Free Forum Friday April 8 Edition

It has been a busy week for political junkies. Shades of Florida 2000 and Minnesota 2008: a closely watched and critically important election in Wisconsin is going into extra innings. Meanwhile, a government shutdown is almost certain as of this writing. Some people find uterus jokes funny, while others do not.

Whatever it is that tickles your fancy, Free Forum Friday is the time to kick out the jams and let us know what you’re thinking.

Free Forum Fridays are an open discussion where commenters are invited to bring up topics that may not have been covered in the previous week. Got something on your mind? Throw your opinion out there.

About Monotreme

Monotreme is an unabashedly liberal dog lover, writer, and former scientist who now teaches at a University in an almost-square state out West somewhere. |
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62 Responses to Free Forum Friday April 8 Edition

  1. mizunogirl says:

    Since I have not done my taxes yet. I am wondering if I should bother. I mean if there is no government, well…they can not possibly want my cash right?

  2. shortchain says:


    Sorry, but the only part of the IRS that will be furloughed is the part that mails refunds.

    File your return.

  3. dcpetterson says:

    In a stunning development in Wisconsin, Prosser has pulled ahead by over 7500 votes, “when a county clerk said she had accidentally neglected to record 14,000 votes in a heavily Republican county.”

  4. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    With all else going on, here’s what a few friends in my old sport were doing a couple of days ago.

  5. mclever says:

    From the Daily Beast, a little quiz to test whether you’re paying enough attention to tell the difference between the NFL dispute and the budget dispute in DC:


  6. mclever says:

    There’s been some discussion around here about the cause of the Civil War. I’ve been waiting to see the brilliant analysis that has yet to appear, but someone else has beaten them to the punch. TIME published this article about the Civil War and the efforts to obfuscate the real cause:,8599,2063679,00.html

    The Civil War was undeniably about slavery. Must be so, because TIME says so. Right?


  7. mclever says:

    For filistro and the other creative types around here, I found this to be funny, uplifting, and inspirational:

    How to steal like an artist.

    Every artist gets asked the question, “Where do you get your ideas?”

    The honest artist answers, “I steal them.”


  8. filistro says:

    mac… that’s such a wonderful little treatise on creativity. I wish I’d found something like that when I was just starting out… because I wasted so much time, energy, and angst in the process of learning that all of it is TRUE 🙂

  9. Monotreme says:

    “To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.” — Stephen Wright

  10. filistro says:

    Back to the shutdown… even NRO now admits that the money issues have been broadly resolved at $38 billion and the only stumbling block is Planned Parenthood.

    Which brings me back to the issue I’ve been tediously harping on for years… the extreme danger of bringing religion into politics. Because if you’re making your stand on a deeply-held religious issue… how do you ever climb down?

    Can the GOP say.. “Okay, okay, we’ll allow funding for the ‘nation’s biggest abortion provider,’ now let’s make a deal?”

    The only way this can end is for the Dems to cave and allow them some kind of fig leaf to preserve their “integrity” (I use the term loosely) and keep their base from turning on them like a pack of wolves.

    I’m so ticked at this, I’d really rather see them twist in the wind for a while.

  11. filistro says:

    Another thing I’ve been waiting patiently for FFF to address… what do we all think about the sudden emergence of Donald Trump’s lusty, full-on embrace of birtherism? Is he:

    a.)causing a grave and dangerous schism in the nation by openly casting doubts on the president’s legitimacy


    b.) making a huge jackass of himself?

  12. mclever says:



    Especially when the “birth certificate” that he released for himself was not a legitimate government document. It’s an easily forged hospital certificate and not one issued by the New York City Department of Health. As far as I know, we have yet to see an actual, certified NYC birth certificate from him.

    At least the short-form certificate that Obama has provided is a certified document from the state of Hawaii that would satisfy the proof of citizenship requirement for things like a passport or any other job. Trump couldn’t get a passport with the “birth certificate” that he produced for himself.

  13. Monotreme says:

    Let me be the first to point out that no one will be able to get a passport, come tomorrow.

  14. Monotreme says:

    And the answer is (b). But in present perfect tense, as he continues to make a jackass of himself. He’s like a professional jackass, the pro wrestler of insane narcissism.

