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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

No Moderates Please

Vatican City
The Mainstream Media (MSM) get very interested in the Catholic Church when they want it to pick a “more modern” or “moderate” pope. They’re running lots of pieces on what American Catholics want. For one local example, The Portland Press Herald - biggest newspaper in Maine - proclaimed “Maine Catholics hope for a younger, more moderate pope.”

As a Maine Catholic I had to comment, because what the MSM means by “more moderate” is a pope who won’t call abortion “murdering babies.” A “more moderate” pope would play down the Church’s teaching that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered” and would lift Pope Benedict’s ban on homosexuals being admitted to seminaries. A “more moderate” won’t believe as Pope Benedict does that the Church’s nightmare scandal in America and Europe was a homosexual priest scandal and not a pedophile priest scandal.
Benedict XVI

A “more moderate” pope would be “worth a bucket of warm spit,” as Vice President John Nance Garner said about the vice presidency. Revelation 3:16 says “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." A moderate pope is what the Catholic Church absolutely does not need, especially at this critical juncture. So-called “moderate” Catholics are people like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and John Kerry, to name just a few and there is no shortage of their counterparts in the Vatican.

I’m fine with a young pope, as long as he is on fire in his faith. He’ll need energy to cope with the “moderates” from Europe and the United States because he’ll have a tough time with them. My advice to those who want the Catholic Church to moderate itself? Leave. Join the Episcopalians or the Unitarians.

Conservatives John Paul II and Benedict XVI were in office long enough to appoint lots of like-minded young cardinals who will be electing the next pope. When that guy, whoever he is, takes over, he’ll be reading the 300-page dossier prepared at the request of Pope Benedict to look into what’s being called the “Vatileaks” affair - when Benedict’s butler smuggled out some of his private papers. Benedict appointed three trusted cardinals to investigate this and they reported back last December.
We don’t know what’s in their report, but two Italian media outlets published articles last week purporting to know and they suggest that Benedict chose to resign after reading it. They allege the existence of a homosexual cabal or gay mafia within the powerful Roman Curia - governing structure of the Church in the Vatican - which conspires against Benedict.

That there’s a homosexual cabal in the Vatican wouldn’t surprise me in the least. That Benedict was shocked to discover it just last December I don’t believe for a minute. As Philip Lawler points out at Catholicculture.org:

Pope Benedict, who has lived in Rome and worked with the Roman Curia for more than 30 years, has surely heard the reports and the rumors. He cannot possibly have been shocked by the news that some Vatican officials are homosexual. ‘He is probably the last person who would be surprised by such a so-called revelation,’ remarked Jean-Marie Guenois, another veteran Vatican journalist and editor of Le Figaro.

That fits with my view. As former editor of The Pilot, America’s oldest Catholic newspaper and official media outlet of the Archdiocese of Boston, Lawler is quite familiar with the workings of powerful homosexuals in the Catholic Church. He wrote about them in a brilliant but depressing book entitled “The Faithful Departed.” Do you want to understand why Boston Cardinal Bernard Law resigned? Want to understand why New Hampshire’s Republican house majority leader called [then NH] Bishop John McCormack a “pedophile pimp who should have been led away from the State House in handcuffs with a raincoat over his head”? Read Lawler’s book. Lawler ran The Pilot from 1992 to 2005 during the thick of the homosexual priest scandal and knew both men very well.

You won’t see Phil Lawler on the “Today Show” or in any other MSM outlet. He knows what was really caused the scandal and so does Michael Rose, who in his book “Good-bye Good Men” claimed that upwards of 40% of American priests who went to seminary between the seventies and the nineties were actively homosexual. You won’t see Rose on “The Today Show” either. Their analyses don’t fit the MSM spin on the sex scandal set in motion by “The Boston Globe” in 2002.
John Paul II. No moderate he.

The Catholic Church in Europe and America has suffered severe decline under the leadership of “moderate” priests, bishops and cardinals. God save us from a moderate pope.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dancing With The Girls


Tea Party
Been doing quite a lot of spontaneous dancing lately. It’s fun, good exercise, and not something I’d done much of since I was a teenager, but I’m liking it. Sometimes my granddaughters hold hands with me as we dance and other times we cut loose in what I guess you’d call “free-form.” It could be sparked by the intro score to “Shaun The Sheep,” or most any other kind of music that comes over various electronic media in the house. We sing a lot too, usually old favorites like “Wheels on the Bus” or “Old McDonald.” We’re having a grand time and we read a lot of books also, many of which I hadn’t read for thirty years. There are tea parties too, almost every day.
Babies in their bellies

It’s seldom dull here since we invited my daughter and her family to stay with us for a while. She’s having twin boys any day now, and looking more pregnant than any woman I’ve ever seen. With three-year-old Claire and two-year-old Lila - my dance partners - she can’t reasonably be expected to handle twin boys as well - not for a while at least. The boys’ names aren’t firm yet, but right now they’re Luke and Henry. Various suggestions included Daryl and Daryl or Hans and Frans, but those monikers didn’t seem to fit. We’ll know for sure what to call them when they finally emerge.
We eat ice cream too sometimes

