Pro-life, a Re-visit

Now that we Democrats have a toe-hold in political Washington, and with a likely re-visit to Roe v Wade, I’ve some fresh thoughts, at least for me.

While i’m philosophically anti-abortion,  I’m realistically pro-choice.  Have been for a generation.

Let me start by saying:   the abortion question is the tail of the dog.

In some order, a wholesome pro-life stance should now include:

  • opposing capital punishment
  • supporting gun legislation
  • guarantee of health care
  • natal care for mother and child

I’m proud to live in a state which has recently abolished the death penalty.

Our daughter worked for the abolishment movement.  As a temp hospitality worker, she was coincidentally in the kitchen at Drumthwacket and congratulated the governor as he walked thru  on his way out.

Recent shootings, in particular the killings in a Pittsburgh synagogue raise the possibility of a death penalty.  “If ever there were a case for the death penalty, surely this is it”.   I’m always challenged by this suggestion.   One thing we learned in our repeal effort here is a good portion of the victim’s families don’t press for the death penalty.   “We don’t need to relive the pain — through endless appeals”.   I’ll offer a suggestion:  the reason there is any popular support for a death penalty is sub-conscious collective guilt for not having prevented the mass-killing.

Which brings us to support sensible gun legislation.   I happen to think “sensible” is redundant here, but we allow it to appease those who don’t share the broad view.  I’ve recently posted ideas,   Time Draws Nigh on what I think is required, and needn’t repeat them here.

In discussing pro-life positions with my wife, she reminded me “what about care for the elderly”.   To which I generalize:   guaranteed health care for all.  It needn’t be “single payer”, but what it shouldn’t be is “guaranteed health insurance”.   That puts the shoe on the wrong foot.  I was going to sneak it by you this way, “put the foe on the wrong shoot”, as a metaphor for how mixed-up the discussion is.   But, as you can see, I thought better of that phrase.   I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who really needs insurance rather than accessible healthcare.   Health insurance has been a limited solution.   My wife and I have enjoyed the benefits of Medicare for most of a decade, and can’t see why everyone should not have similar benefits.  Notice, its MediCARE and MedicAID.

I give great credit to a bureaucrat somewhere who cleverly kept insurance out of the labels.   This might sound like I’m advocating “single payer”.  I’m not.   Let me chasten those who could only beat drums and offer nothing more than anecdotes about “Obamacare” being a failure.     The reason we didn’t have a vote on a single-payer system is that Obama recognized the political and economic difficulty of moving to a single-payer system.  The question of “how do we move from a huge insurance bureaucracy without dislocating tens, hundreds of thousands of workers?” has yet to be answered.

Now, to the beginning of life question.   I was instructed this morning by a note from the successful campaign of Rob Sand for IA auditor, that there are three biblical references to life’s beginning at birth rather than conception.  Let’s avoid the tussle over biblical references.   Here’s been my parable for these past few decades on where the solution to the “abortion problem” will be found.

There’s a company picnic in a park with a stream running through it. Everyone is having a great time.   People are playing games, eating, drinking, some simply stretched out, relaxing by the stream.   Then, seemingly out of nowhere,  a baby comes floating by.   One of those there jumps in and grabs the child.   “It’s alive”, she shouts with glee, and hands the baby up to a friend on the bank.    Before she can climb out, her friend notices another baby in the stream and jumps in to help.   With all this activity, others notice whats happening.  And soon, a regular flow of infants is coming down the stream.  Fortunately, there are enough people jumping in with enough people on the bank to receive the struggling children being handed out.  But the system is getting tested.   It’s really burdened and in danger of overwhelming the rescuers.    Just about everyone is participating, except a few people.   One of the rescuers offers, “Come on over, we need your help.  We’re swamped.”    One of those standing by replies, “We’re watching the onslaught, and don’t think we can add much here.  We’ve decided to go upstream and see where the babies are coming from.”

I now believe the solution to the “abortion problem” won’t be simple. There will be many reasons why too many babies are in the stream.  But not until we’re all engaged, which means we’ll have to listen to the few people who went upstream, and act on what they find, will we be ready to address the “abortion problem”.






