Open Forum

Where you can't be off topic because there IS no topic.

The floor is yours.

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I woke up at 12:15 this AM. Y’all are on your own today. I’m gonna try and catch some of that sleep that is evading me.

  2. Bill says:

    The Sports headline of the year?=

    Golf: Saudi Arabia to host first-ever women’s tournament in March 2020

    Did pigs fly or hell freeze over while we looked the other way?

  3. Bill says:
  4. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: You have my sympathy. I’d almost kill for a decent night’s sleep. Melatonin is useless. Same for benadryl.

  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    A new way 2020 candidates want to win your vote: tracking your phone’s location

    As a matter of course, I turn off location tracking unless I need it for directions or a specific task. I’ve also opted out every data collection and history database that I can think of. This may be granting a false sense of privacy, but you do what you can do.

  6. Kit says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Interesting article and worthy of thought. That said, low-information voters (and consumers) are where tracking and targeting has the biggest impact, at least outside of totalitarian regimes. I’m just not sure that there’s an optimal time of the day to catch me when I’m open to the idea of voting Republican.

    I also take care to keep from being tracked, without being obsessed with the subject. And when I bother to think of it, I’m surprised at how little advertising I’m subjected to.

  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Oh good…the Impeachment Trial in the Senate is rigged already.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Fox News Thursday night that he will coordinate the defense of President Trump in any impeachment trial with White House lawyers, and proclaimed that there was “zero chance” the president would be removed from office.
    Question to our residence attorneys…Doug, Neil…surely people have been indicted but not brought to trial, for whatever reason?
    The House should vote to Impeach…in effect indict him…then put it in a drawer. Just continue to investigate as Trump continues to break the law…which he is still doing.
    DO NOT allow the Senate to acquit Trump in a farcical procedure.
    Another tack would be to make a case for all these Republican Senators, who have taken a stand before the trial, to recuse themselves. Refuse to move forward with a trial until they do so.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Boy, I go away for a few hours and you guys just don’t know what to talk about. 😉

    @CSK: Melatonin works for me… Most of the time. If I don’t take it, I can tell the difference. Sometimes tho, nothing works and when that happens it is usually for several nights in a row. Last night was the 2nd. we’ll see if there is a 3rd.

    @Sleeping Dog: I don’t have a smart phone (I have a rule about phones that are smarter than I: Don’t) and my flip phone stays turned off for 95-98% of the time, but it’s not because of tracking (tracking me would be a complete waste of time and tell them next to nothing) It’s turned off so much because we live in a cell hole and if don’t turn it off it drains the batteries trying to find a tower. But it is also because I hate the damned thing. If it rings I start screaming at it, “LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!!!!” Then I’ll look to see if it’s my wife or not. I try to remember to turn it on if I go to town to check for messages but even then I forget to about half the time.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: It’s not a trial and there is no acquittal. We have always known the Senate would never vote to remove the chosen one. The whole reason for the impeachment is to get the entire GOP on record as of being in support of a lawless president, and to make them wear that vote until the end of history. In every election from 2020 on they are going to have to face that act again and again and again.

    Their ever shrinking base will love it but that’s their problem, their base shrinks every day.

  10. Kathy says:

    I had a fight at the office yesterday.

    I won’t bore you with all the details, nothing more boring than to read about someone’s irrelevant obsessions, but am curious whether the distinction I’m making is valid. here goes:

    I handle petty cash at our department. usually this means reimbursing small expenses, but sometimes I advance small sums, which are then “paid” by invoices and vouchers, which I enter into the general expense report for reimbursement.

    At the end of November, this guy, call him Joe (not his real name), needed the equivalent of around $125 for some work-related expenditures. Being the end of the month and the end of the week, the petty cash fund was nearly exhausted. I offered to loan him the money out of my pocket (big mistake, I know*), but told him he’d have to pay me, not the petty cash fund, in cash (or check, if any still exist).

    Then yesterday he gives me some invoices and vouchers to “pay” the loan. I reminded him he owed me cash, and he lost it. He threw the bunch of papers on my desk and told me he sent the scans to my email as well. I sent his email back to him, deleted the one he sent, and told him to take his papers off my desk. He refused, so I very conspicuously placed them in the nearest waste basket.

