Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Request to Require -- Tolerate to Mandate

In its early days, what we now know as the “LGBT Community” begged society for tolerance of “alternative lifestyles.” Then it asked for acceptance. After gaining some measure of political clout, it demanded “rights.” Lately, it is imposing conformity by legislating civil penalties against people who adhere to biological facts and religious beliefs about LGBT issues. How soon before it criminalizes dissent? How soon will we discover as Cool Hand Luke did that if you don’t, “Get your mind right,” you’ll “spend a night in the box.”

Last week I saw two stories alerting me that it’s just around the corner. The first was in National Review about a former 30-year Emergency Room doctor in the UK who didn’t have his mind right and was fired. His offense? He said he wouldn’t use a “preferred pronoun” when treating a hypothetical “transexual.” He’d refuse to call a man who claimed he was a woman “she.” He said — as a scientist — that it’s impossible for a man to change into a woman. “If somebody has male XY chromosomes and male genitalia,” he said, “I cannot in good conscience call them a woman.” As a Christian, he believes God created humans: “Man and woman he created them,” he said, citing Genesis, Chapter 5: Verse 2.

Dr. Mackereth
Doctors in the UK, however, work for the government and the LGBT lobby mandates conformity from all government employees. It determined that Dr. David Mackereth didn’t have his mind right and could no longer practice medicine. At fifty-five, he was out of a job. Government would force him to ignore science, deny his religious faith, and lie in order to continue practicing. “I knew it could be the end of my work as a doctor,” he said, “but I could not live with myself if I didn’t speak up. It would be dishonest — and I didn’t want to live a lie.”

The second story was in The Federalist: “Starting July 1, 2020, all Illinois public schools are legally required to teach children LGBT history and only buy textbooks that include the topic. NPR affiliate Illinois Public Radio labeled Christian and conservative opposition to this law while it was being considered as stemming from ‘hate groups.’”

According to government-sponsored radio in Illinois, Catholics who believe Catholic doctrine that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered belong to a “hate group.” How long before Catholics are charged with “hate crimes” and imprisoned?

I’ve watched the steady advance of leftist control in public education ever since my own career began in 1975. In 2000, I had to pick out a textbook for 8th graders, but all texts by the standard publishers contained a pronounced left-wing bias and they were costly. I told the principal if I could pick save him money and purchase two cheaper texts for each student: leftist A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and conservative: A Patriot’s History of the United States by Schweikart & Allen — I could get both for far less the price of one standard text. I could then compare and contrast perspectives in each of my lessons. He said that would be fine if I were to continue teaching, but what if I retired? What was the likelihood that whoever replaced me could do that?

I had to admit it wasn’t likely and had to pick one of the standard, leftist texts: Prentice Hall’s The American Nation, the most-used text in the country at the time. I didn’t like it but figured I would offer students contrasting perspectives from other sources when the bias got too strong. As bad as The American Nation was, it seems middle of the road now compared to what is mandated in Illinois — as well as in California, Colorado, New Jersey, and Oregon where similar laws have been passed. The left controls education thoroughly now, kindergarten to graduate school, and the LGBT lobby is riding high.

Illinois teachers' guide from Human Rights Campaign
Illinois’ Evanston/Skokie schools adopted a curriculum like what will be mandatory next year across the state. The equal sign logo of the Human Rights Campaign — the nation's largest, most powerful LGBT lobby — is stamped all over the materials. Children 3-5 are told about Jazz, a boy who wanted to be a girl. They see a video in which he reads from a book about his transition that made him happy. At the end, Jazz says: “To all the kids out there who are seeing this book for the first time, I just want to say that you can be like Jazz. You can be your true self.”

Illinois teachers' guide from Human Rights Campaign
The left insists homosexuals and transgenders are born that way, but what if they aren’t? Research at Brown University strongly suggests that: “‘Rapid-onset gender dysphoria’ [transgenderism] may be a social contagion linked with having friends who identify as LGBT, an identity politics culture, and an increase in internet use.” Are public schools turning into laboratories for LGBT identity culture?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Left & Right October 9, 2019

Jim Wilfong of Stow, Maine again sits in the left chair for this show. We open with a question from our producer: "Do you support Trump's decision to pull troops out of Syria?"

