The Speech *I* Wish a President would give.

On the 8th of October, 2003, some time subsequent to the Desert Storm operation a veteran named Dennis Chapman posted this. It circulated widely on the Internet after that, in various forms as is not uncommon, people feeling the need to edit or improve things according to their own whims. It is the earliest known occurrence I can find, and I have no reason to suppose that Mr. Chapman was not the original author.

The Speech We Wish a President Would Give
My Fellow Americans: As you all know, the defeat of the Iraq regime has been completed.
Since congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete.
This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq. This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning.
Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries which have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short. The United Kingdom , Spain , Bulgaria , Australia , and Poland are some of the countries listed there.
The other list contains everyone not on the first list. Most of the world’s nations are on that list. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening.
Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war.
The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world Hellholes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption.
Need help with a famine ? Wrestling with an epidemic? Call France.
In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home . On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the earth.
Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize? Try France, or maybe China .
I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France, Germany, and Russia . Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. Bon chance, mes amis.
I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid parking tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed. I don’t care about whatever treaty pertains to this. You creeps have tens of thousands of unpaid tickets. Pay those tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world. I love New York.
A special note to our neighbors. Canada is on List 2. Since we are likely to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change.
Mexico is also on List 2 President Fox and his entire corrupt government really need an attitude adjustment. I will have a couple extra tank and infantry divisions sitting around. Guess where I am going to put ’em? Yep, border security.
Oh, by the way, the United States is abrogating the NAFTA treaty – starting now.
We are tired of the one-way highway. Immediately, we’ll be drilling for oil in Alaska – which will take care of this country’s oil needs for decades to come. If you’re an environmentalist who opposes this decision, I refer you to List 2 above: pick a country and move there. They care.
It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens. Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, “darn tootin.”
Nearly a century of trying to help folks live a decent life around the world has only earned us the undying enmity of just about everyone on the planet. It is time to eliminate hunger in America It is time to eliminate homelessness in America . To the nations on List 1, a final thought. Thank you guys. We owe you and we won’t forget.
To the nations on List 2, a final thought: You might want to learn to speak Arabic.
God bless America . Thank you and good night.
If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier.


Dennis Chapman

15 years ago I was still smarting from the insult of the 9/11 attacks, and on more days than not my gut instinct was to agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Chapman’s sentiments. I think had 45 been running for president in 2004 using this fictitious letter as a campaign platform, I might have (to my discomfort now) pulled the lever for a straight GOP ticket with great enthusiasm. So it’s not like I don’t have a sense of what 45’s base is feeling, and why they support him so doggedly.

Fortunately for my conscience, in 2007 I began a journey into a different space, thanks to some amazing seminars produced by Klemmer and Associates. People finish these leadership training experiences with many different takeaways, depending on their own particular biases and preconceptions, and which ones they are willing to look at. For me, the bottom line was that mankind consists of “one village,” and without each other we cannot maximize our potential as human beings. I landed on the concept of R. Buckminster Fuller’s “World Game” (hence the title of this blog), which goes like this:

“Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

R. Buckminster Fuller

There were other important lessons as well, but this one ended up informing what’s left of my life, and made me realize that the “Yeah Baby ‘Murica First” philosophy was incompatible with my heart and soul.

As a result of thinking long and hard about what kind of America I believe in, and how I would like to see it led, I have crafted the speech that I wish an American president would give.

My Fellow Americans,

It is a privilege to address you this evening. To begin with, it will not be surprising to any of you if I say we are still living through one of the most challenging political, economic, and social periods that our nation has faced. But before anything else is said, it needs to be acknowledged that we are Americans, that we have survived difficult times before, and that as a nation and as a people we will survive this time in our history and emerge the stronger for having done so.

As eloquently pointed out by President Lincoln, the founders of our nation envisioned a republic where all people would be free and equal. While their vision did not fully encompass people of color or women, subsequent modifications to our Constitution, along with various decisions by the Supreme Court, rectified most of those time-relative cultural oversights. With the exception of certain fanatical or misguided groups, and despite the fact that there is still work to be done, the vast majority of Americans support the concept of a nation where every person is equal in the eyes of the law and has an equal chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sadly, today’s reality does not live up to those founding principles, and it is my intention to devote the next four years rectifying that and other underlying problems which are holding our nation back from achieving its full potential.

