Tuesday, June 30, 2020

OUT OF CONTROL?



Who is in control? Given events of the past few weeks and months, that’s hard to say. Another question would be: Is anyone in control? In his dystopian novel 1984, British author George Orwell created the character “O’Brien” a powerful member of the Inner Party who tells Winston Smith: "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”



Some literary analysts claim Orwell was depicting the Nazi Party in 1984, while others claim it was the Communist Party. All agree that Orwell was portraying a totalitarian party in complete control of past, present and future for poor Winston Smith, an ordinary guy trying to figure out answers to the questions with which I opened this column.



Journalist Tucker Carlson openly claims Democrats are in control of recent events in the streets of our cities. Other conservative journalists contend Democrats support Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and the hordes of anarchists who turn peaceful demonstrations into riots, and who tear down historical monuments across our country — the latter a dramatic, visible effort to control the past. We see it on our TV screens every night.



Last Saturday, Maine’s own Graham Lloyd, 37, was one of four charged with pulling down the statue of President Andrew Jackson in front of the White House. As of this writing I was unable to find where in Maine Graham lived or any other information about possible criminal or political activities in which he may have been involved locally.


Hannah-Jones with Henry Louis Gates
As a former US History teacher in Maine, I was surprised at the New York Times Magazine publication of the 1619 Project — an alternative US History curriculum contending the United States was founded not in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was adopted, but in 1619 when the first African slave was brought to Virginia. I was also dismayed to learn that it was being adopted by public schools across the country.




The 1619 Project -- another effort to control the past -- is a creation of New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones for which she was given a Pulitzer Prize. That’s curious given the dubious, racist, historical claims she’s made in the past. In a letter to the University of Notre Dame’s campus newspaper The Observer, she declared: “the white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager, and thief of the modern world.” She called whites “bloodsuckers” and “barbaric devils,” and accused them of “pumping drugs and guns into the black community.”



Hannah-Jones also claimed that: “Africans had been to the Americas long before Columbus or any Europeans… [and] had the decency and respect for human life to learn from the Native Americans and trade technology with them…” She cited Aztec and Olmec pyramids as proof although historical evidence of these claims can be described as thin or none. Nonetheless, the New York Times and the Pulitzer Prize Committee consider her a respected historian.


One of the men beaten by Black Lives Matter
As a Roman Catholic, I’m further appalled that Black Lives Matter and Antifa are assaulting fellow Catholics and their statuary. When Catholics gathered over the weekend to say the rosary around the now-defaced statue of St. Louis — the saint after whom the city was named — the leftist mob beat at least three of them. I watched a horrifying video of three black men chasing down and beating a white Christian man following the rosary service but I’ll bet none of you readers ever saw it on CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, or anywhere else. It doesn’t fit the “white privilege/systemic racism” narrative of our mainstream media.



Elsewhere in St. Louis, the leftist mob broke down a gate leading to a private home. In a video taken by Black Lives Matter protestors, a barefoot man was pointing what looked like an AR-15 at the mob. His barefoot wife stood beside him aiming a pistol. Both were warning the mob to leave. Thankfully it did before shots were fired. It was very tense and we can assume scenes like this are playing out elsewhere.



The Washington Post ran an article declaring: “St. Louis couple points guns at peaceful crowd of protestors calling for mayor to resign.” The homeowner, an attorney named Mark McCloskey, was interviewed by a local TV station and described the scene quite differently. He said the Black Lives Matter mob broke down a steel gate guarding the private drive leading to his house, threatened to kill him, his wife, their dog, and burn down their house. At least one had a semi-automatic pistol. He said the mayor didn’t live there.



Clearly this leftist-sanctioned violence occurring almost everywhere has reached a critical stage. Is it out of control already? One could make a serious case that it is. If so, can control be regained? By whom? Answers to these questions, or lack thereof, are likely to determine the outcome of the November elections.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

LEFT & RIGHT WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17 2020



Civil War historian and newspaper columnist Bill Marvel again sits in the left chair. He doesn’t fit neatly into any political category, but agreed to appear on the show again to discuss political polarization in the America today and compare it to polarization in 1860.
Bill says he doesn’t fit anymore on the left, not because his views have changed, but because the Democrat Party has shifted dramatically to the left, making him appear center-right. We discuss specific examples of that.