Jim doesn't. He thinks it a very bad idea to abandon our allies, the Kurds, who have helped us at least since the First Iraq War under President George H.W. Bush, and in every operation in the region since. I have mixed feelings about the move.

We go on for some time discussing 100 years in the region's history back to WWI, after which the British and French carved up the former Ottoman Empire into the nation-states as they exist today, but they divided Kurdish tribal areas assigning parts of "Kurdistan" to Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, and not one of those countries is well disposed to the Kurdish minority within its borders. All see the Kurds as a troublesome, rebellious minority of which they'd prefer to rid themselves.

We go into Constitutional history in which the Founders gave Congress the power to declare war until Lyndon Johnson was given the power to conduct the Vietnam War by the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in the 1960s. Then came the War Powers Act of 1973 which limited the president to act only in emergency situations, and then for only 30-60 days until Congress decides the issue. That, however, is being mostly ignored by successive presidents and Congress has allowed them to.

Jim goes into the Petroleum Politics of the region, citing that we are no longer dependent on Persian Gulf oil, but China and Europe are. He says Turkey is strategic as a site for pipelines for getting Russian natural as to southern Europe. Iran and the Emirates are also interested in getting their natural gas out the same way.

We spend more than half the show on these complicated issues in what is collectively called "The Middle East."

Then we shift to impeachment. I read a 1788 Federalist paper quote from Alexander Hamilton on the subject. He saw impeachment as a divisive and political process more than a legal process.

We examine the House "inquiry" going on now and conducted in secret, that media reporting on much of it is by unnamed sources, a "high government official speaking anonymously," and so forth. We compare the impeachment process in the 1860s for Andrew Johnson, in the 1970s for Richard Nixon, and in the 1990s for Bill Clinton with how it's going now. There is a consistent thread for the first three but not for what the Dems are doing to Trump so far in 2019.

Time runs out before we can thoroughly explore the Supreme Court case about a transexual person fired by a funeral home.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Happy Indigenous People's Day!

Santa Maria in Portland Harbor
What struck me most about the Santa Maria was how tiny she is. A replica sailed into Portland Harbor last month and I paid ten dollars to go aboard and look around. More astonishing still was remembering that the Nina and the Pinta — the two caravels sailing with the Santa Maria — were even smaller. There’s only one enclosed space on the biggest ship, and that was where the captain slept. Its fifty-two crew members slept on the open deck of the 117-foot ship, only going below with the cargo when the weather was bad.

Good Columbus

Americans my age were taught to revere Columbus for his intrepid maritime leadership sailing across uncharted waters, holding a mutinous crew together, and discovering what we call America. Now school children are taught that Columbus was a money-grubbing, European, white guy who slaughtered and enslaved innocent Native Americans who only wanted to help him and his men. When Democrats took over Maine government in 2018, they abolished Columbus Day and ordered Maine citizens to celebrate “Indigenous Citizens Day” instead.

Bad Columbus
Not only that, schoolchildren are now taught that Columbus was too dumb to know he had bumped into two previously unknown continents and thought he was in the Indies. So, he called the people he found “Indians,” and they continued to be called that for the next five centuries until progressives insisted they be called Native Americans. Whenever I meet someone who is a real American Indian and looks nothing like Senator Elizabeth Warren, I ask whether he or she wishes to be called Indian or Native American. So far, all have said, “Indian.” Next time I’ll also ask: “How about calling you ’Indigenous Person’?” but I think I know what the answer will be.

In light of all this, I wonder if I should be wishing people “Happy Indigenous People Day” over the weekend in Maine, and “Happy Columbus Day” in New Hampshire since I’m so often driving back and forth across the state line. Will automobile dealerships in Maine be putting on special Indigenous People’s Day Sales? Is it now illegal to sponsor a “Special Columbus Day Sale” over here on Maine’s side of the border?

Since no drawings or plans of the original Santa Maria exist, we cannot know how closely the ship I explored compared to it. All I can say is that it represents the closest guess of what it probably looked like based on other ships in use at the time. I have to wonder if the Spanish crew members knew about what happened in Maine when Democrats returned to power. Would they have sailed right on by Portland if they knew?

