We are at crisis stage in these United States of America.

We have a Republican presidential administration that has summarily rejected progressive steps instituted by prior administrations

We have a Republican presidential administration permeated by racism that is palpable from the president, through his White House staff and within many of his cabinet departments.

We have a Republican presidential administration whose corruption, incompetence, and plain ignorance are also palpable.

We have a Republican presidential administration built on lies led by the president himself but enabled and supported by press secretaries, top level aides, and policy makers who believe the truth is an inconvenience at best and an outright impediment to its evil agenda at worst.

We have a Republican presidential administration that appoints people to jobs for which they are not qualified, to carry out responsibilities antithetical to their peculiar political ideologies, and which they are treating as their own personal piggy bank to buy overpriced furniture, travel at exhorbitant expense, and protect against a security threat that is nonexistent.

We have a Republican presidential administration full of sound and fury signifying nothing that is contemptuous of the people of the United States and their rights under the Constitution.

We have a Republican presidential administration that is contemptuous of our system of laws and the courts that help enforce them and the power of those courts to demand that this administration obey the laws of this nation.

We have a Republican presidetial administration contemptuous of the humanity of those people from foreign nations, especially those just to our south, who are fleeing oppression and dire circumstances and attempting to enter the U.S., following long-established procedures, but who are forced to undergo a unique form of torture while doing so in that their children are unceremoniously being taken from them and housed in virtual prisons as if they were guilty of some crime.

We have a Republican presidential administration that is contemptuous of any voices speaking out against it, whether it be ordinary citizens or members of the press protected under our Constitution.

We have a Republican controlled Congress that is not only inept at maintaining its position as a co-equal branch of the government but is spectacularly obsequious to the whims and outrageous words and actions of the Executive Branch and, given a chance to rein in those excesses as part of its Constitutional duty, is deliberately obtuse in failing to even acknowledge that the outrageousness and excess exist.

We have a Republican controlled Senate that approved a man for the vital position of Attorney General who once sat in that chamber as a member himself,  but who also was once rejected for a seat on the Federal bench though nominated by a Republican president before a Republican controlled Senate for the plain reason that his racism was publicly known, demonstrably proven before that body during the confirmation process, and for which he in no way has shown the slightest remorse  or displayed efforts to change his nature in the intervening years.

We have a Republican controlled Senate that approved a man for the vital position of Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency who not only denies climate change is real and needs to be addressed but who as Attorney General for Oklahoma actively sought to undermine the power of the agency he now heads.

We have a Republican controlled Senate that approved a man for the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who declared himself incompetent to do the job prior to hs nomination for the position and who in nearly every word and action since has exhibited the truth of that declaration.

We have a Republican controlled Senate that approved a woman for Secretary of Education, responsible mainy for overseeing and coordinating efforts to enhance and improve our nation’s educational system which, to her distaste and contrary to her desires, is still predominantly a system of free public schools open to virually any student.

We have a Republican controlled Congress that is itself contemptuous of the need for and the right of citizens, all American citizens, to access health care with few limitations and at a reasonable cost and indeed has sought to reverse the  actions of the previous presidential administration and an earlier Democratic controlled Congress that passed a law that expanded that access that, though flawed, yet enabled people to get the care they required and saved the lives of actual human beings.

We have a Republcian controlled Congress that recently passed a tax “reform” bill that greatly advantaged individuals and corporations in need of no economic assistance while tossing a few, temporary bones at most other taxpayers and which, ironically, adds greatly to our National Debt which they so joyously railed against when the black guy was president not so very long ago.

We have a Republican controlled Congress seemingly hell-bent on drastically altering the myriad programs that provide a safety net to nealy half our population in one form or other including millions of children dependent on the programs for their health and welfare through such “extravagances’ as three meals a day or the ability to have their ailments treated, all the while telling lies that these programs are bankrupting the country when this Congress so willingly that it appears they are paid to do so provides break after break for millionaires and billionaires who don’t need a freaking helping hand in the least.

We do have Democrats in that Congress tainted by the same corruptive influences of big money in the form of campaign contributions and open receptiveness to lobbying efforts by big businesses that ill-serve our nation, but they have neither done so with the openly and gleefully evil motivations of their Republican counterparts nor with the competence of their presumed rivals such that I am frequently reminded of the response of Will Rogers when asked his politcal affiliation, “I am a member of no organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

There is so much more that concerns and alarms me and many many many millions of my fellow Americans about these current events resulting from both a Republican presidential administration and a Republican controlled Congress that to list each one would require my blog platform to utilize about 100 more servers and for me to give up any semblance of a personal life for the next two years.

Recently the word ‘feckless” has been used in refernce to multiple figures involved either in the Republican presidential administration or the Republican controlled Congress. It is an apt term since both are royally fecked up.

In a way one could describe the chaos as like a bull in a china shop, smashing everything in its path. In this instance, however, it really more resembles the running of the bulls in Pamplona as if they were deliberately rerouted through that china shop.

Retired U.S. Army General Colin Powell may have expressed it best when, as Secretary of State,  during discussions in 2002 about the feasability of invading Iraq, privately cautioned about the so-called Pottery Barn Rule, “You break it, you own it”

Republicans have broken it. Republicans own it.


The picture above, of slaves in Virginia during the Civil War, is how the NFL views those players who sit or kneel in silent protest during the National Anthem. With the league’s pronouncement on Thursday, May 23, 2018  any players who are on the field during the playing of that jingoistic warmongering tune must stand silently instead of kneeling or sitting. If they do not want to be on the field that is okay. But any protests will result in the NFL fining or otherwise discipling teams with the team owners/management having the discretion to fine or punish their players in some way who do not abide by the mandate.

Approximately 70% of NFL players are black. The protests have pointedly been a clear objection to the injustice, racial profiling, and physical or legal abuse or even killing of black people by law enforcement who by any objective standards posed no threat to the cops.

