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, May 28, 2013

Agents Too Busy

The FBI is embarrassed. They investigated three terrorists and decided they weren’t dangerous. Then Nidal Hasan and the Tsarnaev brothers went on to kill and maim hundreds of Americans right here in the USA.

We shouldn’t be so hard on them though. They were busy doing other things at the instruction of their superiors. Like what you may ask? Well, for one thing, they were investigating Catherine Engelbrecht, the kind of person designated to be more dangerous than the Tsarnaev brothers who blew up the Boston Marathon. Obama Administration policy is to go easy on Muslims and scrutinize conservatives when investigating terrorism. That extends to tax policy too.

According to a Wall Street Journal column by Peggy Noonan, Catherine Engelbrecht personally founded two conservative groups for which she requested tax-exempt status from the IRS. One she called the “King Street Patriots.” For this, Engelbrecht received a visit from the FBI in December, 2010 to ask about someone who had attended a King Street Patriots function. They came back the next month with more questions while the IRS sent auditors to look over her business tax returns. Throughout 2011 came more visits from the FBI, OSHA, and the ATF. She has a small manufacturing business and is a licensed gun dealer. Clearly, the Obama Administration considers this woman dangerous to have gotten so much attention from so many federal agents.
Meanwhile, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was visiting Muslim terrorists in Chechnya and Dagestan during 2011 and Russian intelligence several times warned the FBI of this, but they just didn’t have time to follow up being so busy with that cagey Catherine Engelbrecht. Maybe Tsarnaev was getting lessons in bombmaking from Radical Muslims, but Engelbrecht was organizing a group called “True the Vote” that would prevent dead Americans from voting Democrat. If all those federal agents hadn’t slowed her down, Engelbrecht and her ilk might have gone on to pressure our government to take welfare benefits away from immigrant terrorists like Tsarnaev.
Homeland Security chief, Janet Napolitano spent $12,000,000 last year to study what kinds of people the FBI should be keeping an eye on. Those would be “people who are reverent of individual liberty” and “suspicious of centralized federal authority.” People like that could very possibly be “extreme right-wing terrorists.” The guys who wrote our Constitution - people like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison - were like that. If they were alive today, would the FBI and the IRS scrutinize them too? Back in 2009, Napolitano warned Americans that prolife groups, Iraq War veterans and people defending gun rights might be terrorists. We can see that the IRS has been very busy with those groups the past three years. Did the FBI investigate them too?

Law enforcement in the United Kingdom is similarly stretched. Some think it took them too long 20 minutes - to show up when a British soldier was run down by a car and beheaded by two Muslim terrorists on a London street. Bystanders had time to get a lesson in Islam from the Muslims who explained why they chopped the soldier’s head off. “We are forced by the Koran, in Sura al-Tawba, through many ayah in the Koran, we must fight them as they fight us.” said Michael Adebolajo. Passersby were asked to film this and post it on Youtube, which they did.
So, why did it take police twenty minutes you may ask? They’re busy fighting Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry and insensitivity. They even watch what people are Tweeting in the UK. According to the Daily Telegraph, a teenager was arrested for hurting the feelings of an olympic diver who didn’t win a medal by tweeting: “You let your father down!” Mustn’t let him go around writing stuff like that.
After the public beheading, an 85-year-old woman hurt the feelings of other Muslim immigrants while she was waiting for a bus near their mosque. “Go back to your own country!” she yelled. Immediately, police put her in handcuffs and took her away. People like her might prevent other British people from celebrating multiculturalism.

The left here and in the UK continue to insist these explosions, shootings or beheadings have nothing to do with Islam, the “religion of peace.” Just last Thursday, President Obama said these are just misguided individuals misinterpreting that great religion. Just because a million people march in  the streets of Iran chant “Death To America!” and thousands in Lebanon chant: “Death to America!” people get the wrong idea that there’s some large, Islamic movement against our country out there. Nothing could be further from the truth, Obama assures us.

