Posted by: JDM..... | March 6, 2018

Oh, yeah…by the way…..


Posted by: JDM..... | February 18, 2018

About “mass shootings”…


What do we do?…

The question is…

How Can We Develop an Effective and Constitutionally Valid Response to Mass Shootings?

Before we can come up with a rational and effective response to a problem, we have to define the problem, which is not likely to be as clearly understood as we might like to believe.

While the differing perspectives and opinions may never actually agree, they can and must find actions they can agree to take and to not take.

At the present time, passions run high and most people have their feet firmly and immovably planted on what they KNOW, beyond any shadow of doubt, is the ONLY rational an moral idea about what should be done.


Violence is not a new phenomenon in the United States or in the rest of the world either. Also, firearms have, for the most part, almost entirely replaced earlier tools of the trade such as bows and arrows, spears, big sticks, rocks, and so forth. Like other implements of death, they all have had other uses as well. Lizzie Borden’s axe has historically been thought of as a tool for cutting wood, at least in western societies, although certain models have in the past been designed to inflict harm and were used as weapons of war.

The argument that many ordinary tools can be used to maim or kill has merit, but there is little argument that guns have come to be viewed in the twenty first century mostly as evil implements of mayhem and murder. Except in the hands of the military and law enforcement. Militarily, the United States has been involved in armed conflicts for 93% of the 240 years we have existed as a country. With less than a handful of exceptions, those involvements have taken place in other countries around the world, and whether or not our participation was justified is a matter of politics and opinion. In addition, and perhaps as a spin-off from those involvements, we have become a global leader in the manufacture and sale of tools whose sole purpose is to kill. Furthermore, the United States is said to have the world’s largest military budget. War has become quite profitable and is the focus of some of our largest corporations.

The arms race of the fifties and sixties, which grew out of mutual fear between the USA and the USSR has become the arms race of today, which is an economic competition between the USA and Russia for the global weapons business. Obviously, both countries have a vested interest in continued conflicts.

Law enforcement has undergone an alarming transformation over the past twenty years, particularly since September 11, 2001, having replaced the traditional “Officer Clancy” persona in many areas with what looks more like a military assault team.

When the military ensures that it is armed to the teeth, it’s called “defense”, which is partially true and is, in fact, the government’s primary job.  When the local police are similarly equipped, it’s called “protecting the public”, but it was not that long ago that when a military style intervention was needed, the National Guard would be summoned.   Full on, zero to one hundred responses require more thought and aren’t as likely to be spontaneously over-used under such circumstances,   and the difference between the police and the police state remains clear.

As an aside, I worked on a locked psychiatric unit at the local hospital for several years, until I retired.  Before that, I had worked as a counselor with the substance abuse program.  Some of the patients and clients with whom I worked could be volatile or violent, much like many of the people encountered by the police, and yes, on a few occasions they turned out to be armed.  Nevertheless, on no occasion did I cause harm when de-escalating a volatile or dangerous situation.  In fact, at one point I taught non-violent intervention and restraint methods.  Occasionally, we did have to call the local police to take control of particularly dangerous patients who were out of control, but the most aggressive action I ever saw them take was the use of pepper spray.  I shared in that experience once as I was trying to restrain the individual at the time the substance was unleashed.

Yet, with all of this armament and weaponry, the mere possession of a firearm by a private citizen is looked upon by some with a jaundiced eye as a potential felony, or at least a misdemeanor, or maybe a fine if all of the requisite paperwork is not in order. Those whose personal values and politic reside on the more conservative side of the divide interpret the Second Amendment as having been written to ensure that the citizenry would always have the means to defend itself against their own government should it ever become oppressive as had the British, or if it should go rogue in some other way.

The more “liberal” perspective has come to view the government as a positive force rather than a potential threat, and they favor strong centralization of power and authority in the federal government. Many on this side of the controversy favor varying degrees of “gun control” with a heavy emphasis on federal regulation of who can own and use firearms, what kind of firearms should be permitted, and so forth, essentially rendering the Second Amendment a protector of the government against the potential threat of the citizenry instead of the other way around. That, to me, is a scary prospect.

