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

Monday, July 28, 2014

More Fundamental Change From Our President


Four years ago I flew to Tucson, Arizona, rented a Jeep, and drove down to the Mexican border at Nogales. I wanted to see for myself what was going on down there. I turned right just before the Mexican crossing and drove west along International Street on the US side of our primitive border fence. There, I encountered several modified, four-door, white and green, Dodge pickup trucks scurrying around in a futile effort to stop the flood of illegals constantly sneaking over, under, and through the flimsy international “barrier.” 
International Street in Nogales

The first agent I was able to speak with was, lucky for me, from Maine. He talked freely at first, telling me they arrested over 57,000 illegals just in Nogales during the previous year, down from over 100,000 two years previously, but he indicated that many more than that got through. Somewhere between twelve and twenty million are in the US illegally. Many are on welfare, including thousands in Maine. When I told the agent I was a columnist (wish I’d never done that), he clammed up and referred me to “public information officers” back at headquarters in Nogales who gave me the runaround, erased pictures from my camera, and escorted me off the base. The Border Patrol hierarchy under the Obama Administration wanted to keep a lid on information back then, and it’s only gotten worse since.
Border in Nogales

Illegal aliens are coming across our southern border because they can. Life on our side is better than it is where they come from, whether they want to work under the table or just go on the dole. Neither Democrats nor establishment Republicans want to stop them, but ordinary Americans do. Why? Because while life improves for the illegals, their presence here makes life more difficult for working-class Americans. According to a study last month from the Center for Immigration Studies and reported at National Review Online: “Net employment growth in the United States since 2000 has gone entirely to immigrants, legal and illegal.” Taxes have risen dramatically in many US states and cities to pay for education, healthcare, housing, food, and jails for illegals and their children. Hospitals and schools are overwhelmed in border states, and wages are driven down for blue-collar workers here, especially blacks.
Now President Obama is expected to grant amnesty to five million of them by Executive Order. Tea Party Republicans in the House are threatening impeachment if he does. The Christian Science Monitor quotes senior White House Advisor Dan Pfeiffer saying: “The president acting on immigration reform will certainly up the likelihood that [Republicans] would contemplate impeachment at some point.” Ironically, Obama seems to relish that prospect, perhaps because it will encourage more Democrat voters to go to the polls in November, trying to keep control of the Senate.
Obama wants almost $4 billion for judges, lawyers to process hundreds of thousands of illegal “children” who are unlikely to even show up for their hearings. He’s flying them all over the country and releasing them wherever he can. He claims he must abide by a law passed at the end of the Bush Administration mandating court hearings for OTM, or “Other Than Mexican” illegals who come here from non-contiguous countries. The law was passed to fight sex trafficking, not for what Obama is doing, but Democrats refuse to modify the law. Obama is using it as a fig leaf and doesn’t want to change it. He’s obeying that law while refusing to enforce virtually every other immigration law on the books. He sued Arizona when it tried to enforce them at the state level.
Senior Border Patrol officials are still muzzling agents about what’s really going on down there. Like the one I met, they won’t talk. Cameras are banned and even congressmen aren’t allowed into facilities. Are they afraid pictures of “children” with facial and neck tattoos will circulate? They only want us to see pictures of cute little kids, though according to the Lieutenant Governor of Texas last week last week: “unaccompanied children represent some 12%-20% [of recent illegal immigrants]. We're focused on that [other 80 or 85%] of which a quarter, according to the border patrol, have a criminal record.”
Retired Border Patrol Agents claim the Obama Administration has manufactured the present crisis to put political pressure on Congress to pass amnesty. When the president blames the current flood of immigrants on violence and gang activity in Central America, he’s lying. By issuing his unconstitutional executive order DACA - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - he choreographed it.
Former US Attorney Andrew McCarthy agrees, writing last week that: “The January 2014 solicitation published by DHS’s bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement foretells (a) the arrival of 65,000 ‘unaccompanied alien children, and, tellingly, (b) the administration’s intention to transfer them to ‘Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelters located throughout the continental United States.’”

Obama is lying - again - when he claims he’s going to deport them. They’re staying, as still another way to fundamentally change America.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