As for journalists who may question the president’s wisdom? Federal agents have been busy investigating them too. I've always been curious why the FBI was never able to figure out what Mohammed Atta was doing in South Portland, Maine on the morning of September 11, 2001. Now I have a clue.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Left-Wing Tyranny: Here's What It Looks Like

It’s chilling. As the curtain lifts, a little here, a little there, we see the tyrannical left cementing itself in big government - and it gives me shivers. The most leftist administration in American history has been using the Internal Revenue Service to harass conservatives. It’s been lying about radical Muslim terrorism, and spying on the press. What else is it doing? Based just on what we know already, there are bound to be serious consequences. As more is learned, we may be looking at a sea change.

What kinds of consequences? Drastically-increasing polarization of left and right at all levels is a given, and that could take many forms. In government, Republicans will push for a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS and that has the most serious implications for the Obama Administration. Nixon talked about it using the IRS to harass enemies, but didn’t do it. The Obama Administration has been actually doing it for at least two years, but there's no evidence yet that he talked about it. It’s too early to speculate about impeachment, but if evidence of White House involvement pops up, it’s not unthinkable. What’s concerning now is reaction at the grass roots. Americans are rapidly losing faith in government.

Gun and ammunition purchases rose when Obama was elected and have been absolutely skyrocketing with his renewed gun control push. Legislation has been stopped so far, but there aren’t enough guns or ammunition anymore for people who want them. That raises suspicion for Americans who increasingly fear government. They see a president who slandered them as “bitterly clinging to their guns and religion," then rammed Obamacare down their throats. Obamacare spawned the Tea Party which elected a group of representatives to Congress in 2010 to block Obama’s left-wing agenda. And now they’ve been singled out for harassment by the by the enormous powers of the IRS? This is serious - very serious. They’re convinced Obama violated their rights to get himself reelected.
Labeled “racist” and “bigoted” by Democrats, the Tea Party staged peaceful, law-abiding demonstrations and even cleaned up after themselves, unlike their “Occupy” counterparts on the left which trashed cities around the country, conspired to blow up a bridge in Ohio, then rioted in Seattle, San Francisco and elsewhere on May 1st of 2012 and 2013. Obama officials and their allies in Congress have made clear which side they support - and it’s not the Tea Party. Now we’re expected to believe that nobody in the White House knew anything about IRS harassment. How stupid do they think we are?
Occupy suspects arrested planning to blow up bridge

When Bloomberg News’ Juliana Goldman asked him last Thursday afternoon: “Can you assure the American people that nobody in the White House knew about the [IRS] agency’s actions before your White House’s counsel’s office found out on April 22?”
Last Thursday's press conference

“Let me make sure I answer your specific question,” Obama said - and then he dodged it: “I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press,” he answered, saying nothing about any White House knowledge about which is what she asked.
He thinks we’re all fools out here.

At Thanksgiving dinners and Fourth of July picnics, have you heard relatives say they distrust government so much that they stock up on guns and ammunition? Maybe you thought they were over-reacting. Did they complain that the Department of Homeland Security was buying up more than a billion rounds of ammunition and thousands of light-armored tanks? Maybe you thought they were paranoid, but they were your relatives and so you tried to change the subject or you turned on a football game.
After the admission by the IRS about Tea Party groups, after accusations that they harassed pro-life Catholics, harassed groups opposing homosexual “marriage” or teaching the Constitution, harassed pro-Israel Jews, harassed Evangelical Protestants, harassed journalists who ask Obama tough questions, searched phone records and emails of other journalists and harassed many other conservatives with audits and intrusive, voluminous questionnaires - do you still think they’re over-reacting? Maybe you’re starting to wonder: Did the IRS really ask conservatives what candidates they support? What books they read? What they said in their prayers? Did they actually require pro-life groups to promote abortion? Yes, they did.
Now consider this: Sarah Ingram, the IRS lady who oversaw the harassment of conservatives got over $100,000 in bonuses, and now she’s been promoted and charged with implementing Obamacare. Who will she put in charge of determining how much medical care conservatives get? Michael Moore? Bill Ayers? Will they be on her death panels?
Philadelphia Eagles lineman says "Audit this!"

