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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Secret Anti-Global-Warming Machine

Hey! All you progressive Democrats out there? Whatever you’ve been doing to prevent global warming? Cut it out! Now! Hear me? It’s spring for cripe sakes. It’s supposed to be warming up - even around here in the Maine mountains - and it’s not. There’s more than two feet of snow on the ground out there and more coming! And it doesn’t melt right away like it’s supposed to this time of year either. All the skiers and snowmobilers are ready too, but it just keeps building up. People are getting tired of this, and I’m blaming you.

I’ve been looking back at the last five years since you took over down and I’m starting to catch on. You started off raising and spending all that “stimulus” money - a trillion dollars almost - and I can’t see any economic stimulus going on at all! Where is it? Joe Biden kept telling us four years ago us that “Recovery Summer” was on its way. Well it never came! We’re all still waiting out here. Now we’re thinking summer itself isn’t coming this year either, much any less economic recovery! Spring hasn’t shown up and we’re thinking summer won’t either.
You said there were thousands of shovel ready jobs out there, and you were going to use that trillion dollars to build infrastructure like they did back in the Great Depression. Well where is it? You guys said Herbert Hoover was an idiot and you blamed him for the Great Depression, but at least he built the Hoover Dam! It’s still there - still generating electricity - and it only took five years to finish. It’s been that long since you raised and spent that trillion dollars, so what have you got to show for it? Nothing! Where did all the money go? We could have built lots of Hoover Dams.
And how about the Golden Gate Bridge? That was built with stimulus money during the Great Depression and it’s still there too. It cost $35 million, and that would be over $500 million in today’s money. We could have built over fifteen hundred Golden Gate Bridges with the money you guys spent on this “stimulus,” but we don’t see any bridges. We don’t see anything!
You promised lots of green jobs too. Where are they? You spent billions on solar energy development, and windmill development, and battery development. How many of the companies you invested in are bankrupt? How come the cost of electricity keeps going up? Where did all that money go?
Like I said, I’ve been thinking about all this and my theory is that you didn’t spend the money on economic stimulus at all. You didn’t spend it on renewable energy either because those companies are gone - poof! It’s looking to me like all that was a big smokescreen. I’m thinking you spent it all on some secret project to prevent global warming that you’re not telling us about, and it’s all gotten out of control! That’s why it’s so friggin’ cold!
Anti-Global-Warming Machine prototype?

You really wanted to do it with your “Cap and Trade” bill, but it couldn’t pass the Senate. You wanted to take over the energy industry like you took over the health care industry with Obamacare. So, what did you do instead? You took the trillion dollars for stimulus and you spent it all on a secret Anti-Global-Warming Machine and it’s bringing on another ice age! I’ll bet it’s got a giant super-computer that has outsmarted its programmers. You had all your best computer geeks working on that instead of the Obamacare web site - and that’s why it’s so screwed up. You put all the geek wannabes to work on Obamacare and they were all morons!
Then you used the National Security Agency to spy on all our phone calls, all our emails, all our internet searches - so you could keep it all secret! The NSA didn’t see the Benghazi  Attack coming, did it? That took you all by surprise, and you made up a story about some stupid internet video nobody ever saw, and you kept that story up for weeks! And the NSA obviously wasn’t keeping an eye on Syria, was it! Obama said Assad was going to fall “any day now” and he’s still in there! Hillary Clinton said she “reset” our relations with Russia, but you didn’t see the Crimea invasion coming, did you? No! Because the NSA was so busy keeping the Giant Anti-Global Warming Machine secret, they didn’t have time to spy on our enemies like they’re supposed to. They’re spying on us instead.
And last week you said you were pulling an all-nighter to discuss global warming. Hah! This time I believe you! You were trying to figure out how to get a handle on that machine, because if you don’t, it’s going to be like this right through ’til next winter!

It all fits when you think about it.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Changing Perspectives

My primary care physician is my age. If I keep breathing, my next one will be much younger. How do I feel about that? Ambivalent. Younger docs are more likely to be up on newer methods, but older ones are likely to be wiser - I hope. Once a year I bring my body in and he looks it over, offering advice about how to prolong my time on earth. I’ve taken his advice so far and already I’ve lived longer than my father or paternal grandfather, so that’s good.
Old oak tree in Cape Elizabeth, Maine