Krugman on the Republican Soul

From today’s (11/2/18) NY Times:


Referring to the Republican drumbeat about “that caravan”, and “look who’s funding the Democrats”,    a salient paragraph:

The crucial thing to realize is that these aren’t just ugly, destructive lies. Beyond that, they shape the G.O.P.’s nature. It is now impossible to have intellectual integrity and a conscience while remaining a Republican in good standing. Some conservatives have these qualities; almost all of them have left the party, or are on the edge of excommunication.

Time Draws Nigh

In the almost year since the Wagon took up the pen,  we’ve had other mass shootings, the most recent this past Saturday in Pittsburgh.    Eleven congregants at a Jewish synagogue were killed by a deranged man with an assault rifle.

Last year’s proposal, Sensible Background Checks was maybe a little too complicated to make sense.   This one is simpler.  The single objective: making sure it’s only the good guys who have guns.

But first, a digression.   This one’s for my wife, Pat, herself from Pittsburgh, Shaler township, to be exact, just over the Allegheny from the city, closest to the steel district where her father worked from the war years until his retirement about the time we met.  The motivation she supplies has less to do with her Pittsburgh roots, and more to do with preserving our 48+ year marriage.

You see, Pat has been my go-to surrogate for  arguments with the irresponsible right.   It’s not her fault for the right’s drift over the cliffs of reason.  The last Republican she voted for was Nixon in 1968.

   don’t blame me for Watergate, by ’72 it was already too late; I voted for Hubert in ’68.

was my haiku-ish bumper-sticker.  And by 1972, Pat had seen the light — it wasn’t on the right.   Of late, every outrageous piece of daily news from the Republican leaders I’ve not spared her my own sharp rebuttal.  My marriage-saving promise to her with these latest outrages, is to send our Congresswoman, Bonny Watson Coleman, my latest suggestion.   Over this past weekend, with the 14 bombs circulated to prominent Democrats, and killing 11 worshipers,  I’ve taken up the pen to assuage my anger.

Last year’s proposal took the NRA’s idea seriously, of distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys.      Since the past weekend’s attackers operated on society’s fringes, like at Trump campaign rallies, they wouldn’t be among the “good guys”.  Simplifying  last year’s proposal,   I now recommend good guys with guns should by definition, belong to a gun club; bad guys won’t.      Not just any gun club, but a state-sanctioned gun club.  Each US state will have it’s own regulations.   Not every gun need be housed in a club facility,.  You might imagine states would which weapons must be confined to club property.  State-sanctioned clubs guarantee  no federal records need keep lists of individual gun owners.

To satisfy the “what about gun show purchases, and any waiting period?” question, the gun buyer presents a legitimate club membership card at the point of sale.   I’m thinking here how each state respects drivers’ licenses from other states.   Gun dealers would be restricted by the possession laws in the state where the sale took place. Online sales would be restricted by the state residence of the gun buyer.  And guns might be swapped, sold, or transferred within a club.   Transfers between clubs, or members of separate clubs would be a matter for state regulation.

Federal regulation would establish a period to set up enforcement, and provide funds for the administrative set-up.  Guns on the street would have to be registered with a legitimate gun club.   State regulation would define the penalty to a gun clubs whose member’s weapons were used in crimes.  I’m thinking that gun clubs, in their own self interest, would be unlikely to grant membership to the type of fellows we saw this past weekend.    And guns uncovered lacking gun-club provenance would be confiscated,  and destroyed.    Gun manufacturers would owe the federal government lists of where their guns were sold, and by whom and to which sanctioning club.

With this, we won’t have to sort out the good guys from the bad guys.  Responsible gun owners will see there are no more bad guys with guns.

A Future Memorial

In the month since Sensible Background Checks, a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs TX, suggests we need to update the requirements for a sensible background check.   Not much, but still sensible.

Before we do that, imagine a future memorial to the countless people who’ve been killed by a deranged person with a gun they should never have had.   Not unlike the Viet Nam memorial.   The apparent difference with this new memorial  (the Viet Nam memorial names those who were defending our freedom) will fade in history’s dust.

Sensible Adjustments

The US Air Force will come into some just criticism for not adding the killer’s name to the national background screening list.    But now even Republican senators are showing a bit of courage to strengthen that reporting. The same opportunity is available to all states, but not uniformly exercised.   These models all have the law-enforcement-first model.   The sensible model says background checks start with those who best know the prospective gun owner.