This trio of scandals offers an ugly view of left-wing tyranny perpetrated by the Democrats running our federal government. It’s the biggest threat to freedom Americans have faced since I can’t remember when. It must be stopped.

As Peggy Noonan put it: “If it’s not stopped now, it will never stop.”

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Riding High In April, Shot Down In May

Somebody in our high command let two former Navy SEALs die fighting off eighty radical Muslims. They fought bravely for seven hours and they could have been saved, but someone made a political decision that they should be left to die. Was that our commander-in-chief? Looks to me that it was, but soon we’ll have a full-scale investigation to answer that forty-year-old question: “What did the president know and when did he know it?” This isn’t what I started writing about for my weekly column but after watching our indignant president’s arrogant performance at the press conference Monday, my blood was boiling.

Uh-oh. We're screwed
We know he’s a political animal. All presidents are. A huge ego is necessary to even go after the job, but most maintain basic human values and decency while functioning in the Oval Office. Did President Obama? He was running for a second term and election day was six weeks away. He’d been bragging about killing Osama Bin Laden and putting al Qaida on the run. Then, on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, an al Qaida group murdered an American Ambassador the president himself had appointed. Ambassador Stevens’ body was photographed being dragged through the streets, and there are unconfirmed reports that it was degraded in other ways before and after death.
It can’t be proven yet, but it’s obvious to millions of Americans that President Obama made a political decision that it was bad for his campaign for al Qaida to draw American blood again on the anniversary of September 11th, and on his watch. So, he tried to make it seem like it was something other than a terrorist attack, and hoped to ride it out until after election day. With the cooperation of our lapdog Mainstream Media, who either believed or pretended to believe his lies, he did.
This writer is not foreign policy expert or a White House correspondent. I’m a retired history teacher, but I knew right away it wasn’t a “demonstration” against a Youtube video. It was a full-scale terrorist attack by radical Muslims bent on killing Americans. People don’t bring rocket-propelled grenade launchers to demonstrations. So, when I watched as President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lied to the families of the slain Americans next to their coffins at the airport, I was enraged. When I watched UN Ambassador Susan Rice go around the Sunday morning talk shows, I knew she was lying too. Right away I got on my laptop and started typing to give vent to my anger. The next day, September 17th, I posted it on my web site and it ran in the newspapers the following Thursday, the 20th.
For weeks afterward, I had to listen to President Obama tell the same lie on several television programs and at the United Nations. I vented my increasing rage again in a web post September 25th, which ran as another column the following Thursday in various newspapers. I watched as the Mainstream Media jumped all over Mitt Romney for even commenting on the attack. I watched as CNN’s Candy Crowley helped President Obama keep the lid on his lies during the second presidential debate which she moderated. Then I watched Romney wimp out on Benghazi in the third debate - and Obama cruised to victory.

Now, finally, it’s unraveling. The Mainstream Media is being shamed into covering the emerging scandal they’ve studiously ignored for eight months. They know they can’t ignore the testimony of the three, brave whistleblowers last week. Monday I watched their faces at the press conference as their hero embarrassed himself with his continued, arrogant stonewalling. They weren’t going to be his lapdogs anymore, but he hasn’t realized it yet.

The president also denied knowing anything about his Internal Revenue Service officials targeting conservative groups and pro-Israel Jewish groups for harassment until it was reported as a Friday-afternoon story three days before. I don’t believe that, and, as I watched their faces during the press conference, it looked like those reporters didn’t believe it either. They knew that history was about to repeat itself as members of the House of Representatives - controlled by the opposite party - will soon form up and ask the same question over and over: “What did the president know and when did he know it?” According to our Constitution, the House has sole power of impeachment.
The worst part of this, however, is the brave soldiers who died at their posts because someone twice gave the order for their rescuers to “stand down.” Then there’s Sean Smith, the State Department computer expert who died with Ambassador Stevens. His mother commented Sunday: “I want to wish Hillary a happy Mother's Day,” she said. “She has her child. I don't have mine because of her.”