Speaking of the tentative subject for Bill’s 20th book on the Civil War, he says that today’s political conflict and the one in 1860 both “started with an election that no one would accept.”

Bill says ignorance of history today due to the poor state of our public schools, prevents the public from realizing how quickly a society can collapse.

Bill reflected on a recent spate of letters to the editor in the Conway Daily Sun which lump the two of us as ideological twins, and suggested it was an orchestrated effort. When I questioned him about that he said,  “Unlike the clairvoyant cognoscenti of the millennial mob, I don’t know."

I love that impromptu phrase.

Conversation then ranged from the Rodney King incident to the Michael Brown incident to the George Floyd incident comparing and contrasting the incidents themselves and media reaction to them.

The producer asks who Joe Biden may pick for a running mate and we discuss those possibilities at some length.

We also discuss gun control and the 2nd Amendment in the context of leftist threats to ban guns.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

DON'T BLACK LIVES IN CHICAGO MATTER?



These are tumultuous times. Things are changing so fast it’s hard to keep up, much less put events into perspective. It’s reminiscent of a similar struggle to understand things during the sixties when a prosperous, stable, post-WWII America started unraveling with the Kennedy assassination in 1963. I was in 7th grade and lacked the experience and historical knowledge to interpret what was happening. By the time I graduated high school in 1969, societal decline had advanced.


My first year of college included basic courses in western civilization which offered some historical grounding, but my professors weren’t gifted enough to compare and contrast ubiquitous race riots, anti-Vietnam War protests, and ongoing civil-rights struggles with similar events in western history. My English Composition professor tried by offering writing prompts that challenged us to reflect on what was happening around us.


Things were changing fast and my professors hadn’t experienced such tumult before. They were flying by the seat of their pants. After two years I dropped out, worked various jobs, and found myself rubbing elbows with disciples of Saul Alinsky — community organizers who were trying to channel societal unrest toward a communist revolution. One put a copy of Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals” into my hands — the first copy I ever saw.


Nearly all smoked marijuana and I did too. It was a leftist ritual of the era. At one point I found a half-dozen leftist radicals in the living room of a tenement we owned in Lowell, Massachusetts. Some belonged to the Socialist Labor Party, some to the Socialist Workers Party, and one was communist. All argued  vociferously about how to foment revolution. I wasn’t too stoned to notice how disorganized and contentious the left was.


Never did I want to make revolution or overthrow the government, but radical leftists around me spoke freely about trying to. I thought they were crazy and moved away from them, but that experience give me perspective on what’s going on in my country today. Again the left is trying to steer public outrage toward a communist revolution, and unlikely as revolution was a half-century ago, the widespread violence of recent months has me concerned.


Leftists still fight amongst themselves, but today they make up an increasingly large part of the Democrat Party which for decades has controlled the cities in which we’re seeing widespread rioting, looting and toppling of statues. Ironically, most of the statues depict historical figures who were Democrat slave owners. As today’s Democrat mayors and governors do almost nothing to stop the violence, the rest of us wonder if that’s because they’re afraid a strong response will trigger more or because they approve of it all.

Some of last weekend's victims in Chicago
After a violent Fathers’ Day weekend in Chicago when 102 mostly black people were shot, very likely by shooters who were also black, those shouting “Black Lives Matter!” sound increasingly hypocritical. White cops are not the problem. So-called “systemic racism” is not the problem. “White Privilege” is not the problem. Gangs of fatherless, young, black men are the problem.

Alleged shooters in Chicago last weekend
These shootings go on every weekend and have for years — in Chicago, and in many other Democrat-controlled cities. Where’s the leftist hand-wringing about that? We don’t hear it. The Marxist “Black Lives Matter” movement looks like a massive red herring to divert attention from what the real problem is: fatherless black boys from dysfunctional families — all the result of bankrupt Democrat social policies of the last fifty years.

It’s getting increasingly tiresome to hear over and over about George Floyd’s death. Yes, the video of his asphyxiation under the knee of a police officer was horrifying, but we keep pretending that the relentless murder of young black men by young black men isn’t far more horrifying. Calling attention to that, however, doesn’t serve the Democrat narrative that it’s a “systemic racism” extinguishing black lives.