All Riled Up

It’s always easier to organize against something than for something. My experience in two big “against” campaigns were both kind of fun for me as a young leftist/liberal. We could easily portray ourselves as the good guys stopping bad guys from ruining our lives. The first was against a highway through our neighborhood in Lowell, Massachusetts in the early seventies and, the other was against a nuclear waste dump under our town in Maine during the late eighties. We won each after only a couple of months of hell-raising and I learned much. You can tell a lot about people by what riles them.
In rural western Maine where I live, many people have gotten worked up the past few years about Poland Spring selling water out of the aquifer under the towns of Fryeburg and Denmark. Most residents of those towns have their own wells and worry that Poland Spring may pump too much causing the water levels in their wells to go down. They imaging their situation as ordinary people each with a small straw drinking from a big bowl and then a giant sticks a huge straw into the same bowl and starts sucking enormous amounts of water. Their fears don’t seem completely unreasonable given that big aquifers out west have declined because of large agricultural and industrial users pumping out more and more water. The underground aquifer, or  “bowl” if you will, is constantly being replenished by rain, but will that keep up with increasing demand? Then I think of Sebago Lake. Unlike Fryeburg’s invisible aquifer, it is a huge bowl of water visible to everyone and supplies Greater Portland. I never see it go down unless it’s done intentionally by the Portland Water District or others adjusting its outlet dam in fall. It seems like there’s more than enough clean, fresh water in Maine for everyone.
Last summer a dog jumped on a bird at a beach in Scarborough, Maine and killed it. That’s what dogs will do, but animal lovers in that southern Maine shore town have been up in arms for a year over it. On one side are bird lovers who are appalled because the bird was a “piping plover” which is “endangered” according two the state and “threatened” according to the federal government. On the other side are dog lovers who like to let their animals run free on southern Maine beaches mornings and evenings. First it was the bird lovers and greenie federal officials who prevailed on the town council to pass a town-wide leash law. Dog lovers flipped out and overturned the council’s action by referendum. Bird lovers then got the council to pass more limited restrictions. At this writing, Scarborough animal lovers are still fighting each other.
Piping Plovers

My level of concern in this matter can be measured in units of micro give-a-sh**s. If I had to pick a side, it would be for the birds. Unleashed dogs on southern Maine beaches mornings and evenings outnumber children, and they’re annoying. But then millennials in the Greater Portland, Maine area would rather have dogs than kids. Children would cramp their lifestyle and increase their “carbon footprint.”
Next door in South Portland, Maine, green weenies are all worked up because they don’t want Canadian oil to coming into town through the Portland Pipeline. Even though tankers have been unloading oil there and safely piping it north to Canada since 1941 or so, greenies in South Portland insist the pipeline cannot safely reverse flow and bring Canadian oil south. They’re part of a wider, nationwide, green weenie movement that wants to leave petroleum in the ground. They want us all to put up wind mills and solar panels, and if we can’t ride bicycles, then drive Priuses as a last resort. They’ve successfully pressured President Obama to block the Keystone Pipeline for the same reasons. They’re knocking on doors to scare people about “Tar Sands Oil” ruining our environment and causing global warming.
Canada will sell its oil to China and India if they can’t sell it to the United States. Even if you believed that humans cause global warming (which I don’t), stopping any of these pipelines won’t reduce carbon in the atmosphere that purportedly causes warming. It will only hurt us because we’ll have to get our oil from much more volatile places like Venezuela and the Middle East. Greater Portland’s green weenies lost a referendum to stop importing Canadian oil last winter, but they’re still pushing. South Portland’s City Council enacted a ban on exporting crude oil from the city and that is likely to trigger still another referendum.

And on it goes.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Living on the Fumes of Greatness


Only men over sixty have ever been subject to the military draft in America. Knowing you could be forced by government to fight in a war focuses one’s attention on what’s happening in the wider world beyond the peaceful shores of the Unites States. Today, however, our military is all volunteer. Fewer than 1% of Americans serve now and that’s been true for decades. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. Is that a good thing? I’m not so sure.

Americans under sixty have led a remarkably pampered life by world historical standards. They’ve grown up in the most powerful country the world has ever seen and have never been forced to seriously consider how brutal other humans can be when they’re allowed. The vast majority of people who lived out their lives on this planet did so in walled cities or constantly looking over their shoulders as they moved about with weapons close at hand.
Some of us, though, have paid attention to what goes on outside our borders. Some have studied history and have come to understand that the Pax Americana we’ve known all our lives is more the exception than the rule. Most, however, never consider Orwell’s observance that: “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” We don’t appreciate how fortunate we are to have been born in late-20th-century America. We still have rough men ready to do violence on our behalf, but we don’t have a government that either appreciates them or knows how to use them properly.
I hate to point this out, but we’re not just getting fat, dumb, and lazy; we’re already here, and have been for some time. Obesity is epidemic. We don’t know much about history, geography, civics, or anything else, and more than 90 million of us have dropped out of the workforce. The evidence is overwhelming that our citizenry is in serious decline. Consequently, so is our nation. More and more of us are dependent on government entitlements and, due to our ignorance of simple arithmetic, we are unaware that those expensive programs are mathematically unsustainable. Bankruptcy looms, but we keep on spending as if it weren’t.
We keep reelecting a government that is a reflection of us. Paradoxically however, opinion polls indicate that we don’t approve of the government for which we keep voting. Why do we continue to reelect congressmen, senators and a president we dislike? Is it because they tell us what we want to hear? Perhaps the lyric in the Sheryl Crow number applies to us: “Lie to me. I promise, I’ll believe,” she sang. How long can this continue though? When I ponder that, something columnist Mark Steyn wrote comes to mind: “Sometimes societies become too stupid to survive.”
Peggy Noonan, former Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist, penned something last week that also haunts me. Commenting about the illegal alien crisis on the Mexican border, she observed: “America is the house that is both falling apart and under new stress. Those living within it, those most upset by what they're seeing, know America has big problems—unemployment, low workforce participation, a rickety physical infrastructure, an unsound culture, poor public education. And of course discord of all sorts… They know America can't pay its bills. They fear we're living on the fumes of greatness. They want us to be strong again.”

