Open Forum

The mic is open. The audience is ready. And, the floor is yours.

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Got a toothache? Go easy on the benzocaine:

    Feeling blue: US woman treated by doctors after blood turned navy

    It turns out that “feeling blue” is not a figure of speech after all.

    A 25-year-old woman has given new meaning to the expression after she turned up at a Rhode Island hospital with blood that had turned navy blue. According to a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, the woman told doctors that she had used a topical pain reliever for a toothache. She woke the next morning and took herself to hospital, telling doctors: “I’m weak and I’m blue.” The woman was what doctors call cyanotic – the medical term for seeming to have blueish skin or nails.

    Dr Otis Warren, the emergency room doctor on duty at Miriam hospital in Providence, the state capital, diagnosed the problem as “acquired methemoglobinemia” – a rare blood disorder that causes people to produce an unusual amount of methemoglobin (a type of hemoglobin). With methemoglobinemia, the hemoglobin can carry oxygen, but cannot release it effectively to tissues, according to the National Library of Medicine. Warren had seen one case previously in a patient who was being treated with an antibiotic. “The skin color looked exactly the same,” Warren told NBC News. “You see it once, and it stays in your mind.”

    Warren said the condition had been triggered by a numbing agent containing benzocaine. The woman told Warren she hadn’t used the entire bottle though it was apparent, Warren said, she’d “used a whole lot of it”.

  2. Details later, but Bill DeBlasio has dropped out of the Presidential race. No word on which candidate his supporter will back.

  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    And thousands of New Yorkers are depressed by the loss of the fantasy that they would be saved from DeBlasio.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: While everyone else asks, “Bill De who???”

  5. Jax says:

    “Those individuals close to Smith during the period of Book of Mormon creation concede that Smith dictated the Book of Mormon while having his head in a hat which contained a seer stone, the same type stone he had previously used to look for buried treasure,” the complaint states.

    Magic seer stones. Sounds legit. 😉

  6. Teve says:

    Hopefully no more than 2 or 3 of the trolls here will get shot by .50 Cals while attempting to hop the fence at Area 51 this weekend.

  7. Fortunato says:

    Thought for a Dem PAC ads on billboards all over the country.

    The billboard image:
    Donald Trump surrounded the Saudi’s as they all placed their hands over the Glowing Orb.

    Across the top of billboard is Trump’s quote:
    “Saudi Arabia Pays Cash”

    Across the bottom of the billboard:
    They made Jimmy Carter put his peanut farm in a blind trust

  8. Kathy says:

    I’ve been thinking about the ancient practice of having multiple people in the office of chief executive of a state at the same time.

    The clearest example was the Roman republic. Two men (they were all men), held the office of Consul at the same time, for one year terms. The wrinkle here is each could veto the other, and didn’t even have to provide a reason for doing so. This gave them the choice to either compromise or fight. Mostly they compromised, until around the time of Julius Caesar when the fight escalated to a full-blown civil war.

    So it wasn’t foolproof (what is?), but it worked for centuries.

    More recently there was the Directorate in France at the tail end of the French Revolution, which consisted of five people serving for give years in staggered terms, where a new Director was elected every year. This lasted a very short time and ended with Napoleon staging a coup and assuming absolute power, first as Consul (no small irony there) and then as Emperor (twice!)

    And in many constitutional monarchies, as late as WWI, the monarch’s power was constrained by a prime minister and a parliament. This wasn’t a shared office per se, but the executive powers were split. Today in most such monarchies, the monarch is relegated to a ceremonial role.

    I wonder if such arrangements could work today, say in parliamentary democracies. Very likely the answer is not. But seeing as how in many countries the separation of powers looks more idealistic with few practical repercussions, and how legislative branches increasingly act as the executive’s rubber stamp, the solution might be to split the executive power itself.

    Such changes, though, don’t happen easily. Constitutional monarchies were mostly the result of revolution. The Roman Republic came about only after the monarchy was overthrown. And in the end, nations tend to get the kind of government they deserve.

