About Wayne A. Schneider

I'm a Liberal, Libertarian, Atheist Humanist. I believe that though the world is a dangerous place, it can be made better if we stop dividing ourselves by how we're different from each other, and reach out to each other through what we have in common. And that is that we are all human beings on this planet. Please remember that.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 25, 2016: Of Interest To Christians

The Christian Post (CP), which calls itself “the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website” (see their Statement of Faith at the bottom of their About page, showing the inherent contradictions in their viewpoints), published two posts detailing thirteen items from the Republican and Democratic convention platforms they deemed to be of interest to Christians. Specifically, Conservative Christians, as explicitly stated in the article on the Republican platform. [NOTE: In order to discuss what CP says about the platform, I will be quoting from their articles. Also note that I am taking the inclusion or not of amendments from the CP articles. I did not compare anything from the actual GOP platform as passed. And, obviously, the DNC is about to begin their convention later today.]

Starting with the Republicans, CP points out that the GOP will no longer be calling for a constitutional amendment to define “marriage” as being between one man and one woman. Instead they’ll say they object to the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and go back to their usual “this is an issue for the states to decide” argument. Except that the Full Faith and Credit clause throws a wrinkle into that plan, as you would still have to recognize a marriage performed in another state. Another plank pointed out was one to support the First Amendment Defense Act, another inappropriately named Republican bill, this one to protect someone’s right to discriminate because they hate Teh Gays. Tony Perkins, the miscreant in charge of the Family Research Council, helped get this plank adopted, then backed away from supporting it because it has been “weakened” in Congress by a change in the language that would further a “two views” approach to marriage. IOW, they wanted the right to say, “Your marriage disgusts me so I don’t have to recognize it as such, or even serve you in a matter unrelated to your marriage,” to be the law of the land. It can’t work. The Anti-Gay Forces had another victory with a measure that “would keep publicly funded adoption agencies from being able to grant custody of children to same-sex parents.”

While up for consideration, the measure was opposed by Annie Dickerson, an adviser to billionaire GOP donor Paul Singer, who called the measure “blatant discrimination.”

“We need children to be adopted, so hooray to the gay community for trying to raise children in a happy and stable home,” Dickerson, who has adopted children, said. “I object to allowing patent discrimination against gays over the right to adopt.”

Interesting that out of the seven things CP felt would be of interest to Christians, the first three are about gay marriage, and how yucky they think it is and they shouldn’t be forced to think about it. Except nobody is making them. The issue is decided. They lost. The only ones making them think about it so much, and they do think about it a lot, are them! CP shifted it up a bit and listed a measure to repeal the Johnson Amendment of 1954. This was an amendment to the US Tax Code that said certain tax-exempt organizations, like churches, could not conduct political activities meant to influence the outcome of an election, including the endorsement of a particular candidate.

IRS explanation of the statute
The Internal Revenue Service website elaborates upon this prohibition as follows:

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

In their twisted minds, they are being “silenced.” No, they are not. No one is going to throw them in jail and deny them their freedom for endorsing a candidate from the pulpit. They’ll just have to start paying taxes on the property on which they made the endorsement. And no matter what anybody from the right tells you, being forced to pay taxes is not equivalent to Slavery. The Republicans then added an amendment to support the right of parents to subject their children to the abuse of “conversion therapy” (or as it’s sometimes known, “Pray away the gay.”) It doesn’t work and does more harm than good. The Conservative Christians decided to lump all forms of pornography together and claim it is all a “public health crisis.” But then they specifically call for more “energetic prosecution of child pornography.” Okay, child pornography is a horrific thing and ought to be stopped entirely. But not all pornography involves children. And, yes, some of it involves human trafficking and sex slaves participating against their will. And that should also be stopped. But much of it involves two consenting adults (usually two) doing what consenting adults are allowed to do and letting me watch – I mean, letting other people, not me, watch. It is very much not the same thing, but their broad generalization of pornography, and its availability on the internet, is that it is “harmful to children.” Again, I call bullshit. Better they watch two consenting adults doing it right, then watch them try to kill each other. It isn’t about the children at all. And lastly, they’re looking for a back door way to get Bibles back in the schools, based in part on the common right wing lie that the first Congress specifically authorized putting Bibles in schools. That’s the top things the Christian Post thought would be of interest to Conservative Christians. Nothing about helping people. Probably because there wasn’t any.