The Sutherland Springs killer’s history again raises the mental health qualification.    I’d not advocate a broad-brush denial, giving the mental health community means to offer input.   But let’s take a simpler tack.  In addition to the “find three good guys to vouch for you” approach, I’d add a “with a note from mommy” requirement to the sensible background check.    In this case, the role of “mommy” could be filled by the “family voucher”: a spouse, sibling, parent or child.  And an ex-spouse could fill the role.  On this, I’d be firm.  Absent a current spouse, any previous would be required.

Since the family voucher wouldn’t necessarily be a “good guy”, no jeopardy would be attached to their statement.   It should both enable a certain candor on their part, if not place a high hurdle in the way of the prospective gun owner.

The Memorial

The major news media is getting quite good at recording the names and reporting on the background of mass-shooting victims.  So, a database of names for the memorial is already being collected.   I’d not draw a line on a date from which to begin the tally of names for the memorial.   Something like within the life-times of living persons and children of any victims.    Think of Holocaust memorials as a coverage model.








It Happened in Monroe

That’s where I happen to be: Monroe Twp NJ, along with probably 20+ thousands of us.   An item of national interest played a scene on the local football field just the other day, under Friday night lights.

The boys from Colts Neck High were visiting the local scrummers.   You know where this is going don’t you?  Reports in the Newark Star Ledger, and one of the records of reference, the Washington Post no less, carried the story this morning.   When the national anthem was played, some of our local boys knelt.  This disturbed two of the five-man officiating crew, Lunardelli’s, father and son, Ernie and Anthony.  They “abruptly left the field after seeing the players kneeling.”  Ernie, reports NJ Advance Media, said, “I’m not in favor of anyone disrespecting our country, our flag, the armed forces”.   My question for Ernie and all of like mind is “How did you know what they were doing?”

Therein is the problem.   I know where Ernie stands, but I don’t think he knows, or cares what those certain footballers are thinking or doing.   If I had access to those players,  I’d ask them weren’t you respecting the flag, your allegiance to the country in the icon of the flag, and also respecting our armed forces who’ve been standing up for our freedoms.    Since the boys  on the field are but teenagers, I’d expect a flurry of answers across a range of issue, at least one of which is likely social.

Kneeling during the play of the national anthem, first made public by a well-known SF Giants former quarterback,  has grown a few dimensions.  I’ve not seen these listed in parallel, maybe here for the first time:

  • statement of support for person’s of color treatment at the hands of law enforcement,
  • belief in the respect of the flag, nation, armed forces
  • the first amendment right of free speech and assembly.

The first amendment applies to both other points.  The Ernie’s of the world are certainly entitled to their respect of the flag.   This is my opinion here:  If I give you the benefit of doubt, then will you do the same for those you feel don’t share your view?    Let me guess Ernie’s answer: No.    Ernie’s belief is rooted in the notion that those who don’t share his view of this or that must be wrong.   Since he is pronouncing judgement before understanding, you might say he’s prejudiced, as in pre-judgement.

David Cole, nation legal director of the ACLU, draws no distinction on 1st amendment protections of free speech from the left or right.  Specifically, he questions why the white supremacy demonstrators in Charlotte NC had their venue moved and given less police protection as a result.  He does draw a bright line between the 1st and 2nd amendments.  Speech is Speech.   Speech with firearms, it’s something else.

My first advice is “never give any”.   I identify my friends as those who are willing to break one of their own rules in my behalf.  So, to befriend Ernie and his, my advice is:  if you have an opinion to offer, about or to someone else, convince them you’ve tried to understand what they are saying before passing judgement.

By the way, Colt’s Neck won the game 18-13.  But Ernie is also of a mind that the game doesn’t count, since he and Anthony were replaced by uncertified junior cadet officials. Ernie, I could get behind you on that one in your anticipated tussle with NJSIA.




Sensible Background Checks

This isn’t about taking away any guns.  It’s about assuring that only good guys have guns.   This is offered in the spirit that polls indicate public support for better background checks, and to cover all gun sales.