    * If I knew it was a mistake, why did I do it? Because if I don’t let him have any money, he’ll complain to the boss, and then I get lectured on the need to better manage the fund. as if requesting 10% of the fund at the end of the week is sensible.

  11. reid says:

    @CSK: What works decently for me is sleeping pills containing doxylamine succinate. I think it’s related to benadryl (diphenhydramine), but benadryl exacerbates my restless leg craziness. The doxylamine might be worth a shot.

  12. CSK says:

    @reid: Thanks! Is doxylamine an OTC drug?

  13. CSK says:

    @CSK: Oh, wait. I see doxylamine is the active ingredient in Unisom. Unisom doesn’t work for me, either. I need a sledgehammer, I think.

  14. reid says:

    @CSK: It is, usually on the shelves near the benadryl ones. It doesn’t seem as popular, though. Good luck! (Just read your followup. Oh well.)

  15. Slugger says:

    My local radio station is reporting that some politicians are “furious” about something this morning. I wish they would not report on the emotional state of politicians. I don’t believe in the sincerity of politicians. When a car salesman smiles at me, the intent is not to befriend me. When the guy on TV tells me that his brand of beer is cold, I assume that it responds to the same laws of thermodynamics as every other brand. When an ingenue actress sheds tears while talking to Oprah, I assume she is auditioning. I am not being cynical, just have suffered too much hype and have become inured. I am looking for politicians who are cool and thoughtful, maybe even a bit emotionally reserved, and don’t want angry spouting.

  16. Teve says:

    Matt Bevin is pardoning some people on his way out the door, and it’s not looking good.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:


    I am looking for politicians who are cool and thoughtful, maybe even a bit emotionally reserved, and don’t want angry spouting.

    I don’t care how long you hold your breath or how many times you click your heels, Obama is not coming back. 😉 We got spoiled by him, didn’t we?

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Some real peaches among them.

  19. Teve says:
  20. Amy H. says:

    @CSK: Have you tried Trazadone? It isn’t a sleeping pill, per se, but it turns my brain off so I can sleep. I believe it is an anti-anxiety drug? At any rate, I do NOT need to wake up at 1 am and start reviewing various projects in my head until the alarm goes off. I had a really bad spell of this no sleep business a few years ago. Granted, I was working in the Boiler Shop, and if people would have just done the work like they were supposed to…

  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Kit: You may be surprised at just what uses that tracking data is put to, other than advertising. For example, some auto insurers now offer “safe driver” discounts, in return for putting an app on your phone. They make it sound like the reason is so they can push out helpful driving tips and precautions but it’s much more likely that they are identifying how fast you are driving. They may use it as a reason to raise your rates or drop you outright. They may also use it to contest coverage if you were driving recklessly before an accident. While I haven’t seen that specific thing reported on, I have seen multiple reports of them going to court to get sensor data from the car itself. It would only make sense for them to use the tracking data from your phone in the same way.

  22. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: FWIW I am constantly using my phone but for years and years it’s been on silent mode. On the rare occasion that someone is going to actually call (as if it was 1980), I’ll turn the ringer on. But other than that, I just don’t see much benefit from an audible phone.

  23. Teve says:

    Finland’s new government is dominated by women in their early 30s.

    And we’re stuck with tards like Gohmert, Trump, Gym Jordan, McConnell…

  24. grumpy realist says:

    @Bill: I find it amusing that they didn’t just grab the car, they’re claiming he forfeited it under Florida forfeiture laws. Ha ha.

    (Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.)

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Yeah, I don’t text either. I don’t see the point of it when I can call someone and if they answer get the thing settled, and if they don’t answer leave a message about why I’m calling. I’m really not a phone person. I am done talking after 2 or 3 minutes, said what I have to say and see no need to say any more. If the other person takes 5 mins to ask a 3 part question I am still going to answer yes or no. Drives people nuts. BONUS!

  26. Kit says:


    I am done talking after 2 or 3 minutes, said what I have to say

    What I’m hearing here is that when the OTB meet-up finally happens, we’d better have you buying the first round.

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..If I knew it was a mistake, why did I do it?
    So yer cousin Wimpy works at your office.
    You probably got him the job.

  28. Kit says:


    You may be surprised at just what uses that tracking data is put to, other than advertising

    Health data must simply be begging the insurance companies to use it unethically.