“Living on the fumes of greatness.” Yes. That is indeed what we’re doing.
Peggy Noonan

Noonan was describing Americans who do pay attention, who understand history, who know we cannot go on doing what we’re doing. But I’m afraid such people are in the minority now. Remember: 52% of us reelected Barack Obama two years ago in spite of what he did in his first term. The Wednesday morning after that sad election day I was forced to realize that yes, the America in which I grew up has fundamentally changed.
First generation immigrant Dinesh D’Souza just released a movie titled, “America: Imagine The World Without Her.” I haven’t seen it yet, but I know what’s in it. He sees what I see. I have been imagining such a world and it isn’t a pretty one, because I know there are brutal people out there who ponder it gleefully. They smell American decline and they extend their probes further and further to see what they can get away with. How far will that be? I’m afraid to think.

I still choose to believe in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary that it’s not too late, that enough Americans are beginning to understand we simply must turn things around. We have to start this November if we’re to have any hope of resurrecting the America we used to take for granted.

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Monday, July 07, 2014

Aliens Are Not Immigrants

Were you to draw a picture of the United States, it would show the familiar outline of our borders with Maine sticking out at the top right, Florida on the bottom right, Texas in the south, and so on. But what’s a border? It’s a boundary within which people declare, uphold, and adhere to a set of principles. People outside it don’t. Principles within are outlined in two founding documents: The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It’s those principles that have made the United States the strongest, most prosperous, and greatest country the world has ever seen. Without them and the borders within which they’re enforced, the United States would not exist.
People outside the boundaries have seen and heard how good it is here and they want to come in. There’s a process for that called immigration, and most of us are descended from people who followed it. During the first half of the 20th century, about 12,000,000 did. None got any welfare because it didn’t exist. After the Roosevelt and Johnson Administrations there were some welfare programs, but immigrants weren’t eligible until they became citizens.
Early immigrants didn’t come here for freebies. The opportunity to work and build a new life in a free country is what drew them. Over the past 25 years or so, however, another 12,000,000 or so snuck in here without going through the immigration process and cannot properly be called immigrants at all. They’re illegal aliens. There are many more government welfare benefits available now and in most states they’ve been given to illegals. As word gets around, more illegals are drawn here. Why are we surprised? For more and more illegals, their reasons for coming here are different from those of our ancestors. They’re not as interested in building as they are in taking. They’re a net drain on the nation.
People dependent on government are the base of the Democrat Party. That’s why Democrats push amnesty so hard, but they don’t call it amnesty because they want to change the terminology. They call it “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” as if immigration laws needed reform. They don’t. What they need is enforcement, but President Obama the his party don’t want to enforce them. They don’t like borders and they don’t like to obey the Constitution either.
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) went to the Texas/Mexico border last week to say, “We are all Americans, north and south in this hemisphere,” as if our borders didn’t exist.” Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) handed out lollipops. Republican congressman Joel Bridenstine, however, was barred from seeing illegal alien children being housed in his own district at Fort Sill. The Obama Administration isn’t allowing media to see the aliens either and threatens reporters with arrest. American medical staff is threatened for talking to media about appalling medical problems illegal aliens have in Lackland Air Force Base in Texas where they’re being held. “There were several of us who wanted to talk about the camps,” said one, “but the agents made it clear we would be arrested. We were under orders not to say anything,” reported a psychiatric counselor quoted by Fox News. Their cell phones were taken away. “They’re [the latest illegals] going to crush the system,” a nurse told Fox. “We can’t sustain this. They are overwhelming the system and I think it’s a travesty.”
The New York Times reported that the Obama Administration has bussed over 290,000 illegals from the border to locations all across the United States in recent months, sparking protests in communities where they’re being dumped. The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers issued a statement saying, “This is not a humanitarian crisis. It is a predictable, orchestrated and contrived assault on the compassionate side of Americans by her political leaders that knowingly puts minor illegal alien children at risk for purely political purposes.”
Meanwhile, Maine Governor LaPage has cut off the 90% state share of welfare costs cities and towns pay to Maine’s illegal aliens. Democrats in Portland and other cities are in high dudgeon. Why? Because they’ll gladly funnel other people’s tax money to illegal aliens, but they’re very reluctant to give their own.

Also, the Obama Administration instructed ICE officials (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to stop referring to the flood of young illegals as UACs or “Unaccompanied Alien Children” even though virtually all our case law on immigration uses the term alien. Now they’re officially just “Unaccompanied Children” and if you’re against bringing busloads of them into your town, you’re obviously a racist hardass.
And speaking of language and immigration, the Obama Administration is suing a private Wisconsin business for requiring that it’s employees be able to speak English, calling it discrimination based on national origin!
After fed-up citizens in Murrieta, California blocked busses full of illegal aliens ICE agents wanted to dump in their town last week, local police say federal agents will come next time with riot gear and shields to push the crowd back. How will local citizens deal with that? Will ordinary Americans put up with this all over the country? I don’t think so.

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