The NFL’s declaration is blatantly racist. The players who have sat or knelt in silent protest and have been publicized the past two seasons are overwhelmingly black. This policy targets black players protesting injustices for blacks. The NFL wishes they would never have done so because it serves fans in a bipartisan manner. That is, both racists and non-racists love football. However, the folks making the most noise against these silent protests are the same racists who infest all other aspects of our lives which carry far more importance in the greater scheme of things than a mere game.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has proven himself to be an obsequious toady. The NFL owners who approved this measure are just like all the other greedy billionaires who speak of patriotism but possess not a whit of E Pluribus Unum idealism.

Of course the most vocal of the critics of the players who have knelt for the anthem has been Racist Drumpf.

(Editor’s note: In any references to a certain individual fraudulently occupying a certain high office, he will be named as Racist Drumpf. The racist part is, in this case, not an adjective but a substitute for his given first name since his racism is part and parcel of his entire being. The Drumpf part stems from the fact that was the family name when his grandfather arrived from Europe. John Oliver’s HBO show, “Last Week Tonight” created a browser extension that, in any internet stories using his name, it appears as Drumpf instead of in its current spelling form. It also changes any appearances of “Make Donald Drumpf Again” to “Make Donald Drumpf Again”. Therefore the stories I read and often cite have that spelling and I use it whenever I write the name.)

Racist Drumpf has suggested such protesting players be fired or, since the NFL announced this policy, he proffered that maybe they shouldn’t be in this country. His claim, naturally, is that they disrespect our flag and our military when they kneel.

Yet, for people who actually disrespected our flag by firing on it at Fort Sumter, and disregarded our military even more by killing hundreds of thousands of them, and who truly fit committed treason as defined in the United States Constitution:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort

and who in some cases themselves owned slaves and were surely fighting to preserve slavery, and who may have maintained discrimination against blacks for generations through Jim Crow laws and other methods, he believes that statues and other public symbols of praise for them should not be eliminated.

Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” Drumpf said in a series of tweets. “You can’t change history, but you can learn from it.

The irony here, of course, is that he has not learned from history in the least.

So the protests waged are clearly about race, as stated unequivocally by Colin Kaepernick

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.

So the utter rejection of the protests by the NFL ignores the plainly stated rationale behind them and, in effect, is telling the players,

we don’t give a sht about your black issues, we’re trying to add to our fortunes

If that is not racism I have no idea what is.



I am here to explain to you concern about school shootings, which are undeniably tragic, and and how we react to them and, while guns are a huge problem that need to be better addressed by our legislative representatives on all levels, there is far more pointless rhetoric generated than realistic and potentially problem-solving discussions.

What I have found is that while everyone rails against school, or even any mass shootings, there is no consistent definition of same. Moreover there is no consistent compilation of statistics in the reporting of these incidents. (For example, here in Morgantown, W.Va. several years ago, about a year apart, there were two cases of an individual going on a shooting spree due to some imagined offense which resulted in the deaths of five and four individuals besides the killer. But in a compilation of “mass shootings” I found using the definition of 4 or more deaths by the gunman, neither was listed.)

Then we get offered 146 or so potential solutions from prescribing less Ritalin (Ollie North) to having fewer school entrances (some bozo in Texas), to arming teachers (any number of insane assholes), to having armed guards in schools, which is a fait accompli in many schools though somehow the armed deputy in Parkland, Fla. took absolutely no action and saved zero lives.

This essay began 3 months ago after the Parkland school shootings in Florida. I had some great ideas at the time, but got distracted and could not complete it. Then Sante Fe happened with the deaths of 10 and wounding of a dozen or so more on Friday, May 18, in Texas. And the rhetoric, if interrupted at all, resumed almost as loudly as the shots that brought blood and death themselves. I had already tried to discover as many real facts as possible ( I hate fake facts and manage to avoid them) and I’ve looked into even more in an attempt to provide clarity for these discussions.

What I have learned is that there are so many distortions that, no matter what solutions are proposed, their future effectiveness is in no way guaranteed if implemented, and whatever effectiveness they have may not be fully measurable in the short term if ever.

Since  the Sante Fe murders memes have appeared once again railing against Congress for inaction. Headlines scream about this being the umpteenth school shooting this year or that it is # so and so since Sandy Hook or Columbine or the advent of McGuffey’s Reader. Politicians are excoriated for offering nothing but thoughts and prayers. But, pray tell (irony and sarcasm intended) what are we to do about school shootings or any gun violence? Round up all the crazy fuckers before they shoot? Round up all the guns before their triggers are pulled? Round up all the cash of the NRA and pay victims? Round up all the legislators and lock them in a room without food and water but a healthy supply of guns (an oxymoron if ever there was one) until the Second Amendment is repealed?

However, please recall that in the aftermath of Parkland, the call was to ban assault rifles, and then post Sante Fe the complaints were that Congress had failed to act on those demands. But the Santa Fe killer used a shotgun and a handgun, not an assault weapon.

Well I am here to tell you that you need to return to the beginning and rethink what you are calling for and why you believe you have a duty to make demands. Because your facts and logic totally suck.

Not that I am a fan of guns, mind you. I see no good reason why the majority of people who own guns do so. All their excuses are bullshit.

But fighting bullshit with more bullshit results in only a quicker drowning from—you guessed it—bullshit.

Former President Bill Clinton is famous for stating in the middle of the Lewinski scandal

It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.

Likewise in regards to discussing school shootings, tragic on any level, it depends on what the definition of school shootings is.

In the wake of the horrible killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Scool in Parkland, Fla. in February, there were numerous headlines declaring 18 school shootings in 2018.

I can also point to Facebook posts appearing on my Timeline citing that number.

But here are some of the incidents included in this claim:

10 January: Grayson College, Denison, Texas – A student fired a weapon belonging to an adviser, believing it wasn’t loaded. No injuries were reported.

1 February: Salvador B. Castro Middle School, Los Angeles – A semi-automatic handgun brought to school by a 12-year-old student accidentally went off. Four students were injured.

5 February: Harmony Learning Center, Maplewood, Minnesota – A third-grader pressed the trigger of a law enforcement officer’s handgun. The weapon went off but no one was injured.

10 January: Coronado Elementary School, Sierra Vista, Arizona – A middle school student shot himself in the bathroom of the school and was pronounced dead at the scene.