    I guess we could divide the world of tracking into one part which wishes to sell you something, and another part which wishes to punish you.

  29. reid says:

    @Teve: Good article. I often agree with Larison, and I appreciate a sane conservative viewpoint, but for some reason the chowderheads over there blocked me from the comments. No idea why, but I took it off my daily reads list.

  30. Jax says:

    Speaking of OTB meetups, I dreamed we had one the other night. It was quite funny. Human bodies with avatars for heads, and Abby from NCIS was the bartender. Kathy was holding court by the fire for book club corner, Michael Reynolds and Guarneri were playing darts (and we had a betting pool on how long it would take before they were throwing the darts at each other), and de Stijl and I were in charge of the jukebox. 😉

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Or, maybe you guys shouldn’t have spent the better part of a couple of years demanding that it happen knowing ahead of time that this would be the outcome.

  32. Kit says:

    @Jax: You recently said that you needed to catch up on your sleep. Sounds like you might be overdoing it 🙂

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @CSK: If it’s a chronic thing, it might be worth doing a sleep study. I DID have chronic sleeplessness and using a bi-pap machine works well for me.

  34. Jax says:

    @Kit: It’s possible. This was actually a pretty tame dream compared to others. I broke a couple ribs last spring jumping out of bed and slamming into the corner of my dresser because of a dream. I don’t even remember that dream, just waking up and thinking WTF?! Ouch!!!

    The doc said given my occupation, I should probably find a better story on how I broke those ribs….horse bucked me off, cow got me….any one of those makes more sense than “bad dream”. 😉

  35. Michael Cain says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Most of 40 years ago I read a piece about a former Vietnam POW. When asked how he got to sleep under some of the conditions, he said that he shut his eyes and built a house in his head. Every piece of material, every saw cut, every nail. At some point while doing this, he would fall asleep.

    I didn’t know enough about houses, but since then I’ve been building a science fiction story in my head. Mostly it’s a visualized screenplay. Every set, every shot, every effect. When something else tries to get in the way — will tomorrow’s tech demo work? — I make an effort to get focused on the story again. At some point while I’m working on it, I fall asleep. Progress has been… slow. Slower as I got better at it.

    I suspect it’s more that I’ve trained myself than anything else.

  36. Kit says:


    I broke a couple ribs last spring jumping out of bed and slamming into the corner of my dresser because of a dream.

    I’m guessing that you didn’t need any coffee that morning.

  37. Jax says:

    @Kit: No. Just a hell of a lot of ibuprofen. It really sucked, man, couldn’t lift anything heavy, couldn’t breathe…..sneezing elicited language that would make a sailor blush.

  38. Jax says:
  39. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    You probably got him the job.

    I wish! If I had, I could fire his ass.

    I really don’t want to start bitching about work, because I’d do little else if the floodgates open, and because I’m asure everyone here has complaints about the people at their workplace.

  40. Mister Bluster says:

    I really don’t want to start bitching about work,..

    Had to be 40 years ago or so because I remember the barstool I was sitting on. The guy next to me said that in Japan the employee restrooms in office buildings had inflatable dummies with the faces of managers and bosses that the desk jockeys could pummel and punch out.
    Just bar talk I imagine but sounds like an idea I could live with if I worked in an office.
    Which I never did.

  41. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I’d have the audacity to suggest it 😉

    I could use one. My boss is what I call a nice jerk. He’s mostly a nice guy, but also a jerk for lots of things I won’t go into.

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kit: Getting me to show up is the first challenge, getting me to stick around is the 2nd. Loud environments and I don’t mix due to hearing difficulties. If the OTB meetup is out in the woods around a campfire I would probably stick around until 8 o’clock or so. 9 is my pumpkin hour.

  43. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: It’s chronic but it’s chronic pain that wakes me up. No c-pap machine is gonna fix that. Besides, I hate having things on my face so there is no way I can sleep with the mask.

  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Cain: I used to do something similar to that but if I did that now I’d just end up thinking about one of the half dozen or so ongoing projects I have. Actually, that is a problem for me, Once I start thinking, I can’t stop. I have to force everything from my brain. Something external helps like my dog snoring in bed next me or having a dream. Sometimes I know I can fall asleep again and I’ll lay there for 2 or 3 hours until I do. Other times, like this morn, I’ll wake up and an hour later I’ll know it’s just not happening and get up.