Portland Progressives demonstrate
I didn’t see any left-wing demonstrators down there on Commercial Street while I was touring the ship and it doesn’t take much to get them cranked up enough to staple signs to sticks and march down the street chanting. I expected the arrival of Columbus’s ship would have been enough to turn them out. Doing research for this article, I learned that a replica of Nina sank last April in Corpus Christi Texas, but the articles I read said nothing about foul play and the ship was eventually re-floated.

The City of Portland had earlier (2017) abolished Columbus Day before the whole state did it in 2019 but I don’t recall seeing any Indigenous People celebrating the new holiday and I’m often there during the second Monday of October. Come to think of it, I never saw any Spanish Americans or Italian Americans (Columbus was Italian) celebrating when it was called Columbus Day either. I do see people celebrating other holidays like the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but those last two are threatened by progressives as well. The Pilgrims, after all, were also white Europeans. Progressive groups are now claiming that Thanksgiving is “celebrating ongoing genocide.”

And of course, Christmas has been under siege by the left for decades now. Public schools no longer mention the word, calling it “Winter Holiday” instead. People paying homage to political correctness are hesitant to say, “Merry Christmas” outside their own household, wish people “Happy Holidays.” It all makes me wonder: what’s next? Labor Day? The diminishing number of unionized workers still marks the occasion but most of our populace gives it a big ho-hum.

Memorial Day is celebrated and we’ve all known soldiers who have died in recent wars. That holiday should be safe, and Veteran’s Day too. Martin Luther King Day? It’s still relatively new so I guess it’ll be okay for a while. I have come to believe most Americans care much more about getting a paid holiday off from work than whatever it is that day is supposed to commemorate.

It’ll be up to the Spanish now to decide whether they’ll pay future voyages of the Santa Maria to Portland, Maine.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

America's Widening Divide

America’s divisions are deepening. Evidence is everywhere with the primary divide epitomized by the continuing effort to impeach Donald Trump, hatred of whom is palpable. That division existed long before Trump, but he has come to symbolize it since his election in 2016. Opponents see him as a rich white guy and that’s enough to hate him because their world view is that no one becomes a billionaire without robbing the poor and middle classes.
Joe Hill
Hatred of the rich has been a central leftist dynamic since at least the early 20th century when IWW (International Workers of the World) activist Joe Hill inserted his song: The Preacher and the Slave, whose refrain is: “Pie in the sky when you die” into its Little Red Songbook.
You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky; 
Work and pray, live on hay
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die (that’s a lie).

Hill’s song is a sardonic view of Christians who believe in an afterlife and reflecting the Marxist vision that: “Religion… is the opium of the people” which purports that Christian teaching of earthly suffering leading to eternal happiness is a tranquilizer. The left believes a perfect society is achievable here on earth and Christianity impedes progress toward it. The US Constitution was created to limit government and preserve individual liberty and it, too, inhibits the leftist goal of utopian socialism by restricting the growth of government necessary to implement it. Folk singer Joan Baez sang “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night” at Woodstock.

That Trump is supported by the religious right and other conservatives in spite of his narcissistic tweets, his extensive history with marriages, groping women, dalliance with hookers, previous pro-abortion views, petty lying, and verbal abuse toward political rivals bewilders and enrages those on the left who want him gone. Opponents have tried to oust him with Russian collusion allegations, claims of illegal emoluments, calling him racist, obstruction of justice allegations, constructing a 25th Amendment contention of insanity, allegations that he violated campaign finance laws — have all failed. Three years of overwhelmingly negative mainstream media coverage about all that and more have neither put Trump on the defensive nor dented his support.

Though opinion polls show all the top 2020 Democrat candidates beating him, Trump’s opponents fear he’ll win anyway. Democrats controlling the US House of Representatives have suspended all other business in their effort to construct a case for impeachment. They think he’ll get credit for any positive legislation coming across his desk so they’re not passing anything. Socialist Bernie Sanders has long raged about “millionaires and billionaires,” and now so does current Democrat frontrunner Elizabeth Warren. Both have proposed wealth taxes that would confiscate 2% or more of their wealth annually and give it to the poor and middle classes in the form of Medicare for all.