In a subsequent post, the CP highlighted items they thought would interest Christians (Conservative ones) from the Democratic platform. They began with an alarm that the Dems want to repeal the odious Hyde Amendment. But, naturally, the CP quotes someone lying about the right to abortion and referring to it as “abortion on demand,” which no serious person on the left is calling for. We’re just sick and tired of Republicans throwing up obstacles over bullshit reasons to make it all but impossible to get an abortion. The Dems also want to support the Iran Nuclear Deal. This is alarming to the right who never seemed to demonstrate any understanding of what was involved in reaching that historic deal. I refuse to believe anything they say now. The CP also points out that a measure to name Israel as an occupying force (which they are) failed along with a measure to join the BDS movement. But then they quote what made it into the draft, and one wonders why they mentioned the opposing failed language.

“A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance, and pluralism,” the draft reads. “That is why we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge, and oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.”

Let’s be honest here, Christian Post. The Conservative Christians in this country support Israel for one and only one reason – The End Times and The Rapture. Israel has to be around for Jesus to return. That is their only concern. It’s a pretty ill-founded and baseless one. (The Bible is not a historical document.) The Democrats also expressed opposition to standardized testing, and want to fight for the right of parents to opt-out. They want free tuition to in-state colleges for families earning less than $125,000 per year. I would support this but ask that the cap be adjusted for cost-of-living differences around the country. And lastly, for the first time ever, the Democratic platform will call for the end to capital punishment. I wholeheartedly agree with this position.

This is our daily open thread. Grab a cup, scoop some water from the watering hole, and chat about whatever you wish.

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 18, 2016: An Unfunny Trainwreck

Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee and Narcissistic Mendacious Carnival Barker Donald J. Trump and his choice to be his running mate, Indiana Governor and anti-Woman, anti-LGBT, pro-Christian-and-no-other-religion department store female underwear mannequin, Mike Pence, sat down with CBS 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl for their first joint interview since the announcement was made. You’d think they just met in the hallway. It did not go as well as the Republican Party might hope, unless their hope was that Trump would forget to rein in his ego even a little bit and Pence would forget that his political career is coming to an end this November.

See the interview and a great summary of why this was a complete and total trainwreck here. While you’re there, count the lies Stahl allows Trump to Gish Gallop into his comments. Lies such as that he was against the Iraq War from the beginning, that Hillary Clinton “invented ISIS with her stupid policies,” and many others. And his refusal to directly answer questions like “How are you going to declare war on ISIS?” are very scary. This man is a buffoon, and there is absolutely no rational reason to believe he is competent in the least way to handle the responsibilities of being president. You cannot convince me otherwise. Go ahead. Try.

This is our daily open thread. You are free to discuss any topic you wish.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 9, 2016: The Lies About Dallas

I was once a terrorist in the BLA, but it’s not what you’re thinking. I’ll explain later.

When large scale tragedy strikes we depend on our media for information about what happened, what’s still happening, and what’s going to happen. But the media isn’t usually the source of the information we get. That’s usually some government officials at either the local, state or federal level, depending on the geographic scope of the tragedy in question. When it’s confined to a single city, especially a large metropolitan one, it’s usually the local police who give out the information that the media gives us. So when lives may be at stake, it’s important that this information be reliable. When such a tragedy struck Dallas, TX, this past Thursday, the government officials giving out the information upon which we relied was the Dallas Police Department. And they failed utterly to give us accurate information, and thus failed to keep the public safe.

Although Micah Xavier Johnson’s motivations can generally be traced back further, what happened Thursday in Dallas essentially began early Tuesday morning in Baton Rouge, LA. Police responding to a call about a black man pointing a gun at passersby and threatening them encountered Anton Sterling, a 37-year-old man who sold CDs outside a convenience store. Though Sterling did have a gun on him, at no time did he reach for it or threaten anyone with it. Still, only after pinning him down on the ground and discovering the gun on him did one police officer step forward and fire 4-6 shots into Sterling’s chest. [Warning: Contains video with graphic and disturbing footage.] Though Sterling did have a criminal record, none of that played any part in Sterling’s murder. And I do call it a murder, which is why the DOJ has been asked to investigate it. Late Wednesday night in Falcon Heights, MN, 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot to death (murdered, actually) by a police officer during a routine traffic stop. [Warning: Contains video with graphic and disturbing footage.] Castile, too, was armed but he announced this fact to the officer along with the fact that he had a permit to carry it. As he reached for his license (as requested) the officer apparently freaked out and told Castile to freeze. Castile made the fatal mistake of trying to raise his weaponless hands back up when the officer fired four shots in to him. As Castile’s girlfriend sat in the front seat next to him. And his daughter in the back seat behind him. President Obama released a statement about the two shootings which was part of the problem with what happened in Dallas according to some people with no apparent connection to reality. And various chapters of the Black Lives Matter movement organized protests in several US cities Thursday night, including Dallas, TX.

