Monday, June 18, 2018

Understanding the OIG Report

Three years ago I agreed with the mainstream media I otherwise disdained, when they said it was a joke. Donald Trump had descended an escalator at his tower and announced his candidacy for president. He didn’t have a chance, I thought. His uncamouflaged narcissism would preclude a serious bid. No one who combed his hair like that could ever win, I thought. Then he won primary after primary and still I agreed with mainstream media: “His campaign is going to fall apart any day now. He’ll say something stupid; his poll numbers will plummet, and that’ll be it. He’ll drop out.”

And he did say stupid things, plenty of them — all joyfully trumpeted by media — but his numbers kept going up. Eventually Ted Cruz, his last serious opponent and my preferred candidate, dropped out. Trump won the Republican nomination. At that point I realized I was actually going to vote for him, but only because I could never vote for Hillary Clinton or the two minor candidates. I wasn’t comfortable with it, but I knew I would do it. As the campaign wore on, however, I found myself in agreement with virtually all his policy positions — and I really liked how he told Hillary to her face she would be in jail if he were president.

On election night I celebrated his victory. If he actually did half the things he said he would, I knew America would be much better off. At about 9:30 pm, I flipped around to NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC and enjoyed the extreme distress on the faces of their talking heads as they realized Trump would actually win. I savored schadenfreude for the rest of the evening and all through the next day.

I believed President Obama’s DOJ and FBI had helped Hillary to avoid indictment for gross negligence in her handling of classified documents on her private server. However, I didn’t realize at the time that, after exonerating her, the Obama Administration had then weaponized the FBI, DOJ, NSA, and CIA against first Donald Trump’s candidacy, and then against his presidency.

That process I’ve been closely following for more than a year and a half, and I eagerly anticipated last week’s report by the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). Its accumulated evidence of FBI and DOJ corruption was extremely damning, but the conclusion in its executive summary was perplexing to say the least. CBS reported it this way: “…the [OIG] report found that political bias [of Obama officials] did not affect the [Hillary email] investigation and it gave support to the decision not to prosecute Clinton.”

So how can the OIG report be both damning and exonerating? Former US Attorney George Parry, writing in The American Spectator, illustrates it best by using a hypothetical:

It seems like a day doesn’t go by without some female high school teacher getting arrested for having sexual relations with an underage student. The story line is always the same. Ms. Hotpants either gets caught in the act or because her student paramour shares with the world the naked selfies that for some weird reason she just had to send to his cell phone. Invariably the teacher is quickly and unceremoniously condemned, fired from her job and arrested.

To illustrate this point, let me apply the OIG’s reserved and non-judgmental standards to the hypothetical case of Teacher 1 and Student A who have been caught naked in a car parked behind the local Piggly Wiggly. Herewith is an excerpt from the hypothetical report by the Pleasant Valley School District’s Office of Inspector General:

We asked Teacher 1 why she and Student A had been in her car at Midnight. She replied that he had been doing poorly in her class, and she was tutoring him. We acknowledge that such additional instruction would be a valid and proper pedagogical undertaking. Nevertheless, we asked why they were not wearing clothes. She explained that they had become hot and sweaty, and she believed that it was important that teacher and student should eliminate physical discomforts to maximize the learning experience.

We asked why they had an open bottle of vodka and a box of condoms. She explained that these items had been left in the car by her husband. Since her spouse is not an employee of the school district, we were unable to question him regarding this matter.

While we found Teacher 1’s answers to be unpersuasive, she made no direct declaration as to why she had engaged in this drunken, naked and nocturnal meeting with Student A. Consequently, we have no definitive proof that she was motivated by a desire to engage in sexual relations. Therefore, we make no finding regarding her motive or intent.

As a trial attorney might say at this juncture: “I rest my case.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Easy Questions Only

“Nothing is off the table. I don’t think you could possibly insult me,” said Robert Azzi. His June 7th talk: “Ask a Muslim Anything” at the Berwick [Maine] Public Library began at 6:00 pm and I arrived five minutes late. Before I could find a seat and unpack my camera and recorder, the Q&A had started. The first question was something about President Trump not inviting Muslims somewhere. I didn’t hear it exactly and Aziz gave an answer critical of Trump and many in the audience giggled appreciatively. It was a clue about the political leanings of speaker and audience.