Nearly all Democrat candidates call for a huge expansion of government to “prevent climate change” or the world as we know it will be gone in ten years. They would spend trillions in “reparations” for black slavery and purported genocide of Indians. How that would be done or how it would be financed is unclear. They’re all behind the House impeachment efforts — this time over a phone call to Ukraine purportedly asking a foreign government for assistance against a political rival.

Meanwhile, Trump supporters, while recognizing his narcissism, his marriages, his groping of women, his dalliances with hookers, his previous pro-abortion positions, his petty lies, and his verbal abuse toward political rivals, still defend him. Why? Because they fear an unimpeded expansion of government with its excessive regulation, its choking of economic growth, its infringement on personal liberties, imposing progressive notions of “non-binary” sexuality, and public financing of abortion. They fear leftist control of the federal judiciary, creeping globalism, open borders, socialism, and threats to national sovereignty — all of which they see Trump fighting against.

Trump’s supporters see mainstream media as in league with the Democrat Party and Never-Trump Republicans. They don’t trust the media and are not persuaded by them. When Trump calls the media “the enemy of the people,” they cheer. They know Trump’s opponents consider them unenlightened at best and “irredeemable”; “deplorable”; “xenophobic”; “homophobic”; and “Islamophobic” at worst. They believe Obama Administration officials spied on Trump’s campaign and his transition. They’re convinced that an anti-Trump “deep state” within the federal government continues to sabotage his presidency.

James Hodgkinson before firing on congressional Republicans
Both sides worry about violence. Trump opponents suggest a recent mass shooting in Texas was inspired by Trump rhetoric, as well as demonstrations and a death in Charlottesville last year. Trump supporters point to beatings of conservatives by ANTIFA thugs and a Bernie Sanders supporter opening fire on congressional Republicans. Both sides fear civil strife will escalate after the 2020 elections no matter which side wins. Individual families avoid political discussion fearing it gets so heated that it damages interpersonal relationships.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Left & Right September 25, 2019

Mark Guerringue sits in the left chair for this show. We immediately address the producer's first question: "If President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine as a means of pressuring them to dig up dirt on Joe Biden's son, should he be impeached?"

Mark says Trump and Giuliani have already admitted it, that's an impeachable offense, and Pelosi had no choice. (I should mention that the transcript of the call hadn't been released at this point in the show).

We compare Trump's possible impeachment with Clinton's impeachment, the process as it was begun under Nixon, and could have been under Reagan after the Iran-Contra scandal. We agree that's it's both a political process and a legal one, but mostly a political one.

We discuss how the Clinton impeachment backfired on the Republicans and speculated about how it could backfire against Democrats if they should proceed against Trump.

While we're talking, the producer brings us print-outs of the whistleblower's transcript just being released. Mark reads it and there's some damning stuff, but no smoking gun. Then again, it's only a few pages of a larger transcript.

Mark pivots to the Democrat primaries saying Elizabeth Warren is catching fire, while Bernie is sinking. I refer to that morning's proposal of a "wealth registry" by Bernie to one-up Warren's proposed "Wealth Tax" of taking 2% of the total assets of wealthy people annually. Bernie now wants to freeze their assets and take even more.

I bring up a transcript of a staff meeting in the New York Times last month in which its editor acknowledges how his paper geared up to cover the "Russian Collusion" story which went bust and how disappointed NYT readers were that Trump was still standing. Then the editor said he was gearing up to cover Trump and racism until the 2020 election. I said it was an example of the NYT and other leftist mainstream media orchestrating stories and narratives.

Mark said it was all okay and that's the way newspapers should operate. I said, "Okaaaay..."