My primary residence is younger than me - under thirty. Structurally it’s in good shape, but I’ve already replaced the appliances we bought when we built it, and my wife is always doing cosmetic makeovers. It’s tight - no drafts - and I like that, especially as my body ages. Maintaining is a whole lot easier than building, and I’ve hired someone to paint it the last two times. My wife talks downsizing, but the thought of starting over and building something smaller makes me tired.
It’s the second new house I’ve lived in. My father moved us into a new one when I was four. New houses are nice. Once they’re finished, you can leave them alone for years and just live. But old houses require constant maintenance, just like old bodies. Up to age twenty-five or so, I didn’t exercise, ate whatever I wanted as much as I wanted, and stayed in shape. After that, I had to restrict my eating and I had to exercise, which I don’t like. Now I have to exercise even more and I’ve grown to hate it. The only thing I like is when it’s over and I don’t have to punish myself anymore for the rest of the day. I never feel "runner’s high" or any other endorphin thing I hear people rave about. I just feel fewer aches and pains than if I were sedentary. That’s the only reason I continue.
Our other house is older than me, built in 1910 or so. It was a kit house ordered from Sears and assembled on site. A couple of young architects live across the street in a similar house and they told me. After I looked it up and saw images online, I’m seeing hundreds of them around the Portland area. Nowadays, people can order houses from various companies, but they’re partially assembled in a factory. Walls and rooves are delivered to the site and assembled using a crane. Pretty slick.

The older house still needs work but it’s mostly cosmetic now. Meanwhile it’s comfortable to live in and there’s no hurry. That hurry-up thing I’ve had to do most of my life, juggling two or three jobs with family responsibilities. Now I avoid hurry whenever possible. Anything involving hurry-up I try to stay away from. I’ve got to repair the front porch on the older house, and I will when I get around to it. Got to put in a half-bath downstairs there, and I will when I feel like it. Gotta finish the book too and it’s taking longer than I thought, but that’s all right.

Some of my contemporaries are having work done on their bodies. A hip here, a shoulder there, and some knees. Good for them if they want to stay functional and avoid unnecessary pain. I suspect some are “having work done” of the plastic surgery kind too, but they don’t talk about it, and I don’t want to know either. Most women dye their hair trying to look younger but I admire the ones who don’t. If they let it go natural and keep themselves in shape, they look better in my eyes. There’s a certain dignity about being who you are that shines through. It’s attractive. Men who dye their hair? I try to stay away from them.
The older kit house

An elderly woman whose old summer mansion I took care of taught me - not expressly, but in the way she looked at things. I was thirty-something. She was eighty-something. Soil had built up over the lower course of shingles on one side and they were rotten. When I showed her she asked what a repair would involve. They’d been that way a while and I said we couldn’t know until we pulled them off to see what was rotted behind them. She asked if the house would collapse, and I said probably not for a while.
The old mansion boarded up for winter

She decided to leave it be, which bothered me until I figured out that she wanted to enjoy however many more summers she had left in the place without the ripping and tearing it would take to fix it.

Perspectives change when you’ve been around longer than the usually-allotted three score and ten years.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Musings

Once a year The Wizard of Oz would come on television and just about every kid in the neighborhood tuned in. They’d seen it many times before, but they’d want to watch their younger brothers and sisters see it for the first time. That was back when there were only three broadcast networks - also when most families had more than one or two kids. That was during the fifties and sixties and it was somewhat true for my children growing up in the seventies and eighties. I enjoyed watching my children watch Dorothy, the Wicked Witch, and the Emerald City.
That world is mostly gone now. People have more choices on TV - too many, some claim, and  they have few, if any, children. They tend not to watch the same thing at the same time so we have fewer simultaneously-shared cultural experiences. There are episodic dramas that many watch, like “Breaking Bad” and “Downton Abbey,” and they can be discussed at dinner parties and extended-family get-togethers. When someone mentioned “Breaking Bad” and I didn’t know what he was talking about, I realized I was out of the loop - culturally illiterate. I’ve since watched about twenty-five episodes, but my wife isn’t into it so I don’t know if I’ll finish. It depresses me because it’s plausible and the characters are realistic. It’s a vision of what part of America is becoming. I see it around me and don’t need to watch it dramatized as well.
My grandchildren are back at our Lovell house until probably late spring sometime. Been a hard winter for their father, Andrew, to be building a house in Sweden, Maine but my son-in-law has been plugging away with help from family and good friends. Meanwhile, my daughter, Annie, found a VHS copy of Wizard Of Oz and put it on to play for my granddaughters, Claire - now four, and Lila - now three. It was fun to watch as still another generation got caught up in that classic movie.
Three-year-old Lila - always feisty and outspoken - told us she was scared by the Wicked Witch and the flying monkeys, so she went into the toy box for a helmet and sword. She planned to defend herself in case the witch came out of the TV. I like that about Lila; she’s ready to do battle if she has to. She’s not the run-away type, preferring to stand and fight. I had to beg her not to slash my flat-screen.
Lila and the Wicked Witch