I would suggest that the largest faction includes both those who like to target shoot occasionally, or hunt deer and small game in the fall, and those who are not gun owners, have little or no experience with them, and don’t like the idea of private individuals owning them. Some of the more passionate on both sides of the issue energetically gather statistics and data that support their preconceived conclusions, while others try to remain more true to the scientific method as it applies to basic statistical analysis.  This can be a challenge when one has a measurable bias regarding the outcome.

The shock wave of the senseless murders of 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida will be with us for a while, and the philosophical divide over Second Amendment issues remains raw and pained, as it always is at such times. Protests and demanding crowds with hand-made signs are more numerous and energetic. Those who disagree may tend to grit their teeth silently, perhaps feeling as though their failure to hate guns makes them the enemy. Yet, most likely they are as shocked and dismayed by the mass shootings as their neighbors on the other side of the room.

Now is not the time to make iron clad and decisive moves regarding gun ownership. It is a time to be aware of one’s environment, of course, a time to investigate and collect information.

The first thing that must be done before there can be any chance of an equitable and constitutionally valid response to the issue of public mass violence involving firearms is we must resolve the “divide” and find ways to listen to each other for nuggets of wisdom instead of word-filtering for potential turds. There is a common need and a common goal, but neither has been defined yet.

Demands for “gun control”, or turning a deaf ear to those words, provides no useful information to help the process move forward. Action requires specifics, something more than just thrashing about hoping to connect with something. The challenge is to discover or develop specifics that are mutually acceptable to those who differ most sharply.

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Posted by: JDM..... | February 11, 2018

In Case of Emergency….

In Case of Emergency_[FINAL]

Posted by: JDM..... | February 3, 2018


and the Word of Man ….

I recently encountered a blog describing a classic “failure to communicate”, and as is so often the case, this collision of minds occurred on the field of religion. In this instance, the issue was more specifically “spirituality”. One seemed to associate spirituality with the suppression of the self while the other saw it more as a celebration of the self. Perhaps neither fully understood what the other was saying.

My personal views would tend to hold that spirituality isn’t necessarily either suppression of or inordinate focus on the self, but rather an understanding of the self both as part of a whole and as a singularity. I see these as different aspects of the same concept.

When it comes to the revered writings that are the centerpiece for western religions, I see them not as the output of some deity but as the Word of Man. I have a somewhat simplistic little ditty that suggests “Man created god in His own image,” wherein the transposition of capital letters is intended to be clever.

I have come to think of myself as a “spiritual” person in some ways, but not in the more popular, “crunchy-granola” sense. This view grew out of my progressive rejection of religion in the traditional format. As with certain presentations of “spirituality”, where the underlying point has become obliterated with self-serving ego masturbation, so has organized religion tended to bury the treasure under the manure pile sometimes.

Literacy is a somewhat new phenomenon, not quite up there with NASA, but “new” anyhow in a relative way. Up until a few hundred years ago, just about the only people who could read and write were the clergy and then professional scribes. For the rest of humankind’s history, whether one adheres to the 6,000 year version or one with several more zeros attached, teaching and learning were accomplished with storytelling. As anyone who has ever done the “story passed around the campfire” exercise has probably noticed, such tales begin to wag themselves pretty quickly, and we’re only talking about a time span of 30 minutes or so. Hundreds, or even thousands of years could presumably wreak havoc with any attempt to pass it forward. I would suggest that even the underlying principle suffers death by asphyxiation in due time. Why else would we have so many differing concepts of “God” and what He-She-It-They have been trying to convey, with each simultaneously pushing the wrongness of homicide and rationalizing the rightness of exterminating all who fail to believe robotically in their particular “True” knowledge of all things deific?

Okay then, just how do I define “God”?

First of all, I don’t tend to use “god” as a proper noun, so I don’t capitalize it.