Lastly, he brought up the continuing, extensive coverage of a duck killing by some football players at Kennett High School. I said I was amazed that it got so much attention. "I mean, it's a duck," I said. Mark said it was more the reaction of the community that the coach and other school officials should have handed down worse penalties than a three or four-game suspension. He asked me if I agreed. I said I agreed with the coach.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

At the Highland Games in Lincoln, NH

Binary isn’t a dirty word among the Scots. Yes, many of the men wear skirts, but it wouldn’t be a good idea to question the masculinity of a kilt-wearing man at the recent Highland Games in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Generally, I hate crowds, but I willingly endured the throng that turned out for the Scottish soiree last Saturday. The first thing I did was visit the exhibit tent of Clan MacLachlan [Gaelic spelling for McLaughlin], the Scottish branch of my ancestors. 

Old Castle Lachlan on Lachlan Bay in the Scottish Highlands
Gaelic Scotland was settled from northern Ireland. If you stand on the shore of County Antrim in Ulster on a clear day, you can see across the Irish Sea to Scotland. It’s that close. Just to the west of County Antrim is the Inishowen Peninsula where the largest Irish branch of the clan still lives and where my great-grandfather was born. The July/August 2001 edition of Archaeology Magazine explains it this way:
Ireland in the Early Christian period (A.D. 400-1177) was made up of at least 120 chiefdoms, usually described in surviving documents as petty kingdoms, typically having about 700 warriors. One of these petty kingdoms was Dál Riata, which occupied a corner of County Antrim, the island's northeasternmost part. Around A.D. 400, people from Dál Riata began to settle across the Irish Sea along the Scottish coast in County Argyll. Other Irish migrants were also establishing footholds along the coast farther south, as far as Wales and even Cornwall, but the migrants from Dál Riata were especially noteworthy because they were known to the Romans as "Scotti" and they would eventually give their Gaelic language and their name to all of what is now known as Scotland.

 There remain Gaelic-speaking areas in Brittany too. They’re all Celtic, the last vestiges of the ancient tribe the Greeks referred to as Keltoi, or “tall ones.” The Romans called them “Gauls” and Julius Caesar said they called themselves “Celts.” Their original language will likely join Latin as a dead language in just a few more generations. The “tall ones” characterization describes many of the men participating in the Highland Games, the events of which involve the lifting and throwing of various heavy and awkward objects including stones and logs. At 6’5” and 300 lbs, the contestants were as big and brawny as NFL linemen, and they were all wearing kilts.

Clan pride is still fierce — kind of an extension of family honor, and leading, I think, to national pride. Each clan has its own “tartan,” a unique plaid fabric with certain interwoven colors, configurations of which are “owned” by the clan and used to sew kilts, hats, and an over-the-shoulder sash such as you’d see watching movies like “Rob Roy” and “Braveheart.” Also unique to each clan is its heraldry displaying elements of clan history and a slogan. For Clan MacLachlan, the slogan is “Fortis et Fidus,” which means “brave and faithful.”
Men wearing kilts at the Highland games had a confident bearing as if they had internalized Rule #1 of Jordan Peterson’s Twelve Rules for Life: An Antidote For Chaos. “Stand up straight, shoulders back.” They looked straight ahead. They made eye contact. They knew who they were. So did the women.

Isle of Skye Scotland
Another recent book came to mind as I observed people in the crowd. That would be the just-published Primal Screams by Mary Eberstadt, who claims the sexual revolution and related social upheaval of the sixties in America have “… whittled away at our primary attachments [and] have by now deprived a great many people of traditional answers to the question, ‘Who am I?’ These traditional answers involve our relations to others: I am a sister, mother, aunt, cousin, wife, etc. We define our identities relationally … But for a lot of us today, thanks to family vanishing, those fundamental familial building blocks of identity are harder to come by.”
Dancers with the RCMP Pipe and Drum Corps in Lincoln
Belonging to a clan adds another strong layer to all that. Those in attendance at the Highland Games in New Hampshire last weekend were roused by the frequent and riveting rhythms of pipes and drums, symbolic of Celtic heritage. It stirred something deep within me as if it were energizing my DNA. And, who knows? Maybe it was. I felt a certain pride — like I belonged to an ancient and esteemed tradition.

Spontaneous dancers at Albannach performance

Performances including formal marching pipe and drum bands like one from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as well as more primal groups like Albannach, which is Gaelic for Scottish. Albannach really got the blood running in the tent where they put on their show. It was quite infectious. At one point they brought a young bagpiper on stage who couldn’t have been more than five years old. He had to stand on a box so the crowd would see him.

