Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tommclaughlin@fairpoint.net

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Outing the Democrat Left


Ordinary Americans, including many long-time
Democrats, are getting glimpses of how the left sees our country and they’re shocked. Guess they didn’t understand that a sizable portion of the Democrat Party is just plain crazy and hates America.

“No-no-no! Not God bless America! God damn America!” shouted Barack Obama’s minister, friend, and spiritual advisor - the Reverend Jeremiah Wright in a sermon recorded on DVD for sale by his church. Then he told Bill Moyers on PBS that when the media broadcast sections of that sermon and others like it, he was victimized: “I felt it was unfair. I felt it was unjust. I felt it was untrue. I felt for those who were doing that, were doing it for some very devious reasons,” said the Reverend last week.

Devious reasons? Using the video Wright himself was selling to show Americans how people at Obama’s church think? How is that devious? Because it may cause people to remember what Michelle Obama said in February that, because her husband is running for president: “For the first time in my adult life, I’m proud of my country.” She’s been an adult for more than twenty years. Has she been ashamed of her country up to now? Why? Americans are thinking about this. Evidently she was very comfortable sitting next to her husband in church and listening to Wright’s sermons.

Wright said America is trying to kill black people by introducing AIDS and drugs into black neighborhoods and deserved the September 11th attacks. Barack Obama said he didn’t know Wright preached any of this. Americans wonder how he could sit in Wright’s church for twenty years and not know it.

Obama is friendly with fellow Chicagoan William Ayers, who bombed the Pentagon, the US Capitol, and New York City Police Headquarters in the 1970s. Ayers summed up his terrorist group’s guiding philosophy thusly: "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, Kill your parents." He wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on September 11, 2001 claiming that he wished he’d bombed more - that he didn’t do enough. He is Obama’s buddy too and contributes to his campaigns. He thinks America is evil and he’s a tenured education professor at the the University of Illinois. How can Obama be friendly with a guy like that? Easily. The Democrat Party is loaded with people who admire terrorist bombers - as long as they’re left-wing terrorist bombers. That’s you see so many Che Guevara posters in their homes and offices - including Barack Obama’s Houston office.

Remember: Ayers’ students at the University of Illinois are studying to become public school teachers. He molds the faculties in public schools all across that state - teaches them how to teach - and teachers’ unions are the biggest supporters of the Democrat Party nationally - just ahead of trial lawyers (Ayer’s wife, and fellow terrorist, Bernadette Dohrn teaches at Northwestern Law School). Most of the $400 per year I paid in dues to the National Education Association went to Democrats and that’s why I quit. Too many of America’s public school history teachers have a view of America very similar to those of the Reverend Wright and William Ayers and they’re teaching your kids. Most Americans have not been aware of all this. Now it’s being rubbed in their faces and they’re not liking it.

When Hillary criticizes Obama for associating with someone like William Ayers, Obama’s campaign points out that Bill Clinton pardoned left-wing terrorists just like Ayers. Americans are thinking: “Wait a minute. You mean both Democrats running for president associate with people like this?” The answer, of course, is “Yup. You betcha,” and Americans are starting to get it. That’s why Democrat Party Chairman Howard Dean wants it all to stop.

Not me though. I want it to continue as long as possible.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Conservative Congressman in Maine?


As a conservative in Maine, I’ve accepted that liberals run things here - for now anyway. Most Republicans are liberals too. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are known nationwide as RINOs - Republicans In Name Only. First district Republican congressional candidate Dean Scontras, however, is different. He’s definitely not a RINO, not by a long shot. Although a young man, Dean Scontras is a small-government, conservative Republican from a mold I thought had been broken long ago in this state. There’s no one else like him running and he expects to win. He’s confident. He knows what he thinks and believes he can convince voters that he’s right. After chatting with him for more than an hour at the new Magic Lantern, I came away believing it too. If a conservative can get elected in southern Maine, Dean Scontras is that person. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but after interviewing him face-to-face, I believe he can pull it off.

Scontras is the only congressional candidate addressing illegal immigration, unless you count Ethan Strimling, who actually likes Governor Baldacci’s sanctuary-state policies. Scontras is firmly against them. He believes a crackdown on employers who hire illegals, along with a curtailment of their welfare benefits, will persuade most of them to go home.

Scontras alone is unequivocally pro-life and even supports a Constitutional Right to Life Amendment. He’d rather see the Supreme Court reverse Roe v Wade, which he considers inherently flawed. His Republican opponent, Charlie Summers, doesn’t even list abortion on his web site. As for his Democrat opponents? No need to comment.