Second of all, I don’t know where, when, why, or how to describe or explain such a mysterious entity, power, force, concept, or whatever. If that which is referred to as a “god”, at least in the Judeo-Christian sense, is to any degree as described, then any knowledge or understanding of it should be far beyond my capacity. Who am I, a mere planet bound upright biped of limited intellect and longevity, to presume to not only define and describe this “god”, but to actually speak on his-her-its behalf?

I came to understand that my relationship with such an entity is as that of a child and a stern parent, which injects a certain limit to my ability to attain actual adulthood. In almost all cases, my primary responsibility is to “obey”. That which I am to “obey” is delivered indirectly, however, relayed from The One to me by some form of “clergy”. I find it interesting that these “clergy” are actually empowered by their followers rather than by the traditional and alleged source of their wisdom and authority.

One of the factors which makes it so difficult to try to explain or understand this human phenomena that is a nearly universal aspect of human civilization and its ever-changing societies, is that it is essentially a function of human psychology. We come to perceive things, to process those perceptions into beliefs, and to behave accordingly. An unanswerable question, for one not guided by some sort of clergy and their teachings, could be: if there were no human beings, would there still be a “god”?

It has generally been believed that humanity, from its earliest forms, has looked to some unseen power to explain his own existence and that of everything around him. My understanding is that the more formal organization of deity identification and influence, especially the revolutionary idea of a single “god” of everything, developed with the beginnings of agriculture and the static communities that replaced the nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle for the most part.

One admittedly simplistic but not necessarily misstated idea is that a different form of leadership was needed in such environments, which gave rise to the appearance of “priests” on the scene. Priests not only served the growing settlements as shamanism had, but supposedly served to oversee the food stores and at some point became the supposed liaisons between the people and deities they looked to for protection and guidance. Consequently, the priest began to acquire levels of authority and power not enjoyed by their shaman predecessors.

Our modern western societies and cultural traditions grew out of such beginnings, as did the societies and cultures of other populations and regions. The world and the ways of the human species have changed immensely over the intervening thousands of years, yet the core of our understanding of our origins and our relationship to unknown, supposedly celestial” powers has retained the “parent-child” nature. .

Men and women of exceptional intellect have found ways to reconcile the most precise science with the various concepts of a Supreme Being. I find that interesting, though somewhat baffling, yet that does not mean I see the two as mutually exclusive.

So, returning to the question of how I define “god,” I conceive of such an idea as being a part of each of us, plus the unknown and, for now anyway, the unknowable. I don’t equate “faith,” which is of the heart, with “knowledge,” which is of the intellect.

I don’t know the ultimate answers regarding what created me, us, our world, our universe, but I would like to. I know that when I encounter unresolvable challenges or unpleasant realities, my mind and heart turn to that unknown and unknowable, wishing for rescue or at least peace of mind and heart. Eventually, they come, but from where? There is no dramatic bolt of lightening, but over time, I find my way. The question is then, was that change given to me, or did I find it within myself? Do groups function in the same way, and if so, what does that mean?

There are, of course, other theories as well. Many people suggest humanity might have originated elsewhere or might have been the result of some alien colonization, but that would only shift the question to the issue of our predecessors’ origins.

In conclusion then, I would have to say that our various religions have given us structure and principles to help us survive and prosper, but human nature also includes an element that may center around exploitation and conquest. We aid and cooperate with those with whom we share common interests, or who serve our purposes rather than oppose or compete with them. Both our positive and negative natures have grown out of or been facilitated by our religious quests. We do, after all, seem to exist in a dichotomous dimension where good and evil can occupy the same space at the same time. Why should we differ?

Thus, my answer to the question of “what is god” can only be “I don’t know; let’s find out.”


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Posted by: JDM..... | January 25, 2018

Congress fiddles….

USCongress [FINAL-1]

Posted by: JDM..... | December 19, 2017


Posted by: JDM..... | December 13, 2017

The Theatre of Politics

and the art of lying honestly….

Every four years, some 125 million people go feral in preparation for the next federal election, which is most likely still two years away at that point. Once the big day has come and gone, half of them go feral again over the results.

