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: tomthemick@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's The Religion, Stupid

It amazes me what lengths to which the left will go to avoid mentioning terrorism and Islam in the same sentence. During the days between the bombing Monday and identifying the two bombers early Thursday, the left desperately wished they would be American white guys. Leftist Salon.com ran the headline: “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon Bomber is a white American.” Writer David Sirotta invoked the leftist creed of so-called White Privilege “There is a double standard: White terrorists are dealt with as lone wolves, Islamists are existential threats.”
Caucasian Terrorists

US Representative Peter King (R-NY) has tried to investigate links between Radical Islamists in the US and terrorism, but he’s accused of bigotry for his efforts. He proposed it again on Fox News Sunday with Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Cal) when she said: “I — I don’t think all of this is very helpful.  . . . I don’t think we need to go and develop some real disdain and hatred on television about it.”

Would this help?
Three years ago, Radical Muslim Major Nidal Hasan shot forty-five soldiers and killed thirteen at Fort Hood while chanting “Allahu Akbar!” (God is great), but our officials in Washington still refuse to call the incident terrorism. The Pentagon’s 86-page report on the shooting refused to mention Islam as a motive! Texas Congressman John Carter whose district includes Fort Hood was appalled. “People are afraid to speak out and label someone because they’ll be accused of being a racist or accused of profiling or being prejudiced against a certain religion or race of people,” Carter told POLITICO. “But in a time of national crisis, which I believe we are in, all identifiers must be discussed.”

How about this?
An officer in the US Army, Hasan publicly identified himself as a “Soldier of Allah” on Army documents, yet the army’s top officer - General George Casey said of the mass murder: “as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse."

So General, political correctness is more important than the very lives of soldiers under your command?

Unbelievable.
Uh-duh!

Our leftist commander-in-chief suffers from the same willful blindness. “Why did young men who grew up and studied here as part of our communities and country resort to such violence?” asked President Obama last Saturday.

It’s the religion, stupid.

Obama’s Mini-Me - Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick - said on Good Morning America last Sunday that he had no idea why the Tsarnaev brothers would do such a thing.
Uh-duh!

It’s the religion, stupid.

Former Maine Governor John Baldacci, a very liberal Democrat, played down Muslim association when he hosted a Saturday morning “Inside Maine” radio talk show last Saturday. He claimed poverty was the major factor in motivating the Tsarnaev brothers to bomb the Boston Marathon. Fellow liberal Ken Altshuler was Baldacci’s obsequious parrot and strongly supported this foolish contention.
They drove BMWs Governor

It's the religion, stupid.

MSNBC has been trying desperately to disassociate Islam from the Boston bombings. Before the Tsarnaev brothers were identified, its guests tried to blame the Tea Party. After they were identified as Muslims, another MSNBC guest insisted the Chechen Muslim backgrounds of the brothers “had nothing to do” with the bombings.

So, why does the left so desperately want to portray the Tsarnaev brothers as domestic terrorists? Because it would play into their world view of conservatives as redneck, cretin Neanderthals who “get bitter [and] cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them” as President Obama described them.
Bitter clingers won’t vote for progressive elitists and they have guns. Progressive elitists would disarm them by ramping up gun control and dilute their influence during elections by granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens who’ll vote Democrat. Gun control and amnesty were before Congress when the bombs went off. That riveted America’s attention and unraveled carefully-crafted, progressive spin. Already skyrocketing, gun and ammunition sales increased even more as more Americans were suspected their elected leaders were either fools or worse - they were covering up something.

They’re wondering, as I am:

*If the Tsarnaevs needed asylum from Chechnya, why did the parents move back?

*If they all feared for their lives, why did Tamerlan Tsarnaev go back to visit for six months?

*What were the chances that a Saudi national with relatives in Gitmo being at the finish line and close enough to be wounded by the blast?

*Why did President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have emergency meetings with the Saudi Foreign Minister while the Saudi national was held in the hospital as a “person of interest”?

*Why was the Wednesday FBI press conference postponed again and again during all this?

*Why was the Saudi national living in Revere, Mass. when his student visa was for a college in Ohio?

*Why does Janet Napolitano profile terrorists as pro-life demonstrators, pro-gun activists, and Iraq veterans - but not radical Muslims?

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Friday, April 19, 2013

How Will Leftist Loons in Cambridge and Boston Reconcile This?