Gay marriage? Scontras would watch how the courts deal with the Defense of Marriage Act and hopes they view it as constitutional, but if not, he would support a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Regarding national security, Dean Scontras is one of the most knowledgeable candidates I’ve interviewed including five who were running for president. He understands the threat we face and speaks about it plainly. He knows Iran funds Hezbollah and Hamas and wants Israel gone. He supports Israel’s right to exist and isn’t confident that the United Nations will do what’s necessary to protect it. He would support a joint US/Israeli effort to stop Iran should the UN continue to drag its feet. He didn’t seem thrilled about Bush’s decision to go into Iraq, but he supports the surge and seeing the policy through to victory.

Scontras believes the United States is dangerously dependent on foreign oil, but he’s realistic about how to mitigate that. “We know the Chinese government is drilling off the coast of Cuba,” he said, and he would allow US oil companies to drill under the Gulf of Mexico and ANWR. “You do the math on this, and even with all the alternative energy sources we’re talking about [cellulose-based or corn-based ethanol, etc.] it isn’t going to replace even 10% of our reliance [on petroleum] . . . I’ve doubled back on myself and said, you know, it sounds good, and Maine should take a part in [national efforts to produce ethanol with our wood resources], but is it going to resolve our reliance on foreign oil? No. It’s just not.”

He believes the Second Amendment is unambiguous - that it grants citizens the right to have guns, period. He disputes justices like John Paul Stevens who, according to Scontras, “say the Second Amendment isn’t really about self defense. It’s really about building militias. To me as a Second Amendment guy, this is a no-brainer. There are things in the Constitution I struggle with, but this is not one of them,” he said.

“Okay, so it is for personal protection?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” he said.

I asked him what he thought about Democratic efforts to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine which would force stations broadcasting conservative programs to give equal time to liberal programming. “The free market is the Fairness Doctrine,” Scontras said. “If the free market dictates something and consumers buy it, whether it’s talk radio or something else [leave it alone]. The Fairness Doctrine is inherently unfair from a fair-market perspective.”

“Why did you decide to run for run for Congress?” I asked.

He said he has always been interested in public policy. He studied it at UMO and in graduate school at Georgetown. “I went into business and I loved that - that was fun - but my wife will tell you, I can go out and campaign all day long and into the weekend, but when I was at work, it was like at five o’clock I was done. I truly love doing this.”

“The Republican Party is up against the wall right now. I think it needs some new leadership, some new voices. I’ve got some hope in the party nationally, but in this state, it’s like the Boston Red Sox of the 70s and 80s - every time the Yankees come to town everybody puts their chins down. I don’t care what kind of lead you’ve got, you know you’re going to lose in the end. That’s the leadership of the state [right now]. You’ve got to think to win first and then go win.”

“So you think you can win in the First District?” I asked.

“Oh yeah. Absolutely. I know I can win now. I’ve debated some of these folks. When it turns to the economy, you look - these people I’m running against here in Maine have had a hand in crafting this economy. According to Forbes Magazine, it’s third worst economy in the country. It’s the second most taxed state. Our young people are leaving during their prime earning years and they’re not coming back. We’ve got all the wrong economic indicators. Our entitlement programs are so big people are coming from out of the country and in the country to get [them]. We’re $200,000,000 in the hole and everybody I’m running against says, ‘Hey look - I’m an authority on the economy.’ Look what they’ve done to the economy here in Maine.”

I’ve known many politicians and my internal BS alarm is finely tuned. During the three hours with Dean Scontras, it never went off. This guy is the real deal and I believe he can win.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Am I A Bad Person?


Does it make me a bad person when I take pleasure in another’s misfortune? Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on the person. Schadenfreude is a German word meaning “pleasure from misfortune” and I’ve been feeling it a lot lately. Was I happy to read that ultra-liberal New York Governor Elliot Spitzer was forced to resign after being charged with hiring prostitutes? Darn right. It’s partly because his politics and mine are polar opposite, but it isn’t just that. Barack Obama’s politics are opposite mine as well but I wouldn’t feel as much schadenfreude if he were publicly humiliated the way Spitzer was. Spitzer has a hyper-arrogance that Obama didn’t seem to possess, so when I learned about the former’s demise, I heard myself saying, “Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy” instead of a more neutral, “Oh. I see.”

When the Mainstream Media played clips of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s outrageous sermons over and over, I felt it again. Whose misfortune was I taking pleasure in then? Well, it was hurting Barack Obama’s campaign that his longtime friend, pastor, and spiritual mentor was espousing crackpot ideas, but that wasn’t why I felt it. I wanted Obama to finish trouncing Hillary before he self-destructed. Obama was taking heat for keeping his membership in, and his contributions to a church in which people cheered as Pastor Wright blamed “White America” for the September 11th attacks, and blamed the US government for introducing AIDS and drugs to kill off black people. However, that wasn’t it either. Not entirely. It was the Democrat Party’s misfortune I was taking pleasure in, because it is comprised of people who either believe such crazy ideas as Wright was spouting, or of people who refrain from correcting them when they’re expressed. That’s what was being rubbed in the face of every American who watches the news. Democrats were forced to take a hard look at the victim mentality they have watered and fertilized for the past forty years.