Johnson had reached his tipping point about the time he posted a long rant on a Black Panthers Mississippi Facebook page denouncing certain (not all) white people for their crimes against black people. Johnson’s own FB page “included images of a Black Power symbol and a red, black and green flag associated with the Black Liberation Army.” In September 1981 some of us Bouton Hall college dormitory friends decided to form our own terrorist organization called the Bouton Liberation Army. We would ambush people and shoot them – with water pistols. We had white t-shirts with “BLA” painted on them, and we would go around yellowing “Blahhhh…” as we shot and wetted people. It was a lot of fun. Then the other BLA went and shot two cops during a Brink’s robbery, and we decided to disband the group. But the Black Liberation Army was an influence on Johnson, and he decided he wanted to kill as many white people, white police officers in particular, as he could. (He was not as careful about that as he might have wanted to be.) He chose the Dallas BLM protest to act upon his grievances. Almost from the time he started shooting, the misinformation came out.

As the story broke I was seeing tweets saying a team of snipers, in a coordinated attack, had started shooting police officers in Dallas following the protest. The falsehood that it was more than one shooter was spread around by media even after it was finally announced that it was only one shooter. The reports also said the shooter was blaming the Black Lives Matter movement, but the truth was he was upset about the number of black men being unnecessarily shot by police officers, most of whom were white. This meme was being attributed to anonymous police sources, and it led to further speculation in the right-wing not-quite-real-media that armies of black men would be opening fire on white people everywhere, and that, of course, President Barack Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the entire Black Lives Matter movement, and Private Citizen Billionaire George Soros were behind it. The inaccurate reports of casualties is understandable, but the almost immediate release of such wrong information is not. And as a result of the falsehoods fed to the media, the right wing had cover to spew much of their ridiculous nonsense about Black Lives Matter. which has had a great relationship with the Dallas Police, who were providing security for the protest while wearing their normal police uniforms, as opposed to the riot gear we often see police use which further exacerbates the problem. Not to mention taking the conversation away from the ease with which people can get deadly weapons and kill multiple people at once. Nor will it help us discuss the highly unusual way the Dallas Police ended the situation, by using a robot to deliver a bomb and exploding it to kill him. Was that really necessary? Did he have enough food and water to hold out for a long time? I doubt it, so all the police had to do was wait him out. They had him surrounded. He would have had to come out to get something to eat or drink. So they were “impatient.” Did that give them the right to decide he didn’t deserve a trial, or a verdict, or a sentence from a judge, and they could proceed straight to execution? Because that’s what it was – an execution, and a cruel and unusual one at that.

Open thread. Have fun.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 2, 2016: Marked With Fireworks and Celebrations

We Americans traditionally celebrate our declaration of independence from British rule on the fourth of July, but did you know that it really should be celebrated today? The Continental Congress actually voted for independence on July 2, 1776. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, First Vice President (because he lost to George Washington) and Second President (because he beat Thomas Jefferson) John Adams wrote that July 2 would be remembered in history and “marked with fireworks and celebrations.” But the actual written document, the one we all see, is dated July 4. And it wasn’t even actually signed until August 2. And the people who eventually signed it weren’t all there that day. And King George III didn’t hear about it until August 30th. FFS, is there anything they taught us in school that was accurate?

The volunteer fire department of the next town over from us, about three miles away, is having their annual fundraising carnival and fireworks shows. For reasons not spelled out, they’re having two fireworks shows, one on the 2nd and another on the 4th. Jane and I are lucky because we can sit on the rear hatch of our car in the driveway and get a pretty good view of the show, especially if the weather is clear (they shoot them up higher in clear weather.) And when it’s over, we close up the car and walked back to our front door. No need to drive there when we can see it well enough from home.

So how are you celebrating our nation’s decision to declare its independence from the Tyranny of England? Fireworks? Barbecue? Fireworks thrown into your barbecue? I advise against that. Exploitation of child labor to help carry out said barbecue? Happens all the time in this country, just like in some others. Speaking of which, did you know that there is a still-pending proposal for a Child Labor Amendment to the Constitution? It did not get immediate ratification, and a subsequent law passed by Congress to regulate labor, including the labor of children, met with the Supreme Court’s approval. But I’m not sure if that’s not quite the same thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if Republicans somewhere tried to deregulate child labor. Wait, I’m getting told in my ear that they already have, which is strange because I’m not wearing an earpiece and there’s nobody else in the room.

