Category Archives: Ethics

The Road to Any Damascus is Laden with Potholes

The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings, for it destroys the world in which you live.
– Nisargadatta Maharaj

I don’t know anything about this person, but I can say from my own personal experience, it’s absolutely true. If life has taught me anything, ”don’t steer clear of the tough questions, or even those you don’t have answers”. There are many more questions than any of us currently have answers, and even some in which we think we do, we may very well be wrong.

behaviorial-change-intention-chart

For most of us, perception is reality. It drives our everyday decisions, but moreover, through assumptions, attitudes, observations, intentions, and habits, our behavior is altered. We do become what we think, so perhaps that’s the thing that creates within me, a desire to find out for myself. I know that I don’t have answers for many of life’s tough questions. I gain insight through the help of others. Ultimately, it falls on me to make my discoveries and choices.

Whenever you contemplate your own existence, how you or others perceive the world in which you live, it may not match reality. Furthermore, you may not even be aware of your misconceptions. Worse still, if you do nothing to challenge your own assumptions or those of other people, you’re stuck in a fundamental crossroad between reality and wishful, maybe even harmful, thinking.

No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!
~ Nietzsche

I’ve posted personal information before about my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”). I’ve also posted that I left that organization over 20 years ago. I still have a few friends who are members. None of my adult children, at the time of this writing, have any affiliation with that organization. It’s their own choice. Their mother still believes in this religious organization. I left it a few years after my divorce. Those two events aren’t connected.

What do Mormons believe about general inquiry & introspection?
The LDS Church “Mormons” believe that freedom of choice, “agency” is an eternal principle. Agency is the fundamental right of any individual to choose between good and bad, and to act for themselves.

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” ~ 2 Nephi 2:27.

The LDS Church (easier to abbreviate than the longer official title), informs its members to read official “canonized” religious texts, ponder, and pray for personal answers to any questions they might have. They’re to develop a personal relationship with God. The religion is based on inquiry and individual revelation. If however, you come up with a different answer than that which has been given through official channels of communication, then you’re to accept the church answer, and re-think your own in attempting to further understand the basis of your differences.
For more information specific go here:
https://www.mormon.org/beliefs

question_button_imageThe purpose of giving you that brief background, if you’re not familiar with the organization, isn’t to examine any religion, it’s just to examine specific portions of their beliefs, and learn how your methods of finding answers, compare. It’s not so important that you have specific knowledge about any religion for this post to be relevant. What’s important is asking, how do you gain insight about the world around you, and how do you challenge your own beliefs? Most of us come to a “world view”, fairly early on in our life. We may revise it along the way, but peer (the society in which we live) pressure, often steers us into a general consensus with those to whom we associate.


How do you decide what’s correct and what’s false?
If you’re honest, at least with yourself, you know that’s not an easy process. So what do you read, listen to, or watch to help guide you in life’s journey? If you choose to respond, I’m looking for things more in depth than, you go for long walks in the woods. I’m not suggesting that you don’t or that it’s not a good idea. I’m looking for more specifics. What do you do?

“Your true educators and cultivators will reveal to you the original sense and basic stuff of your being, something that is not ultimately amenable to education or cultivation by anyone else, but that is always difficult to access, something bound and immobilized; your educators cannot go beyond being your liberators. And that is the secret of all true culture: she does not present us with artificial limbs, wax-noses, bespectacled eyes — for such gifts leave us merely with a sham image of education. She is liberation instead, pulling weeds, removing rubble, chasing away the pests that would gnaw at the tender roots and shoots of the plant; she is an effusion of light and warmth, a tender trickle of nightly rain…” ~ Parker Palmer

There are quite a few followers to this blog. Some have made it official by clicking on the link below, to follow. I’m not asking you to follow me, I see the statistics, but most of you are silent. I know better than assume you don’t have an opinion. I want to read yours. Don’t be bashful, be candid. Please, if you’re just someone that wants to come in and shout and stomp so that you can get attention, take your circus elsewhere. I’m looking for people who have taken the time to think this sort of thing through. cartoon-people-clapping

I’m also not looking for this to be about an open forum on religion. I’ve heard the canned answers, the public sermons, the pat answers. Let’s make this interesting.


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Do We Have a Gun Problem?

The reaction by the public varies after another school or public place shooting. Whenever such a horrific crime occurs, there’s a huge outpouring of emotions, which is understandable.  There are all types of opinions expressed on what should be done, but before we decide on a solution, shouldn’t we first understand the problem?