The first group of people I would like to address is my colleagues in the press. You have been warmly invited to cover this address with open arms, and it is my intention that this state of affairs will continue. The relationship of the office of the President with the Fourth Estate has never been an easy one, and while I cannot promise that this administration will be the media’s darling, I can promise one thing: you will never be lied to by me or my spokespeople. In the interest of national security, there may be questions we cannot answer, and if that is the case, we will say so directly. But I and those in my administration are determined to make you our allies in building an America that works for everyone, with no one left out. Journalism is driven by money, money comes from advertising, and sensationalism sells ads. I don’t expect to change the rubric of your profession in a brief four years (or eight, if that happens to be the will of the American people) – but I ask you for an agreement of honor. I expect you to shine the harsh light of reason into every dark corner of this government, and to act as Amerca’s watchdogs. If there is malfeasance, or corruption, or injustice, I expect you to uncover it – and this administration will be your partners in doing that. In exchange, I ask that you make your coverage fair and balanced, and as devoid of sensationalism, partisanship, and outright falsehood as possible; your training as journalists has prepared you to do this, and I expect nothing less. If I, as president, have something to say to the nation, you will be notified by a televised address or by the time-tested channel of a press conference – and not by some social media platform.

To our military, and our police forces, and our first responders, I have only this to say: I honor you for your service, for your sacrifices, and for your daily willingness to put yourselves in harm’s way for the safety and security of our nation and our allies – and I want nothing more than to build a nation where your services will be seldom, if ever, needed. You belong with your families, and it’s my job to make sure you can spend as much time with them as humanly possible.

To the nations of the world, I offer the hand of friendship. There have been some serious bumps along the way, but the past is written and unchangeable. What we have is now, and tomorrow. If you will work with me in building a world of safety and prosperity for the almost 8 billion sojourners on our spaceship Earth, you will find me a willing and eager partner. If you oppose the general welfare of humanity, you are likely to find me a formidable and immovable opponent.

Of my colleagues in Congress, I ask this: send me legislation to sign that builds our nation, that makes it stronger, that is designed to benefit everyone – not just the privileged few – and that extends beyond our borders in areas of diplomacy, of science, of health, and of the environment. I will work with you to this end, but I will not support unfairness, or cruelty, or selfishness, or dishonesty. If you truly work for the benefit of humanity, we will be able to make sensible progress together.

To the people of America, I say this: I was elected by a democratic process, and I will never forget that I represent the hopes and dreams of everyone in this nation – the ones who voted for me and the ones who didn’t. In past years and after past elections, I have heard a similar refrain from both parties, to the extent that “We won, and you people (the opposition) are now irrelevant.” That is not an America that I support. Whether you believe in me or my party’s platform is irrelevant – but you are not. However you would like to see it happen, I know that what you mostly desire in life is health, safety, security, and opportunity for yourself and your children. It may be that we have different approaches, but I want those things for you – for all of you – and will work to see that you get more of them than you have now.

If you have a spiritual walk, then join with me in saying God Bless America. If you turn to the wisdom of humanity for your strength, then may your efforts to build a humane and peaceful country bear as much fruit as you can make happen with your efforts.

My fellow citizens, I thank you. May you prosper in all that you do.

As a point of practicality, I have disabled comments for this post. Like it if you wish, I always appreciate knowing if people resonate with my thoughts. Or don’t, if you disagree. But this is not reddit or YouTube, and not a place for debate – if you have other thoughts, the best place for those will be your own blog.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Cannabis: the case against decriminalization

Cross-posted from Livejournal and updated 11-8-2018

☞ The executive summary is, “Because it doesn’t go far enough.” ☜

A photo gallery at Time Magazine brought this issue to the front of my mind again, where it has been many times. Swirling around in the mass of insignificant facts and rabid squirrels that inhabit my brain are thoughts that keep coming back to me over and over again, many of which have to do with the overwhelming societal cost that we are paying for a failing war on drugs.

If recent statistics (CDC, 2009) are to be believed, 6.6% of people over 12 were using marijuana at least once a month – a total of 23.1 million people (minus the ones under 12). That’s us. We’re the ones who are funding the carnage in Mexico as drug cartels battle for turf and slaughter countless people in their quest for American drug dollars.

Prohibition is Ineffective

We saw how well Prohibition worked… all it did was put the country’s alcohol revenue into the hands of the criminal element. Whenever money is to be made, the bad guys will be there in force, because they don’t care how they get it.