10 January: California State University, San Bernardino, California – Bullets were fired through a window, with no suspects or motive identified.

5 February: – Oxon Hill High School, Oxon Hill, Maryland – A student was shot and injured in the school parking lot during an attempted robbery.

20 January: Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina – A 21-year-old was shot and killed during a fight at a party on school grounds.

Indeed, from this comprehensive compilation of school shootings in the U.S. it can easily be seen that few of the incidents making it onto the list are in any way similar to or of a kind with the mass shootings that appall us yet are used as alarmist statistics in blaring headlines that inspire nothing but misguidance in deciding what, if any, actions are appropriate in response.

I took pains to count the number of student deaths in elementary and high schools by gunshots from others beginning in 2000 to the current day. The Wikipedia listings are based on referenced news reports and while Wki itself is not always the most reliable source, other media are not necessarily more reliable when it comes to these statistics.

The Wiki article lists shootings even where there were no fatalities, includes those on college campuses, and for the number of deaths includes that of the shooter himself (himself because the shooter is almost always male, with few exceptions), usually due to suicide. The compilation does cite cases where the shooting occurred at after hours events or perhaps where the victim died from a drive-by or possibly gang-related attack.

Do you know what I found? There have been a toal of 96—yes, just 96—such student deaths since 2000.

Note that not all of these involved an outsider hell-bent on slaughter with multiple victims. Note also that among those listed as “school shootings” some took place on or near college campuses, which have an entirely different dynamic from elementary-high schools. And note that at least one involved a school cop’s gun, which indicates the cop was remiss in not ensuring a 3rd grade student couldn’t get near the weapon.

And, while the families of these 96 have no less cause to mourn than any other parents who have lost their kids, that is a very very tiny part of how many such students there are in our schools. For example, in 2011, according to the Census Bureau, elementary and high schools in the United States had a total of fifty million students enrolled.

That same year, 2011, the CDC reported 93 children under age 17 who drowned in ther bathtubs at home, though it was responding to a claim in a different context.

What  is the definition of a “mass shooting”? There is no official definition and some sources state that incidents involving at least 4 dead (besides the shooter) are needed to qualify. Others put that at four dead or wounded and still others at 3 dead.

If we take the standard of at least three fatalities as the minimum to qualify as a mass shooting, then we have 37 school shootings that were mass killings, not in 2018, not in any individual previous year, not since Sandy Hook. No that is the total in American history, beginning in 1764 where a schoolhouse near present day Greencastle, Pa. (just up the road from Hagerstown, Md.) was attacked by members of the Delaware Tribe resulting in more than 10 deaths.

11 of those 37 occurred on college campuses with the 1966 Texas Tower slaughter and the 1970 4 Kent State murders by the National Guard as well as the Virginia Tech murders being the most prominent.

The tragedies such as in Parkland and the thousands of events labelled as “school shootings”? Those distinctions are vital in determining what corrective or preventative measures should be taken to address them. For instance there are gang-related shootings included in the numeration. Dealing with gang activity and its effects on schools and students necessitates an approach far apart from banning or limiting access to assault weapons. Likewise, as I earlier propounded, what happens on college campuses has little relationship to our public schools and safety measures to be put in place.

These distinctions are important because one of the solutions being offered by the NRA and Racist Drump is to arm teachers.There are roughly 150,000 schools in the United States of all types, something over 130,000 of them educating students grades 1-12. Looking at the number of mass shootings in schools of the type advocates for this action envision, the odds of that ever being needed are miniscule. However, if we continue to apply the term school shootings to incidents of a completely different nature so that it seemingly would justify the everyday fear the action is intended to prevent, then such a measure which is really god-awful under any scenario is more tenable.

All illusion. Smoke and mirrors. Red herrings.

In the wake of Parkland the student survivors initiated a movement that became national in scope, mostly in the nature of demanding that assault weapons be banned as they were for a ten year period spanning the Clinton and Bush presidencies. And again memes have appeared asserting that there was X% reduction in deaths from the banned weapons and a Y% increase since the ban expired in 2004. But those numbers are skewed and not based on empirical studies. In fact the 1994 ban was accompanied by studies looking at the effects over that ten year cycle. Those effects  were mixed and inconclusive at best and inspired more speculation than valid interpretationdepending on whose ox was being gored.

But even if one concedes that assault weapons are so destructive that their ownership and use should be limited or eliminated, then what is one to make of the Sante Fe, Texas murders which were committed with a shotgun and handgun?

Or look at the famous incidents of mass gun murders which also were perpetrated with  handguns, or shotguns, or regular long rifles or, on occasion those weapons combined with some shots from an Uzi or similar gun.

Luby’s Cafeteria

Virginia Tech

Aurora, Colorado thater

San Ysidro, Calif. McDonalds

Charles Whitman

San Bernardino

Charleston, S.C. church

Pulse Nightclub

Fort Hood

Binghamton, N.Y. killings


Gabby Giffords

A list of all mass shootings in the U.S. since 1949 with 10 or more deaths and the types of weapons used.

Now, for instance in The Pulse murders, the killer had a semi-automatic rifle, but it required a separate pull of the trigger to fire each shot.

This Politifact article explores the use of various weapons in mass shootings and discusses some related issues.

Assault rifles are NOT the weapon of choice in mass shootings.

The Las Vegas shooter used so-called bump stocks to increase his firing rate.

I cite these facts not to argue against any action on assault weapons but merely to point out that, even if a ban had been reintroduced after Sandy Hook in 2012, most of these mass killings would still have happened.

Neither would a required background check for mental illness have helped since even with such a check, some sort of official declaration of such illness would have been necessary to trigger a ban on purchases by the killers. Even allowing for background checks and with those certifed as mentally ill prohibited from purchasing any firearms, what then? You can’t just lock people up on the suspicion that they might be inclined to murder others. Most, if not all states use the phrase “is as present danger to himself or others” as the standard by which someone can be involuntarily committed, but even those committments are not necessarily for a lifetime. Even John Hinckley is now free.