The U.S. population increased from 133 million in 1945 to 313 million in 2012. A 235% increase in population.

In 1945 there was an estimate of 47 million guns. At the end of 2012, it is estimated there were 347 million. That’s a 738% increase.

The number of firearms confiscated and destroyed or sold to buybacks, wear, abuse, neglect and are lost, are not figured in, so the total number may be lower than 347 million.

The term homicide is used when a human being is killed by another human being. Criminal homicide takes several forms, for example murder; but homicide is not always a crime, it also includes affirmative defense, insanity, self-defense or the execution of convicted criminals. Gun deaths are only a portion of the total number of homicides.

Taking into account all homicides in 1950 compared to 2012, we see a slight increase. This number as defined above, doesn’t just isolate homicides by firearm, it includes everything, criminal as well as non-criminal. The number of homicides in the US per 100,000 in 1950 were 5.1 • The number for 2012 ▪▪ 5.4

Even though we had a large increase in population, and an even larger number of known available guns, there doesn’t seem to be a significant statistical increase in homicides.

In the decade following the banning of handguns in the UK in 1997, the number of recorded violent attacks increasd by 77% to 1.2 million in 2007- or more than 2 attacks every minute!

The war on drugs in the United States has taken on a civil, enforcement, criminal, judicial struggle apart from all others. The results to the ban of illegal drugs, as well as theft and reselling of legal drugs has gone on unabated. Deaths from drug overdoses in the United States significantly increased from 17,000 in 1999 to 41,000 in 2012.

If the claim is, we have a gun problem, where’s the evidence? We have had an increase in population of over 235%, and an increase in known available firearms of over 700%, yet the overall homicide rate has barely increased.

Moreover, shouldn’t we be looking toward solutions to prevent murders in our schools that seem to be working at airports, government buildings, and sports venues? It seems reasonable to suggest that preventing someone from entering a school with a weapon is more effective than a sign which claims the area to be a gun free zone.

 

 

Russia – Trump – Clinton – Saga

US flag WhitehouseThe Russia Investigation will eventually run its course, but despite the motivations of it, we should be willing to understand these 2016 election facts.

Hillary, in spite of her ‘fait accompli’, experience, or the many allegations, lost an important national campaign for president against a historically unpopular, politically inexperienced, misogynistic, boastful, inconsiderate, rude, willfully ignorant, and compulsive liar.

Hillary Rodham Clinton Speaks At The University Of Miami

Hillary Clinton – explains it’s everyone’s fault but hers

It’s not the fault of the FBI, or the Russians, that made a difference, she still could have won. What she failed to do was visit Wisconsin, hardly paid attention to Michigan, and Pennsylvania. She lost by very narrow margins in those states.Whatever your perception of the embassy attack in Libya, the fact was the attack at Benghazi went on for hours, without any outside support. As a matter of fact, the support ready and willing to go was ordered to stand down. Even if Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State didn’t issue such orders, her response when asked about her lack of being in the loop, “What difference does it make”, coupled with earlier false assertions by her and others, it was motivated by a video critical of Muslims.

Then we saw her response to using private email servers in her home, for classified government communications, maintained by a private “uncertified” tech support company, as if that’s perfectly OK. It was another demonstration of, she will do what she wants, public interests be damned.

Even if you didn’t know or care these things mattered, to many voters it did. She even lost some support within her own party after it was revealed how her campaign undermined the Bernie Sanders primary campaign. It was seen by many as, she would do whatever she thought necessary, to win. That was another blow to her credibility / integrity.

It was a campaign on the slow drip of morphine, oblivious to the impact of the activities of the Clinton Foundation, which curried favor to individuals or organizations making large donations. It was another set of denials to make in the face of mounting evidence.

Donald Trump - running for President in 2016So, here we are, left with someone who knew how to self promote and is now routinely attacked in the media. It’s as if the national humiliation of the woman they all thought would be the next president, could be erased, or at least the person responsible for her defeat could be shown to be as big of a scoundrel as a large number of voters thought Hillary Clinton was, and even more incompetent.

 Official Government Report on the Benghazi Embassy 

The report says there were no undue delays in responding to the attacks, and they pointedly rejected unfounded allegations that the U.S. response was deliberately thwarted by a “stand down” order.

Quite the contrary: the safe evacuation of all U.S. government personnel from Benghazi twelve hours after the initial attack and subsequently to Ramstein Air Force Base was the result of exceptional U.S. government coordination and military response, the independent Accountability Review Board concluded in its Dec. 18, 2012, report.