Kerry in Lowell, 1972
In 1972 I arranged a meeting in my living room between radical leftist revolutionaries and liberal-Democrat congressional candidate John Kerry. Back then it was unusual for rising Democrats like Kerry to fraternize with leftist revolutionaries, but it isn’t anymore. Today’s Democrat Party willingly plays with fire as senior officials like Deputy DNC Chairman Keith Ellison and others openly support violent, leftist Antifa thugs and Marxist Black Lives Matter organizers.


While John Kerry was considered a far-left Democrat during his failed 1972 congressional campaign, he looks downright moderate compared to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and the rest of today’s rising Democrat stars.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

POINTLESS CMP CORRIDOR REFERENDUM



“The End Is Near!” was a recurring theme in the old Mad Magazine which ceased publishing last summer after a 67-year run. As a kid I read it religiously and was surprised it stayed around that long as I hadn’t seen a copy for decades. Turning pages of each new edition in the fifties and sixties, I’d see caricature variations of a gray-bearded man in a robe carrying a sign warning of impending apocalypse. MAD satirized everything; it was totally unserious and that appealed to me.


Some of that unseriousness is still in me, especially when hearing leftist Democrats preach variations of their “The End Is Near” rhetoric. They’ve long sermonized about doom from “global warming” or “climate change” during which the polar ice caps and alpine glaciers will ostensibly melt, flood the oceans, and kill millions unless we “Repent Now!” by abandoning fossil fuels, buying carbon credits, and totally switching over to windmills and solar panels.


Used to be they included hydroelectricity in their “clean energy” pantheon, but it seems to have fallen from grace. Nearly everywhere I’m seeing “NO CMP CORRIDOR” lawn signs after a referendum campaign put the question on Maine’s November ballot. Central Maine Power has plans to construct a powerline in western Maine to carry electricity from Hydro Quebec to Massachusetts.


Twice I’ve questioned champions of this movement about their reasons for opposing the line. Their biggest arguments were that, one: it would be unsightly, and two: it would cut trees along its route from the Canadian border to southern Maine. “What’s wrong with that?” I asked. “Well, trees absorb carbon dioxide and help prevent climate change,” was their answer.


I should disclose here that I’m not a believer in human-caused climate change and have written numerous columns over the years refuting it. When discussing the corridor issue, however, I didn’t proselytize; I just tried to understand the opposition. I’ve read the literature on their web sites like: https://www.nocmpcorridor.com and others and I’m still confused. The New England region needs more electricity and no combinations of solar panels and windmills can produce enough no matter how heavily they’re subsidized.


But this column isn’t about the deficiencies of “renewable energy.” It’s about trying to make sense of leftist/environmentalist opposition to hydroelectricity from Quebec. If they’re so worried about carbon emissions and global warming, what sense does it make to oppose hydroelectricity which doesn’t emit carbon? Yes, some trees would be cut down in a corridor for a new powerline, but other green things will grow there. Look at older power line corridors all over the landscape. There’s plenty of growth under the lines and it absorbs carbon too. 

Go to nocmpcorridor.com and look at the arguments; they’re the weakest I’ve ever seen in a political campaign:


“A 53 mile corridor the width of the New Jersey Turnpike would cut through western Maine, crossing some of the country's last native brook trout habitat, fragile wetlands, deer yards and ruining pristine scenic views,” it claims. Trout streams are not endangered. Neither are deer yards, or fragile wetlands. I concede that views would be compromised, but that’s it.


“Countless jobs in the biomass industry and related forest products industries would be put in jeopardy” the site claims. Really? How?

“Tourism is the number one industry in Maine, and this corridor will jeopardize those jobs,” it says. Really? Seasonal homes need electricity. So do campgrounds, hotels, restaurants, and just about all other tourist infrastructure. How, exactly, will a power line jeopardize those jobs? I can’t imagine.


The only plausible reason leftist/environmentalist groups oppose the CMP corridor is hinted at: “This corridor would jeopardize Maine’s renewable energy sector, which could lose hundreds of millions of dollars over the next fifteen years as a direct result of this project.” I guess they’re afraid that lots of clean electricity coming down from Canada would negate any need for additional “renewable sources” and, hence, the need for further taxpayer subsidies of their cherished wind and solar projects.