So our woefully inadequate mental health system is not a reliable balm for or vaccine against murders, mass or otherwise. In 1984, the day before killing 21 at a McDonalds, John Huberty, suspecting he had a mental health problem, called a clinic requesting an appointment and was promised he would receive a call back. Due to the misspelling of his name by the receptionist as well as her failure to detect any urgency in his voice, he did not get that callback that day but the clinic planned to react within 48 hours. Not all failures in providing help have such immediate drastic consequences but neither are such failures uncommon with dire results for the individual if not for others.

What solutions do I have to offer? Well, to begin with, we can cease our knee-jerk responses to news of mass murders in our schools, churches, shopping malls, or workplaces. Look at it this way. If you call for a ban on assault weapons, what do you do about the vast majority of mass killings, or any killings, that involve guns other than assault weapons? A logical extension, though perhaps a reductio ad abusrdum, would be to ban all firearms.

If you believe arming teachers is a solution or at least a wise preventive measure, why not just arm everyone when they are in public? Of course that is what the gun nuts advocate, ignoring the reality that the reason our Wild West was tamed, or one of the reasons, was that carrying guns in public was prohibited.

I have examined those issues in previous posts.

What is required is a thoughtful approach to gun violence, a cessation of sensational rhetoric, and a search for effective actions that might actually curb gun violence instead of just making ourselves feel good. While the harmful rhetoric often emanates from gun control advocates, the counter-rhetoric generated by the NRA is not only  harmful but obscenely ugly and full of outright lies rather than just selective use of statistics.

I have some good friends whose hearts are far ahead of their brains in attempting to cope with what they perceive as a danger to public safety. Their perception is right though possibly exaggerated. On the other hand, the gun nuts have nether hearts nor brains and the thoughts and prayers they proffer are bereft of sincerity.

What, thus do we have? Distorted and contradictory definitions of mass/school shootings, combined with heartfelt demands for reasonable controls on guns, which controls impemented in the past may not have been as effective as claimed, with an added pinch–or perhaps more accurately a punch—of NRA assertions that are outright false and with utterly absurd solutions suggested by that organization and/or other gunowners with a mistaken notion of the Second Amendment’s meaning and presumed inviolability, all against the backdrop of grieving families, blood-stained school walls and floors, politicians of all stripes trying to gain votes, and the public faced with all this jumping to conclusions when a more structured and fact-based approach is what is necessary.

In short, to quote a very wise man, what we have here is a failure to communicate.



I believe I have finally found the appropriate metaphor to describe America’s war machine. It is a multi-billion dollar purveyor of shoddy merchandise, often obtained from dubious sources, that seeks to spread its influence around the Globe and dupe the public into patronizing it without proper consideration of the consequences for the health and welfare of either its employees or customers, just like Walmart.

The shoddy merchandise the United States Department of Defense does purvey, unlike the goods available at Walmart, are not fit for women, children and other living things. The sole purpose of DOD is to find a place, any place, where the generals can practice the war tactics they learned at West Point or in their ROTC classes without regard to the sovereignty of other nations, the sanctity of their borders, or the lives and limbs of their citizens.

Moreover the Department of Defense exercises its powers not in the defense of the United States as its name suggests, but rather in the functions that were its forte when it was still known as the War Department. That is more fitting for the simple reason that while war has been a constant part of American life since its founding, rare has the defense of America provided justification for those wars.

After all, one has to go back to the War Of 1812 to find an occasion where a foreign army has effectively invaded our borders requiring us to put up a defense. Mexican War? A campaign of conquest to expand our borders. The Indian Wars? We were the invaders, not the defenders. The American Civil War? The archetypical intercine conflict surely never contemplated by our Forefathers when they pledged to “provide for the common defence in the Preamble to the United States Constitution. 

Not even Germany and Austro-Hungary during WW I and the Axis powers in WW II ever seriously attempted to breach our borders in their attempts at World Conquest. (Good thing that Wall was built, eh?)

Our other wars have been a melange as we pretended  to not have colonies while at the same time getting pissed off when our non-colonies were attacked or sticking our collective warmongering noses into other nations’ affairs because some politician got a hard on to rid the world of commies, Muslims, and other scum, usually with darker skin than the American “ideal”. Never mind that we sent our own soldiers of color to fight other soldiers of color with the only commonality they shared was that generally our government treated all those soldiers and their families as less than human.

Now I’ve never been in the Pentagon, home to this massive and vastly over-expensive war machine. But I am old enough to recall being in big city department stores and taking the elevator to the upper stories with the operator sounding off what could be found on each floor where it stopped. But instead of household notions or ladies garments the Pentagon’s elevator stops at floors where the operator, in my imagination, intones ” 2nd Floor—Ground troops available to die for no cause. 3rd Floor—Over-priced and unneeded fighter planes. 4th Floor—drones and torture devices.  5th Floor—Penthouse—closed to all but Generals and their aides, representatives of defense contractors, lobbyists, and Congresscritters who voted for the highest level of appropriations.”


I found this intriguing essay reprinted on Huffington Post a few days back

In it Andrew J. Bacevich, who is both a historian and a retired U.S. Army Colonel who served in Vietnam (and who, coincidentally is only nine days older than myself)  expounds on what he terms the seven principles that “that define the prevailing military system of the United States.”

Well enough, but his essay begins with a quote from St. Sugustine—the ancient philospher, not the Florida city.

The purpose of all wars, is peace.

I’m sure Augie had some meat behind those words but to me the notion is absurd. If you don’t have war you have peace so why would someone start a war to achieve peace?

No, the purpose of war is greed. Greed for wealth, greed for power, greed for revenge, greed for territory, and even, if you will as in the American Revolution, greed for freedom. However even that notion is tempered by the fact our revolution like most, was fought to counter the greed of our oppressors serving those other purposes.

Bacevich approaches these principles from the point of questioning why the world’s greatest military power ever cannot win the wars it starts. And that, my friends, is a gross oversimplification that is unfair to what Bacevich has written. He examines our all-volunteer army and what that means for the citizenry. He discusses the roles of Congress and the President (any president) in supporting, providing for, and exercising this vast military power and how the executive ends up prolonging wars.

The following passage alone is what inspired my thoughts and this writing.