The young bagpiper

Monday, September 16, 2019

New Maine Residents

It’s no big deal to see a wild turkey in Maine anymore. They’re as common as crows these days, but it hasn’t been that long, and I remember the first time I saw one around here. My wife was driving a little school bus in nearby Sweden, Maine when she saw one acting funny beside Knight’s Hill Road after dropping off her last student. Thinking it injured, she took it into the bus and brought it home. I’m not sure I could call it wild though, as it seemed unsure of itself — as if trying to decide whether it was wild or domesticated. That wasn’t too long after Maine had first reintroduced turkeys here in 1978. Now, of course, they’re prolific.

Bald Eagle and Osprey over Kezar Lake
Seeing a bald eagle is becoming routine too. The first time I ever saw one in Lovell, Maine, I saw two. Was it twelve years ago? Fifteen? I’m not sure, but I was doing the dishes at the kitchen sink and noticed two large birds circling each other very high up. I had to squint to notice the white tails, then the white heads. A few years later I saw one in a kind of aerial dogfight with a much smaller osprey over middle bay on Kezar Lake in Lovell. More recently I saw one perched on a branch beside the lake trying to eat a fish as it was being harassed by smaller birds. He flew off clutching the half-eaten fish while being dive-bombed by those pesky little birds.

Harassed Bald Eagle over Kezar Lake
I still stop and stare when I see a bald eagle today because they’re just so majestic, and there aren’t that many of them around yet. About six weeks ago, I saw my first golden eagle soaring above the Spurwink River estuary at Higgins Beach in Scarborough, Maine. I had my 150-600 mm lens with me because I was planning to photograph arctic terns as they dove for small fish. They weren’t active that day and I was about to head back to my vehicle when this huge bird appeared over the water. Someone had told me that goldens are bigger than bald eagles and I figured that must be what I was looking at through my lens. It was huge.
Golden Eagle in Scarborough, Maine
The big bird flew in slow circles looking down to the surface of the estuary for his lunch. He evidently didn’t see anything catchable so he flew back to a perch on a limb on the other side of the river mouth. He was in shadow and I couldn’t get a decent shot of him over there so I waited for him to come back out and go fishing again hoping to get a shot of him diving down and grabbing one. Unfortunately, he never emerged before it was time for me to leave. As soon as I got home I downloaded the images and researched golden eagles to make sure of my identification. It was definitely a golden eagle.

Golden Eagle in Scarborough, Maine
So far I’ve only seen opossum as roadkill here in Maine and have yet to see a live one. It shouldn’t be long before I do though because the roadkill was less than a mile from my house. He wasn’t just “playing possum” as his entrails had burst out over the pavement. Guess I’ll have to study up on their habits so I can hopefully get some shots of a live one.

Last fall I saw a small flock of tannish, heron-like birds with red markings on their heads in the back of a large farm field in nearby North Fryeburg, Maine. I wasn’t sure what they were, but when I saw a notice on Facebook of Maine sightings of sandhill cranes this past summer, I realized what they were. Two weeks ago, I was looking for Indian artifacts along the course of the Old Saco River when I heard their distinct, high-pitched “kuk-err, kuk-err” emanating from a nearby field. I went back to my truck, attached the long lens to my camera, and drove over there.

Sandhill Cranes in Fryeburg
They must have heard me coming because all six or seven of them had turned their heads my way from across the field. I emerged, camera-ready, from my truck and walked slowly toward them. “Kuk-err, kuk-err,” I heard again as they got agitated. I kept walking in their direction until they took off, chattering as they cleared the treetops separating that field from the next. According to an article in the Boothbay Register, there have been nesting pairs of sandhill cranes in Maine since at least the year 2000.

Sandhill Cranes in Fryeburg
It’s big and bulky, but I’ll definitely be packing my long lens on future trips to North Fryeburg — or anywhere else in Maine for that matter. I got myself a larger backpack capable of carrying all I’ll need to photograph all the new residents of our state.