Anyway, have fun blowing shit up, but please, please, please be safe about it. In the meantime, may the Good Lord take a liking to you, and blow you up real soon.

This is our daily open thread. By all means, blow it up!:)

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 25, 2016: Texit Is No Brexit

Great Britain stunned the world when a referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union resulted in the Leave forces winning. The EU’s reaction was to say, “Fine, then let’s get it over with as quickly as possible,” with the word “quickly” meaning “following a two-year negotiation”. This has spurred Danial Miller, of a group called the Texas Nationalist Movement, to push their own bid to secede from the Union, which they are cleverly (not really) dubbing “Texit.” Here’s the problem with it: It won’t mean anything. Unilateral attempts to secede from the Union are unconstitutional, according to a SCOTUS decision handed down in 1869. In it, the Court said a state cannot unilaterally secede. They must either achieve their goal through revolution (like the Civil War) or with the consent of Congress (which won’t ever happen.) I can think of several reasons why Texit is a bad idea, but that’s only because unlike the people in favor of this movement, I can think.

There are dozens of military bases in TX belonging to the federal government. Should Texans choose to secede through revolution, those bases would remain in “enemy hands.” And, no, a bunch of guys in pickup trucks are not going to storm the base and take it over. I know. I’ve seen one of those bases. I spent six weeks in one. They have aircraft that can beat anything the rebels might put up. As one State Republican Executive Committee member said during a discussion of secession (from a link later below), “I’m not sending my grandson out with a 12-gauge shotgun to take on the 82nd Airborne.” And the federal forces fighting back wouldn’t just come from Texas. We have military forces in every state surrounding Texas. The rebellion would be crushed in months, if not weeks. Everything in Texas might be bigger, but not necessarily the ability to think ahead.

Like many Conservative states (and, yes, a few Liberal ones, too), Texas gets more back from the federal government than it puts in. (Miller is totally wrong on this point.) If they secede, they’ll lose all those federal dollars, many of which go to paying the salaries of Texans. Do you really think the Department of Defense is going to hire someone from a foreign country, hostile to the US, to work in any of its other bases in the rest of the country? That’s billions of dollars taken out of circulation in the Texas economy. Less money around means less money being spent, which means businesses start failing and more and more people are out of work. And now they won’t get their earned Unemployment Benefits, despite paying into the system for years. Because they’re foreigners now. Given Conservative hostility to dependence on government, I don’t see the Neutered Republic of Texas (or whatever they’ll officially name themselves) setting up a welfare-type program to help its less fortunate citizens. That’s one of the many reasons they wanted to secede in the first place. Which, again, is ironic since they depend so much on the help of their fellow Americans.

Speaking of which, if they somehow successfully secede they’ll no longer be able to call themselves our fellow Americans. Because they’ll no longer be Americans. And if they’re anything like the Texans of 1861 I’d be fine with letting them ago. The first time Texas seceded it was over White Supremacy and the defense of the Institution of Slavery, points clearly spelled out in their Declaration of Secession. When their citizens voted on the ordinance to ratify their secession, it passed by a vote of 46,153 to 14,747. (76% to 24%) Today those percentages would likely be reversed, so even having a Texit vote would be a colossal waste of taxpaying Texans’ money.

Here is Miller explaining how Texit and Brexit are alike, but not exactly alike.

Besides being wrong about Texas being a a Giver state rather than the Taker state it actually is, Miller was confused about at least a couple of other things. In the beginning of this video, Miller talks about the Orlando Pulse massacre. But he was still pushing the idea that this mass shooting had any real connection to ISIS. Though this video was made about two days after the massacre, the only connection to ISIS was the shooter’s telling 911 that he was doing it for them, even though ISIS never told him to do anything. We now know the killer was known to frequent that same nightclub, and known to have had sex with men in the past. IMHO, it was done either out of self-loathing or because he had a failed relationship with another man. But ISIS had nothing to do with it, and would not have approved of a gay man fighting on their behalf. Later in the video, Miller invoked Sam Houston in his talk about whether or not the people should have a vote on independence. Houston opposed the convention to decide secession in 1861 and stayed silent throughout. And when they overwhelmingly voted yes, he told them they were not being reasonable. I’m sure he would say the same thing today. BTW, when Houston refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of America, they replaced him as governor.