This cycle repeats in perpetuity whether the People, and the Electoral College (or the Electoral College and the People) punch the ticket of a raving sociopath or somebody about as exciting as a sloth in a coma. We’ve had a few of each, the White House never standing vacant for any longer than it takes to change the sheets.

…Which brings us to the present time and the ongoing Chicken Little Convention of this particular quadrennial.

It’s been just over a year since President Trump tweeted his way up Pennsylvania Avenue with his entire family in tow and the establishment still can’t figure out what to do about his decidedly non-traditional, apolitical style. However, I’ve no intention of being sucked into the Abyss of Self-Righteous Indignation, where a million Ushers are each handing out their own programs for the pending production of Armageddon. It doesn’t matter. His antithesis would spawn a similar flurry of activity, the only difference being that those who are the most vocally passionate about peace and tolerance can be the most violently intolerant.

The firecracker in the outhouse for 2017 has been a toss up so far between the Sexual Impropriety Olympics and the frenzied search for someone to hang for allegedly Friending a Russian on Facebook.

Speaking of the latter, I sometimes like to watch Russian drivers turn left from the far right lane and so forth on You Tube, but I don’t have a title, a legacy, or a portfolio stuffed with Berkshire-Hathaway, so I’m probably safe.

Still speaking of the latter, this whole Russian collusion shtick just looks more stupid by the day and one can’t help but wonder what the ubiquitous but anonymous “They” are really cooking up behind all of that camouflage and how much it’s going to cost us.

Okay, so anyway, my general reaction from the start to these goiter-eyed announcements that the Russians frigged with our 2016 election has been a hybrid of a guffaw and a yawn. My response has not been aimed at the meat of the allegations so much as it has been aimed at the fact that so many starving souls choke it down whole and raw without even checking for bones and feathers. That and the unfathomable hypocrisy of it all define silly on steroids.

I went on a cursory internet scavenger hunt this evening, just to ascertain, of course, that Saint Uncle Sam would never engage in such chicanery. Now, I’m a skeptic when it comes to the reliability of the media these days, but I will occasionally sift through some of the “majors” for morsels of potential truth, ultimately just making up my own damned mind anyway and calling it good.

I found what I suspected had been there all along, Tales of the Shoe on the Other Foot.

The various internet search engines reveal numerous stories from various sources about the United States’ history of messing with the affairs of other nations, and in many cases actually engineering actual overthrows or being a silent partner in them.  A few of the more notorious instances follow:

    • [1]- Iran, 1953: Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh was ousted, presumably because he nationalized former British controlled oil fields.

    • [2]- Guatemala, 1954: The US at first liked President Jacobo Árbenz, but then he tried to bring off some land reforms that threatened the holdings of the U.S.-owned United Fruit Company, so we equipped those rebelling against him and the Navy blockaded the Guatamalan coast.

    • [3]- Congo, 1960: The US supported the Belgian military that was trying to protect their country’s business interests there. The Congolese wanted to assassinate PM Patrice Lumumba, and apparently the CIA supported their efforts. He was finally killed in 1960.

    • [4]- Dominican Republic, 1961: The brutal dictator of Rafael Trujillo was assassinated by political dissidents, with weapons, oddly enough, supplied by the CIA.

    • [5]- South Vietnam, 1963: The US had been friendly with Ngo Dinh Diem, the SV leader, but he began to be rough on dissidents and the military sought US support for a coup. Diem met his demise November 1, 1963 and the rest is history, though not necessarily as published.

    • [6]- Brazil, 1964: The US supported a coup led by Humberto Branco, Brazilian Army Chief of Staff, against Brazilian President Joao Goulart.

    • [7]- Chile, 1973: President Nixon wasn’t happy about socialist Salvador Allende becoming Chilean President in 1970 and directed the CIA to stir things up. They worked with rebels until a coup by Gen. Pinochet finally booted Allende out and he took power.

    As many as 72 such interventions are listed by some of those more obsessed with analyzing the odor of our National Laundry Basket, such as author, historian, and U.SA. foreign policy critic William Blum. His short list cites 57 instances, 35 of which resulted in successful “regime changes”. He poses the question:

         Q: Why will there never be a coup d’état in Washington?