Wind and solar industries can’t survive without taxpayer subsidies because they cost more than they deliver and don’t produce energy on calm, cloudy days. To this writer, it looks like the NO CMP CORRIDOR movement is mostly afraid of losing its continued access to the government teat.


The whole campaign is tailor-made for a MAD Magazine spoof. Too bad it’s not around anymore.

ADDENDUM: Maine’s CMP Corridor was proposed after the “Northern Pass” project was rejected in neighboring New Hampshire. 

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Left & Right Thursday, June 4, 2020



We start with a question from the producer: "Do you agree with the generals that moving the protesters [from Lafayette Park] was a violation of their constitutional rights? Mark said he would be.motivated to demonstrate against that action if he lived in Washington, DC. I don't agree with Mattis and other generals that deploying the military to suppress violence would be a violation of the Constitution as the generals state. I don't think it's necessary to do so yet, but we're' getting close. We discuss my column for the week which denies that "systemic racism" exists. I define racism, which is a belief that race is inherently superior or inferior to another. Mark would expand that to various manifestations of what I would call discrimination. He cited discomfort whites might experience encountering a group of blacks given the high crime rates among young black men. I don't see that as racism by a white person against blacks. I see it as logical caution given known crime statistics. We go into several other topics like Twitter and the First Amendment. Mark says social media uses "platforms" and is not subject to the same regulations as newspapers and TV stations.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

What The Heck Is "Systemic Racism?"



Good news: After three months, the coronavirus has been knocked off the front page.

Bad news: It’s been replaced by riots in our cities.


On Monday of last week, a horrified world watched Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin kill a handcuffed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck while he pleaded for mercy. My first question is: why wasn’t Chauvin arrested for murder until Friday?


My second question is: how does anyone know racism made Chauvin do that? Because the cop is white and the victim was black? Could Chauvin be an equal opportunity brute? Looking for evidence that he’s racist, all I could find was a Mercury News interview with the owner of a nightclub at which, ironically, both Chauvin and Floyd worked, Floyd as a bouncer. The owner said Chauvin was overly aggressive with black patrons who were fighting compared to Hispanic patrons who were.


If, as reported in multiple venues, there were multiple previous complaints about Chauvin, how did he keep his job? The police commissioner is black. The state attorney general is black. The US Congresswoman for the district is black. Leftist Democrats have controlled the city and state for decades. All have more influence on local police behavior than some nebulous concept like “systemic racism.” 


Rather than look in the mirror, they blame others. Some blamed President Trump. Minnesota Governor Walz blamed drug cartels. Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner, John Harrington blamed white supremacists. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey also blamed white supremacists, organized crime, and foreign elements, then he actually cried at a press conference.


Leftist Mainstream Media blame systemic racism. On leftist Joy Reid’s MSNBC show over the weekend, author Bakari Sellers said: “This is not just about George Floyd. This is about systemic racism and systemic injustice and systemic oppression.” Also appearing was Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MIN) in whose district the riots began. She and Joy Reid nodded solemnly while Sellers blamed systemic racism. On ABC’s “This Week last Sunday, Omar said: ”There really was also many people who chose to demonstrate and not abide by the curfew, who felt like they also were terrorized by the presence of tanks, by the presence of the National Guard, and a militarized police.”


The long-time, left-wing paper called; The Nation, ran the headline: “There’s Only One Possible Conclusion: White America Likes Its Killer Cops.” Writer Elie Mystal claims: “The police are never going to voluntarily stop killing black and brown people… until the majority of white people in this country make the killings stop.”


Leftist public schools are teaching lessons on “systemic racism,” but what, exactly, is that? If you look it up you won’t find a definition that doesn’t employ circular reasoning. Google it, for example, and among the first hits will be Ben & Jerry’s take, entitled: "7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real." The first way is: “Racism At Every Level of Society” and it goes on listing racial disparities in wealth distribution, education, housing, and health care. All are assumed to be caused by racism of whites against blacks — circular reasoning again.


During the Obama administration, the US Department of Education started offering lessons on "systemic racism" for public schools using the same circular reasoning: ”Implicit racial bias can help us to better understand how institutional [systemic] racism and other forms of bias affect educational experiences of students from marginalized communities.” They, too, list the disparities and blame racism.