“Although consumption of alcohol fell at the beginning of Prohibition, it subsequently increased. Alcohol became more dangerous to consume; crime increased and became “organized”; the court and prison systems were stretched to the breaking point; and corruption of public officials was rampant. No measurable gains were made in productivity or reduced absenteeism. Prohibition removed a significant source of tax revenue and greatly increased government spending. It led many drinkers to switch to opium, marijuana, patent medicines, cocaine, and other dangerous substances that they would have been unlikely to encounter in the absence of Prohibition.” Cato Institute Policy Analysis

The Social Costs are considerably less than those associated with tobacco and alcohol

The societal costs of alcohol are enormous, whereas the social impact of cannabis use is significantly less.

“In terms of (health-related) costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user.” (Cannabis, Tobacco and Alcohol Use in Canada)

I can’t recall the last time I heard of some high-flying husband beating his wife and children; it’s hard to be aggressive when you’re giggling. That’s said somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but in all my life I have never encountered an angry pot user, whereas the number of bar fights that go on in cities and towns all around America, followed by nights in the slammer and subsequent taking out of infantile anger on innocent domestic partners and children is beyond anyone’s ability to count. The same holds true for violent crime, sexual assault and date rape.

Ask any emergency-room doc, nurse, or EMT: alcohol use contributes to reckless behavior and serious injuries, and it is highly associated with emergency room visits; such visits directly associated with cannabis would hardly make a blip on the radar.

Take the Money Away From the Criminal Element

Drug tunnels like these, as well as illegal farms in national forests and elsewhere, with all their associated risks to innocent citizenry, would become a thing of the past if cannabis were freely available, regulated and taxed in the same way tobacco is.

“The libertarian Cato Institute just issued a detailed statistical analysis on how ending prohibition – a favored term for supporters of pot reform – could help America’s budget woes. According to the much-discussed study, legalizing all illicit drugs would save the government $41.3 billion a year in law-enforcement costs and generate some $46.7 billion in tax revenue; marijuana would account for $8.7 billion of the savings, and another $8.7 billion in taxes. Legalized marijuana would certainly help fatten state coffers in debt-crippled California, where pot is the biggest agricultural crop, with $14 billion a year in sales that never appear on tax returns.” (Newsweek, “The Conservative Case for Legalizing Pot”).

Further thoughts on the tax advantages appeared in the LA Times on 8/27/10.

Prosecution of recreational THC users and those who require it for valid medical reasons is wasting billions of tax dollars directly and indirectly, and taking valuable law enforcement hours away from issues that are significantly more important. Based on everything I’ve seen, heard and read, legalization will have a negligible impact on usage which is already there, and will have societal benefits far greater than any potential increase in disadvantages.

I’m by no means for blanket legalization of all illicit drugs, but at this point marijuana appears to be a no-brainer in terms of cost-benefit analysis. The usage is already there. In a sense, not legalizing it is an immoral act, given how much blood and carnage is resulting from the activity of the Mexican cartels which we are directly funding.

If people could walk down to their local package store for some quality-controlled, legal cannabis, who in their right mind would risk buying it from illegal sources? The illegal marijuana market would simply dry up.

There will be those who question why I’m taking such a position, especially in light of my own religion’s stance on the use of things as mild as tea and coffee, let alone alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs. Make no mistake: I’m convinced that if people would give up the use of all harmful and/or addictive substances, the physical, emotional and spiritual health of our nation would rise dramatically, and countless billions of dollars would be saved. That said, I am simply looking at the numbers. Legalization would save lives, free up law-enforcement resources, and redirect funds from the criminal element to other critical social needs. I can’t look at it any other way.

Progress is being made. Canada has legalized marijuana, and just this week they experienced a severe legal problem: there isn’t enough of it.

In the United States, the non-medical use of cannabis is decriminalized in 13 states (plus the U.S. Virgin Islands), and legalized in another 10 states (plus the District of Columbia and Northern Mariana Islands), as of November 2018. (Wikipedia)

It’s time to get cannabis out of the hands of criminals, and good people – who have committed an offense no worse than a three-martini lunch – out of prison.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Zumwalt-class Destroyer

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Currently under construction at Bath Iron Works in Maine, the second Zumwalt-class destroyer being readied after sea trials. The first, the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) was commissioned 15 October 2016, and this one – the Michael Monsoor – is slated for commisisoning in January 2019 (Estimated).