         A: Because there’s no American embassy there.

    A Washington Post article I ran across cited a political scientist from the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University who has been studying the matter and wrote in September of 2016 that Russia and the US had meddled in the elections of other nations around the world 117 times between 1946 and 2000.

    It would be naïve to think the United States has maintained its presence around the world by being the unerring model of propriety while only Russia and other powers resort to thug tactics and dirty dealing to achieve any influence. That is not the way it works on this planet however, yet that is the line given to, and lapped up by many. What do people think our huge intelligence community does for a living, hold bake sales?

    We should maintain our essential vigilance, of course, but we, and our elected representatives, have far more important things to do than obsess on the media’s daily puddle-stompings and worrying about who did what to whom and when. We suck up the drama because it enables us to rationalize looking the other way while our military, our industry, and their operatives in Washington, D.C. carry on with their illicit threesome on our dollar.

    I, for one, don’t buy it, and I’m tired of our alleged public servants in the nation’s capitol producing little more than a You Tube “reality show” called Naked and Afraid in America to amuse the little people while capitalizing on the ad revenues.

    Think I’m over reacting and waxing paranoid? Make a list of your favorite Commanders In Chief and members of Congress, and then compare their net worth upon taking office with their net worth upon leaving office.

    For example, according to Forbes Magazine, President Obama entered the Senate in 2005 as a 43 year old law professor earning $85k and strutted out of the White House in early 2017 with more than $20 million. Disturbing, but not unique. Like most Presidents before him, holding that office is proving to be a red carpet to subsequent book deals and speaking engagements worth tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. Power begets connections, and connections beget wealth, especially when the markers are called in.

    Moving back into the daylight of Reality in Politics, toxic allegations floated by the Outs against the Ins are usually cash cows far more than actual threats to our well being. Bottom line: Who gives a toot about the Russians diddling us a bit? We do the same thing to them and many others all of the time. That doesn’t make it right, of course, but it does suggest that kicking the ant hill is a profitable enterprise for those who know how to create and manipulate conflict to serve their personal desires.


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Posted by: JDM..... | November 19, 2017


or sheep dip; your call….

Everybody is an expert today, and I guess that has to include me as well since I tend to opinionate generously about anything from aardvarks to zithers. Be that as it may, bear with me as I address the issues of the day and critique my fellow self anointed gurus.

One of the most energy infused items of late has been the recent uptick in shooting incidents and the debate over anything having to do with firearms. A key component of just about any oratory or composition on the subject is some mention of the opinionator’s credentials.

In some cases, it can be difficult to discern whether the alleged topic at hand or the credentials is the theme, and with others the supposed source of the opinionator’s information is almost added as an apology, but it is rarely left out all together.

I encountered an item this morning that actually made me laugh, however. The article was an opinion piece about some people assuming possession of a gun by a “good guy” can save the day. Sometimes it does, of course, but the potential for disaster is never absent, he points out.

The writer made some excellent points about how acknowledged firearm professionals such as police officers and soldiers have extensive training in the handling of firearms that the average citizen usually lacks. Bringing down a deer or a pheasant in the fall doesn’t actually count for much along those lines.

Nevertheless, there is no shortage of opposing viewpoints, some with resumes attached, some without. What grabbed my attention with this particular article, however, were the writer’s “credentials” and their impact on my reaction to the article itself.

The reason I laughed was because, at the end of the article, the writer identified himself as “genderqueer Army veteran”. What? Now I ask you, what the hell does gender or one’s politic along those lines have to do with firearm safety or the lack thereof? To my way of thinking, the inclusion of such an irrelevancy distracted from the point he was trying to make and served more to dilute his credibility than to enhance it.