…pursuant to the terms of our military system, the armed services have been designed not to defend the country but to project military power on a global basis. For the Department of Defense actually defending the United States qualifies as an afterthought…

I do have some differences with Bacevich over how he answers the questions he raises. But as he is former military of high rank his perspective is bound to provide different conclusions than mine. I do applaud him for asking these questions. When I first read his essay I knew it was worth pondering then re-reading, and then commenting on in some form and forum.

I am against war. That is as directly as I can state it. War? What is it good for? Absolutely nothing—thank you Edwin Starr.

I’ve been alive to observe this nation’s war machine in action for over sixty years. I have yet to be impressed with either the rationale behind these actions or the execution of them. I came of age during the Vietnam War and, due to student deferments and than open slots in an Army reserve unit managed to avoid its clutches. Many in my generation served, and many protested, and the Venn diagram of those two groups and positions reveals a significant overlap.There are people who assert we learned lessons from that folly and that is was stopped by the massive protests. Neither is true.

And even if these alleged lessons can be defined, as Hamlet said, they are

More honour’d in the breach than the observance.

One of my favorite Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, had just completed a grueling round of negotiations that brought an official end to our Revolution through treaty with Britain. He took the time to write his long time friend, Josiah Quincy, Sr., to remark on that and related events including criticism he had faced. And he concluded that letter with the words I think all of us should take to heart.

there never was a good War, or a bad Peace.





Much has been made of the decision by the Georgia State Legislature to not pass a sales tax exemption on jet fuel purchases by airlines after the Lt. Governor, Casey Cagle, railed against the giant flying machine of Delta Airlines. Delta had announced that, after the murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, that it was ending discounts offered to National Rifle Association (NRA) members.The NRA, of, of course, loves the idea of war weapons in every home like assault rifles, bazookas, and flame throwers, though the folks who’ve died by their use might have a slightly different opinion.

And Delta was only one of a number of corporations or organizations who had tie-ins with the NRA that have announced the termination of such relationships in the wake of the murders and an increased outcry over assault rifles such as were used in that incident and the demand for more federal controls over their sale, if not the outright prohibition of any future sales.

The Georgia legislative action—or really non-action, since the provision of the state tax bill was merely stricken—has done something all manner of persuasion has failed to do when it comes to corporations and taxes. And that is it has inspired liberals to be incensed about a corporation being denied a tax break.

Some silly law professor at Boston College, Kent Greenfield, even penned an op-ed decrying the Georgia lawmakers for violating the 1st Amendment free speech rights of Delta, adapting the theory of Corporate personhood from the Supreme Court’s granting of same in the infamous Citizens United case. (And just how often have you seen citizens united in a phrase or in actuality lately?)

All pish posh and applesauce. On whom? Well, pretty much everbody involved and 99% of the commenters from any side.

I admittedly originally felt my blood temperature rising when I first read Cagle’s “threat” to punish Delta, though it never reached the boiling point. Why? A little principle far too frequently absent from discussions or ignored by folks. FACTS

Let me offer some FACTS for your perusal and elucidation.

The jet fuel tax exemption at issue was only part of a larger tax bill under consideration in Georgia that is needed annually to comport to changes in federal tax law that may affect Georgia residents, individual or business. The fuel tax exemption would amount to about $50 million a year for ALL airlines operating in the state, not just Delta. It was thought to be a possible spark for Delta to route more international flights through Atlanta. (Its airport is already the world’s busiest and a huge hub for the airline. Because of that hub perhaps millions of people end up in Atlanta for a brief time while on their way from, say, St. Louis to Chicago. Or from Natchez to Mobile. Or from Memphis to St. Joe. The blues in the night.—Sorry, I digress)

And neighboring states have lower or no jet fuel taxes to begin with.–regional-govt–politics/governor-jet-fuel-tax-break-bill-moves-quickly-georgia-house/24DD0U5VeQMteohadtqZrN/

But this is not the first time Delta has raised the ire of Georgia lawmakers over the tax. In 2015 Delta was accused of it and/or its lobbyists using “thug tactics” to get the tax exemption renewed by suggesting gasoline sales tax on regular people be raised to make up any shortfall. You see, the tax exemption was initially passed in 2005 in order to HELP DELTA! And it was renewed several times only to finally expire in 2015.–regional-govt–politics/lawmaker-rips-delta-lobbyists/k7fycUZEDvOnOahG9WRsSO/

So you can’t have it both ways. You cannot on one hand bitch about tax breaks that benefit corporations—indeed in this case a tax break, though applicable to others, designed to assist a particular huge corporation and on the other hand bitch about that corporation being singled out as the justification for elimination of or failure to institute a tax break due to its actions or public pronouncements, person or not.

Now, what about that NRA discount that was available? That, too, is more smoke than fire.That discount was only recently initiated by Delta to encourage passenger traffic to Dallas for the 2018 NRA national convention. And to date only 13 NRA members had availed themselves of the discount.

So here’s the scenario I believe may have been at play. Discounts offered by airlines—or any businesses for that matter—to people with ties to certain organizations are meant for one purpose only. And that is to generate additonal customers for that business, in this case Delta Airlines. Since Delta’s NRA tie-in was for a specific time and event, and since any additional revenues would be miniscule based on the number of customers exercising the discount, and since other businesses with longer standing ties to the NRA were both announcing ending those relationships or were under great pressure to do so, Delta’s choice to join the horde looks less like an infusion of morality into what is otherwise a cutthroat industry than it looks like a public relations move made with that air of morality but at heart nothing more than a pragmatic, practical business decision.

Don’t cry for me, Argentina and don’t cry for Delta, anyone.


This began as an extended comment in reaction to an op-ed a friend posted on Facebook. In that piece Christopher Regan, a lawyer and former Vice Chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party. It appeared in The State Journal, founded as a business service but since expanded into general news coverage for the state and having a conservative slant, though it was recently acquired by another media company and I was unable to find whether that company leans any way politically. The op-ed itself was published about a year ago but is even more apt today.

This is a link to the opinion page of The State Journal so you can judge for yourself if there is any constant slant one way or another.