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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Academia As Humpty Dumpty

How can so many college kids afford to party during spring break? Plane tickets, hotel rooms, alcohol, food, marijuana, all cost a lot of money. Do their parent’s pay for it? Do they use their government Pell Grants? Their taxpayer-subsidized loans? And where do they get the time? Don’t they have to study? Don’t they have to write papers? Don’t they have work-study jobs?
Coed Dorm Life

Millions of our young people believe they’re entitled to party - not just for a week in spring, but every weekend or even every night - for years. Most take five or six years to complete a four-year degree and then graduate with six-figure debt and few if any job prospects in this “new-normal economy.”
Remember the “Occupy” demonstrations? Many participants were students who spent lots of time protesting capitalism and holding up signs demanding their student loans be forgiven, not to mention trashing up whatever city they were “occupying.” How did they find time for that?
Occupy Wall Street

College is hugely expensive now, and too few of us ask why. In the late sixties and early seventies I was able to pay my own way through undergraduate and graduate school at state universities working part-time and full-time jobs that weren’t particularly high-paying. I was a hospital orderly on the second shift while an undergrad. I went to classes in the morning and worked the 3pm-11:30pm shift and scrounged for study time. After that I taught school all day and attended classes nights and summers for graduate school. I got no help from parents or from government for any of it other than the subsidies Massachusetts paid directly to its state universities. I got no grants and no loans - and graduated with no debt.
Studying for Anatomy Class in the dorm

It is this writer’s considered opinion that the discipline and time-management skills learned by juggling work and school will be more instructive than whatever is learned partying in Fort Lauderdale, Virginia Beach or in dormitories. Keeping a foot in the real world of work helps a young person maintain some realistic perspective while immersed in the liberal/political/social, grade-inflated cocoon of the 21st-century college campus. Much of what is learned there must be unlearned anyway to succeed outside the bacchanalian dormitories and frat houses of academia, where serious students are impeded in their study by the non-stop partying all around them.


Harry Crosby
The late Harry Crosby, an acquaintance from the WWII generation, told me he got his undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa in the late thirties and he was able to pay for a whole year’s tuition, books and fees by working six weeks in summer. Then he became a navigator on a B-17 and got his graduate degrees on the GI Bill after the war. What has happened in the past four decades to drive up costs so much? Has a college education gotten so much better? I don’t think so. There’s plenty of evidence that it’s become much less rigorous. Students pay more these days - to learn less - as for decades, tuition and fees have risen an average of 7.5% annually - far in excess of the cost of living and with little or no justification from the so-called intellectuals on our campuses. Some of those geniuses at Duke University, for example, where it costs more than $50,000 in tuition and fees for one year already, are raising the fees still more to cover sex-change operations for students.

If you can’t figure out whether you’re a man or a woman, it wouldn’t seem likely you’re going to learn too much at a university no matter how expensive it may be. Many economists predict a trillion-dollar education bubble about to burst when millions stop making payments on their student loans. Will the academic establishment come tumbling down like Humpty Dumpty? Looks like a real possibility. As economist Herb Klein put it, "Trends that can't continue, won’t." But what will replace it? Expansion of community colleges teaching real-world skills and online courses away from the La-La Land of the modern college campus would be my guess.

If you’re graduating from high school and you don’t have a firm idea about what you want to do, my advice would be: don’t go to college. Join the military or get a job until you know what you want for a career. If college will help you get there faster, fine - then go. You may learn, however, that on-the-job training will get you there more quickly and much less expensively.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Talk Is Cheap

Things ordinary people learn growing up in the neighborhood help to understand international relations. It’s obvious now that President Obama was bluffing when he warned Syria not to use chemical weapons, and the world knows it too. Syria called his bluff - crossed his red line. As the late Margaret Thatcher would put it - the president is going wobbly - and in doing so, making the world more dangerous. It would have been better if he’d kept his mouth shut, but talking is all he knows how to do.