  15. Max aka Birdpilot says:


    I KNOW y’all knew it was coming! 🙂

    Let’s suppose the the author of the Time article concerning the WHY of the Civil War began with THIS first paragraph:

    A few weeks before Captain George S. James sent the first mortar round arcing through the predawn darkness toward Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, Abraham Lincoln cast his Inaugural Address as a last-ditch effort to win back the South. In that Address Lincoln said: “ Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly ALL THE PUBLISHED SPEECHES OF HIM THAT NOW ADDRESSES YOU. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that—
    I HAVE NO PURPOSE, directly or indirectly, TO INTERFERE WITH THE INSTITUTION OF SLAVERYin the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”
    . Just six weeks before those shots were fired, BOTH Houses of the Congress of the United States has passed what was known as the Corwin Amendment*, a proposed 13th Amendment to the Constitution, that forbade ANY act of Congress that would interfere with slavery. Along with the Dred Scott decision by the SCOTUS, all three branches of the Federal government AND the Constitution were in full agreement, there was now no justification for the Southern states to use slavery as an excuse for succession.

    All completely factual as the the contemporary situation in April 1861.

    * Text of the Corwin Amendment

    This setting of a premise that confirms the conclusion of the article would have been COMPLETELY different.

    Perhaps Mr. Von Drehle had made HIS conclusion BEFORE he did his research. I note that he never mentions the Corwin Amendment, and Dred Scott only in passing, as he did the economic benefits of slavery that accrued to the Northern States. He spent almost a quarter of his article, though, on the subject of John Brown.

    More than half of his article concerned the post-bellum period. Had he spent at least that much time reviewing the antebellum situation, his efforts would have been more accurate.

    While I am very proud of my Southern heritage of the concepts of honor and duty, I don’t defend in any way the particular institution of the South and I find even MORE despicable the 75 years of Jim Crow. It held the South back to the point that, until WWII, it was 50 years behind the economic development of the rest of the United States. A point the author also fails to make.

    Thus while his article was quite well written, it was founded, as the first paragraph demonstrates, on an incomplete, specifically chosen premise and therefore, IMHO, incorrect as to it’s conclusion.

  16. dcpetterson says:

    filistro, the only realistic compromise now on Planned Parenthood is for the Republicans to come up with some language that makes it illegal for Federal money to go to abortions — which is already true, so it would be just really illegal now. That lets them save face and pretend they actually did something (which they really would not have done anything, because no Federal money goes to abortions today).

    Will they take this compromise? No clue.

    I haven’t heard about the other issues — are the GOteaPers still holding out to eliminate NRP and PBS and EPA?

    It is all so nakedly ideological, so obviously just a ploy to push their far-far-far right extremist social agenda — can anybody honestly believe that any of their posturing is actually about the budget or fiscal matters?

  17. Monotreme says:

    Fili asks:

    Which brings me back to the issue I’ve been tediously harping on for years… the extreme danger of bringing religion into politics. Because if you’re making your stand on a deeply-held religious issue… how do you ever climb down?

    Hence, this week’s quote 😉

    I posted this over on the Nate Silver thread, will repost here:

  18. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    @ fili,

    The answer is yes!

  19. mclever says:


    I lived in Texas long enough to know how to bait a catfish. 😉

    I figured the author was overlooking something, but wasn’t sure what. I knew if I tossed you a line, I’d land a good answer.

    Corwin Amendment. Thanks.

    It just goes to show that the cause of the Civil War wasn’t a nice, simple, pat answer. Slavery was definitely a major contributing factor (as evidenced by the myriad of historians who agree with that premise), but pretending that it was solely about slavery doesn’t do any favors to the nuanced politics of that day, either.

  20. filistro says:

    @mizunogirl… you absolutely, definitely have to file your taxes.

    You just won’t get your refund 😦

  21. mclever says:


    If you’re smart about your taxes, you shouldn’t be getting a refund… A refund means you gave the government an interest-free loan for most of the year. Better to slightly under-withhold and have that money in your own pocket, assuming that you’ll hang onto enough to cover your tax bill, you should at least get some interest on that cash so you come out ahead. The refund feels nice, but by the time you get it, it’s worth less than it was when it was withheld from your paycheck.