[This photo was taken on a lighthouse-viewing cruise out of Boothbay harbor. Not pictured is the Security tug floating very prominently between us and the ship, making sure our boat didn’t get too close.]

A lot of information about this class of ships can be found at Wikipedia.

The military funding and procurement process is a byzantine labyrinth that few can understand, fraught with politics and pork-barrel legislation and contractors vying for a slot at the government trough. But the story behind this project beggars the imagination, given that the Navy originally wanted 32 of these destroyers, and ultimately settled for three, with $9.6 billion in R&D costs spread over all three ships for a total cost of $7.5 billion per ship.

As if that weren’t bad enough, this class of vessel was designed around an Advanced Gun System, but the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) that was the only projectile usable turned out to be so expensive after the scale-back of the destroyer program, between, $800,000 and $1 million per shell (per shell!) that the program was cancelled altogether.  Designing a new shell would involve retrofitting the AGS, also unfeasible, and the Navy was left struggling to figure out how to re-purpose an obsoleted multi-billion dollar ship.

For what it’s worth, the ship does have some intriguing qualities, including its ultra-low radar profile, but one is left to wonder how such massive fiscal cock-ups could be allowed to occur.

According to Ed Prince, a political pundit who worked on numerous campaigns, there are five basic reasons for cost overruns in defense contracts.

  1. Congress/military keeps changing the specs. Nothing increases the costs like having to make changes mid-way through production. It also delays the production which increases prices.
  2. Conflicting needs missions of the armament. In an attempt to keep costs down, weapon systems will have to do multiple duties to meet the different demands of the military so instead of a clean, straight-forward system, a much more complicated one gets authorized even if it more costly.
  3. In an effort to curry favor with Congress, weapons manufacturers scatter the development and manufacturing process to as many Congressional districts as possible which is hardly an efficient way to build things and invariably causes over-runs.
  4. The current system often relies on former military personnel who have retired and then gone to work for the defense industry where they can earn many multiples of their military salary. It does not make for efficient oversight.
  5. Reality. If a program is going over-budget, what can the military do? Cancel the project? Presumably, they still want it. That would delay it even longer and that’s assuming that there is another contractor capable of producing the system.

Clearly, there may be a whole host of other reasons, but these seem reasonable to the layman’s eye. And since I’m neither an economist nor a military strategist, I really have no solutions to offer – but as a taxpayer, I know that this kind of expenditure, along with failed projects that have nothing to show for the money spent, rub me the wrong way. (The F-22 Raptor, close to $80 billion spent on 187 aircraft, has seen some service, but remains fraught with operational and training problems.)

Lately, despite 45’s tax cuts (which have been definitively shown to favor the wealthy over the course of the next 10 years), I keep feeling that tax season is creeping more and more in this direction:

2018 Tax Form

Now I know taxes are necessary in any republic the size of the USA, but I wish taxpayers had the right and privilege of indicating where their taxes were going. I’d be tempted to give all my taxes to the arts and education, and let the Navy hold a bake sale for their next advanced technology program.

No, that’s not practical, and the Constitution provides for the Common Defense, so a certain amount to maintain our armed forces is necessary, but I wish our legislators had more fiscal responsibility toward their taxpayers than to the lobbyists and corporations that fill their re-election war chests. That’s why it’s important for concerned citizens who favor progressive government to get their fannies into the voting booths this November, and henceforth forevermore.

In that vein, I realized that just a couple of tweaks to a famous song recorded by Nancy Sinatra makes it very relevant to today’s political landscape (with apologies to Lee Hazelwood!)

You keep saying you got something for me
Something you call yuuuuge but confess
You’ve been a’messin’ where you shouldn’t ‘ve been a’messin’
And now someone else is getting all your best

These booths are made for voting
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these booths are gonna vote all over you.

You keep lyin’ when you oughta be truthin’
You keep losing when you oughta not bet
You keep samin’ when you oughta be a’changin’
Now what’s right is right but you ain’t been right yet

These booths are made for voting
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these booths are gonna vote all over you.

You keep playing where you shouldn’t be playing
And you keep thinking that you’ll never get burnt (HAH)
I just found me a brand new box of matches (YEAH)
And what he knows you ain’t had time to learn

These booths are made for voting
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these booths are gonna vote all over you.