It’s charming to have my beautiful grandchildren around, but it’s hard to write. My wife took a break from it all to cruise the Lesser Antilles with a group of women. She got back last week - tanned, rested, and ready. While she was away I spent several days alone in the South Portland house and realized how rare it is for me to be alone anywhere. I’ve gotten to know the neighbors, but they’re busy and keep to themselves, which I like. I enjoyed the solitude. I’d write for a few hours, then go for a run at Bug Light Park. I went to the Irish Heritage Center for a program on the 150th anniversary of the wreck of the “Bohemian” which drowned dozens of Irish immigrants off what is now Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth. I visit each time I’m down there to watch and listen as waves break on the rocks. Also, I watched my six-year-old grandson Alex play for his basketball team in Portland and took in a Red Claws game with him and another grandson, Riley, age thirteen. It was a guys night out.
Alex talking to teammate

Going back and forth over the Casco Bay Bridge so much, I’ve watched the progress of the 24-7 dredging operation in the Fore River. The Portland Press Herald ran an interesting article about it: Every minute or so a huge bucket of sediment is lifted off the bottom and dumped into a barge. A tug pulls it out to sea seven miles where it drops the sediment deep. Can’t help but wonder what else might be in that material. Casco Bay and its many islands show evidence of early American activity going back millennia. The paleo era - just after the most recent glaciers retreated 10-12 thousand years ago - interests me most. I’ve only found one artifact in the area so far, but it’s not nearly that old. Back then, the ocean was sixty feet lower than it is now and that old shoreline is down deep today, deeper even than the dredge is working. It’s job is to restore a channel thirty-five feet deep at low tide.
Dredging Fore River 2014

The older I get, the more I tend to see everything in an historical context. Can’t help it.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Leftist La-La Land

In leftist la-la-land people really believe they can bring about an age when we “Ain’t gonna study war no more,” as the old gospel song goes. They really believe America was the primary cause of war in their lifetime. They believe that after they twice elected a president who would fundamentally transform America as The Big O has so often promised, war would disappear. He said it would only take five years the world would be filled with smiling, happy people holding hands. That’s why Obama’s chief dopelimat diplomat, John Kerry, characterized Putin’s invasion of Crimea saying: “It's really 19th century behavior in the 21st century.” He’s not supposed to be doing this in the world he and his boss understand.
Putin obviously hadn’t heard that Obama has already ushered in the Age of Aquarius here in 2014. The moon is in the seventh house. Jupiter aligns with Mars. Peace is guiding the planets and love is steering the stars. So what the heck is Putin doing? Young people are, like, “Oh my god!” which is the most severe exclamation in their parlance. Is it possible that Obama can’t actually change the world? If that’s true, maybe he can’s really stop the oceans from rising either! But he promised! We voted for him! Twice!
Nonetheless, Obama and Kerry are proceeding as if the biggest problem facing the world early in the 21st century really is global warming, and the mainstream media is cheering them on. Only three weeks ago Kerry called it: “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction” and belittled those who don’t believe it as “flat-earthers.” Well, this writer knows the earth is round - and human-caused global warming is a crock, but most leftists still don’t think so. Global warming is a religion with them, and while their faith has been shaken by the winter we’ve had, they still believe.
Obama is proceeding with his global warming policies undeterred, as if his branch of government is the only one with power. When Congress failed to pass his “Cap and Trade” legislation, he had his EPA declare carbon dioxide a “pollutant,” so all of you reading this right now are polluting the air as you exhale CO2. More recently, his EPA dialed up air standards so high it's putting the coal industry out of business.
Meanwhile, Congress sits on its hands while he amasses power in the White House. He’s turning one executive department into a protection racket. When congress refused him funds for selling Obamacare, he used HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, whose department regulates insurance companies, to shake them down for money. She contacted them, and said, in effect: “Nice little insurance company you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it. And by the way, I need some money to implement Obamacare.”
When he couldn’t silence Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, even with George Soros spending millions on Media Matters, he turned to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler who regulates radio and television. He sent FCC officials to media outlets saying, in effect: “Nice little station you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it. By the way, we’re conducting a “Critical Information Needs” study here and we’d like to ask you a few questions, like how do you select what stories you report?”
When “too many” black students were being suspended from schools, he turned to Education Secretary Arne Duncan who regulates schools, and Attorney General Eric Holder out to talk to them. Both sent their people around saying, in effect: “Nice little school you got there. Be a shame if its federal funding dried up, now wouldn’t it?”
In spite of all its failures in the 20th century, leftists still believe that communism can work. They just didn’t have the right leaders in Russia, China, Vietnam, North Korea, or Cuba. If they did, Utopia would have manifested by now. Obama is the one though. He told us so. He can do it, if only those Tea Party Republicans in the house weren’t standing in his way. They nearly stopped him from taking over 16% of the economy with Obamacare, and now all they can do is criticize it.
In spite of the continuing disaster of the Obamacare roll-out, the mainstream media are doing their best to find a silver lining. What do we expect? They’re all leftists too.