Watching this unfold in the locked-down city of Boston, it makes me wonder if this is just one of many sleeper cells ready to activate when given orders to do so by whomsoever in Teheran, Pakistan, Gaza, Lebanon, some cave in Afghanistan or wherever jihadists hang out.

Who activated them? They've been in the country for a decade or more. They blend in easily. Were they recently recruited? Were they groomed by their parents? How connected are Hezbollah, al Qaida, Chechen radical Muslims? We'll know more in the coming hours and days.

Do the FBI and Dept of Homeland Security, etc. know there are scores or even hundreds of sleeper cells ready to disrupt our day-to-day life when activated? I suspect so, even as they simultaneously play down references to Islam in their anti-terrorist training and instead play up Pro-life demonstrators, pro-gun activists, and recently - Catholics.

How does leftist loon and Salon writer David Sirota feel now? He wished the Boston Marathon bomber would be a white American, and it seems like he got his wish, but then he wasn't expecting these heterosexual white Americans to be radical Muslims was he? He's dismayed I'm sure. I'm not. My hope is that at least some leftist loons in that very loony leftist region of Massachusetts will realize who the bigger enemy is. They've felt an affinity for Radical Muslims because they hate what America has traditionally stood for just as the jihadists do, under the concept of "The enemy or my enemy is my friend." It's an unlikely alliance, but it's very real. Will they wake up now that their lives have been disrupted?

Or, if not, what rationales will they concoct to reconcile these events in their liberal La-La-Land?

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Zeitgeist

Can you remember the last time you looked up something on the internet and didn’t find it? I can’t. There were times I had to approach my search using different key words, but I’ve always been able to find something, and usually way more than I thought there would be. Often I’d consume hours and hours drinking in what other had learned before me. It’s a great time to be alive.

We live in an age when we can learn nearly anything and we don’t have to even leave our favorite chair to do so. With smart phones, we can do it in the dentist’s office waiting for our appointment. We can do it while sitting on a park bench or on the beach. When I say anything, I mean facts and figures concerning that part of the world subject to the laws of physics. Learning in the spiritual realm is different. The internet can help with that too but silence, meditation, and contemplation are better methods. Many find that using the internet can impede those time-tested paths, and about this time last year I wrote about those impediments in a piece called “Electronic Distraction.”


Learning in the 21st century can be decentralized because all that’s needed is an internet hookup and a mentor willing to guide one along a path of “Cultural Literacy” in the tradition of E. D. Hirsch’s book of that title published in 1987. There is a body of content knowledge with which any educated person must be familiar in order to interact with other educated persons around the globe. Call it “Liberal Arts” if you will - with the understanding of “liberal” in the classic sense of being broad-minded and wide-ranging in our acquisition of knowledge.

The best example of what happens when one lacks grounding in cultural literacy or the liberal arts would be a young person who, when in the company of his elders a double entendre or pun is made and those who get it laugh appreciatively. The young person realizes he doesn’t understand something others do, and, after a delay, awkwardly forces a laugh as though he does.

The American education establishment is moving steadily away from classic liberal arts education but pretends it isn’t - and that’s what prompted Hirsch to write his book. Unfortunately, that trend continues and it’s best measured today by something called Google Zeitgeist. We all know Google, but for culturally illiterate readers, “Zeitgeist” means “the spirit of the times.”

Beginning in 2001, Google began publishing data on what sorts of knowledge for which its users were searching the web. Given the World Trade Center attacks in September, it’s not surprising that the top five were:
1. Nostradamus
2. CNN
3. World Trade Center
4. Harry Potter
5. Anthrax

However, 2002’s results indicated abrupt decline in what people most wanted to learn about:

1. Spiderman
2. Shakira
3. Winter Olympics
4. World Cup
5. Avril Lavigne

Spiderman is frivolous in my opinion and I was ignorant of who Shakira and Avril Lavigne were until I clicked on them to discover they looked alike and were two blondes who sang. It seemed appropriate that Lavigne was famous for singing: “Here’s To Never Growing Up.” Was that the eponymous slogan for a generation of Americans? Maybe I’m the one who is culturally illiterate here, but I don’t think so.


Decline continued in 2003 with:
1. Britney Spears
2. Harry Potter
3. Matrix
4. Shakira
5. David Beckham

Could any of those be at all edifying in the furtherance of Cultural Literacy? Well, maybe. At least Harry Potter is a character in a book.