We thought they’d come three weeks ago when she had contractions for several hours, but it wasn’t to be. If she hasn’t delivered by the time you read this, it will be thirty-nine weeks - a long time for twins. She’d like the pregnancy to be over and we’re all ready for the births - except for Luke and Henry that is, who are estimated to weigh around six pounds each at this writing. They’re biding their time.
Claire is three

Life is different for my wife and I, but it’s the same in a way too, because we were in this mode thirty-something years ago. But it’s soon to become still more different. Twins will be a new experience.
Lila is two

We moved our bedroom back downstairs where we slept when our own children were teenagers. Back then I wanted them to have to walk by our bedroom when trying to sneak in late. After they were grown and gone, we moved upstairs to the master bedroom. Now my daughter and family have the whole second floor with a couple of bathrooms to themselves, except for a small office where I’m writing this. The main floor now has lots of doll carriages, doll houses, a potty chair, puzzles, games, miniature table and chairs, as well as several other items too numerous to list. The girls are both housebroken, so there’ll be just the boys in diapers, a large supply of which have already been donated.
Eating lunch

After our nest emptied, It took my wife and I a while to get used to cooking for only the two of us. Now we’re cooking for six again and resurrecting old recipes. It’s like old times, but now we’re older.
Another tea party

My son-in-law has to work at his building and remodeling business and my wife has her counseling practice Mondays and Tuesdays, so I do most of my dancing and singing on those days. I can come up here to my office once in a while other days, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to continue banging out a column every week after the boys arrive. We’ll see. Other extended family members will hopefully spell us once in a while so we can get respite at our South Portland house.

I used to dance, sing, and attend tea parties decades ago, but not with as much abandon as I do now. I didn’t have nearly enough time back then and I enjoy it more this time around. It’s not what I expected to be doing when I retired but hey, there are worse ways to spend my time and energy.
Lila and mother with their babies

When the boys come, I’ll take on the added duty of gatekeeper. There are scores of well-meaning friends and relatives on both sides who will want to visit and see the twins, and my job will be to keep them away for four to six weeks as my daughter adjusts. She intends to nurse both of them and it will be interesting to see how that’s accomplished. Diaper-changing might cut into my frolicking a bit as well. I thought those days were behind me, but no.
At their cabin last summer

The little log cabin in the woods where my daughter and her family lived is too small now, so I guess I’ll leave the South Portland house alone for a while and continue renewing my hammer-and-saw skills helping my son-in-law expand the cabin - when I’m not busy dancing and singing, that is.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Vacation Cottage in the City

It’s strange waking up in the middle of the night not knowing where I am. The house in the City of South Portland, Maine my wife and I bought for an investment is coming along, and we’ve been staying there a couple of nights a week as we work on it, so when waking, I need a few seconds to get my bearings. (For readers not familiar with Maine, South Portland is a separate municipality just across the Casco Bay Bridge from better-known Portland.)
Portland from Mill Creek in South Portland

Usually it’s noise that rouses me at night. In the city, I think I’m hearing coyotes howling as they often do outside my bedroom windows in rural Lovell. Then, gradually, I realize it’s not coyotes I’m hearing; it’s sirens, which are just as common in the city as coyotes are in the country. When I realize where I am, I know in which direction I’ll find the bathroom.
My morning run

It’s a relatively quiet neighborhood, and when the leaves fall we can see Portland across the harbor to the north. Even when windows are closed for winter I hear foghorns and ships blasting a deep base as they cruise out of the harbor in the night. Far-off trains sound horns too and there’s a dull roar of airliners as they fly over on their way up the Fore River to the Portland Jetport. Never did I expect to enjoy these things after thirty-five years in rural Lovell, to which I considered myself totally adapted.
Kite Flying at Bug Light in South Portland

All those sounds are comforting in another way too. Together with the sound of automobiles and trucks, they’re the sound of commerce. As I walk from my house to my truck, I sometimes get a whiff of crude oil from a tanker unloading over at the Portland Pipeline As our economy continues to struggle, I like hearing and smelling products and people still moving as more than half of Maine’s economy is generated by the Greater Portland area.
Tanker unloading at night in South Portland

Cities used to repulse me. For more than a year, I had to commute in and out of Boston twice a day as a student and for my job there - and I developed a deep hatred for traffic. My twenty-mile commute from Lovell to Fryeburg and back for thirty-four years was peaceful and enjoyable - no traffic lights, few STOP signs, and very little traffic except during Fryeburg Fair. Now, however, my schedule is flexible. I can usually avoid morning and evening rush hours while I’m down there. The house is close to still-rural Cape Elizabeth with numerous ocean-front parks and beaches, and our neighbors are friendly. We bought it with the intention of fixing it up and renting it, but we like going there so much we’re just going to keep using it. Heating with natural gas is surprisingly cheap, especially with a new, state-of-the-art boiler and old radiators.
Mill Creek South Portland