The Background Check

Here’s the idea:    You can purchase a firearm if you have some small number, say 3 individuals vouch for you.    And not just any three people, but already acknowledged responsible people, who wouldn’t have to be gun owners, but likely are: the good guys.

Let me step you through the process.   A lot of details will fall into what I’d call administrivia, but are necessary to gain the public trust.   At any gun store or show, the buyer presents identification of the three people who are vouching for him or her.  It might be nothing more than an identifying number, or phone number or street address, accompanied by a name.   The purchaser presents a valid photo ID with their own information.  This information alleges the identities of those vouching for the buyer are indeed legitimate.  The sale may be concluded on the spot.   This information is phoned, faxed, emailed to the state agency charged with actually verifying the identities.  Penalties would ensue for any falsification, with recognition for possible clerical mistakes.

Where does the list of people who may vouch for you come from?   It has to start somewhere.    I’d grandparent a list of alleged “good guys”:  county and local law enforcement, active duty military, and members in good standing of state-sanctioned gun clubs.   A gun purchaser would be added to the list of “good guys” after an incident-free period of gun ownership.   And then be on the list of those who may vouch for others.


To start with the administrivia,  each sale is recorded with owner and serial number of the firearm.  Which presents the first political challenge. Civil libertarians and any number of gun owners may object to the database necessary to hold the information.  It’s that part of our compact which says rights are a shared responsibility.  Some people have to shed part of their idea of “my rights” in order for all to see their right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness protected.   Jeopardy is attached to a crime committed with a so-registered firearm.  One might expect enabling legislation to require people to report when a firearm goes missing.

When a firearm is used in commission of a crime, jeopardy is attached to the owner and those who vouched for that purchase.    This is the central point of my idea.   Imagine you are asked to vouch for someone who would like to buy a gun.   You are going to be careful about whom you are willing to vouch for.   This statement, “I trust this person will use this firearm responsibly” is a stronger certification of credibility than any amount of probing the criminal records.

Accumulated acts of jeopardy, gun crimes, vouching for someone who committed a gun crime,  would accrue to individuals such that they would be removed from the vouchers list, clubs whose members lost their privileges,  and law-enforcement precincts whose members showed similar bad judgement in their having vouched for bad actors would also be restricted.

The Political Challenge

This will take federal legislation.    Expenses accruing to the state agencies could be shared between the federal and state governments, so the responsible parties both have a stake in the game.  I’d think an excise tax imposed on a gun sale would be a negative incentive to pay for the administration of the law.    Because the objective is to make sure it’s only “good guys” who have firearms, no sensible piece of legislation would exclude existing weapons.   Some existing weapons would be confiscated and destroyed after the criminals are apprehended and sentenced.   Other weapons would have a sunset interval of some number of years.  Owners would register their weapons as a no-cost sale to self, again with the required number of vouchers.    Legislation would have to protect individuals during the time, such that law-enforcement does not have the perverse incentive to conduct draconian gun-sweeps.

At some bright and future date, only “good guys” will have guns, and the public will feel safer.

The Current Discussion

In today’s climate there are many threads being discussed.  Here are some of them.

Now’s not the time.

Possibly.    But note, this idea is something we can start discussing right now.   It isn’t born out of any hysteria, and certainly doesn’t step on anyone’s  Second Amendment rights.  Rather it hopes to restore confidence in the “regulated” phrase in the amendment.

Knee jerk reaction doesn’t produce good legislation.

I’m a naive believer that any cooperation on legislation is worth more than a single piece of legislation itself. “One small step …”

Was this an act of terrorism

Let’s not waste any more time quibbling about a numeric threshold accompanied by ethnic identity of the shooter.   The victims, survivors, witnesses were terrorized.   The purpose of this proposal is to factor out this wheel-spinning exercise.

Mass killings are but a blip on the overall statistics

There’s two problems here.   First, while a big number is a head-line grabber, more evidence is showing the huge population who suffers deep psychological damage.   To those who witness and survive a mass shooting, the damage isn’t undone by having survived.

Checking the demographics on gun deaths, a recent report says two-thirds of gun deaths are by suicide.   This proposal should open the possibility of negative referrals:  if you knew a family member was unstable, and looking for “vouchers”, your state might provide a means for “negative referrals” and you’d be well to record that in the application.