Britney Spears
2004 results are even worse:
1. Britney Spears
2. Paris Hilton
3. Christina Aquilera
4. Pamela Anderson
5. Chat

The first four are dumb blondes famous for being dumb blondes. That’s the “spirit of the times”? Dumb blonde obsession? Number five is “chat” - about dumb blondes, I would guess. You can Google subsequent years if you want to depress yourself further, but it doesn’t get any better. Remember, we 21st century Americans can learn virtually anything we want to just by reaching in our pocket for our smart phone, but most of us only want to know more about dumb blondes. Then consider that about 30% of all internet sites are pornographic, and that’s probably a low estimate. I’m not sure Google Zeitgeist included information on porn sites when compiling their most-searched data.
A recent question by columnist Mark Steyn is haunting me at this point: “Can a country be too stupid to survive?” he asked. There’s evidence to back up Steyn’s pessimism, certainly, but I must remain optimistic about America’s future, in the inherent goodness of the American people and their tendency to do the right thing - even if that should happen only after all else fails.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Remember When The Left Preached Tolerance?

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion was a constitutional right and had to be legal in every state. Forty years later here in 2013, the court may do the same with homosexual “marriage.” So-called Progressives don’t believe there’s anything wrong with either and don’t tolerate anyone who does. Leftist California passed a law last November against counseling for homosexuals who want to change their sexual preference and it’s got me thinking: How long before the leftist majority in one of our blue states passes a law banning counseling for women who have had abortions? My guess is not too long.
 
That men could relinquish desire for men or women for women is vehemently denied by homosexual activists. Their questionable claim that homosexuality is biologically predetermined for everyone is the most important item in their agenda, even though scientific evidence to support it is thin at best. Furthering that belief is the basis for their political victories repealing sodomy laws, passing “gay rights” laws, and now pushing for homosexual “marriage.” That’s why they outlaw counseling for people who start thinking homosexuality may not be so “gay” when they learn that life expectancy for homosexual men is about twenty years shorter than for the rest of the population. Such counseling is very threatening for activists who insist it’s impossible for homosexuals to change. They want to make it illegal for anyone, anywhere, to utter anything contrary to their own propaganda - as they have already in Canada, where it’s a “hate crime” to write a column like this one.
Pro and con outside the Supreme Court during deliberations on homosexual "marriage"

If therapists are counseling patients to overcome same-sex attraction, that implies there could be something wrong with homosexuality - and they have to be silenced. After Governor “Moonbeam” Brown signed the bill into law, those therapists who persist will lose their license to practice. If they’re also counseling women for post-abortion trauma, that implies that abortion can be bad for women psychologically and feminists hate any such suggestion.


Feminists are even more important to the left than homosexuals - and abortion is their most sacred issue. The Democrats’ contrived “War on Women” helped them win big last November and we can expect them to ramp up their dubious rhetoric as long as it wins elections. President Obama makes continued funding for Planned Parenthood - which aborts hundreds of thousands of babies every year in the United States - sacrosanct in his budget negotiations with Congress. He pledged to veto any budget that cut funds for the abortion giant.

Given that there have been more than 50 million abortions in America since Roe V Wade in 1973, how many women out there are suffering from guilt or trauma? To admit that women may be suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and generalized heartache after having abortions might cause people to reconsider their pro-choice position. Radical feminists like those at Ms. Magazine claim the very suggestion there is any such thing as PASS (Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome) is an attack on abortion rights. In her Ms. article, Cynthia L. Cooper wrote: “Abortion does not ‘hurt’ women and there is no such thing as ‘Post Abortion Syndrome’ . . .” and “[PASS] is a bogus affliction invented by the religious right.” This is the same kind of rhetoric that preceded the California law outlawing therapy for homosexuals who want to change.
Consider a recent Colorado court ruling that anti-abortion protesters may not display images of babies who have been aborted. The irony is that the court claimed they were “protecting children” from seeing what happens to other children whose mothers choose to abort them. The judges’ official wording claims they’re: “protecting children from exposure to certain images of aborted fetuses and dead bodies.” This prevents anyone from seeing what the pro-choice side is actually choosing, and that’s the whole point. What’s next? Banning images of Holocaust victims to “protect” Jews?
Legal challenges against both the Colorado Ruling and the California law are pending at this writing, but if we want to see where the left would take America, look north. Dr. Chris Kempling, a psychologist from British Columbia mentioned two brave men in a speech to the UN Human Rights Commission: “I met one of the men, Donald Spratt, who was incarcerated in British Columbia's maximum security Oakalla prison for his crime — he was holding a sign outside an abortion clinic.  . . . with a Bible verse on it — ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”
The other, Kempling said: “A man by the name of Bill Whatcott, an evangelical Christian who is a licensed practical nurse, was fined $15,000 by his professional association, for protesting against abortion on his own time, and also fined $20,000 by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission for speaking out against homosexuality.”