The first questions were from women concerning Muslim women driving in Saudi Arabia and wearing head coverings. Aziz offered a short history of women in Islam going back to “The Prophet” as he referred to Muhammed, who lived 1400 years ago. He described a rising patriarchy a few centuries ago and strengthening in 20th century Saudi Arabia.

Up to this point, Azzi answered questions graciously. Then a man asked: “Doesn’t that mean that she’s being ‘sharia compliant’ when she wears the head scarf?”

Azzi’s demeanor changed abruptly. “No!” he said.

A woman asked him to repeat the question and he did, whereupon the questioner said: “…and by the way I have several references in the Koran to where it’s mandatory and also in Muhammed’s Sunna…”

Azzi talked over him saying: “Let’s just take one question at a time, shall we?”

“Well, I wanted to go back to the other question…”

“Well, let me — let me talk about sharia for a minute, all right?” said Azzi, clearly agitated.

“Sure, that would be good,” said the man.

“I think, for example, that a lot of Muslims can lead a more sharia-compliant life the United States than they can in most Muslim majority countries, and that is…” Then he stopped, and said testily to the questioner, “Don’t look so puzzled. Let me finish here.” I recalled his opening assertion that nothing would be off the table and he couldn’t possibly be insulted.

“Sharia is not a body of law,” he claimed.

“But it is a body of law,” the man said. “It was codified in ‘The Reliance of the Traveller’ back in the 14th century.”

Talking over him again and stuttering about Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition, he raised his voice and said: “Now let me finish!”

“Go ahead,” said the man.

“Sharia in the Koran speaks to justice, and authority, and hospitality, and equity…” Then he stopped again. “I’m not finished!” he yelled, though no one had interrupted. “We have a lot of time here. I’m here for two hours.”

“Umm,” murmured the questioner.

“If you would kindly memorize your questions rather than looking at your tablet…” said Aziz scornfully. The man had an iPad in his lap.

Then he lectured us all, saying Americans’ views are affected by their “privilege” and that Middle Eastern countries were “exploited, marginalized, and colonized by Europeans they’re now trying to recover from.” He cited Ferguson, Baltimore, Denver, and Minneapolis/St. Paul as “our own colonies.”

A woman referred to Iran under the ayatollahs, and young people rising against the totalitarian regime. “I think you need to be very careful there,” said Azzi, then blamed everything on a CIA coup more than half a century ago. My suspicion that Azzi and the audience were left-of-center was strengthened. “…if the [western imposed] burdens were lifted off all these countries equally, Iran was probably the most pro-American country in the Middle East,” he claimed.

Another man said Muslims are encouraged to emulate Muhammed and compared him unfavorably with Jesus Christ citing the former’s multiple wives, sex slaves, and consummation of marriage to a nine-year-old. Then he asked how Aziz could leave Christianity and adopt Muhammed’s religion. Aziz seemed to have regained his composure and answered that difficult question fairly well. He said New Hampshire allowed 14-year-olds to marry until recently, that Muhammed’s life was in a different place in time with different mores, and made other points.

“Why are there so many suicide bombers in the Muslim religion?” asked a woman. 

He paused for several seconds. “[Because] we’ve entered an age of asymmetrical conflict where the marginalized and the disenfranchised don’t have the weapons and tools of resistance that their oppressors have,” he claimed.

It’s all our fault, I guess.

A woman who grew up in the Middle East suggested culture there valued life less than we do. Aziz said that was racist, that she disdained Muslims because they’re not white Jews, or Christians and privileged, and her statement was offensive. Another man who spent years in Afghanistan said he agreed with the woman. The rest of the audience started snapping at them both. Azzi let that go on a while before wrapping it up.

I left thinking the program might better have been called: “Ask a Muslim easy questions.”

Friday, June 08, 2018

Left and Right June 6, 2018

Gino Funicella is back and we discuss several issues:

Can President Trump pardon himself? Tom says probably he can and cites the Constitution which says the president may pardon anyone for anything except in cases of impeachment;

Attorney Micheal Cohen's difficulties; Rosenstein should recuse himself because he's a material witness in the Mueller investigation.