Meanwhile, in other news, a transgender person from New Orleans has decided to come out as trans-racial as well, having been born “white” but now identifying as Filipino. First of all, just to be nit-picky, the last time I checked “Filipino” was a nationality, not a race. More importantly though, one might be driven to ask, “Where will it end?” Oh, I don’t know. How much more are people willing to tolerate being required to accept with a straight face? Shall we meander through the animal kingdom for a tad before we move on? How about if your kid announces the intention to start identifying as a Crepidula Fornicata, which is basically a friggin’ shellfish, starting next Tuesday? That would tend to kill two life forms with one small geological fragment, since that particular creature is also ambiguous as to gender.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. I think I’ll skulk around here for a while to see if I can scare up a dollop or two of Reality…


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Posted by: JDM..... | November 15, 2017


Posted by: JDM..... | November 8, 2017

Comments about Recent Violence and Firearms …

Strategies needed, not passion or impulse….

Television personality Stephen Colbert commented that some reactions to recent mass killings could be likened to a situation where a rogue tiger is killing villagers, but people do nothing because “well, the price of liberty is tigers…”

He misses the mark by a mile. This is not an apt analogy. First of all, I would not compare a rogue tiger to liberty. Second of all, the tiger presumably is acting of his own volition and not in the service of, or under the direction of, a rogue person, perhaps a pissed off or deranged villager. In the recent incidents at Las Vegas and the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on the other hand, the perpetrators used inanimate tools incapable of acting of their own volition. The killers were singularly responsible; the “tools”, i.e. firearms, played no causative role, no matter how evil or menacing they may appear to those who don’t like them or value them in any way.

There is something about firearms that generates a unique response in some people, especially in those who either do not own them, or who know little about them, or both. Some, understandably, bear indelibly negative opinions about the matter due to traumatic or unpleasant personal experiences with weapons or violence.

In addition to firearms, there are many other instruments of death. Lizzie Borden used an axe, for example; not a particularly common use for that tool to be sure. If “intent” is not a required aspect of any observation or analogy, then the deadliest of all would most likely have to be motorized tools of transportation, mainly automobiles, but also including motorcycles and sporting conveyances such as snowmobiles, ATVs, power boats, and so forth.

According to the Census Bureau, 33,736 people were killed on American highways in 2014, or 10.6 persons per 100,000 of the general population.

Firearm related deaths in 2014 totaled 33,594, or 10.5 100,000 of the general population.

Scary, indeed, but adding some “variables” to the formula might put a different light on the picture.

The firearm related deaths break down to 11,008 homicides, or 3.5 per 100,000, and 21,386 suicides, or 6.7 per 100,000. Thus, deaths like those at Las Vegas and the Texas church fall within the “homicide” grouping, or 3.5 per 100,000. Carelessness, inattention, and just plain accidents cause 10.5 deaths per 100,000 on the highways by comparison, suggesting that cars are far more dangerous than firearms.

Such statistics have been danced around by both pro-gun and anti-gun activists to an eye-rolling degree over the years, which reminds me of the opening remarks by my statistics professor on the first day of class more than fifty years ago: “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.”

Of course the problem isn’t really an alleged preponderance of liars, but rather of people with strong biases in one direction or the other. This factor tends to make objectivity akin to the carrot on the stick.

The main feature of firearms, perhaps, is convenience, but a very small percentage of those who own them use them in ways that harm others or interfere with the rights of others to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Any meaningful response to mass killings or attempted intervention must first be stripped of as much of its emotional content as possible. It must be a strategy, not a reaction. Individuals and groups such as No Notoriety have actively urged the media to minimize the exposure mass killers get when stories are sensationalized. The “copy cat” syndrome tends to develop whenever the “bad guys” are given a moment of fame.

Regulating the privilege of driving doesn’t stop a certain number of motorists from disregarding the rules about speed, “distractions” like phone use, and poor judgment. Tough sounding laws and regulations regarding gun ownership, possession, and use do nothing to dissuade intentional use of them to cause harm. For one thing, existing laws are not particularly well applied or enforced as things stand. Those who are intent on ignoring the existing rules and doing harm aren’t likely to heed new ones either.

By strategizing as a response to violence by firearms or any other means instead of just reacting to these incidents is far more likely to provide positive changes without violating the Constitution or punishing the innocent.


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