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 27, 2015

Immigrants? What Immigrants?

After reading Ann Coulter’s recently released “Adios America!” I’m conscious of how our mainstream media deal with crimes committed by immigrants, legal and illegal. While some crimes are reported on locally, the status of the perpetrators is ignored. Coulter gives example after example too numerous to mention here, of how immigrants commit heinous crimes all over the United States, but the word “immigrant” is always conspicuously absent when the perpetrators are described.

As my wife and I drove through Portland, Maine last week listening to WGAN on the radio, we heard about Jimmy Odong’s crime spree. The twenty-five-year-old man was arrested for a carjacking at gunpoint in Portland and the armed robbery of a bank in nearby Freeport the same day. He’s also the chief suspect in another robbery earlier that day. Last February, Odong was arrested for aggravated assault in a Portland domestic incident.
Odong under arrest

“I’m glad that guy is off the streets,” my wife said as we passed neighborhoods in which some of those crimes occurred.
“Other than all that, Jimmy is probably a nice guy,” I responded.

“Yeah, right,” she said. The broadcast never mentioned that Jimmy Odong was an immigrant from Sudan.
The next day, I was reading the Portland Press Herald, a leftist paper next to which the Boston Globe appears moderate. In it was a picture of Jimmy Odong in police custody. It turns out that long before his most recent crime spree, Odong was well-known to police. In 2009, he was arrested after he “led police on a two-mile car chase through the city’s Bayside neighborhood and downtown Portland. During the chase, Odong crashed into several parked cars and struck a building. After abandoning his car, Odong fled before he was captured in Congress Square. He was charged with reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, eluding an officer, operating under the influence, operating without a license and four counts of leaving the scene of an accident.” Nowhere in the story did it mention that Odong was an immigrant. WGME and WCSH covered the story too, but neither of those TV stations mentioned it either.
Odong had been in trouble only a week before that 2009 incident when police arrested him for stealing two bottles of vodka from the Hannaford store on Forest Avenue. He resisted and nearly started a riot when a group of young black men surrounded police and shouted: “Killers!” and “Murderers!” Just week before that, police shot a young black immigrant, also from Sudan who had pulled a gun on them. The media identified him as an immigrant only because he could be portrayed as a victim and not a perpetrator. That’s how it is with our mainstream media: if the story is likely to stir up sympathy, mention “immigrant.” If the story is negative, leave it out.
We hear much about American white guys being accused of rape — even when the stories are false. Consider Tawana Brawley, Duke Lacrosse, and the University of Virginia cases alone. Our mainstream media were breathless in their coverage although none had any basis in fact. Why? Because the alleged perpetrators were American white guys. They ignore thousands of genuine sexual assaults by illegal immigrants however, and when they do report, they leave out information about race or immigration status.
Duke Lacrosse players falsely accused

Those of us who don’t limit our information-gathering to mainstream sources know America is experiencing an illegal alien crime wave. In “Adios America!” Coulter reports that fully one quarter of the entire population of Mexico has crossed the border into the United States, illegally in most cases, as well as one fifth of the population of El Salvador. Brietbart.com reports that illegals accounted for 37% of all federal prison sentences in the United States in 2014! Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonald has documented that: “In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens.” In 1980, President Carter told Fidel Castro that he could send any Cubans here who wanted to come, so Castro emptied his jails and mental hospitals in the infamous Mariel Boat Lift. Looks like Mexico is taking a cue from Cuba, because we’re certainly not getting the cream of the Mexican crop.
Maine became a sanctuary state when Democrat Governor John Baldacci issued an executive order forbidding state employees from inquiring about the immigration status of anyone, anytime, whether applying for benefits or being stopped by police. The result? Thousands of illegal aliens poured into our tiny state, many going on welfare in violation of federal law. Republican Governor Paul LePage is only now turning off the welfare spigot. In 2011, the Center For Immigration Studies reported that, nationally, 57% of legal and illegal immigrants used at least one form of welfare.
Coulter contends our media grossly underreport the number of illegal aliens living here. She says there are at least 30 million, most of them on welfare. If this continues, Coulter makes a good case that it’s adios to America as we know it.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Time For Tall Ships


Rounding Bug Light, Maine Historical Society

In South Portland, it’s nice to walk out my door in the morning and smell the sea. During summer, it’s a sweet fragrance. I hear the ferries sound their horns as they leave the pier in Portland and head to one of the islands, and I hear the deeper, base sound of tankers as they’re leaving the harbor — a longer blast, not unlike that of cruise ships that come and go in summer and fall.
Dawn at Portland Pipeline pier