(Note. This was copied and pasted from another mode and it is next to impossible to get the usual spacing between paragraphs. Thanks for your patience.)

All West Virginia teachers went out on strike Thursday and Friday and it now seems that action will extend into next week. Locally the picket lines were well-manned even in a near relentless rain yesterday. That was duplicated across the state as hundreds of teachers also flocked to Charleston to protest and demand redress. A token raise has been offered, but at the same time teachers’ contributions for health coverage are being increased.

In this state basic pay for teachers is set statewide and then county school boards can supplement that pay. That means that, in relatively prosperous Monongalia County, home to me and WVU, the supplement can be respectable. In poor counties like Lincoln and Mingo, there ain’t a chance in hell of it being adequate
Despite being a war casualty (if you believe the rhetoric) the coal industry still controls the state legislature. Coal ain’t  coming back but its demise has been ongoing for decades and state government has done nothing to cultivate a non-coal focused economy. And now the gas industry, with some huge overlaps with coal, is being treated the same way.
The economy has always been closer to the bottom of the American heap than the top and we’ve often given thanks for the existence of Mississippi for preventing our fall to 50th place in quality of life categories. However, the now totally Republican controlled state government (both houses of the legislature and the turncoat governor, a coal billionaire who ran and won as a Democrat but who’d rather switch than fight, though still superior to his GOP opponent, a Tea Party favorite) is actively working to surpass Mississippi so as to be able to raise both hands with fingers extended five times and declare “We’re No. 50!”
Besides the tax cuts cited here they’ve stripped unions of power by making this another right-to-work-and be grossly underpaid state.
No wonder half the residents are addicted to opiates. At least it seems that way. The wonder is that not everyone suffering economically or health wise or due to underfunded education is addicted to opiates.
Our three representatives in Congress are all GOPers when not that long ago they were all Democrats (Not that the Dems were all saints but they weren’t so blatant in their contempt for their constituents). We do have both Republican and Democrat Senators. The Republican is the daughter of a former multi-term governor who was truly a man of his convictions. Well, only ONE conviction but it was a doozy and he just hadn’t been caught before. I’m not implying she is the same kind of crook but her dishonesty, while not criminal, hurts the state. And the Dem? More like a DINO but if you think he is bad you should have seen his opponents. Hell, you’d think he were the second coming of FDR by comparison.
And his seat is in play this year with several GOPers salivating at the chance to knock him off. One is Don Blankenship, the coal tycoon who spent over $3 million to buy himself a state Supreme Court Justice a while back and who managed to spend barely 12 days in jail for each of the 29 coal miners he killed. Another is the carpetbagging state AG who never met a political position that the utterly mis-named Freedom Caucus in Congress wouldn’t wholeheartedly embrace.
My personal life is only peripherally affected by this agglomerations of swine, though that could change due to in part to national abominations potentially being forced upon us and in part to the ongoing obscenity of state government.
Maybe I’ll move to a more progressive state. Wonder what housing costs are in Jackson, Mississippi?



My ongoing health care problems and doctors’ visits and procedures have provided fodder for my writing for a number of years now.

I have insurance coverage under both Medicare and Medicaid. The former I enrolled in in 2006 when I was awarded Social Security Disability benefits but am now qualified for that coverage since I have been officallly an old fart for over five years. The latter coverage was obtained in 2007 and continues to the present since my income falls within the guidelines for eligibility in the state of West Virginia.

Of course that is why I tout Medicare For All as the most practical solution for the nation’s health care coverage woes.

Yet the wheels of health care justice grind exceedingly slow.

My present tale entails my bout with bladder cancer in 2014. Towards the end of June I discovered blood in my urine one Sunday morning. The following day I saw my family doctor who sent me for tests while getting me an appointment with a urologist for a few weeks hence in July. None of the tests provided conclusive evidence of any cause but there were several possibilities. For the best possible diagnosis my urologist scheduled me for a biopsy on September 11, 2014, a Friday. The following Friday I met with him to learn the results and determine any future actions. At that time he revealed I did show a malignancy but one which he was able to cauterize for elimination at the same time. The recommended followup was to have a cystoscopy quarterly for two years, then semi-annually for another two. After that period, without further difficulty I will need to undergo one only every year.

If you’re not sure what a cystoscopy is, I’ll recall how my late older brother described it. “That’s where they stick a camera up your dick”. Crude, but accurate. So I have faithfully appeared as scheduled since then for the procedure in the doctor’s office under local anesthesia. No recurrence to date though bladder cancer does have a high rate of recurrence.  By the way, the blood in my urine was the only symptom I ever experienced. I had no pain, no intrusive treatments over an extended time, and no real agonizing about my potential fate. Sadly, the vast majority of cancer patients have things much worse.

Now my urologist’s office was on the campus of one of our local hospitals, but apart from the main facility and with its own entrance, and he was independent of that ever growing conglomerate. But in 2016 for whatever reason he and his partner sold their practice to the hospital. I have continued as before with no change whatsoever. Because of my coverage I never even saw a bill from him or the hospital. That is until last week.

My last previous cystoscopy was Sept. 28 of 2017. I received a bill showing total charges of $1257.00. After payments and adjustments the total demanded of me was $1019.00.

Other than receiving any bill whatsoever what disturbed me was the area set aside for “Account Summary”. It listed my primary coverage as “Medicare Non-Patient” and my secondary coverage as “Private Pay” What “Medicare Non-patient” even means is beyond my pay grade.

One other thing of note on the bill is something that effects many Medicare patients. One of the charges was $894 for “Operating Room Services.” Funny, I didn’t recall going into an operating room within the hospital, though I admit I am far more familiar with them at this hospital than I care to think about. Indeed, last May I had outpatient surgery in one of them to correct a deviated septum. (No, other deviancies of mine were not addressed simultaneously.) As part of the check-in protocol I provided both my Medicare and Medicaid enrollment cards.

That type of charge I have learned prior to my personal adventure is perfectly legitimate. If a hospital owns a physician’s practice, no matter how remote from the hospital itself, if the doctor performs certain procedures or minor surgeries there the hospital can legitimately bill as if you had physically been on their premises.