Note by author: Like most government cover ups, those who continued to work for it, compromised their stories to preserve their jobs and reputations. The accusation of a stand down order wasn’t about the local CIA operatives, they responded quickly. Army Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson located in Tripoli said; “I was not ordered to stand down. I was ordered to remain in place,” Gibson told the House Armed Services Committee. ” The Tripoli team arrived in Benghazi in about an hour, but it was delayed at the airport “for at least three hours,” according to the Senate homeland security committee report. They later concluded the delay was caused by operation confusion, “miscalculation”, not a deliberate effort to thwart the rescue. It wasn’t necessary to have additional boots on the ground immediately. The GRS force in defense of the compound was standing by to laser guide any support aircraft which could have been there in approximately 1 hour.

“General Ham was head of AFRICOM and Commander of the 2011 US-NATO operation to depose Gadhafi in Libya. Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette was in command of the Carrier Strike Group Three (CSG-3), then deployed in Middle Eastern waters during the attack on Benghazi.” 

“Both Ham and Rear Admiral Gaouette reported receiving the same desperate cables for additional security and backup that Obama administration officials received and ignored from Benghazi.”

“General Ham and Gaouette attempted to launch ready response teams in the region capable of provided the much needed assistance during the seven hour long assault on Benghazi. Both were then relieved of command for their actions, described by the US Military as “allegations of inappropriate leadership judgment.”

“General Ham immediately had a rapid response unit ready and communicated to the Pentagon that he had a unit ready to deploy to Benghazi. Then, General Ham received the order to stand down. His response was “screw it,” – he was going to help anyway.”

“Within minutes after issuing an order to deploy his ready response team, Ham’s second in command apprehended the General and told him that he was now relieved of his command. Ham knows who issued the order to STAND DOWN as well as the order to relieve him of his command at AFRICOM.”

“Gaouette readied vital intelligence and communications operations for an extraction effort to be launched by Ham.”

“Stars and Stripes reported October 18, 2012 that General Ham is being replaced by Gen. David Rodriguez. They also reported on October 27, 2012 that Adm. Gaouette is being replaced by Rear Adm. Troy M. Shoemaker. The Navy stated that it was “replacing the admiral in command of an aircraft carrier strike group in the Middle East, pending the outcome of an internal investigation into undisclosed allegations of inappropriate judgment.”

Notes from the Pentagon Investigation:

Q: But do you think, you know, if an F-15, if the military had allowed a jet to go fly over, that it might have prevented [the second attack]?
A: Yeah, and if we had gotten clearance from the Libyan military for an American plane to fly over Libyan airspace. The Libyans that I talked to and the Libyans and other Americans who were involved in the war have told me also that Libyan revolutionaries were very cognizant of the impact that American and NATO airpower had with respect to their victory. They are under no illusions that American and NATO airpower won that war for them. And so, in my personal opinion, a fast-mover flying over Benghazi at some point, you know, as soon as possible might very well have prevented some of the bad things that happened that night.

Benghazi_embassy_interior

Response to Hillary Clinton’s use of Personal Servers for State Department Email

Note by author: The use of private, personal servers for official government communications at a State Department level was one of the most glaring bad judgement calls made by Hillary Clinton. No matter what her motivations were, the fact that she wasn’t concerned about the ramifications, and to use language which attempted to portray this as something innocent, assumes great naivete of the electorate on how classified material is supposed to be handled. Many of us have served in a capacity, either in the military or for contractors which are required to handle communications in the strictest and most secure methods as required by government. The NSA has for many years posted guidelines for private companies on how to maintain security. With Clinton working as head of the State Department, she was required to uphold these regulations.

I’ve heard many excuses, or the explanation as described in the above link, “the State Department’s track record for its own email security isn’t exactly spotless”, “there’s no evidence these servers were hacked.” Perhaps that’s true, but the same couldn’t be said for the DNC, and many of it’s users were the same people communicating on the Clinton email servers.

At the Department of State, there is accountability for the security of email systems. If we learned that State’s email servers had been hacked or left needlessly vulnerable, there would be investigations and consequences. With Clinton’s off-the-books scheme, there are only questions.

“… there have been five separate security vulnerabilities identified with Outlook Web Access since ClintonEmail.com was registered in 2009. These security bugs include doozies like “a flaw that may lead to an unauthorized information disclosure” (2010) and “a remote attacker can gain access to arbitrary files.” (2014).

heartbleed security bug

Heartbleed was unknown but active during her tenure as Secretary of State

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