Are you ready, booths? Start start votin’!

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Guns are in America’s DNA

Australia

After the Port Arthur massacre in Australia, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard said, “We have an opportunity in this country not to go down the American path.” And they took that opportunity: Australia banned semi-automatic rifles and shotguns – weapons that can kill many people quickly – and implemented a 28-day waiting period, thorough background checks, and a requirement to present a “justifiable reason” to own a gun.

Guns were not banned outright, and while gun violence did not end in Australia, it was cut by roughly half since 1996 – and there has never been another Port Arthur since.

United Kingdom

In 1987, a single gunman killed 16 people in what came to be known as the Hungerford Massacre. As a result, made registration mandatory for owning shotguns and banning semi-automatic and pump-action weapons.

Despite this action, in 1996 an unspeakable, cowardly bastard burst into the gymnasium of a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland, and killed 15 children aged five and six along with their teacher before turning one of his handguns on himself. By 18 months later, UK lawmakers had passed a ban on the private ownership of all handguns in mainland Britain, resulting in some of the toughest anti-gun legislation in the world.

The United States

In the first month and a half of 2018, there had been 17 shooting incidents at schools in our country. Some were accidental, some were intentional, one was suicide, and some resulted in no injury or death – but 22 people died, and many more were injured. As of this writing, there have been 290 school shootings since 2013.

Even one is too many.

But the odds that the United States will ever ban firearms outright approach my odds of winning the lottery – that is to say, virtually nonexistent.

From where I sit, there are two dominant reasons for this, reasons which have the weight of history behind them.

1. The right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to our Constitution:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The interpretation of the scope of that statement, in the absence of the people who framed it, is being examined in courts on a continual basis. More about this in a bit.

2. Firearms are an integral part of our nation’s history

For better or for worse, our nation’s history depended on firearms. The expanding frontier and the uncertainties of life in a lawless country made owning a firearm (or an armory) often meant the difference between survival and becoming a nameless skeleton on the prairie.

write

“Why don’t she write?”

But after surviving the hostile elements, there was still the matter of putting food on the table. Hunting in American has morphed from a matter of daily bread to a wildly popular sport; in Utah, for example, teachers expect classrooms to be oddly empty during the deer hunt.

When I was growing up, guns were everywhere. It may be why “A Christmas Story” is such a popular movie with a certain generation:

Image result for Red Ryder BB Gun

Ads for air rifles and BB guns were seen in just about every comic book:

daisy.JPG

At summer camp, we had a BB range and a rifle range. I loved riflery, and in 1964 I attained the Junior NRA rank of “Sharpshooter 2nd Bar.” I would have certainly gone farther had I been able to attend camp more frequently – target shooting was a lot of fun, and I was proud to have earned these.

medals

I owned many toy guns and weapons of mass destruction when I was a kid – and playing “cops and robbers” and “cowboys and Indians” was just what was done.

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davenport.gif

In our games, when you got shot dead you always just got up again… even if they got you right behind the davenport. While our riflery instructor was impeccably serious about safety on the range, there was never any training given on how to handle a gun safely in the real world, or education around the fact that guns were designed to kill things instead of hit targets at 50 feet, or that when you’re dead, that’s it – there’s no coming back for a second chance.

The fact that guns are written into America’s DNA has allowed the NRA to morph from an organization for sports enthusiasts into a powerful political entity – one which seems determined to preserve and expand its influence at all costs. And their “cold dead hands,” any weapon, any time, any caliber, any size, any magazine, any bump-stock philosophy has been adopted by a significant portion of our citizenry, including a significant number of our legislators who take obscene amounts of money from the NRA, all the while sending their “thoughts and prayers” to the victims without being willing to do anything about the carnage.

The recent shooting at Parkland left 17 people dead. I haven’t even mentioned other gun-related deaths, such as the one in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and injured 851.

It’s time for a change.

Yes, the 2nd Amendment still guarantees our citizenry the right to bear arms, but I do not believe – I will not believe – that the writers of that amendment  ever meant for a single individual to own something like this, unless the zombie apocalypse were a real possibility:

awesome-arms-cache-gun-room-with-blue-walls

Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative voice on the Supreme Court, wrote:

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

I personally believe that the writers of the 2nd Amendment would be shocked if they saw how that little bit of the Constitution was being interpreted and argued and implemented today, especially if they viewed the daily carnage in a nation with between 270 million to 310 million firearms, depending on whose estimate you believe.