Gino claims Dinesh D'Souza is racist. Tom scoffs at that.

Trump threats about tariffs: Tom says it's an effective way to negotiate. Gino worries about trade war.

Gino asked me about my column on Tommy Robinson, but he wasn't informed on the case. I explain.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

We'll Do The Rest

After spitting in a tube my adult children sent me for Fathers’ Day last year, then mailing it out and waiting six weeks, sent me DNA results. My sputum — or 98% of it at least — matches that of people living today in three regions of Ireland: the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal; County Mayo in west/central Ireland; and the southwestern counties of Cork and Kerry.

None of this surprised me. Those DNA findings confirm forty years of research into family origins and three trips to various parts of Ireland, but one thing did puzzle me at first. The McLaughlins I met while traveling in Inishowen told me the Gaelic version of our name — MacLochlainn” translates to “Of the Vikings” so I expected to find DNA traces from Scandinavia. Viking raiders started raping and pillaging the Irish coast during the 9th century, then established settlements in many places over the next 400 years. They founded Dublin itself, so many Irish should have Scandinavian DNA after all that.

Further research into's site explained it. My DNA profile matches people living in those regions of Ireland now — many of whom would likely have Scandinavian ancestors, whereas people living in Denmark, Norway, or Sweden would not tend to have Celtic ancestors from Ireland. The Irish didn’t raid or settle in those colder regions, so my DNA would not match many people now living in those countries.

Most historians agree that Celtic people first settled in Ireland only 2500 years ago — around 500 BC. There were already people living there when the Celts arrived, but historians disagree about who they were or where they might have come from. Some claim they arrived from northern Iberia and I’ve read claims of migration from North Africa, the Fertile Crescent, and what is now Russia going back 5000-8000 years. Recent DNA research at Dublin’s Trinity College offers corroborating evidence for these claims.

After Vikings were assimilated, the British took over large parts of Ireland by the 14th century. Some Irish accepted British conquerors but most continued to resist and were banished westward to rocky hills and bogs “beyond the pale.” The “pale” was line of wooden stakes driven into the ground as a boundary. That now-familiar English phrase has come to mean “outside the bounds of acceptable behavior” and both meanings were applied to my ancestors by British conquerors.

When Oliver Cromwell began his depredations in Ireland around the 1640s, he further banished rebellious Irish “To hell or Connaught.” The latter is in western Ireland “beyond the pale” where most of my forebears lived before emigrating to America beginning in the early 1800s. Some, including the Haggertys and McDonalds, then settled around Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and worked in the coal mines. They moved north to Boston in the early 20th century, intermarried with the Fitzgeralds and McLaughlins, and begat me.

While all that interests me and I’m still researching ancestors named Sullivan, McQuire, Harrington, Mahoney, Cassidy, and others, I think of myself as 100% American. That’s not an ethnicity; it’s an attitude. It’s an idea for organizing humans to the extent they wish to be organized. To be American is to believe the Constitution is the most brilliant governing document ever written, even if Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg disagrees.

As an Irishman who calls himself “Bono” said:

“America is an idea, isn’t it… That’s how we see you around the world: as one of the greatest ideas in history… The idea is that you and me are created equal… the idea that life is not meant to be endured but enjoyed, the idea that if we have dignity, if we have justice, then leave it to us; we’ll do the rest. This country [he was speaking at Georgetown University] was the first to claw its way out of darkness and put that on paper. And God love you for it…”

He was referring, of course, to the Declaration of Independence, but the ideas expressed there were soon after codified into our plan for government: the US Constitution. To the extent that we preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, as so many of have sworn to do, we preserve the idea of America. The Constitution curtails government and confers “liberty and justice for all” — then leaves it to us to do the rest as we see fit.

It’s the idea of America that makes us great. It makes us the kind of country to which so many others want to come. We have many races and ethnicities in America. They’re all welcome so long as they endorse the idea. If not, they shouldn't be allowed in.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

"Disappearing" Tommy Robinson

The UK government made a big mistake arresting Tommy Robinson over the weekend, then made it far worse by immediately ordering a media blackout. Within hours of his arrest, Robinson was sentenced to thirteen months in jail. That could well be a death sentence because Muslim inmates have threatened to kill him. They beat him within an inch of his life when he was serving an earlier sentence. Other Muslims have threatened to kill his family as well.

