so-called “free” photo IDs from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), now that one is required for her to cast her legal vote this year, as she has for decades, until now, without a problem.

Barber’s story is heartbreaking and maddening but, unfortunately, probably not entirely rare. The DOJ estimated, based on the state’s supplied data when the federal agency blocked the law in 2012, “the total number of registered voters [in Texas] who lack a driver’s license or personal identification card issued by DPS could range from 603,892 to 795,955.”

Barber’s driver’s license expired in 2010 and she’s now having difficulty locating “her nearly century-old birth certificate that she’d need to obtain a voter ID under a new state law.” As the New York Daily News reports, the details of Barber’s story and her fight to try and cast her vote are simply absurd.

A frail 92-year-old woman is the latest victim of new voter identification laws sweeping across the U.S.

Ruby Barber, a senior citizen in the small town of Bellmead, Texas, has been unable to vote because she can’t find her nearly century-old birth certificate that she’d need to obtain a voter ID under a new state law.

“I’m sure (my birth) was never reported because I was born in a farmhouse with a coal oil lamp,” Barber, 92, told the Waco (Texas) Tribune. “Didn’t have a doctor, just a neighbor woman come in and (delivered) me.”

Barber visited the state’s Department of Public Safety office last week to request the newly required election identification certificate, but was declined after she didn’t have a birth certificate.

Under Texas’s new strict voter ID law, enacted in June 2013, all voters must show one of six forms of valid photo identification – including a driver’s license, a passport, a military ID or concealed gun permit – to be able to vote.

Those who lack a valid photo ID, can apply for an election identification certificate (EIC) – a process that requires a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship.

Barber, unfortunately, no longer has any of the documents she’d need to obtain a ballot.

According to the Tribune, her driver’s license expired in 2010 and her marriage license was lost in a 1992 house fire.

She took her Medicare card, Social Security card and expired driver’s license to state officials when she sought her EIC, but agency staff insisted she needed to provide a birth certificate.

“I’ve voted all my life, and not to be able to vote, it just breaks my heart,” Barber said of the possibility that she may not able to vote in this year’s Texas gubernatorial election – expected to be a close race between Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis.

Fortunately, she has been issued a photo ID and will be able to vote. The Waco Tribune subsequently reported,

Despite the lack of a birth certificate, the state was able to verify Barber’s citizenship by finding her birthday in a U.S. census taken in the 1940s, [Barber’s son, Jimmy] Denton said. She also showed her Social Security card, two utility bills and her Medicare card.

Without the publicity, she never would have gotten her ID. She is the exception rather than the rule.

(4) Madame Guillotine is a potential solution that has conservatives worried. Here is Lynn Stuart Parramore of Alternet,

The oligarchs hope that Americans will be so tired, so pumped full of Xanax, so terrified, that they will remain in their places. They hope that we will watch the rich cavorting on reality shows and set ourselves to climbing the economic ladder instead of seeing that the rungs have been kicked away.

Of course, there is a very easy way for the rich to remain rich and alleviate their nightmares of the guillotine. That is simply to allow their unearned wealth to be taxed at a reasonable rate. Voila! No more fear of angry mobs.

Or they can wait for some less pleasant alternative, like a revolution. This theme, which once timidly hid behind the scenes, has lately burst onto cultural center stage. The cover of the current issue of Lapham’s Quarterly, dedicated to the topic, “ Revolutions,” features five crossed swords. Its contents outline various periods in history when ordinary folks had had enough, such as “The People’s Patience is Not Endless,” a pamphlet issued by the Command of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress, in December 1961.

Very interesting reading for the 1 percent.

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