  9. Fortunato says:

    Magic seer stones.

    Limited supplies available only to Fox ‘News’ and Hate Radio patrons!
    Each stone comes with its very own Certificate of Authenticity.

    And Coming Soon – the Commemorative ‘Trump Seer Stone’*, a bright orange pyramidal shaped coprolite – oddly wide at the base and its tiny top, tufted with unusual yellow fibers.
    *Note – must be 17 or older to purchase. Although it’s not a choking hazard, the stone is known to randomly eject spittle when examined too closely.

    And for those demanding few – the ultimate in both comfort and Godliness – Mike Lindell’s exclusive Magic Seer Stone-washed Luxury Giza Cotton Sheets and Pillow Covers.

  10. Jen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That’s interesting, particularly since I just finished reading a novel that included a protagonist who was one of the “blue people of Kentucky.” That particular disorder can be either acquired or genetic.

  11. Joe says:

    @Kathy: I recall that the drafters of our own US Constitution pondered a multi-person Executive, of both the two and five person types.

  12. CSK says:

    Is it me, or is Rudy Giuliani beginning to look more and more like Count Orlok in Nosferatu?

  13. CSK says:

    @Joe: They did indeed. A sort of board of presidents.

  14. Jen says:


    I remembered this too, but cannot put my finger on where/when this was discussed. Was it the first Continental Congress, or was it in discussions for the drafting of the Constitution?

  15. Mr. Prosser says:

    @CSK: I read on Balloon Juice he looks more like a Naked Mole Rat.

  16. Kathy says:


    It might have been an interesting experiment. Given, too, how many Latin American countries copied the US model upon their independence, history might have turned out very different.

  17. grumpy realist says:
  18. Mister Bluster says:

    @Jen:..but cannot put my finger on where/when this was discussed. Was it the first Continental Congress, or was it in discussions for the drafting of the Constitution?

    See my post at Open Forum Wed. June 5, 2o19:

    Mister Bluster says:
    Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 13:45
    Independence Hall Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Monday June 4, 1787
    The Question was resumed on motion of Mr. PINKNEY 2ded. by WILSON, “shall the blank for the number of the Executive be filled with a single person?”
    Mr. GERRY’S proposition being now before Committee, Mr. WILSON & Mr. HAMILTON move that the last part of it [viz. “Wch. Sl. not be afterwds. passed unless by ——– parts of each branch of the National legislature] be struck out, so as to give the Executive an absolute negative on the laws. There was no danger they thought of such a power being too much exercised. It was mentioned by Col: HAMILTON that the King of G. B. had not exerted his negative since the Revolution.
    Mr. GERRY sees no necessity for so great a controul over the legislature as the best men in the Community would be comprised in the two branches of it.
    Docr. FRANKLIN, said he was sorry to differ from his colleague for whom he had a very great respect, on any occasion, but he could not help it on this. He had had some experience of this check in the Executive on the Legislature, under the proprietary Government of Pena. The negative of the Governor was constantly made use of to extort money. No good law whatever could be passed without a private bargain with him. An increase of his salary, or some donation, was always made a condition; till at last it became the regular practice, to have orders in his favor on the Treasury, presented along with the bills to be signed, so that he might actually receive the former before he should sign the latter. When the Indians were scalping the western people, and notice of it arrived, the concurrence of the Governor in the means of self- defence could not be got, till it was agreed that his Estate should be exempted from taxation: so that the people were to fight for the security of his property, whilst he was to bear no share of the burden. This was a mischievous sort of check. If the Executive was to have a Council, such a power would be less objectionable. It was true the King of G. B. had not, as was said, exerted his negative since the Revolution; but that matter was easily explained. The bribes and emoluments now given to the members of parliament rendered it unnecessary, every thing being done according to the will of the Ministers. He was afraid, if a negative should be given as proposed, that more power and money would be demanded, till at last eno’ would be gotten to influence & bribe the Legislature into a compleat subjection to the will of the Executive.

