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, August 25, 2010

America In Retreat

America is losing ground, literally and figuratively. For decades, I’ve taught young people how the United States was born - and how it expanded to the configuration on the maps I use to teach - the lower forty-eight with Alaska and Hawaii scrunched in alongside. The maps don’t indicate how tenuous our hold on the territory within that familiar shape is becoming, but it’s getting weaker. That’s ominous - not only for us, but for the whole world.In spite of several warnings not to, I drove to the Mexican border in Nogales, Arizona last June, right after school got out. (See previous articles here and here.) Ordinary people I met in Tucson told me it was dangerous down there, but I went anyway and stopped when I got to the pathetic border fence where I pulled over and parked on a Monday afternoon. Half the signs were in Spanish. Hispanic men were sitting in groups of three or four on the sidewalks watching me get out of my car and walk around. The first several people I tried to talk to didn’t speak English - and I was still in the United States.I walked into the Nogales Historical Society next to a pawn shop. The man behind the desk in the office didn’t speak English. Another man came in and he didn’t speak English either. Exhibits favorable to Mexican bandits and revolutionaries proliferated.Seeing a McDonalds on a hill nearby and knowing they had wifi service, I drove up. Nobody spoke English there either and it was surrounded by a chain link fence topped with razor wire. Remember, I was still on the US side of the border, which I could see from the parking lot.Private homes in the area had bars on their windows.Those, and the security fence reminded me of traveling in the West Bank three years ago.

I left my car and walked across into Mexico. There were no clerks to challenge me, just a one-way turnstyle because nobody tries to sneak into that godforsaken country, and no wonder: A week later 21 people were massacred just 12 miles away. I didn’t feel safe in a country where the government is as corrupt as the drug lords. Two blocks in was a hotel outside of which were heavily-armed soldiers guarding government officials meeting inside. After an hour of being accosted by men selling viagra and prostitutes, I turned around.

I stood in line for another hour looking at pictures of Barack Obama and Janet Napolitano, waiting to get back into my country. I showed my passport, walked back across, then drove up International Street alongside the pathetic border fence where overworked US Border Patrol Agents in white-and-green pick up trucks drove around frantically trying to catch the thousands of illegals who jump over it every month.One told me to get out of there because it was “too dangerous.” I asked if he needed more help from our government to control the border, but he got nervous and referred me to his superiors at headquarters.

Last week, CNS.com interviewed Cochise County Arizona Sheriff Larry Dever, who said: “And you frankly have Border Patrolmen--and I know this from talking to Border Patrol agents—who will not allow their agents to work on the border because it is too dangerous. Now what kind of message is that for crying out loud?”

Indeed.

Also last week, Jim Couri reported at familysecuritymatters.com that: “On the heels of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents' 258-0 ‘vote of no confidence’ against their superiors, U.S. Border Patrol agents [in Tucson] are slamming President Barack Obama's administration - especially Attorney General Eric Holder.”

US National Park officials are warning Americans about the danger of Mexican drug smugglers inside the US. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said most illegal aliens are smuggling drugs.

Just the other day, An 18-year-old American woman was kidnapped in Texas, taken across the Mexican border and held for ransom. “U.S. authorities did not contact their Mexican counterparts because they did not know whether they were corrupted or connected to the girl’s captors,” San Juan, Texas Police Chief Juan Gonzalez said.

Drug cartels see America full of addicts and their own country in anarchy. Peasants see America as paradise with free medical care and education, and their own country as non-functioning. Our government and Mexico’s “government” pretend all this isn’t so. Working together, they pretend Arizona is the problem for trying to protect itself from invasion by millions of violent foreign drug dealers and illiterate campesinos.

The violent anarchy that is Mexico is spreading north, enabled by our federal government. We’re losing ground. Most of our fifty states are effectively bankrupt or chafing at escalating power in Washington. Some are talking nullification - even secession. We’re in danger of boiling over.

America saved the world from fascist and communist dictatorship in the 20th century and it’s the only obstacle to the chaos of radical Islamic terrorism in the 21st. Our enemies, however, no long fear us.They see us as a paper tiger governed by a president who apologizes for our past greatness while running us into bankruptcy.

We’re losing ground on many fronts.

That’s ominous for us - and for the rest of the world as well. Who else but America has the courage and the might to keep chaos at bay? The UN? After us, the deluge.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Tissue Issue


It’s fashionable to be “green” these days, among liberals at least. Advertisers pick up on it to make products and services seem as green as possible. Given that man-made global warming is being exposed as a hoax with fudged data in British and American universities, NASA, and the UN, I’m wondering how long the fad will last.

Two years ago, pop singer Sheryl Crow showed clips from Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” on her concert tour and insisted we could save the planet by using only one sheet of toilet paper per visit, “ . . . except, of course, on those pesky occasions when two or three could be required.” I can’t help but think that attempts to use just one sheet would be the main cause of “those pesky occasions,” but I’m one of those conservatives the Green People think don’t care about the environment and like to pollute it every chance I get because I like drinking dirty water, breathing dirty air, and using too much toilet paper, so what would I know?