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Monday, March 03, 2014

Smartest President Ever?

The things I feared most when Barack Obama was elected to a second term are unfolding.
Last Friday night, Obama said: “There will be costs” if Russia invades the Crimea. Hours later, Russian soldiers moved in. Remember that 3 AM phone call Hillary Clinton warned us about in 2008? Remember Saturday Night Live’s satire about it? “This is hard!” said the actor playing Obama about being president. Indeed it is. The man who is accustomed to voting “present” when hard decisions are necessary is on the spot now.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia, one of the world’s many thugs, believes our president is spineless - and is taking advantage. A lot can happen in the three years remaining in Obama’s second term, and the invasion of the Crimea is one of many to come. It’s another vision of the world as it is becoming during the Great American Decline. It’s another test for “the most intelligent man ever to become president,” according to presidential historian and sycophant Michael Beschloss. Obama should ace it, right? Maybe not. Could Beschloss possibly have been mistaken? We’ve never seen any of Obama’s grades because won’t release his records.

Expect ever-more-difficult tests right up until January, 2017. Will Putin cut off natural gas to Ukraine? Will he invade the mainland? Does he have his eye on the Baltic States? Does anybody really expect it’s all going to stop here?

So far, President Obama has issued statements. His chief diplomat, John Kerry, talks about crossing lines. The world remembers what Obama said about a red line in Syria last year: “A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” he said. Syria did both, and what did Obama do? He said, “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.”
For years, Obama has gotten away with contradicting himself like this on the American political stage. The mainstream media had never gone after him the way they went after the cowboy, and maybe he thinks he can get away with it on the world stage too. That’s how he’s always handled whatever challenges have come his way. “Get out the teleprompters!” he’d say. “I’m going to make a speech!” The mainstream media lauded him for his brilliance every time. How is that working with Putin? Not good. Rather than expel Russia from the G-8, Obama threatens to expel Russia from the G-8. Does he really think that’s going to scare Putin?

Try to think of it this way: A bully is walking down the beach and sees a cowboy and a community organizer. Which one is he going to kick sand at? I can just picture it. Can you? Obama stands up rubbing his eyes and draws a line in the sand with his toe. Putin crosses it. Obama backs up and says, “Oh yeah? Well how would you like me to issue a statement?” When that doesn't work, he says: “All right, that’s enough! I’m doing to tell Chris Matthews to call you a racist!”

The rest of the world is watching too. China said Monday it agrees with what Russia did in the Crimea. Remember: China has always wanted Taiwan back, and the United States has pledged to protect it. China also wants some islands in the Sea of Japan, and it could prompt Kim Jong Un to invade South Korea again. What would Obama do about any of that? I read a report in Stars and Stripes that our troops stationed in Okinawa are gearing up by having a stage show on base in which our gay soldiers perform in drag. That ought to scare ’em. The best defense is a good offense, and what better way to offend communist troops than a drag queen performance? The community organizer really knew what he was doing when he repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Sunday’s Washington Post quoted Andrew C. Kutchins of the Center for Strategic and International Studies: “If you are effectively taking the stick option off the table, then what are you left with? I don’t think that Obama and his people really understand how others in the world are viewing his policies.”
Thinking now of Kerry’s recent statement about global warming being the “most dangerous weapon of mass destruction.  . . . The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand.” Now that he has to deal with thugs like Putin, perhaps he’ll change his mind about that. Like Obama, Kerry thinks he’s wicked smart, even though his grades at Yale weren’t quite as good as those of the cowboy president Democrats believed was so dumb.
At a time when America needs real leaders, we’re left with Obama and Kerry. Putin is eating their lunch.

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