  19. Kathy says:

    On other things, I’m on a Star Wars high.

    First I found the new “canon” books published shortly after “The Force Awakens,” then I found new Thrawn books by Timothy Zahn. I really liked Thrawn in his earlier “New Star Wars Trilogy” in the 90s, and in the prequel “Final Flight.”

    The first new book, entitled simply “Thrawn” was rather good. The second, “Thrawn: Alliances,” far less so. I swear by the middle of the book I was wondering when the story would begin. Besides, there was a considerable interval internally between books, with various references to past events.

    My hunch was that perhaps some of that missing story is in the TV show “Star Wars: Rebels,” which is still on Netflix. Reasoning it will be gone soon, I started streaming it last week. And, indeed, some characters in the books appear in the shows and viceversa.

    Whether the show fills the gap or not, I find it to be watchable. Not great, but interesting enough to stream a couple of episodes per day.

    The one big criticism is that it kind of shatters the impression from the movies that the Jedi were long gone, with only Kenobi and Yoda still around. The show has three more, plus a bunch of Sith (or something). And Yoda is very much aware of them.

  20. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster: Thanks.

  21. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Dig into the Clone Wars cartoon if you haven’t. Skip the intro movie and really the entirety of first season (it’s a couple of mostly independent multi-episode stories per season, so this is harmless).

    It fleshes out the clone troopers and gives them a humanity that the movies never bothered to. Same with Anakin. And it has some really good stories.

  22. Kathy says:


    I might, if I’m not sick of SW by then…

    I did see a few episodes when it aired originally. I didn’t keep it up because 1) the scheduling was erratic, 2) I didn’t really like it much.

    BTW, the great thing about TV is that with many eps per season, some are bound to be brilliant. Movies, on the other hand, are a one-shot deal every time.

  23. Tyrell says:

    @Teve: I hope that no one tries going over. Maybe some Air Force Generals will show up and give out some factual information and answer questions. The people have been kept in the dark too long. Some of the technology that they may have could maybe provide possible uses in new forms of energy.

  24. DrDaveT says:

    So, how many of us knew that there are only four states in the union where ordinary citizens cannot be forced to join a posse, under penalty of law?

    Per Lowering the Bar:

    Most people are familiar with the word “posse” from movies, I think, but few realize that in most states—apparently all but four—it is in fact still illegal for them not to join a posse if the sheriff demands it.

    The occasion of the article is California becoming the fourth state, as of last August 30. It’s worth a read, as are most things at that blog.

  25. DrDaveT says:

    A depressing day in a depressing year. The current situation is reminding me more and more of the classic Theodore Sturgeon novella “And now the news…“.

  26. de stijl says:

    I watched Last Days Of Disco earlier and ended up comparing it to Hal Hartley movies from the same era.

    I kinda like the Whitman movies for about an hour because of the dialogue and the overwhelming archness of the endevour, until I reach a point I just can’t cope or relate anymore.

    Whereas, with Hal Hartley movies of the same era, I do not get that.

    I appreciate Will Whitman movies. I actually like Hal Hartley movies. Adrienne Shelley and Martin Donovan (core cast members) were good actors.

    For that late 90’s era indie film thing, I prefer Hartley.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    I can’t recommend Scribd for anyone who listens to more than the occasional audiobook. It turns out they severely throttle your access through an arcane algorithm involving how many books you’ve listened to, how popular they are, etc. It may not even be just you, as some users speculate it has to do with how much others are using it too. They don’t acknowledge this anywhere, instead implying they any temporary loss of catalog is due to authors withdrawing their books from the service.

  28. Tyrell says:

    @DrDaveT: Sorry to hear that. I try to spend time reading goid books, usually non-fiction, and watching tech and science news and programs. I also watch “This Old House”. I go to news programs that are positive and uplifting.