And nobody knows me there. I’m almost completely anonymous as I go about. Once in a while I’ll bump into a friend or a former student living in that area now, but that’s it - and I like that. It’s also nice to come back to Lovell where, as they used to say on Cheers: “I wanna be where everybody knows your name.” It’s also nice being close to the airport and only ninety minutes to the Boston area where we have lots of relatives. And another thing: there are no bugs. No black flies. No mosquitoes, except a few near Bug Light at night where we enjoy “watchin’ the ships roll in, and watch ’em roll away again,” to quote Otis Redding.
Sunset over Portland from Bug Light

Interviewing for teaching jobs in Maine thirty-six years ago, my wife and I had a difficult time deciding whether we wanted to live on the coast or in the mountains. Both have their charms. Now, we have some of both, with a bit of city life thrown in as well.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Because They're Allowed To

Lots of things caused the Great Recession we’re in, but the biggest was the subprime mortgage crisis. And what caused that? Government meddling in the housing market, that’s what. Guess we’ll never do that again, right? Wrong. We’re at it again and this time it’s worse.

The full faith and credit of the United States of America - which used to mean something - is getting behind mortgages for up to 150% of what a house is worth. Yes, you read that right. Our brilliant federal officials are guaranteeing mortgages to underwater homeowners for more than their houses are worth! It was bad enough that our government caused the housing bubble by strong-arming banks into writing mortgages to people who couldn’t pay them back. Now that housing prices have tumbled and foreclosures have gone through the roof, our government is propping up what’s left of the housing market by pushing 150% mortgages with all of us on the hook for them.
Oh and by the way: we’re more than $16 trillion in debt. That means we’re the absolutely biggest debtor nation in history and getting bigger by the hour. So what are those geniuses we elected to the White House and Congress doing about this? Furrowing their brows and pretending to do something while making it worse all the time. They keep borrowing, and now 70% of our new debt is “purchased” by the Federal Reserve. For you low-information voters who gave Dear Leader his second term, here’s a little economics lesson:
When the US Government borrows money, it issues bonds. Think of these bonds as IOUs the government gives to people it borrows from. Remember the US Savings Bonds your grandmother gave you for your birthday? Those pieces of paper didn’t represent the US saving anything. They represented the US borrowing from your grandmother and promising to pay back whatever number of dollars it printed on the bonds. They were IOUs with interest. Got that? Our government was going further into debt and Grammy believed it would pay her (or you) back.
Well, that belief about the US Government’s ability to pay back what it borrows has been shaken severely. The rest of the world is nervous about the financial stability of the US Government and you should be too - but clearly you aren’t, or you wouldn’t have voted for the Dear Leader.

When Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner issues bonds, (tries to borrow more trillions of dollars), buyers say “Uh-uh. No way am I going to lend you any more money. Not for that low interest rate.” However, the US Government isn’t about to let interest rates go up because that would hasten its bankruptcy.
So what does it do? It hints to Bald, Bearded Ben Bernanke - Chairman of the “independent” Federal Reserve - that it needs more “Quantitative Easing.” And what the heck is “Quantitative Easing” you may ask? It’s Bald Bearded Ben creating trillions of dollars out of thin air. He’s printing monopoly money. When he denies that the “independent” Federal Reserve prints money, he’s not telling the truth. Oh, technically he’s right. The dollars he’s creating out of thin air are not paper dollars or what we call “hard copy.” They’re digital dollars.

We all know people with huge credit card debt. How did they get there? Did they pass hard-copy dollars when they bought things? No. They used digital dollars. When they reached their debt ceiling, what did they do? They got another credit card and rolled their debt over onto it. Did any hard copy dollars change hands? No. They continued doing this as long as they were allowed to. Let me repeat that: As long as they were allowed to. This is what the US Government is doing through the Federal Reserve - rolling old debt into ever-increasing new debt. How long will they continue doing this? As long as they’re allowed to.

And who allows them? We do.

Now think what would happen if people with huge credit-card debt obtained printing presses that could print dollars - or super computers that could create digital dollars - without going to jail. What would happen to our economy with all that funny money in circulation? It would collapse, right? But that’s what Bald, Bearded Ben Bernanke is going at the Federal Reserve in his third round of printing/creating dollars - that he calls “Quantitative Easing.”
Low-information voters gave us the Ivy-League educated, government leaders who assure us that all this is okay because they know what they’re doing. Barack and Ben must know what they’re doing because they went to Harvard, right? They’re smarter than the rest of us and we’ve put our faith in them, so everything will be all right, won’t it?

Dream on.

The economic mess Dear Leader inherited from Bush is nothing compared to what he’s inheriting from his own first term.

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