Growing up we learned the toughest people didn’t talk much, whereas those who talked a lot tended to be the ones who wimped out at crunch time. Talkers lacked inner strength and were afraid others would detect that, so they chattered on about how tough they were. These are basic lessons men learn about other men. Those who come to power apply them.
Can you remember a president who talks as much as Obama does? When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail. Early in his presidency, Obama want on an apology tour of Europe and the Middle East making speeches about how he was different from other presidents. His foreign policy was to show Muslims how nice he was, that he wasn’t like those other guys. Then he really expected Muslim leaders would all want to make nice. It hasn’t worked out that way of course, and now our president doesn’t know what to do next. He has no other tools in his toolbox.

When a bully goes into a bar, he’s not going to pick on the toughest-looking guy in the place. But if he suspects the toughest-looking guy is really a wuss, the bully will definitely poke at him to see what reaction he gets. When he discovers the guy has a jelly spine he’ll pile on the humiliation. Just so, when the bullies and crazies of the world think superpower America has a wimp in command, they’ll keep pushing to see what they can get away with. It’s their nature. North Korea is doing it. Iran is doing it. The radicals in Benghazi were doing it. Now Syria is doing it.

It’s not going to stop.
A connection ties Benghazi, Syria and Iran and Obama together. First, Obama denied the Benghazi attack was terrorism, made up a story about it being caused by a mysterious movie few ever heard of, and ordered his officials to push the lie. His Mainstream Media lapdogs went with it and refused to look into it any further. Other sources offer explanations for what Ambassador Stevens was really doing in Benghazi: running weapons from radical Muslim rebels there to other radical Muslim rebels in Syria via Turkey. We know Iran has boots on the ground in Syria to support fellow dictator Bashir Assad and they knew what Ambassador Stevens was doing.
Now back to Obama’s bluffing: The day after the Benghazi attack Obama said: “And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.” On October 26th, he said: “[M]y biggest priority now is bringing those folks to justice and I think the American people have seen that’s a commitment I'll always keep.”
Umm, no, Mr. President, we haven’t seen that. It’s been seven months and nobody has been arrested or captured or “brought to justice” as you keep promising. All we’ve seen are lies, cover-ups, and evasions by you and others in your administration.
Regarding Iran’s efforts to build nuclear weapons he told the world: “Make no mistake . . .” the US will “do what we must” to prevent it, and “all options are on the table.” But was Iran dissuaded? Obviously not. They continue on their merry way with assistance from North Korea, China, and Russia - none of whom take Obama seriously either.

He’s commander-in-chief of the strongest military the world has ever seen, but he has little idea how to use it. It’s as if Obama is the remote control device for an awesome military machine but he has no batteries inside him - no courage - and now the world knows it.

And don’t tell me about how “brave” Obama was to authorize the hit on Osama Bin Laden. The SEALS who carried out the mission were the brave ones. Insider accounts describe the president as indecisive and dithering until then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta took control of the situation because the Obama and his closest confidant,Valerie Jarrett, kept postponing the decision.

And the “tough” drone strikes? To community organizer president, watching intelligence videos of al Qaeda leaders hiding in Pakistan or Yemen and then shooting them with Hellfire Missiles is like playing video games with the "Choom Gang" back in Hawaii.

The worst thing is, truly brave American soldiers under his command know all this too. Why can’t the president tell us what really happened in Benghazi? “The FBI is investigating,” he says. Of course, the FBI investigated Major Hasan the Fort Hood shooter and the Boston Marathon bombers too and cleared them both. Will Obama do something about Syrians using chemical weapons? Nope. Monday he told us he wants more investigation. As the LA Times put it: “Obama’s Red Line on Syria Grows Softer.”

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