As long as the 2nd Amendment remains in force, we as citizens of this country must balance a right to bear arms with an end to the daily death toll which has reached untenable proportions – indeed, has been unbearable for decades.

If you want to own a gun, this is how it should go:

  1. You take “Firearm Education,” a government-approved class on firearm operation and safety. (Note that many states mandate a driver’s ed class of at least 30 hours.)
  2. You take a written and practical test on the type of firearm for which you wish an endorsement.
  3. You submit to a background check. The current Brady Law mandates use of the NICS, but as we have seen with the Florida and Las Vegas shootings, past actions are not always an indicator of future ones. Too many red flags were missed in the case of the perpetrators; more needs to be done to keep weapons out of the hands of unstable individuals.
  4. Your guns are registered, licensed, and taxed, just like your cars are. Nobody tells you how many cars you can own, or of what kind, as long as you’re licensed to drive them and pay all relevant taxes and fees.
  5. You have liability insurance on each weapon.
  6. Your weapons are inspected and re-registered at yearly intervals, just like your car. Aside from the die-hard sovereign-nation groups, nobody complains about having to re-register cars, or pay excise taxes, or have them inspected for safety, or maintain current insurance. It’s for everyone’s safety, owner and public alike.

In addition to this, I call for a total ban on semiautomatic weapons in the hands of private individuals. They are weapons of war; nobody needs one of these killing machines for hunting, or for any other purpose short of the above-mentioned zombie apocalypse. Bump stocks are a no-brainer – they make no sense.

I have many gun-toting, sharpshooting, hunting, and reloading friends who will disagree with my opinions, but that’s how America works. This is such a highly-charged issue that I debated about disabling comments on this post, but I have always supported civil discourse on difficult issues. Ignorant and trollish comments will be ignored and deleted without ceremony.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Drug Pricing Maze

I’m grateful to have health insurance. Many, many people don’t, and that’s an ongoing debate in our society right now. That said, I absolutely don’t understand what’s going on with drug prices.

I get my long-term scripts filled by Magellan, a mail-order pharmacy. When my last batch of prescriptions was delivered, the printed circulars that came with them had some interesting information that got me thinking.

These are all very common drugs, not rare ones. Actual drug names have been replaced with ℞ A, ℞ B, and ℞ C.


℞ A: The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of ℞ A is around $4.00, 90% off the average retail price of $43.29 (30-day supply)

OTC versions, for comparison:

Amazon: $27.96
Walmart: $8.00
Kroger: $17.06
Costco: $19.26

Magellan states that the ℞ price for a 90-day supply is $187.20
With Insurance: $10.00
Cash discount: $10.00
Net price: 0

So I ended up getting this one for free.


℞ B: (GoodRx) The cost for ℞ B is around $13 for a supply of 90 capsules, depending on the pharmacy you visit. Prices are for cash paying customers only and are not valid with insurance plans.

This drug is not available over the counter.

Magellan states that the ℞ price for a 90-day supply is $397.22
With Insurance: $10.00


℞ C: The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of ℞ C is around $10.54, 92% off the average retail price of $134.99 (30-day supply)

Not available OTC.

Magellan states that the ℞ price for a 90-day supply is $450.00
With Insurance: $10.00


So I’ve paid $20.00 for scripts that should have cost me $1034.42

These numbers from Magellan just don’t add up. Are these “self-pay” prices, or just randomly inflated numbers to make me think I’m getting a killer deal? What is the “average retail price” anyway, if nobody pays that?

I found this article at Lifehacker, and it addresses the issue that I mention here – but even after reading the article, to me it is still a mass of confusion. And I realize that in terms of the complexity of the entire situation, what I’ve outlined is just the frost on the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet.

The situation is untenable, and I can clearly not choose the drugs in front of me.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Did you know the Post Office sells your information?

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I wish I had known this long ago. I would never have put in forwarding requests. It’s mean, it’s ignorant, and from a moral standpoint it’s downright reprehensible – but it’s legal, and they do it gleefully to get gain.

After our recent move to the wilds of Utah to the east coast, I put in three forwarding requests – one for our personal mail, and two for businesses. Little did I know that this would cause me no end of trouble, as that information was instantly transmitted to marketing agencies and basically anyone who has two coppers to rub together, and immediately began receiving junk mail and having my new information appear on automatically scraped websites.