Texit is not a good idea, and just because a small percentage of Texans think it is does not justify pursuing it further. But it’s not a good idea because it has no power to it, and would mean nothing if Congress does not approve. I wish they would, but they won’t. Sure I think Texas is an embarrassment to the nation, but if they’re going to leave the union, let it be done peacefully and totally. We’ll take our military equipment and other federal property with us and blow up what we leave behind. We’ll erect a huge border wall around Texas (but not Mexico) to make sure their more radical citizens stay in their own country. And let’s make sure we never let them in the union again. To be fair, citizens of the United States residing in Texas now can remain citizens of the United States, but cannot have dual citizenship and continue to live in Texas. One or the other. We’ll give you time to find a place to live here, and you can go back to work in Texas if they permit Americans to do so. But if you decide to live in Texas, you’ll be treated as an expatriate, without the rights and protections of our Constitution. (If you’re lucky, the new Texas will grant you the same Constitutional rights. If you’re unlucky, they’ll also bring back Slavery.) Oh, and you’ll need a visa to enter the US. Welcome to America. We hope you enjoy your visit here. Check your weapons at the door.

This is our daily open thread.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 18, 2016: Can Tiny Hands Handle The Presidency?

A Super PAC calling itself “Americans Against Insecure Billionaires with Tiny Hands” released this video asking if someone could be President with tiny hands.

The group originally wanted to call itself, “Trump Has Tiny Hands,” but were told by the FEC that they had to change it because the “committee does not appear to be an authorized committee of that candidate,’ and therefore cannot use his name in the PAC’s name. An understandable rule considering what people would do if they could. I know what I would do if I could. “Americans Against Donald Trump’s Bigotry, Racism, Misogyny, Homophobia, Xenophobia, Fraud, Mendacity, and General Sleaziness.” My first ad would feature, of course, kittens. I hope the group is able to get its ad spread around, and I encourage you to share this post to help that endeavor.

People like Donald Trump need to be ridiculed for the frauds they are. If you’re one who believes that Trump’s “success” as a businessman shows he can be a good president, I would say two things. 1) How? What is the connection between running a for-profit corporation whose only purpose for existence is to make you and some close associates wealthy, and governing a nation of hundreds of millions, with equal rights and differing opinions on how things should be done? And, 2) Donald Trump is not as good a businessman as he has lead you to believe. One of the many ways he’s been able to stay rich is by not paying his vendors and suing the people who say bad things about him.

If reporters say truthful things about Trump that make him look bad, he bans them from covering him, just like he did with several media outlets, including the Washington Post. In March 2016, The WaPo published an article asking what happened to the $6 million dollars Trump said he raised for veterans groups. Trump gave a list of 24 charities that would receive money. Some of the money was in the form of direct contributions by Trump’s friends. Some was supposed to come from one of Trump’s Foundations. And Trump himself pledged to donate $1 million of his own money. It was through social media that Trump was shamed into finally making that personal $1 million donation in May.

Donald Trump is not true to his word and cannot be believed in anything he says, or promises, or says he promises, or promises he says. He has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of how government works. He seems oblivious to the fact that there are two other co-equal branches of government that do have a say in how things are done in this country. One writes the laws Trump promises he’ll pass, if they choose to do so, and the other decides whether or not the law was broken and what the punishment for it will be. He does not understand that the president rarely does anything personally when it comes to all the negotiations done on behalf of our federal government. There are people already in our government who have been doing it for decades for that. He lies constantly about Syrian immigrants, claiming none of them are being vetted and are coming to our shores by the thousands. Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes nearly two years for any of them to get here. He calls for blatant violations of the Constitution from banning people because of the religious faith they practice (which ignores the fact that it was religious freedom that motivated many of our earliest settlers) to deciding which media outlets would have access to his administration to fulfill their free press rights.

Donald Trump is interested in one person, and one person only – Donald Trump. He cares more about himself than he does about everybody else on the planet combined. (And I honestly believe that is not an exaggeration.) He has the temperament of a spoiled rich child, which is no surprise given he was one, and none of the patience and fortitude of someone wanting to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world. He has had corrupt business dealings with corrupt people, and he has abused the legal system with his constant lawsuits against people telling the truth about him. Hard as I try, I can’t think of any way in which Donald Trump would make a good president. Or even a competent one. He is precisely the kind of person our Founding Fathers feared might one day become president. And should he somehow, despite the God Conservative Christians claim exists, win the presidency, our nation will surely test Franklin’s admonition that we would have a Republic, if we could keep it.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 13, 2016: This Day in History

When you get right down to it, many things in history happened on any given date on the calendar. But today I’m going to discuss just a few of the many important (and unimportant) things that happened on various June 13ths throughout history. Without further ado, on this date in:

1633: The charter for Maryland is given to Lord Cecil Baltimore after whom, of course, the city of Silver Springs, Maryland is named.