That’s why Obama had to make the big speech about “race.” Winning the Democrat nomination depends on his maintaining the image of a black man who isn’t obsessed about being a victim, who is beyond all that. He had to put some distance between himself and what the Reverend Wright preached. Conservatives like me don’t think he did that successfully but Democrats do, so he’s still their man for now. That prompted more schadenfreude because it means Obama can still take the nomination away from Hillary. It’s her misfortune I’m taking pleasure in as well as the Democrat Party’s.

My schadenfreude got even stronger when, shortly after Obama’s big speech, the Mainstream Media broadcast three of Hillary’s speeches in which she described how in 1996 she allegedly had to run with her head down from her plane to a waiting car to avoid sniper fire. Then the MSM showed actual film of her and her entourage doing nothing of the sort on the tarmac of a Bosnia airport. They played those embarrassing clips over and over to leave no doubt in any voter’s mind what an abject lie she had been telling. That was a wonderful, heaping helping of schadenfreude. There have been so many other opportunities to expose her like this during the past seventeen years but the MSM refused to pull the trigger on her. That they’re finally doing it as she runs for president made it that much sweeter.

Then Hillary went on Jay Leno’s program and tried to joke about it but she flopped. That was nice too, but it got even better when after the story had largely died down, her slick husband Bill resurrected it when he lied about Hillary’s lie. Hillary had to tell him to shut up. I was thinking, “It just doesn’t get any better than this.” What does the credit card company say in its ads? “Priceless.”

Now we hear that Obama was pandering to elite leftists at a fundraiser in San Francisco saying small town Americans are angry and bitter. We’re typical white people clinging to our guns and our religion and our resentment of illegal immigrants because we don’t know any better. Then the rabidly-anti-gun Hillary told a story about her dad taking her behind a cottage and teaching her “to shoot when I was a little girl.” Then Obama says Hillary is all of a sudden “talking like she’s Annie Oakley.” Then Hillary criticizes Obama’s remarks about us typical bible-thumping, gun-nut honkies and gets booed by Democrats in Pennsylvania.

I just can’t wait to see what happens next - and it looks like it’s going to continue like this for four more months until the convention! Like I said: it doesn’t get any better than this.

Am I a bad person for enjoying it all? A little naughty perhaps but heck, I’m human.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Pure Of Heart


They’re superior to you and me in every way. They’re smarter, more tolerant, and they care more than we do about everything. Luckily, they’re also patient with us. They’re thoroughly nice. They ride bikes while you and I pollute the atmosphere with our vehicles. They want to bring us around to their way of thinking and feeling gradually and they want to spend our money to fix everything for everybody. They know many of us will object because we’re stubborn, but they won’t give up easily and they will prevail.

People at National Public Radio (NPR) also know how to pronounce things better than you and I do and it shows how smart they are. They’ve gotten together with the National Geographic Society and published a map of the earth to show us how we’re ruining the whole earth by driving our cars, our trucks and by mowing our lawns. We’re loading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide and killing polar bears, but they’re not mad at us because they know we just don’t know any better. So they’re trying to educate us, bring us along. Only after they’ve convinced us about the wisdom of their world view will they restrict usage of our lawn mowers and snow machines.

They care a whole lot more about frogs than you or I do too. If you hear the peepers soon where you live, then you can rest assured that the Green/Caring/Audubon/NPR people will do everything they can to preserve every last one of those frogs and the mud puddles they swim in. They know greedy landowners don’t care a whit about toads and salamanders and only care about exercising their property rights regardless of how many worms or beetle larvae may be dismembered as they scar Mother Earth with their development projects. These are the kind of people who make Gaia cry. People who care, however, been patrolling the woods looking for vernal pools to map out and preserve. They’re passing ordinances in towns all over New England to prevent landowners from building anything within hundreds of feet of precious vernal pools.

The state of Maine has also passed legislation to prevent development near any vernal pools. Greedy property owners who thought they had a few building lots on the land they inherited or invested in for retirement will find out that they may not become developers at all. When they go to apply for a permit, they will instead be informed that they have become stewards of frog and salamander habitat and it’s their responsibility to make sure nothing ever happens to those precious amphibian eggs they inherited along with the land.

Of course it’s hard to go into the woods during spring anywhere in the state of Maine without having to walk around or hop over a vernal pool. Most disappear in summer and fall, but if they’ve been documented by some of the caring people who have been trying for years to inventory them, their very existence will keep Maine from being changed. We may be one of the poorest and highest-taxed states in the country, and we may have had an stagnant economy for the past several years while other states have been growing significantly, but we can be proud of the fact that frogs and salamanders are safer here than nearly everywhere else. Taxpaying humans may be disappearing in Maine, but amphibians will be just fine.