I have also used that hospital’s services on different sites away from the main building on other occasions. Subsequent to my 2013 toe amputation I had follow up treatment at the hospital’s Wound Healing Center in rented space about two miles away. About a year ago it moved to a new building on the campus and in both June and October I visited weekly 3-5 times for treatment. One visit, and only one of the 3 in October brought a bill for about half the overall charge of nearly $400. At that time the Account Summary showed “Private Pay” for both primary and secondary coverage. I called the business office demanding, in a nice way that they update their information which was already on file. I never received another bill.

On Monday, with the current bill I called for assistance, explaining the situation and voicing my concerns. The representative saw that I was right and responded that she would make the needed corrections. I needed no more than perhaps a dozen or so cusswords to accomplish this. Yesterday another bill came in the mail. It was dated Monday so it very likely was in the works prior to me talking to Tina on Monday. It was quite different. It still had “Medicare Non-Patient” as primary coverage but now with Medicare Part B as secondary. It also showed different amounts for both payments and adjustments. Whatever Tina had done Monday could not have resulted in this. It also displayed a total due of $99.32, a great improvement, of course, but still not the zero amount I expected and which I have faced for all prior procedures.

So I called back. I got a different rep and when I explained I had spoken to someone just the day before she told me she would be transferring me to a “specialist”. (Aren’t hit men considered specialists?) Anyways after a brief time on hold a woman picked up. Within 30 seconds the call abruptly ended. I redialed immediately and I asked the person who answered to reconnect me with the specialist. Her line was busy so I left a message. When by 3 p.m. today my call had not been returned I called again. After a fairly short time on hold (Have you ever noticed that the music you so often hear on “hold” sounds distinctly like a bad ’70’s porn soundtrack? Not that the porn was bad, though it could have been, but the music used was nearly universally atrocious. At least that’s what my friends tell me.)

Lo and behold the same woman finally answered whom I was cut off from yesterday. We had a long conversation. Rather I spoke at length voicing my concerns in a number of areas of the bill I had received as well as complaining about the Andrew McCutcheon trade, the escalating price of groceries, and how my parents had sent me to live with a pack of wolves when I was 7. Every so often  she made these noises suspiciously similar to sobbing.

Bottom line is that the corrections may take 30-45 days to completely process so I may still see another uncorrected bill before then

The bright spot is that I have another cystoscopy slated for late March. Maybe Allen Funt will be there for a new episode of Candid Camera.


The Twit-in-Chief has struck again. His hail of lying, insulting, and threatening inanities gives one the impression he has a bump stock attached to his Notsoverysmart Phone.

This is one of his latest, hence the meme quoting Andy Borowitz;

With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!

This tweet is offensive on many levels. First of all, NBC itself is not licensed by the government. Only TV and radio stations using public airwaves are subject to federal law and regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). But his ignorance extends far beyond lack of knowledge about a major independent agency within the United States government.

There is also a little thing within the United States Constitution called the First Amendment which reads as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That great document also has this provision in Article II, Section 1 requiring that the President when assuming office, take this oath:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States

His threats on this and other issues are in direct violation of the oath he took January 20, 2017.

As Jordan Weissman explains here the threat against NBC is utterly empty so far as the power of the Twit or the govenment goes, but is still frightening nonetheless.

An element of the cause for alarm is that, given other statements in the past and ongoing wars with media and media/entertainment personalities, it is clear he BELIEVES he has this power. And when he fails to exercise it he will brag of course about how wonderful and considerate and sparing he is.

Which brings us to other examples of his ignorance. And the ignorance is palpable leaving one to speculate whether he really is that stupid or is being willfully so just to further whatever demented agenda he has. Here are a few:

Not knowing anything about the nation’s nuclear arsenal and why it is the size it is.

Inferring the rising stock market somehow ammeliorates part of the National Debt.

His utter lies on the effects of the estate tax, declaring erroneously how it burdens small business owners and farmers

That is just one of SEVENTY Pants on Fire ratings he has received from Politifact

And that was a lie he repeated just last night in Harrisburg:

His Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson allegedly and probably and logically and accurately called him a “fucking moron”. The response was to challenge Tillerson to a test of IQ’s. Twit against Tillerson in an IQ contest is like me against an eagle in a flying contest.

I could cite so many more instances of this ignorance, this lack of knowledge about or even interest in the powers and mechanisms of our government and our laws, but I can’t write the equivalent of Moby Dick or War And Peace in this space.

There is a popular term millennials are now using to describe someone who is aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice) amd that term is woke, a brand new use of an extremely old word.

Would that Twit was woke.

In the meantime I wish I could be woke  from this nightmare.



What is taking place in this photgraph?

  1. Kim Jong-Un exhorting his troops to destroy the “American bastards” as he called us after a missile launch on the Fourth of July?
  2. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (who’s your daddy?) leading ISIS fighters in Muslim prayers before launching their latest Jihadist mission?
  3. Osama bin Laden (you don’t think that fool Obama really killed him do you?) preparing all his remaining followers to meet virgins while making al-Qaeda Great Again?

No, you silly people, none of the above. That’s one of thousands of photographs of troops from the various services taken just prior to the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944.

Our government keeps warning the public of how these countries or groups present an existential danger to the United States and we must commit hundreds of thousands of our military personnel and hand over trillions of dollars to our Military-Industrial-Terrorist Complex in order to protect the 320 million people within our borders from a horrible end.

The thing is, none of these entities is capable of destroying us or destroying our way of life. Let’s face it. The United States of America is pretty damned impenetrable.

Oh, sure, North Korea might be able to launch a nuclear armed ICBM that reaches our West Coast but is that necessarily a bad thing? Let’s say it lands in Seattle. Whatever numbers of people it kills can it exceed the numbers posted by the multiple serial murderers spawned in that area? Ted Bundy, Gary Ridgeway the Green River Killer, John Allen Muhammed the D.C. Sniper, Robert Yates, Jr the former national Guard helicopter pilot convicted of 15 murders may just be the tip of the iceburg.

Let’s say it hits Portland.The worst fallout there would be the hair from the prolific amount of man buns which will eventually lead to clogging of the water supply. Will self-absorbed Portlandians even notice?