  22. drfunguy says:

    Canada is having Federal elections.
    What do Filistro and others think of the chances for a conservative majority as the outcome?
    Do other Americans even know this is happening?
    Other questions for the perplexed yank:
    With four majory parties, how do you keep track of who is who?
    If they support single payer universal heath insurance, gay rights and oppose the death penalty, how can you call them conservatives?

  23. clmbusboy1 says:

    On the Trump question, I’m going with “C: Trying to drum up ratings for his ‘reailty’ TV show.”
    And it’s working. I believe he now has NBC’s highest rated show. Ratings have climbed every week since the debut, coinciding with his political media blitz.

    Previous to his birther remarks, I think his show was rated behind the test pattern shown at 3am.

  24. mclever says:


    “C: Trying to drum up ratings for his ‘reailty’ TV show.”

    Probably right! Your test pattern joke gave me a good chuckle.

    Oh, and Go Buckeyes!

    (If I’m wrong, and you’re not a fan of The Ohio State University, then just chalk it up to the enthusiasm inherent in the scarlet-and-gray blood that I inherited from my folks…)

  25. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    @ mc


    Ask some and they’ll tell you “Largemouthed Bas . . .”

  26. filistro says:

    Doc… I don’t see a Conservative majority. The conservatives always make some kind of fatal error just before the vote that costs them dozens of seats…like this one from 1993 where they made fun of Jean Chretien’s facial palsy. It enraged Canadians, swept the conservatives from power and practically wiped out their party.

    Here’s the American’s handy guide to major Canadian political parties:

    Bloc Quebecois: believe the only way to save the country is to destroy it
    Green: wear white socks and birkenstocks; frown on personal hygiene
    NDP: Bernie Sanders
    Liberals: 2 millimeters to the right of Bernie Sanders
    Conservatives: 4 millimeters to the right of Bernie Sanders

  27. clmbusboy1 says:

    Actually you’ll hate me now…I am a UM graduate/fan. Do not like tOSU. Sorry.
    (Born, raised, still live in Miami.)
    My moniker comes from my high school. Made it several years back and have stuck with it.

  28. mclever says:


    Well, a catfish has a pretty large mouth, and it’s good at scraping the bottom of the scum pond to find the worthwhile nuggets… Of course, the bass doesn’t have any whiskers, either.


    My Dad’s the bass fisherman. I always had better luck with catfish. They’re easier to clean and fillet, too…

  29. mclever says:


    Aw, I don’t hate you. I’m actually the first member of my family in three generations NOT to go to tOSU. (I chose a better school, and they’ve never forgiven me. j/k) I’m not a Wolverine, but the Michigan hockey team looked good shutting out #1 North Dakota in the NCAA semi-finals last night.

    Go Blue!


  30. mclever says:


    BTW, my “mclever” moniker was acquired in HS for me, too. I’ve seen no reason to change it. 🙂

  31. dcpetterson says:

    I think the comments about Trump’s “reality” show are right on the mark. And I think his next “reality” show is going to be, “Trump for President.”

    I know that FOX wants to cover the primaries as a “reality” show / pro wrestling series. The only question is who they are going to cast as their WWF Hero (the Villain is clearly Therock Obama).

  32. mclever says:


    So, what you’re saying is that FOX is looking for its John Cena to face Therock in Wrestlemania 2012?


    BTW, “WWF” should be “WWE” now, because the World Wildlife Federation sued McMahon over it and won. World Wrestling “Entertainment” is a little more honest about what they do, I guess.

  33. mclever says:

    Make that World Wildlife Fund… Wrestling was the federation before it became entertainment, and the wires got crossed as I was typing it…

  34. dcpetterson says:

    I stand corrected.

  35. mclever says:


    Aw, you’re so cute when you’re corrected. 😉 Now, keep your chin up. There’s no excuse for bad posture!

  36. filistro says:

    And while we’re all waiting for the Republicans to commit political suicide on live television… archaeologists discover the first gay caveman.

    It appears they were significantly more tolerant about gender issues 5,000 years ago, which proves the Republicans are correct… there IS no such thing as evolution.