Bad Cops.

Overly simplistic on my part, but there are two types of persons wearing the blue: police officers who deserve our respect for their everyday sacrifice, and bad cops.    A precinct with an inordinate amount of unwarranted, unarmed death by cop would see it’s vouching privileges revoked.

Federal Standards

Already implied,  a national database of the good guys and the serial numbers of their weapons.   I think this is the biggest hurdle today:  confidence in the security of our personal records.

On the various places to tune the procedure, minimum federal standards in a way to encourage further state regulation.  Psychiatric criteria, for example.   The idea is we are all in this together, but we all have different, unique neighbors, all of us should feel safer.


the Draft during Viet Nam

The PBS show, The Viet Nam War, by Ken Burns and Lynn Novik is all the rage at the moment.   I debated with myself, Pat having to listen, whether or not to closely follow the series.  After Episode Four, all the damage has been done; we can follow the rest without further harm.

During (a good part) of the Viet Nam conflict I’d found safety in serving the DOD at an Army Security Agency listening post in Turkey, Sinop on the Black Sea, due south of the Crimean peninsula.  I was there from April 1968 to March 1970.

But, for a moment, let’s look at an archive from those years: my Selective Service (Draft) Card.   No, I didn’t burn it.  And can’t remember when I may have considered the option.


The thing to note here is the draft classification: 1-Y. More common were 1-A, and 4-F.   Were there other 1’s and what happened to 2- and 3- classifications.   No sooner asked, than answered here.  I believe Muhammad Ali and I shared this status, though his status is not reported here on Wikipedia.

There are intermediate status for Conscientious Objector and Member of the Clergy, two of Ali’s options.   In my case, those of you who know me, I had polio in my lower left leg between the ages of 1 to 2. I received 1-Y status at the recommendation of my family doctor.  In Ali’s case, it was an expedient by the board after his case went to the Supreme Court.   In another case of polio, I have a fraternity Brother, Mike D, same age, who was afflicted in both legs.  I didn’t accompany him to the Boston board, but his attempt to show his situation to the examination staff on arrival kept him waiting all day for a doctor to approve a medical deferment.

The Burns-Novik film, reminded me college deferments were terminated in 1966, making my class year the luckiest one of our time.  Once out of college, I selected the NSA from other offers at IBM (the guidance ring on the Apollo), United Aircraft (fuel control on their engines – e.g. B-52), and Honeywell (residential sales HQ — my co-op experience).  I didn’t need to be “close to the action” but did have some idea of serving the country, and quite honestly was attracted by the thought of Fun, Travel, and Adventure.   I did have another fraternity brother, Leo C, who was serving with the more famous (another TLA) intelligence branch, and thought the NSA was a safe way to be engaged in that line of work.

The closest I came to feel the Viet Nam experience, were a couple of airplane rides on a De Havilland Otter with pilots who’d flown the same plane in Viet Nam.   Their demonstration as we flew along the Black Sea coast was to come down within a few feet of the water and head straight up a river basin.  Then with the trees on both sides, “Now, imagine lead coming at you from the left and the right”.

And in full disclosure, I had two brothers, Dan and Vince who served in the army.   Vince served (survived) a tour in Viet Nam as a mechanic, Dan never closer than writing the unit citation for the Green Beret outfit who raided the empty POW camp.

MJM-III,DraftCard-reverseHaving preserved my draft card until now, maybe I’ll burn it when the series wraps?   As the NSA was noted for it’s cryptographic practice, let me take a shot at it.  My SSN was  Why? I’m thinking MN was somehow the 21st state, the reverse says “LOCAL BOARD NO. 120”, I was born in ’44, and I’d guess in our rural county, I’d have been the 94th one born that year.   (There were approx 45 guys in my high school class; there was only one other community of that size in the county).   Here is the last word on draft cards.



Great American Eclipse of 8/21

What we have here is a collection of stills and videos from a family event in Dubois Wyoming for the Great American Eclipse.   The “family” is the descendants of the Nolan-Theviot clan of Brainerd, MN from the earliest part of the last century.   The organizing wing of that clan is the Hollenhorst family of Rochester Minnesota whose mother was Alice.   My mother Betty, was Alice’s youngest sister. they accounting for 18 of the 27 Nolan grandchildren.