But if North Korea wants to invade, it faces substantial obstacles. Indeed, it might invade South Korea first hoping to provoke  U.S. retaliation. But geez, once those troops pass the 38th parallel heading to Seoul they will be distracted by a plethora of Samsung products that will make their lives easier and if they get hold of some Galaxy cell phones they will be rapt on sharing selfies with their loved ones back home and possibly trip over their own weapons that kill them as they text with their eyes down not paying attention.  If those phones are the S7 model they could die from their use, saving the efforts of ROK troops.

Too, they will have access to the first decent kimchi they have ever had. Hell, they’ll have access to real food for the first time.

If they want more direct access to North America they’ll need to come across the Siberian Peninsula, just as did the original Native Americans thousands of years ago. And we know what happened to THEM on our soil. Besides, do you think Putin will give them a right-of-way through Siberia? Hell, NO, he’s invested too much time and money into his sock puppet Drumpf to put his reign of terror at risk.

At least North Korea has an army, an air force, and a navy, the latter putting the SS Minnow to shame. ISIS? They’ve got pickup trucks. Maybe pickup trucks with machine guns, but even those are not nearly as well armed as the ones owned by the 3,400,768 active militias on our shores. However, let’s say ISIS was able to commandeer a fleet of seaworthy kayaks to voyage across the Atlantic. Chances are they’ll end up on our East Coast at a place like Myrtle Beach. With the plentiful family attractions there, those brave fighters will immediately regret having left the wives and kids at home when they could be sharing the experience and the windmills on the mini-golf courses will befuddle them. They very well could waste all their ammunition attempting to silence them.

Then, while camped, in the evenings they will wander into the bars and become dazzled by all the lovely young women competeing in wet burqa contests.

If they land much farther south at Miami Beach they will soon realize that they are overmatched in number by the Jews there. They will face the threat of being nagged to death by Jewish mothers. Or else, since Miami Beach has also been a favorite playground of the Mafia, these ISIS fools could find themselves swimming with the fishes.

Al Qaeda faces similar difficulties. Again no navy or air force and even if its operatives got their hands on some planes, there is no guarantee they could land safely to dispatch an invasion force without additional training. But let’s say they did manage to successfully breech our borders and began to move stealthily inland. Assunimg they came in on the East Coast means they will soon encounter Appalachia. Once in that territory getting to see first hand how that part of the country lives back in the hollers and in mostly abandoned coal camps, they will realize that this is no America worth destroying.

After all, these folks  have barely advanced beyond the 14th century. Al Qaeda will feel right at home.


Rest easy my friends.



Sgt. Joe Friday, played on TV’s Dragnet by noted former wooden Indian Jack Webb, was a straight shooting Los Angeles Police Department detective who frerquently admonished witnesses to crimes that what he wanted was

Just The Facts, Ma’am

If only that were the case with our present Presidential administration, from top to bottom.

In the aftermath of The Charlottesville race disturbances, culminating in the death of a young counter-protesting woman by a vehicle driven at ramming speed, Drumpf delivered some conflicting messages.

His first statement, issued Saturday was this:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Drumpf, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time…

He did NOT call out the Nazi’s and KKKers or other white supremacist groups by name, and stated quite clearly that the demonstrators who came to oppose the fascist racists were also to blame for the violence.

Reports have indicated his own aides urged him to make a stronger statement and on Monday he did. The perttinent part:

…Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. …

The full text can be found here:

Full text: Donald Trump says “racism is evil” in his latest statement on Charlottesville

Okay. Much criticism from some that it was far too late and from others that his lack of sincerity was obvious. That criticism can be dismissed, for our purposes, as quibbling.

But on Tuesday all hell broke loose as the Apologist For White Supremacists In Chief exploded in vitriol at a press conference that was not even meant to be about Charlottesville. He defended his Saturday remarks and seemed to walk back his critcism of racists on Monday:

I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement, but you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts,” Drumpf said Tuesday. “It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. It is a very, very important process to me. It is a very important statement. So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts.

The absurdity of that claim is patent. Case in point on Thursday, reacting to an apparent terroist attack in Barcelona he told a tale about how General Pershing once too care of Islamic terrorists. He had captured fifty of them and had his men dip the same amount of bullets in pig’s blood, the well known antidote to murderous attacks by Muslims. Lining the 50 Muslims up 49 were shot and the 50th was released to go back and warn his fellow Muslims that was what happened to their ilk.

Of course that never happened.

What else never happened? Well, over 3 million illegal votes in the 2016 election for one. There is simply no evidence that non-citizens vote in large numbers or that even citizens entitled to vote do so multiple times. Yet Drumpf, embarrassed by the fact Hillary Clinton outpolled him in the popular vote by about 3 million tries to make it look as if that margin was entirely due to illegal votes. But he shoots off his mouth about this to Congressional leaders a few days after inauguration without any…you know…FACTS.

In November Drumpf asserted, in a play to his racist base, that 81% of white homicide victims were killed by blacks. He added some other numbers that were fiction and cited a non-existent agency as his source. That happens to be one of his many “Pants On Fire” ratings from Politifact.

Indeed, Politifact has six different ratings:

  • True
  • Mostly True
  • Half True
  • Mostly False
  • False
  • Pants on Fire…That means the statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.

To date Politifact has examined and fact-checked 442 statements and claims made by Drumpf. A full 69% fall into one of the three false categories with 16% (69) Pants on Fire.

FYI: Barack Obama has more fact chgecks than anyone else with 76% in one of the true categories and only 2% Pants on Fire. Hillary Clinton has 73% in the true categories and only 2% Pants on Fire.

So Drumpf has about as much connection with fact as oatmeal does to ingredients for thermonuclear weapons.

Drumpf’s father’s real name was NOT Fred, as is commonly believed. It was Geppetto.


UPDATE NOTE: I originally wrote that “on Wednesday all hell broke loose” though Drumpf had spoken on Tuesday. My intent was to note the clamor that really went fullblast the next day, though in our internet world the outbursts were almost immediate. I edited Wednesday to Tuesday for greater clarity in that regard.