Robinson was arrested outside a British court for reporting on the trial of Muslim men for molesting hundreds of young girls. It’s a story mainstream media refused to cover for more than a decade until two women: Professor Alexis Jay and Dame Louise Casey investigated and reported on what the Yorkshire Post described as:

“[a] sexual exploitation scandal in which an estimated 1,400 victims were abused over a 16-year period in the town — largely by men of a Pakistani-heritage background… and the blatant failures by senior figures at Rotherham Council over the town’s child abuse scandal — and alleged attempts to cover up what was happening.”

Evidently social workers, police, and the highest officials in local Rotherham government chose not only to avert their eyes, but hide it all. Media cooperated by ignoring the story. Rotherham is only one example of what is happening across the UK and much of Europe as millions of Arab and African Muslims flood into EU countries. Rapes have skyrocketed, but EU governments continue to do what Rotherham officials have done: pretend it’s not happening, and when it is reported, cover up who the rapists are.
How could such a thing go on in Rotherham for so long? When asked why they refused to act, officials there said that, because of who the molesters were, they were afraid of being called “racist” if they brought attention to it. But people who live in working-class neighborhoods, however, knew what was going on. They also knew government and media were denying the problem and still are. How do they feel about it? To borrow a chant from an old movie, many are shouting: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

One of them is Tommy Robinson who grew up in working-class Luton, an industrial town of 167,000 people with a large Muslim population. He’s been arrested and imprisoned numerous times for protesting radical Islam in the UK. Robinson isn’t afraid of being called “racist.” He knows the charge is ludicrous and has developed an immunity. So have other working class Europeans across the continent. Only elite, multicultural Euroweenies fear the word now. Radical Muslim sex traffickers hide behind it.

New Hampshire’s Mark Steyn, who published two books on the Islamization of Europe which were best sellers across the English-speaking world, describes the situation

“On Friday, Robinson was live-streaming (from his telephone) outside Leeds Crown Court where last week's Grooming Gang of the Week were on trial for ‘grooming' — the useless euphemism for industrial-scale child gang rape and sex slavery by large numbers of Muslim men with the active connivance of every organ of the state: social workers, police, politicians. Oh, and also the media.”

Steyn calls the proceedings in Leeds a “Grooming Gang of the Week” trial because there were several such sex slavery rings operating with impunity around the UK until Professor Alexis Jay and Dame Louise Casey exposed the coverup in Rotherham. Now the British government is trying to silence Robinson for covering trials using streaming video on his iPhone, but it’s already backfiring. On Tuesday, the Drudge Report published a link to a story: “Britons Rage Over Robinson Arrest As Mass Protests Break Out Worldwide.”

European government and media elites are learning that they cannot brush off ordinary citizens as the equivalent of Hillary’s “Deplorables” or Obama’s “Bitter Clingers.” They’ll continue to do so at their peril because muzzling free speech, jailing dissidents for “hate speech” and “breach of the peace” aren’t working. Such practices only shine a brighter light on results of failed, multicultural, European immigration policies.

Our founding fathers understood that one of the functions of our First Amendment right to freedom of speech is that of a safety valve. As people express dissatisfaction with government, debate ensues. There’s discussion. Policy changes can be proposed. That’s how democracy is supposed to work. Closing off public anger entirely the way multicultural elites have in the UK is dangerous.

Robinson never claimed all Muslim men are rapists. Neither did Donald Trump claim that all Mexican illegals were rapists, but media continue to claim they did. Trump would not be silenced and gained the White House. Neither will Robinson, but now he’s in danger of being killed by Muslim gangs in prison. If that happens, expect hell to break loose across Europe.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Left and Right May 23, 2018

Mark Guerringue, publisher of the Conway Daily Sun, Berlin Daily Sun, Laconia Daily Sun, and the Portland Phoenix, again fills in for Gino.

We start with gun control, shootings in schools, other pathologies affecting young white men and boys. Australia gun buy-back program. Russia/Trump collusion investigation is unraveling, Tom claims. Mark claims Trump is squirming. Mark claims Hillary is old news and questions whether she ever committed any crimes.