1731: Future First First Lady Martha Washington was born. She was a wealthy widow by the time she married George Washington.

1786: Winfield Scott, U.S. Army General famous for victories in the War of 1812 and the War with Mexico, was born. There are many who believe he is the “Scott” in the expression “Great Scott!

1831: James Clerk Maxwell, Scottish physicist, was born. His work proved that electrical, magnetic and optical phenomena were all united in a single universal force, Electromagnetism, and formulated electromagnetic theory. You’re reading this now because of him.

1865: William Butler Yeats, Irish poet and playwright, was born. He was famous for “The Second Coming” which featured the line, “The centre cannot hold.” This was a line often repeated by the army commander of the facility in Stephen King’s “The Stand” from which the virus that wiped out most humans on Earth escaped. This happened in the story on a June 13th. There’s a connection.

1892: Basil Rathbone, actor famous for playing Sherlock Holmes, was born. Rathbone was also famous for getting drunk at parties and walking around naked except for his pipe and deerstalker cap.

1953: Tim Allen was born. Famous to me for playing Jason Nesmith, who played Cmdr. Peter Quincy Taggart on the fictional TV series, Galaxy Quest, one of the best Star Trek parodies ever made.

1960: I was born. (This would be one of the unimportant things that happened on this date.)

1966: The Supreme Court of the United States enters the realm of police television drama writing when they hand down their famous Miranda v. Arizona decision reminding you that, when arrested, you have the right to remain silent, that anything you say can be used as evidence against you, that you have a right to have an attorney present during questioning, that if you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to you, and that, perhaps most importantly, if you want to wear white after Labor Day, it’s constitutionally permissible.

1967: President Lyndon Johnson nominated Solicitor-General Thurgood Marshall to the United States Supreme Court. Upon his retirement, he was replaced by the completely unqualified Justice Clarence “Who Put This Pube On My Coke?” Thomas, apparently on the sole basis that he was black, like Justice Marshall.

1968: Johnny Cash records his famous “At Folsom Prison” album live at Alcatraz.

1970: The Beatles’ “Let It Be” album goes to Number 1 on the charts and stays there for four weeks. It was their penultimate album recorded, but the last one released. It was also the basis for one of my album parodies, “Enemy“. I hope you enjoy it.

1983: After it crosses the orbit of Neptune, Pioneer 10, launched in 1972, becomes the first human-built space craft to leave the solar system. It has not yet been determined how many non-human-built space craft have made the journey previously. The first close-up pictures we had of Jupiter were taken by Pioneer 10, which proved to be a much more successful satellite than its predecessors Pioneer 8, Pioneer Vista, Pioneer XP, and the disastrous Pioneer 98. They’re still not sure why they built that one.

1986: Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen (Michelle on Full House) were born. I would have to wait until I was 44 before even thinking about dating them.

1990: Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State James A. Baker III urges the Israelis to accept a US plan for peace talks. He gives out the number to the White House switch board (202-456-1414) and says, “When you’re serious about this, call us.” I’ve called that number before. It was usually to talk to the White House Communications Agency Duty Officer (WHCADO, or “whocka-do”) about a problem with one of several methods President Reagan had to talk to people on the ground while flying in Air Force One (which I used to watch being parked in its hangar outside my dorm window.)

1996: A new report on Nature proposed that guinea pigs are on a distant branch from rodents and deserve a class of their own. Having once worked on a street named Guinea Road, I can certainly understand the profound implications of this report, which came out 20 years ago, and of which I was completely unaware until I started researching this post. Still, it’s deeply moving.

2005: In the “Better Late Than Never, But Not Really”-Department, the US Senate apologizes for blocking anti-lynching legislation in the early 20th century, when mob violence against blacks was commonplace. They followed this up four years later by vowing to block any legislation put forth by the nation’s first black president, just in case anybody thought we were actually making progress on addressing this nation’s deep-seated racist history. And while I certainly feel lucky to have been born in this country, it’s things like its ongoing racism that make me hesitant to say I’m “proud.” Do people who say they are proud ever think about things like this? Since they continue to happen, I’d say not.

Anyway, enjoy your June 13ths, today and in the future. It’s not all that bad a day after all.

This is our daily open thread. I hope it’s a good one for you.