  37. clumbusboy1,

    I think his show was rated behind the test pattern shown at 3am.

    You’re showing your age, ya know. Test patterns on broadcast TV are dead. Now it’s infomercials.

  38. DC,

    I think the comments about Trump’s “reality” show are right on the mark.

    So do I. Especially, when Chris Christie said in an interview that he knows Trump pretty well, and doesn’t believe the guy wants to be President. He wouldn’t say more, but it confirmed what I already suspected.

  39. WA7th says:

    Max and mc,

    Thanks for the fishing expedition.

    My scholarly pursuits on the civil war were limited to an 8th grade history class and only one Bruce Catton book since then, but I feel very fortunate now that my public school history teacher in Texas went to great pains not only to try to give us the nuanced version from a 19th century point of view, but went the extra mile to de-bunk the one-sided contemporary-spin versions from both sides.

    The purists on both sides also seem to be very talented at ignoring the role of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 in the propaganda of the era:

    Slaveowner: “How can you claim to be a nation of laws if you refuse to return my escaped slave to me?”

    Abolitionist: “How can you claim that the law applies to you if you are no longer part of the United States?”

    Slaveowner: “Since you claim that we are still a State in your union, then you must follow your law that you say applies to us both. Return the slave.”

    Union officer: “Mr. President, how am I respecting the constitutional rule of law by returning this escaped slave who has come to me for asylum, when this slave is being used against me as a weapon of war by our enemy?”

    How they walked on eggshells around those issues is, for me, the most interesting part of the story of how the war became inextricably linked with slavery AFTER the shooting broke out.

    What I’ve been pondering lately is the similarities among the fireeaters of that era and the hotheads of our era. If the war hadn’t been fought back then, when would have been fought? Maybe now, I’m thinking, because the WW2 generation is dying and they’re the last generation to know what a common national identity feels like.

  40. Justsayin' says:

    Anybody have a good enchilada recipie? I hungry!

  41. Max aka Birdpilot says:


    Your comment is EXACTLY why (say it again, with FEELING) I contend that we need to consistently and loudly remind those modern day states-righters, 10thers and nullifiers to sit down and shut up! The Compact Theory and nullification theorists had this issue settled 150 years ago.

    Not only by the Constitution, but by the blood and lives of over 600,000 Americans.

    Sadly, when people as Mr. Drehle write simplistic articles with a preordained conclusion based on only PART of the issues contemporaneous to the beginning of that War to conclude that it was fought over the symptom, not the disease, they are leaving the field wide open for Pickens’ and Davis’ and Calhouns’ modern day counterparts.

    The Civil War was fought because a number of states believed that the Union was only a voluntary compact between sovereign entities. That those states could nullify federal laws with which they disagreed and, ultimately that those states could withdraw from that Union unilaterally.

    The President and the rest of the country disagreed. Their side won. There is no need to once again litigate those issues.

  42. Max aka Birdpilot says:


    Oil for frying
    12 corn tortillas
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 clove of garlic, minced
    1 cup of salsa
    3 Tbsp of tomato paste
    1 cup water
    1 cup of canned crushed tomatoes (fire roasted if you can get them)
    Olive oil
    1 lb of jack cheese, sharp cheddar, grated
    A handful of cilantro, fresh
    1 cup of sour cream
    Half a head of iceberg lettuce

    1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2 In a large fry pan at high heat add 3 Tbsp of oil. Add a tortilla to the pan. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift up the tortilla with a spatula, add another tortilla underneath. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift again, both tortillas, and add another tortilla underneath. Repeat the process with all the tortillas, adding a little more oil if needed. This way you can brown and soften the tortillas without using a lot of fat. You do this process to develop the flavor of the tortillas. As the tortillas brown a little, remove from the pan one by one to rest on a paper towel, which absorbs any excess fat.
    2 Sauté up the chopped onion and garlic, then turn off the heat. Add 1 cup of salsa. Dissolve 3 Tbsp of tomato paste into 1 cup of water, add to pan. Add 1 cup of crushed fire roasted canned tomatoes. Taste. If the sauce tastes too vinegary, add a teaspoon of sugar.
    3 Put some olive oil on the bottom of a large casserole pan. Take a tortilla, cover 2/3 of it lightly with the shredded cheese, then roll up the tortilla and place it in the casserole pan. Continue until all tortillas are filled and rolled. Add sauce to the top of the tortillas in the the casserole pan. Make sure all are covered with the sauce. If not, add a little water. Cover the whole thing with the rest of the grated cheese. Put the casserole in the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts.
    4 Garnish with cilantro and sour cream. Serve with sliced iceberg lettuce that has been dressed only with vinegar and salt.