Tom says white farmers fleeing South Africa as their lands are confiscated and given to black farmers. They're also being killed. Mark cites increasing violence throughout the country.

Mark reveals that the Conway Daily Sun purchased the Home and Flower Show at Fryeburg Fair and 20 of the 120 exhibitors were cannabis related. He said they were the most popular exhibitors by far.

Canada requires use of transgender-selected pronouns by law. "Cultural Appropriation" movement. Backlash against PC culture on campus. Will new "radicals" on campus be anti-PC?

Monday, May 21, 2018

I Love Maps

Maine has the second largest collection of globes in the country housed at the Osher Map Library on the campus of the University of Southern Maine in Portland. Only the Library of Congress has more. The Osher Library also contains more than 400,000 maps of all kinds and over 7000 have been digitized according to the Library’s web site.

Prior to computers, maps were the best way to organize many kinds of knowledge. As a teacher my classroom was full of them. Seven were pull-downs and I still miss being able to walk over and pull one down like a shade to study it when something happens in a remote part of the world. As things change politically, maps have to depict new national boundaries, especially after wars, but the old maps will always be valuable as historical references.

Topographic maps don’t change nearly as fast — only after a lot of volcanic and tectonic activity. Depending on how extensive the eruption in Hawaii becomes, local maps may need modification. Last month I toured Civita di Bagnoregio — a town perched on the head of a pin which is all that remains of once-thriving Italian town founded by Etruscans over 2500 years ago. In the 17th century it had 2500 people but now only ten live there year-round. Most of the town has fallen away due to earthquake activity and erosion and what remains is a small butte with medieval buildings atop and accessed by a long pedestrian bridge.

Civita di Bagnoregio last month
Maps depict what we know and older ones show what we didn’t know. The earliest printed map of what is now the state of Maine was done in 1793, decades after most towns around where I live in western Maine were established and it was part of Massachusetts. Mapmaker Osgood Carleton didn’t know much about interior Maine, nor the course of the St Croix River which became part of the boundary between the USA and Canada in 1842. There were few surveys and he had to rely on anecdotal data.

Subsequent Carleton maps indicate that Moosehead Lake still had not been surveyed by 1795 and he etched its eastern boundary as a vague dotted line. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of information on these early maps. When I visited the Osher Library with one of its benefactors eight years ago, I witnessed some of its efforts to digitize its extensive collection, a tedious process employing a 60-megapixel camera. Pulling up one of their thousands of digitized maps now, we can zoom in very close without losing resolution.

Astounded by the camera’s capabilities back then, I’ve since purchased a Nikon D850 which was introduced only last fall with 45 megapixels. I had to wait over a month to get it because it’s so popular all around the world. Mapping renders relatively small pictures of very large things, like the entire earth’s surface for one example. By contrast, my new camera enables me to shoot a faraway image with my zoom lens at its strongest, then put the image on my computer and zoom in further to see details I never would have been able to view with my former equipment, or with my naked eye.

Researching for this article, I came across a 1902, birds-eye view of Mount Washington on the Osher web site. If you’re reading this in a newspaper, go here: First published in a pamphlet, it was a piece of artwork as well as a guide, offering then-unique perspectives on our environs in the north country. People couldn’t fly over the mountain back then, but they could pull out their pamphlet and use a magnifying glass to see details only available to eagles.

Before Saco Valley Printing in Fryeburg went out of business, I purchased sets of old county maps of Maine and New Hampshire from both 1858 and 1880 as well as larger maps of Oxford County towns around where I live. They’re slices of history showing old roads and farms no longer in existence —  abandoned and reclaimed by wilderness. Now only stone walls and cellar holes remain, and occasionally dead hulks of what had been massive sugar maples behind which houses and barns once stood.

While I have GPS devices for my vehicles, I also have hard-copy maps in each. When navigating in unfamiliar places there’s nothing like those 21st century GPS devices to get where I’m going, but if I’m not in a hurry, I like to have a real map in my hands to get perspective on where I've ended up. A real map enables me to see what’s over the next hill because I might decide to explore it.