Remember that Gore is the guy who, as a US Senator, restricted each American toilet flush to two-and-a-half gallons, so now toilet paper doesn’t go all the way down after you flush. It just swirls around and stays in the bowl - an inconvenient flush, you could say, because we have to wait while the tank slowly fills up and try again.

When Al Gore and Sheryl Crow insist that global warming is caused by human activity, they sound like Chicken Little and Henny Penny squawking “The sky is falling!” Nonetheless, I don’t want to get in the way of any students who wish to comply with Crow’s recommendation. The problem is that toilet paper at my school is on continuous rolls about twelve or fourteen inches in diameter and not perforated into individual sheets. Students and teachers must reach into the bottom of the dispenser, grab hold of the end of the roll, pull down a length of tissue, then pull up and to the side so the sawtooth edge of the dispenser severs the piece for use. If the one sheet Crow wants people to use is four inches long, it would be nearly impossible for students to pull out only that much and tear it off. It would just shred in their fingers and make for an inconvenient wipe.Luckily we have award-winning custodians in my school and I put the problem to them. Could we possibly perforate the big toilet paper rolls by drilling into them? They furrowed their brows and scratched their chins as they considered my tissue issue. They could drill a set of holes across the paper from the outside in so it would rip off in perforated sheets they said, but the ones toward the end of the roll would become ever smaller as its circumference steadily decreased with use. Those tearing off sheets at the end would find them so small that one sheet couldn’t possibly suffice for the task at hand no matter how fervently they wanted to save the planet. Steadily decreasing school budgets may, however, solve the perforation problem. Students in Ireland and Hawaii are now requested to bring their own toilet paper and we can ask our students too.

Meanwhile, Sheryl Crow is still, as our Hawaiian president might say, all “wee-weed up” over toilet paper. Last week, she wanted only recycled toilet paper dispensed at her concerts. I don’t know if she’ll allow people to use more than one square if it’s recycled, but she specifies that it has to be “post-consumer recycled toilet paper and paper towel” and that leaves me wondering: Does she mean some consumer must have used the toilet paper before her concert-goers use it? If so, how does it get recycled? Is it pulled up from a septic tank and reprocessed? I don’t like to visualize that so I’ll assume it’s from some other sort of “post-consumer” use, like an already-read newspaper or something.

Readers should keep this in mind should Crow ever decide to do a gig here in the Maine/New Hampshire area and you get what folk singer Tom Rush might call “the urge for going.” If it’s an outside venue, I suppose people could pick a leaf off a low branch and use that for a real greenie wee-wee.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pressure Is Building


Is America is at risk of boiling over? Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for the President Reagan, now columnist for The Wall Street Journal, believes it is. I don’t like to think about it but the danger is there. Noonan is not the alarmist type. She’s even-tempered and intuitive about Americans, and that’s why she was able to write speeches for President Reagan that tapped the American psyche. When she writes something like this, I pay attention.

She says “Americans no longer assume that their children will have it better than they did. This is a huge break with the past, with assumptions and traditions that shaped us.” Do Americans think we’ve peaked? That we’re going downhill now?

She identified a gap between what our elites think our country needs and what ordinary Americans believe it needs. She claims there’s a “growing gulf between the country's thought leaders, as they're called—the political and media class, the universities—and those living what for lack of a better word we'll call normal lives on the ground in America. The two groups were agitated by different things, concerned about different things, had different focuses, different world views.”

She’s absolutely right. Americans have voted over and over on referenda that they want the federal government to control illegal immigration, but elites call them “xenophobic.” When citizens in the states vote against supporting illegal aliens in schools, hospitals, welfare offices, in bilingual programs and so forth, they’re called “racists.” She cites the situation in Arizona: “The point of view of our thought leaders is, in general, that borders that are essentially open are good, or not so bad. The point of view of those on the ground who are anxious about our nation's future, however, is different, more like: ‘We live in a welfare state and we've just expanded health care. Unemployment's up. Could we sort of calm down, stop illegal immigration, and absorb what we've got?’ No is, in essence, the answer.”
Nogales, Arizona border

Rather than closing the border, the Obama Administration sued Arizona for usurping the authority of Washington even though Washington was refusing to exercise that authority. Then a federal judge ruled that the Arizona law - even though it mirrors federal law - violates the US Constitution. Unbelievable.

Then there’s California’s Proposition 8. The elites say homosexuals have a constitutional right to marry each other. California’s citizens passed Proposition 8 in 2008 - an amendment to their state constitution restricting marriage to one man and one woman. Then a homosexual federal judge ruled last week that the amended California Constitution violates the US Constitution. As if George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson believed men had a right “marry” each other? As if ordinary Americans who have voted in thirty-four state referenda to preserve a basic, 5000-year-old human concept are “homophobic”?