Remember when the left preached tolerance? Those days are gone.

Consider also that as many children were brutally murdered by Dr. Kermit Gosnell at his “Women’s Medical Society” abortuary in Philadelphia as were in Newtown, Connecticut. Gosnell’s trial is going on as you read this, but the leftist Mainstream Media is ignoring it as I predicted last month. This gruesome mass murder trial just doesn’t fit the left’s agenda, so for them it’s not even happening.

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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Regulations Can't Replace Judgement

Looks like I retired just in time. If I hadn’t decided to leave public education in 2011, Chapter 33 would have been the final straw. This Maine State law mandates that unruly students cannot be forcibly removed from the classroom. Basically, nobody can touch a student when he or she is disrupting a class “unless a teacher or student is in ‘imminent danger’ of harm,” according to a February 20th story in the Portland Press Herald.

Incredulous, I listened last fall to an acquaintance who is an elementary school teacher as she told me about her difficulties with Chapter 33. When a student disrupted her class she could ask him to behave, and if he didn’t she could tell him to go to the principal’s office. When he refused, she couldn’t force him to leave the classroom and neither could anyone else unless he or she had been specially trained to do so. Leave it to government to determine what special training is required to handle an unruly child, right? At that point, a specially-trained staff person removing a student would be “triggering a restraint situation that must be documented with extensive written reports,” according to the article.
When school law says “extensive written reports,” think truckloads in triplicate. If experience is any guide, there would follow endless meetings involving paid advocates and attorneys as well, all paid for by taxpayers.
Several times the teacher had to remove all the other students from her classroom and leave the disruptive student alone there. Evidently this had become rather common throughout the state, prompting Senator Tom Saviello of Wilton, Maine to introduce a bill that would loosen the restraint rule. But the usual suspects - the ACLU and a disability rights group - opposed Saviello’s bill and wanted to keep Chapter 33 intact.
“Our teachers are now telling me students are losing valuable instruction time when an out-of-control student refuses to leave a classroom,” said Mount Blue Regional School District Superintendent Mike Cormier. “Children who witness this acting-out do not feel safe. They wonder why the grown-ups aren't doing anything about it or intervening. Schools feel chaotic and unpredictable.”
Early in my career I taught juvenile delinquents aged 14-18 in Lowell, Massachusetts at a private day school who had just been reclassified “emotionally disturbed” by the then-new federal special ed law. If one of them refused to leave class after being told to, teachers could use the necessary force to remove a him/her from the classroom. No student, however, ever got hurt during my two years there even though "necessary force" was used at least weekly.
After moving to Maine and teaching in the regular classroom, occasions when I had to physically remove a disruptive student were rare, but still necessary on occasion. In my briefcase I kept a copy of Maine state law as it existed then - which authorized a teacher to use the necessary force to remove a disruptive student who refused verbal instructions. Several times or so I took out the law and read it to a student who refused to leave. Then I’d say, “If you don’t go by the time I count to three, I’ll remove you.” They almost always left by the count of two because I wasn’t bluffing and they knew it.
Clearly, Rule 33 takes control away from the teacher and gives it to the disruptive student. Anyone who couldn’t see that coming didn’t understand classroom dynamics, so it couldn’t have been written by actual teachers. It was inevitable that there would be pushback from genuine teachers - and that happened last February, just a few months into the first year the foolish rule went into effect. Seventy-five people packed a hearing room, most of them classroom

teachers.
After a few weeks, the backlash had some effect as the Press Herald reported March 6th: “The compromise language, explained Wednesday to the Education Committee, carves out an exception for "physical escort." That standard would allow temporary touching to "induce" a student to walk to another room without triggering the definition of the more serious "restraint," an action that requires extensive documentation and follow-up.”
Will the compromise hold up? I doubt it. Lawsuits and threats of lawsuits will inevitably follow the new laws, all very expensive and tying up staff time that would be better spent actually teaching. Respect for teachers and their judgements in such matters has declined and multitudinous regulations are a poor substitute. So it goes in big-government schools where budgets and bureaucracy and regulations continue to grow while common sense, old-fashioned values and the good judgment we used to rely upon are increasingly ignored.

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