  45. MarkedMan says:

    @Kit: in the US and the EU health data is one of the few things that is actually protected by law.

  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yeah, the fact that it’s chronic pain kinda overshadows the likelihood of Sleep Apnea. Hope you find a pain management person that can figure out what to do. Pain is sucky. 🙁

  47. MarkedMan says:

    Has there ever been an OTB meetup?

  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I’m pretty much fucked on the pain management side. I’m allergic to aspirin which apparently means I can’t take any anitinflammatories because of cross reactions. Opiates help, and I hoard them after every surgery saving them for the really bad nights, but if I ever run out I’m gonna have to invent a reason for surgery because I can’t find a doc that will prescribe them even for someone like me who has 50 or 60 of them but only takes one when the pain is really bad.

    For some reason or other they’re all a little gunshy when it comes to opiates. 🙁

    @MarkedMan: Not to my knowledge.

  49. Kathy says:


    Kathy was holding court by the fire for book club corner,

    I can picture that.

    Only, how do you get books to join a club? (It is a dream, after all 😉 )

  50. Kathy says:


    Oh, a quiet environment is a must.

    I’ve hosted a few meet ups for an online message board in Vegas. It’s hard to find a quiet place there, and I won’t claim I did, but I chose, very deliberately, places without live music. Those are the worst. the real noise came after lunch, where the activity was gambling. No such thing as a quiet casino.

  51. Kit says:


    Getting me to show up is the first challenge…

    I’m just going to send you my bank account details. Look into your heart and send what money you can.

  52. Kit says:


    Has there ever been an OTB meetup?

    We promised each other never to speak of it. @Jax’s repressed memories are starting to seep through in dreams, but that’s the closest you’ll get to anyone cracking.

  53. Tyrell says:

    “Grady, sir. Delbert Grady”: One of the most fascinating conversations in motion picture history.
    (“The Shining”)

  54. Stormy Dragon says:

    Overly on-the-nose metaphors: anti-vax group tries to protest pro-vax bill, but instead shows up at a transit hearing after getting the room number wrong, and then refuses to leave claiming the transit hearing is a fake hearing intended to trick them…

    WATCH: Anti-vaxxers show up in the wrong room to protest a vaccine exemptions bill — and refuse to leave

  55. Jax says:

    Thank God for wine.

    So you’re looking at a newly elected member of a county board. It’s an issue that’s near and dear to my heart, so when one of the current board members approached me about volunteering for a seat that had been recently vacated due to a former member breaking state law, I figured….hey…why not?

    Ehrmagerd. These people want ALLLLLL of the nice things, but when the board treasurer pointed out supplying these nice things would require a tax increase on a certain subset of taxpayers, the whole room flipped out.

  56. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: The 2nd to last time my oldest sis was in town we met up at an Ihop. No curtains on the windows, no sound absorbing padding on the walls. We were there for about 2 hours and after about 45 mins I was walking out the door every 15-20 mins just to get away from all the noise. After a 100 mins or so I just couldn’t take anymore. They sent a search party for me.

    The last time we met in a park. MUCH nicer.

    @Kit: Don’t do that, I’m liable to look into my bank account first and my heart will follow. 😉

  57. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Everybody wants things. Nobody wants to pay for them.

  58. Jax says:

    @Kit: But now that I’ve got a full dose of wine in me, let me tell you about the dream that gave me my first grey hair….

    I was 8, and my parents sent my brother and I to a “Bible Ranch”. You go hang out with 70-100 other kids your age for a week and learn the books of the bible, verses, stuff like that. Campfires. S’mores. Marshmallows. Shenanigans.

    One of the dorms for girls was an actual old horse barn that had been refitted with bunks in the walls, with ladders, three levels. Every bed was like a cubby you could stand up in, had some room at the end for your clothes and stuff. OF COURSE, being the daring young lass I was at age 8, I chose the 3rd level.

    First night was fine. The second night….I dreamed I was falling, and then I could see myself falling. In the dream, the fall took forever. Then I hit the cement floor and the dream ended….but not really. I could still see my own self lying there on the floor, a pool of blood growing around my head. Then the door to the barn opened, and moonlight spilled in, and I could see the shape of my dorm leader in it. She screamed, and all of a sudden I was back in my body….and ofmyfuckinggod, it hurt.