Here’s the Forbes article I found – a bit dated, but still valid – that opened my eyes to this dirty little secret.

Whenever you fill out a change of address form with the United States Postal Service, the USPS adds your new details into a database of 160 million previous address changes over the past four years. The USPS has deals with data brokers to sell this data to anyone who pays, provided they have your old address. That means data firms cannot buy the address of Leroy Jones in Cincinnati, but can obtain his new address if they know where he used to live, which they usually do anyway.

This is, in a word, filthy. The PO’s responsibility is to get my mail from here to there, and that’s where their responsibility ends. To take people’s personal info and sell it to data brokers is nothing short of criminal, and it shouldn’t be permitted.

So this time, when we move from our temporary apartment to the home that we will – it is to be hoped – shortly be purchasing, I will not be relying on the PO to forward my mail. In plenty of time, I hope to inform our critical correspondents of our new address individually, and let the junk mail  get returned to sender.

There is supposedly a loophole, although I don’t know if I trust the Post Office as far as I could throw a grand piano:

There is, however, a loophole that keeps data brokers from accessing your updated address. When you fill out the online form to change an address, you can indicate a temporary change that provides six months of forwarding that can then be extended for another six months.  That information, unlike the changes marked as permanent, is not included in the master list sold to data brokers.

Time will tell.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The People Here *still* Don’t Want a War.

Newser, one of my favorite aggregators, recently published a summary of an article by Stephen Peter Rosen at Wall Street Journal entitled

We Need to Sell Young People on War

Even though the body of the article is behind a paywall, if Newser’s summary is any indication this entire premise is pure kack. Never forget that Congress and the President make war, but it’s our soldiers who fight them; to the latter, honor and respect – to the former, my disdain. If every congressperson who voted to waste noble American blood and resources on futile and inhumane causes were given a weapon and shipped to the front lines, the votes would quickly be different. As Chaucer spake, moste witerliche:

“Up roos tho oon of thise olde wise, and with his hand made contenaunce that men sholde holden hem stille and yeven hym audience. “Lordynges,” quod he, “ther is ful many a man that crieth ‘Werre! Werre!’ that woot ful litel what werre amounteth. Werre at his bigynnyng hath so greet an entryng and so large, that every wight may entre whan hym liketh, and lightly fynde werre; but certes, what ende that shal therof bifalle, it is nat light to knowe. For soothly, whan that werre is ones bigonne, ther is ful many a child unborn of his mooder that shal sterve yong by cause of thilke werre, or elles lyve in sorwe and dye in wrecchednesse. And therfore, er that any werre bigynne, men moste have greet conseil and greet deliberacion.”

For those not comfortable with Middle English, this is what Chaucer wrote:

“And up rose an old man, and with his hand he made signs that men should be silent and listen to him. “My lords,” he said, there is many a man who cries ‘War! War!’ who knows little of what war means. War, at its beginning, has such a great and large commencement that any poor yutz [my translation] can jump in and find war; but it is certain that it is not easy to say what the end will bring. For of a truth, when that war has once begun, there is many an unborn child who shall die young because of this war, or else live in sorrow and die in wretchedness. And therefore, before any war begins, men must have great counsel and deliberation.”

The only reason war is justified – in my poor and simple view, is to “support our lands, and our houses, and our wives, and our children, that we might preserve them from the hands of our enemies; and also that we might preserve our rights and our privileges, and our liberty.”  [1] Insane conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, waged to preserve what we consider to be our oil, our power, and our influence do not now fall under this head, and never shall.

Take note: I believe in a strong defense against all enemies foreign and domestic. I do not believe in disbanding the military. But I do believe that a vast percentage of our nation’s resources are being squandered on inhuman and inhumane causes. Have a look at the OMB’s chart showing the president’s 2014 recommendations for discretionary spending:

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With so many people in this country out of work, with so many children going to bed hungry every night, with so many roads and bridges crumbling to the point of catastrophe, with funding for education and science being cut year by year, a military budget that size is unconscionable and obscene. This is not building a world that works for everyone, but a travesty of global proportions.

With apologies to Bobby Darin, the people here *still* don’t want a war.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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[1] Paraphrased from The Book of Mormon, Alma 43:9