    Serve with guacamole on the side.

  43. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Oh, and for lo-cal enchiladas:

    Throw out everything and just eat the damned lettuce, ya rabbit.

    You don’t have to eat REAL enchiladas 3x/day, every day!

  44. filistro says:

    Thank you, Max, sounds wonderful.

    It’s a lot more fun to think about Texas enchiladas than government shutdowns…. 😦

  45. Justsayin' says:

    Thanks Max, that sounds great, I just came back from the market and got everything except the lettuce, I’ll let you know, I gotta get cookin’.

  46. Justsayin' says:

    When you can’t do a thing about Wisconsin or govt. shutdowns, or bombing civilians in Libya, Comfort food, high cal, flavorful happy food.

  47. filistro says:

    @Justsayin’…. Comfort food, high cal, flavorful happy food.

    Oh YEAH!

    That’s what we have Max for. (Well, that… and various other essential contributions to the forum 🙂

  48. drfunguy says:

    Thanks Fili,
    Is there something wrong with white socks and sandals?

  49. filistro says:

    @doc… Is there something wrong with white socks and sandals?

    Not at all, sweetie. Go right ahead. (But it’s really best if they’re not kneesocks…)

  50. WA7th says:


    I also reserve plenty of impatience for the those who try to analyze and judge abolitionism in the 1860’s filtered through the hindsight of the MLK era.

    Try explaining to one of them that the Great Emancipator of the North also did everything he could to be the Great Repatriator, and that he would have succeeded in his plan to colonize emancipated slaves to Central America (where they could mine coal that proved to be worthless), if only Central America had not emphatically refused to accept them. He was still trying to ram it through after he already knew that the colony would have been a miserable death-trap of a failure.

  51. dcpetterson says:

    White socks and sandals is perfectly okay if you happen to live in Japan. In fact, it’s traditional there.

  52. filistro says:

    However, black socks and sandals are a total no-no. Especially with shorts.

    (Unless you live in a gated seniors’ community in Florida, in which case it’s de rigeur.)

  53. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Argyle socks and crocs

  54. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    @ Wa7th,

    In his letter of August 22 1862, to Horace Greeley, Editor of the NY Tribune, and additional Lincoln quote to clarify the matter of slavery versus preservation of the Union:

    “I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. “

  55. Mr. Universe says:

    Is there something wrong with white socks and sandals?

    Only if you really want to look like my Uncle Harwell when he’s out mowing the grass in his shorts.

    Seriously though, I wear hiking socks with my Keens. I had a girlfriend once who hated it, though. She asked me why I liked it and my reply was that my feet get really stinky without the socks. That seemed to placate her somewhat.

  56. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    @ U

    While the girlfriend’s opinion is OK, what did the WIFE think?

  57. Monotreme says:

    Changing the subject…

    Why we love Monotremes.

  58. WA7th says:

    I don’t mean to brag, but the politicians in the state where I live really, uh, I forgot what I was gonna say.

    Oh yeah, if the state allows medical pot, why shouldn’t it buy me a pizza?

  59. WA7th says:

    Evidence (like you needed any more) that Monotremes are trying to indoctrinate our youth with their subversive agenda.

  60. Monotreme says:


    Your tax dollars funded the acquisition of that book, too. It’s an outrage. All library funding should be stopped.

  61. filistro says:

    I’m thinking… monotreme pizza!

    Salty, like anchovies… but crunchier (it’s the little beaks and claws…)

  62. filistro says:

    Hey, that platypus looks kind of gay… and he’s planning to get lucky!

    We need to put a stop to this fowl indoctrination instantly.

    Do it for the children.

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