    One of the wounds on my right temple, the hair grew back in grey. At age 8. If you ever want to get looked at funny, get a grey stripe in your hair as a very young person. People you would never expect hiss “Witch!”

  59. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Heh. I grew up with severe eczema. I’m not sure exactly when I realized that people found my peeling my skin off unpleasing but by the time I hit puberty I knew enough to say nothing at all when the jibes were directed my way because of my constant gym class doctor excuses and twice daily visits to the nurses office. And I sure as shit never let anybody see it.

    One day after school, long after everyone else had left I’m sitting on the walk at the back parking lot engaging in the one thing my whole day has been focused on: The moment when I can remove my shoes and my blood soaked socks, taking half my skin with them. I hear a slight gasp behind me. I look up and it is Janice, a friend of mine, tho not a close friend of mine. She is looking at my feet and says, “You have to be the bravest person I’ve ever met.” All I could think was, “Holy shit, she knows my secret.” and run and hide. I grabbed my stuff and left her standing there in the parking lot.

    A year later she was dead. Leukemia. I had known there was something “wrong” with her, but nobody would ever quite say and I was always too respectful of boundaries.

    I’m still not sure how to file that memory. I know that if I could go back I would…. Not run away. The adult me would stay, maybe not say anything because what could I say? But I would stay.

    One of those moments I wish I could redo.

  60. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: One of my college roommates had that. Bloody socks and severe pain, all the time.

    If we could turn back time…..

  61. Jax says:

    And now that I’m into the wine, where the hell is de Stijl and his funky playlists?! 😉

  62. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A Los Angeles police officer who allegedly fondled a dead woman’s breast was charged on Thursday with a felony, authorities said.

    David Rojas, 27, was charged with having sexual contact with human remains without authority, according to a statement from the Los Angeles county district attorney’s office. He could face up to three years in state prison if convicted.
    It was not immediately clear whether Rojas had an attorney who could speak on his behalf. The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that usually provides legal counsel for its members, said it will not defend Rojas.

    “We hope that district attorney Jackie Lacey charging Mr Rojas for his vile alleged crime will bring some solace to the deceased woman’s family during their time of grieving,” the union’s board said in a statement. “His alleged behavior is abhorrent and an affront to every law enforcement professional working for the LAPD.”

    Huh, so there is a level of depravity that a police union will not defend after all.

  63. OzarkHillbilly says:

    What counts as a mass shooting? The dangerous effects of varying definitions

    Shortly after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, the research analyst Marisa Booty was tasked with updating data about mass shootings for the Center for Gun Policy and Research and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. But while sorting through publicly available data, she found all of the sources defined mass shootings slightly differently.

    Now, Booty and her team of researchers are calling on the US government to establish a consistent definition of mass shootings. In a study published on 3 December, Booty and other researchers analyzed four commonly cited public databases and found that the reported number of mass shootings in 2017 ranged from 11 to 346.

    This led to concerns about lobbyists and lawmakers only using the mass shooting data that best matches their individual agenda. The researchers say this inconsistency can slow legislative progress and affect the level of media attention on incidents that don’t meet certain standards.

    The four sources include the not-for-profit organizations Everytown for Gun Safety and the Gun Violence Archive, as well as Mother Jones and the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). Mother Jones, a news organization that tracks mass shooting incidents, excludes shootings that result from domestic violence, drug deals and gang activity. The others recognize these instances but diverge when it comes to including nonfatal gunshot injuries.

    “Since a lot of these definitions revolve around persons killed and fatalities, events with nonfatal injuries are easily overlooked in discussion and policy,” Booty says.

    It always struck me as utter idiocy to limit the definition to people killed, as tho those people who just lost a leg or a spleen didn’t count. Of course the NRA are going to lobby for strict definitions of what constitutes a mass shooting in order to keep the # As low as possible. Won’t matter to them in the least if researchers reach wrong conclusions due to inadequate data.

    Feature, not a bug.

  64. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Oh, from time to time Police Unions appear to let justice advance. As long as the cop involved is black, Hispanic, Muslim or a woman.

  65. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Truer words were never spoken.

  66. Mister Bluster says:

    Representative Mike Johnson (R) Louisiana on CNN today: “The President is a hands on leader.”

    You got that right Mike. “Grab them by the pussy!”