Last week, the State of Missouri voted 71% that Washington cannot force them to buy health insurance from anyone. Congressional Democrats knew most Americans felt that way, but they voted to ram it down our throats anyway. US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pooh-poohed the Missouri vote, insisting that the “trend is turning” and Americans will soon embrace Obamacare.


You’re in La-La Land Harry.

Back in March of 2009, Texas Governor Rick Perry talked about secession in the face of the encroaching power of Washington. Several other states are discussing nullification - ignoring dictates from Washington - because they believe the Constitution doesn’t grant Congress or the President power to do what they want. Democrat Congressman Pete Stark told people at a “townhall” meeting in his district last week that “The federal government, yes, can do most anything in this country.”
Pampered radical students from the 60s ad 70s are now running not only our universities and our mainstream media, but also our government. These dedicated followers of Saul Alinsky have taken over Washington. As Victor Davis Hanson puts it: “One walk across the Yale or Stanford campus circa 1975, and one could see pretty clearly what sort of culture that bunch would create when it came of age and was handed power.” They’re smugly imposing their bankrupt socialist policies on states and the states are rebelling.

There is indeed the “chasm” existing between the elites and the rest of us on the ground as Noonan describes. Ordinary Americans who know how things work in the real world because they actually keep the country running on the job sites every day have had enough. If citizens cannot use the democratic process to express their will without being thwarted and insulted by screwball federal judges at every turn, America will indeed boil over.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Government Knows Best


Not only is government "fixing" our economy, it wants to control everything it can down to the smallest details.

A property I manage was overrun with flying squirrels, for instance. The owners already had an exterminator but the contract didn’t include squirrels. I’d trapped more than a dozen flying squirrels and one red squirrel, but I couldn’t keep up with them. Then someone told me about a guy who specializes in the critters. I called him in and he went about plugging up the many places squirrels or bats could gain access. Then he installed one-way doors so they could get out at night (they’re nocturnal), but not back in. Finally, he trapped the stubborn ones that tried to chew their way back in. He told me that flying squirrels were protected by government. I couldn’t believe it at first, but it’s true. A great example of government trying to fix something that isn’t a problem. I’ve caught dozens with rat traps in my own house too and heard similar stories from friends.

Not wanting to violate the law while he conducted business, my guy contacted authorities about getting rid of nuisance squirrels. They told him to continue trapping them, but to save their cute little corpses for government to examine. He did so, but accumulated so many, so often, that officials told him to stop contacting them which he happily did. Flying squirrels are not scarce here in western Maine, but they only come out at night, so few people ever see them. One woman friend told me she caught thirty-six of them in her attic in her “have a heart” trap. She released them all some distance from her house. As for me, I don’t have a heart when it comes to squirrels of any sort.

One animal-lover group excoriated President Bush for taking northern flying squirrels off the endangered species list in 2008. How could Bush have been so heartless as to leave such a cute little rodent unprotected, they wondered, and they begged President Obama to put them back on. The Center for Biological Diversity claims: “The tiny squirrel, which appears to have a brown cape when in flight, is dearly loved throughout its Appalachian Mountain homeland.”

Well I beg to differ. I live in the Appalachians Mountains and I can’t stand them. I shoot squirrels of all kinds whenever I see them near my house or any of the buildings I take care of. If I don’t, they chew their way in and cause enormous damage. They’re a pain in the butt and there’s no end to them. I say hurray for President Bush.

These animal-lovers are nuts and government is enabling them. They think the human race is a problem and cutting back our population is vastly more preferable to trapping their cute little tree rats. In that spirit, they’ve initiated an “Endangered Species Condoms” distribution project. I’m not making this up. They want to protect squirrels and cut back humans because we’re the biggest threats to biological diversity. They believe human activity invades squirrel habitat when it’s pretty obvious that squirrel activity invades ours.

Just how nutty are these people? To justify government intervention into the alleged squirrel shortage, they cite another non-problem for justification:

Despite dire projections from recent global warming models predicting the complete disappearance of the West Virginia northern flying squirrels’ habitat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed all protections afforded to the species by the Endangered Species Act.

These are the kinds of people President Obama was talking to when he said he would lower the sea level and control climate. They actually believe he can do that. Their ilk elected Obama and a Congress that does what he says. Now they want to control virtually every aspect of our lives.

Canadian Geese are another nuisance species protected by government and making my life difficult. When they’re not causing plane crashes in New York City, large flocks of them invade lakefront properties and crap all over the place. The easiest thing would be to shoot them and eat them, but government says you need a federal license to do that.

So what’s going to come out of Washington next? In Virginia, where so many federal employees live, there exists an organization known as the “Center For Human-Wildlife Conflict Resolution.” It purports to “help Virginia residents and municipal leaders identify potential sources of assistance when confronted with problematic wild animal concerns.”

Isn’t that special? If present trends continue, we’re going to need a federal license to pull ticks off ourselves or swat mosquitoes - and then only according to whatever guidelines are laid out in a Center for Human-Wildlife Conflict Resolution action plan.

Labels: , , ,