Several of our big-city police chiefs blame Antifa for turning peaceful demonstrations into riots. So does Attorney General Barr and President Trump. Meanwhile, Democrat NYC Mayor DiBlasio’s daughter was arrested for throwing rocks at police. Democrat Representative Ilhan Omar’s daughter tweeted support for rioters. Minnesota Attorney General and former congressman Keith Ellison. So did his son. All are Democrats and Keith Ellison is a former DNC Chairman.


Look around at the cities in which people are rioting. All have been run by Democrats for decades. There’s definitely a pattern here but don’t expect Mainstream Media to report on it.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

THE NEW POLITICS OF RESISTANCE



The curve has been flattened at enormous expense. Most expect Covid will eventually go through the entire population and take many more elderly with comorbidities. It cannot be stopped without a vaccine — or a series of them since the virus will likely mutate. An initial vaccine won’t be available until the end of this year at the earliest. Many governors, however, are reluctant to relax their shutdowns. Instead, they predict a second wave, keeping fear levels high.


Everyone cooperated to flatten the curve, which didn’t take long. People understood the logic and it got done. Reasons to continue the shutdown are not logical and more than a few medical professionals have been censored by Youtube, Facebook, and other social media outlets for declaring that it’s past time to fully reopen the economy. Many people are openly rebelling against continuing restrictions; many more quietly ignore them.


Ninety-something percent of deaths are in one vulnerable, elderly cohort which must continue to quarantine until a vaccine is available. However, death rates for all people infected from this point — including our vulnerable elders — is below one percent. Hospitals are not overwhelmed. Instead, they’re laying off staff! Yet still, Democrats and their media allies continue pumping up fear. The danger now is that lots of people are afraid to go to emergency rooms. Cancers are not caught early. Heart problems are not detected, and so forth.


Motives for continuing the shutdown seem primarily political, though disguised as concern for humanity. The left wants to keep things locked. Conservatives want to reopen. The left says conservatives would sacrifice human lives for money. Conservatives believe the left would keep the economy depressed so they can defeat Trump and take the Senate in November.


Pre-virus divisions are widening as nearly everything now is seen through a political lens. The left sees Dr. Anthony Fauci as the virus guru and he would keep schools closed next fall. It’s hard to envision economic recovery if parents must continue homeschooling. Going about in public without a mask is becoming a sign of resistance to government control. Wearing one is becoming a sign of virtue, not unlike driving a Prius.


Snitches call police when their neighbors entertain guests. Some cops try enforcing guidelines while others declare they have enough to do already. When mainstream media focused on crowds ignoring social distancing at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri over the weekend, Camden County Sheriff Tony Helms issued this statement: “Social distancing is not a crime and therefore the sheriff’s office has no authority to enforce actions in that regard.” The left was appalled. Conservatives cheered.


Traveling between rural, mostly-conservative Lovell, Maine and coastal, mostly-leftist South Portland, Maine each week, I see contrasts. Rarely do I notice anyone wearing a mask in Lovell but it’s very common in South Portland. Picking up a curbside order of fried clams there last week, I parked next to a pickup truck in which a small dog was wearing a mask. I don’t know whether it was a sarcastic political statement by the driver or genuine concern for a beloved pet.


There’s little point going across the Casco Bay Bridge into Portland these days. Yes, it’s pretty to watch the sun rise at the Eastern Promenade, but nothing is open. The left runs everything in Portland and is less than welcoming to those with differing world views. Last summer I was harassed and assaulted for wearing a MAGA hat on a Congress Street art festival. Will people without masks be harassed? If the City of Portland allows another art festival this summer, I’ll let you know.


My habit is to keep a mask in my car and another in my truck. If I drive up to a store that requires one to get in, I’ll go back to my vehicle and get it. Wearing it makes my glasses fog up though and I can’t see what I’m looking for, so I pull it down. That, of course, negates any virus-inhibiting effect it’s supposed to have, but no one has so far ordered me to pull it up. Many around me do the same thing. Otherwise, I never wear a mask.


Clearly, response to this virus is exacerbating already-serious political divisions. How will that affect the election in November? I don’t want to venture a guess. I will predict, however, that whatever the result, the other side will not take it well. Should the left lose, I expect civil unrest.