Special mention here goes to Cousin John, who as a recently retired senior reporter for NBC’s KSL (Salt Lake) affiliate did much to scour the West for their viewers, and John’s daughter Annie, who put up the photo – sharing site, which now includes my offering.   I’m rushing this to publication, and hope to offer labels and rename those of my photos most worthy of recognition by the family.

Let’s start with an email fragment I’ve been sharing with friends.

News Clip

Katie and Justin’s trip started with our meeting in Wyoming (Dubois, ~ 40 mi S/E of the Tetons ) for the Great American Eclipse of 8/21.   Chip, Reese and I went up with Pat’s brother, Rich from his  place in Denver.   The other great branch of my mother’s family, the Hollenhorsts had been planning this for about 5 years.   3+ years ago we secured reservations at the Twin Pines Lodge in Dubois.  And saw the eclipse from a hill just east of town.  In the first photo, Chip, Katie, Justin, and Ellie are on the left, with Pat’s brother Rich peering in.  I’m near the right side of the group.  Reese, Chip’s son, is smack in the middle with the Rich-gift coonskin cap. The other photo is  Ellie.   These are part of a collection from cousin Tom.   Cousin John was the advance scout, he having recently retired as the senior reporter for KSL, the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake.   I’ve included a link to a blog page, part of a set I started last month, partially anticipating the Great American Eclipse, part other stuff.   I’m calling Katie and Justin at least two of the witnesses of the Great American Eclipse and Great American Flood (which has now been superseded by Irma in Florida, maybe)
Note to viewers:  when you see a page of photos; there’s an icon in the upper right, left of three to toggle between list and grid view.  I prefer the grid to preview the photos.
And maybe if you know WordPress, you can offer a hint on formatting the “news clip”.  Thanks.

First blog post

covered wagon at AZ cactus

first blog

Here’s the blog  where I have been testing  an experiment in is-it-easier than WordPress. To the extent I find WordPress workable,   I’ll be moving the posts on that site here.

WordPress is _not_ that intuitive.  Here’s my current TODO list, mostly learning HowTo use W/P.

  • How to Save a page:   A.   Accept the email account notice
  • Use an appropriate image.
  • Update my the icon with this W/P account.
  • Add comments to these posts.

Opportunity Knocks

With so much opportunity to pick and choose where to begin with Trump, let’s start by overlooking his pre-pubescent rant with an equally-so leader on the Korean peninsula. Instead let’s begin with his feud with leaders in his own party.

In the article Trump sharpens pointed critique .. in today’s New York Times , Matt Flegenheimer points at the opening rift with Senator, and Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. Flegenheimer quotes former House speaker Gingrich:

 I may not be clever enough to understand this, but I don't see
 how a Republican President deepening his fight with the
 Republican majority leader gets him very far.

And the Problem Is

What Republicans are having a hard time grasping, is that the Donald was elected pledging very un-Republican solutions to the malaise seen by his core supporters. What those core supporters failed to grasp was, in spite of his promises, the Donald is, at his core, very much a Republican. And opposed to his campaign promise to see that everyone had health care, and it would cost less, he would sign anything the Republicans could squeeze through their bill-writing shenanigans.

That Senator McConnell couldn’t round up 50 out of 52 votes for a bill that would have left 20 million more Americans uninsured surprised no-one at the end. John McCain’s final theatrics were easily predicted. The real trap was the untenable campaign pledges by nearly every Republican, that we must repeal and replace the ACA (Obama-care). And the gall, “well, let’s repeal it, and then replace it later” fooled no-one. About then only thing which amazed me was that no Republican, including the President, claimed the Congressional Budget Office’s prediction of upwards of 24 million Americans would lose their coverage was “Fake News”. Some clever insider must have determined such hectoring would diminish the “Fake News” brand.

So, the Solution

It’s (maybe not) too premature to suggest it’s time for the House Republicans to get some gumption and realize the Donald is the boat- anchor that’ll sink their political careers. My advice: vote those Articles of Impeachment. The Donald’s Impeachment Insurance policy in the Person of Mike Pence, is worth cashing in.

Future posts in this thread will raise the subject of what passes for high crimes and misdemeanors .