Some of those greedy landowners are not proud to be stewards of amphibians. They’re angry that caring people have passed this vernal pool legislation while they weren’t paying attention. They think their Fifth Amendment rights have been violated where it says: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” and they’re talking about filing law suits.

Hopefully, the Green/Caring/Audubon/NPR people will convince the courts that amphibians are much more important than taxpaying citizens and the peepers will be saved, but we’ll just have to how this plays out. President Bush has appointed many judges who only see what’s written in the Constitution and don’t want to help. There may still be enough judges on the courts appointed by the previous administration, however, who understand that our founding fathers weren’t as smart as they are. These judges are Green/Caring/Audubon/NPR people too and they see our Constitution as a living document that can be added to if necessary for very important reasons like saving frogs. They won’t be swayed by the arguments of greedy, uncaring landowners with their out-date ideas about property rights. They’ll listen to other Green/Caring/Audubon/NPR people who care way more than greedy property owners because their hearts are pure.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Dismal Season


Out like a lamb? Not this year. Not here in Lovell, Maine anyway. Going out, March is more like the Ram of Aries putting its horns to us again and again. There have been no balmy days with sun and warm breezes - the flirt and foreplay Spring usually offers in March, if only occasionally. This year March has been nothing but an extension of the very trying winter that tested the strongest among us and is still very much with us as I write this Saturday morning, March 29th. It’s 25 degrees and windy. Snow blew off the trees and down my neck as I attempted to blow off Friday’s snow from my driveway. There are no flowers in sight, no bare ground even, just huge, dirty snowbanks that block my view of passing cars. Perhaps by the time these words are published my outlook will be different. Part of me understands that, but I’m not feeling it today. Maybe I will tomorrow. Maybe the next day. Not now.

My garage is as dark as my mood because of the plywood I had to put over the windows to prevent ice chunks falling from the roof from crashing through the glass. I thought I’d be able to remove them long before the end of March, but there just hasn’t been enough melt. They’re still barricaded against the sashes by huge piles of snow interspersed with ice. We’re supposed to be in mud season now but the ground hasn’t thawed enough. Usually we see the first green sprouts of crocus and then even daffodils in time for Easter. Well, Easter has come and gone and there’s not a sign of growth, unless something is sprouting under the ice where I can’t see it. I have seen buzzards flying around today though and they usually follow the receding snow pack looking for corpses of animals that died and were covered in snow months earlier. I don’t know what they’re seeing from up there, but down here on the ground I see nothing but deep snow.

On Sunday, my drive to Portland offered some glimpses of brown ground. It isn’t warm enough to smell the mud, but I felt a bit more hopeful. That’s what drew the buzzards I saw yesterday. They strayed far inland but there’s nothing to eat in Lovell yet. The closer I got to home the higher the snowbanks were. Behind them were more porches and buildings collapsed into a mess someone’s going to have to clean up. Then it snowed again on Monday, the last day of March.

Misery loves company and most people around here have been depressed as winter was followed by an alleged Spring. That depression has been exacerbated by the economic downturn now becoming the biggest issue in the presidential campaign. As snowbanks on the north sides of roads begin to shrink, we can see the tops of all the real estate for sale signs that have been buried inside them all winter. Soon we’ll be able to make out the words “price reduced” as well. It won’t be long before they say, “price reduced again” because we don’t know where bottom is yet. All we know is that the value of our most valuable asset is going down while the price of food, oil and gas is going up fast. We go to work every day as our net worth goes down and cost of living goes up. Then it snows again.

It doesn’t help that our three presidential candidates are less-than-promising and unlikely to lead us out of it. One speaks eloquently but says nothing. Another is shrill, saying the same old things over and over. The third one is just old, calls us “My Friends,” then can’t remember his lines very well. One will replace the stuttering lame duck next winter. After the longest, most expensive campaign ever, this is the best we can do?

I can understand the sub-prime mortgage aspect of this economic mess. People borrowed too much, betting that real estate prices would keep rising. Banks issued the loans believing the same thing and both have been caught when the market tanked. Should government bail them out? I don’t think so. They gambled and lost. A fool and his money are soon parted.

The aspects I don’t understand are “derivatives” and “hedge funds.” Evidently these were government bonds, but were changed somehow, then sold and resold until nobody knows what they’re worth anymore - not even the people who designed them. They’re worth hundreds of billions one day and nothing the next. The dollar is worth less because the world is losing confidence in America’s ability to manage itself. It’s all very confusing. Economics isn’t called the “dismal science” for nothing.

Will our emotional depression over this endless winter lead to economic depression? I hope not. I just want the snow to melt. I want to see some green.

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