Several tall ships came down the shipping channel last weekend and I watched them from a high point on the old Fort Prebie, now the campus of Southern Maine Community College. I could see down to Cape Elizabeth’s Fort Williams and Portland Head Light where they entered the channel and starting trimming sails to navigate the narrower passage under power. Some kept a few up though and the effect was stunning, mostly because I could imagine how it was for previous generations who stood and watched from where I was standing. Here was this huge ship, even taller than it was long, using wind and water to move along silently and elegantly. Would those long-dead people have been as enthralled as I was? More so?
Trimming sails in the channel

For them it would have been routine, not so special to see stately sailing ships passing by but I’m not used to it. I’m accustomed to what sailors call “stinkpots” — motorized vessels. I even own one that I keep on Kezar Lake in Lovell. Motor boats are not what anyone would call beautiful compared to sailing ships. Nonetheless, I like to watch the big tankers come and go from the various tie-ups of the Portland Pipeline Company on the South Portland side of the harbor. Tugboats help them get around tight corners and then turn around back to port and the tankers head for open sea.
From the Maine Historical Society

Perhaps though, those 19th century Mainers appreciated the scene even more than I did. Their world wasn’t as rushed as ours. They were accustomed to waiting for things and didn’t try to jam too much into a day as we do. Perhaps their unhurried life put them in a better state of mind, more able to appreciate the classic lines of a sailing ship — or several of them — all up and down the channel.
Crowded channel

At least 10,000 people watched the tall ships last weekend, but the big ships were surrounded by smaller, motorized pleasure boats and that made it difficult to imagine myself back in the 19th century. Browsing the Maine Historical Society’s picture collection last winter, I studied many images of Portland Harbor in the days of sail. Some tall schooners in those pictures were tended by motorized tug boats but other, smaller vessels visible were sailboats too. On the South Portland side of the harbor, down the street from where my house is, were shipyards with enormous schooners under construction.
My grandson Riley at wreck of Harold W. Middleton

The bones of a schooner that wrecked over on nearby Higgins Beach in Scarborough are another reminder of those days. They’re all that remain of the schooner Harold W. Middleton that was carrying coal from Virginia and hit ledges offshore. It finally came to rest on the sand near the outlet of the Sprurwink River. Locals made off with the coal and the insurance company salvaged what it wanted, then left the rest in place. Storms storms have covered and uncovered the wreck in the century since.
As a boy in elementary school I loved drawing square-rigged sailing ships. It gave me pleasure to sketch the sweeping lines of the hull and bowsprit, the straight masts and rectangular sails that weren’t perfectly rectangular as they billowed in the wind. I’d draw waves breaking against the bow and imagine how they might appear from high up on one of the masts. Sometimes I’d draw triangular sails on schooners but I liked the square rigs better and I’d always include a flag atop the tallest mast.
Sunrise at Bug Light South Portland

Though I’m semi-retired, I still have a compulsion to keep busy, to accomplish something every day. Plagued by this lingering need to be productive, I seldom give myself enough time off to just walk around, think, feel the breeze, smell the air — stop and appreciate beauty in whatever form it should present itself. Gotta change that. Though I had writing to do last Saturday, I went over to SMCC and waited with thousands of others for the tall ships to appear over the horizon. 18th and 19th century Mainers waited there for loved ones to return from long voyages and became anxious if they were overdue. The local cemetery I walk through contains many headstones declaring someone “lost at sea,” telling me it wasn’t all tranquility and elegance to go “down to the sea in ships.”

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Signs of Decline


“Vote For Your Grandchildren,” proclaimed the bumper sticker I’d walked by many times. Thinking about what that might mean, I considered our growing national debt of $18 trillion+, which is expected to equal our entire Gross Domestic Product soon, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Others claim we’re there already, but that isn’t a campaign issue I’ve heard anything about in the 2016 race for president. Why is that?
Some of my grandchildren

Rather, we’re hearing about Greece’s national debt. Greek debt to GDP was at 100% ten years ago, but now it’s 175% and Greece is telling the world two things: One, that it has no intention of paying it back, and two, that it wants to borrow more money. Talk about brazen! Greeks want to retire at fifty with full benefits and they want the rest of Europe to pay for it because they don’t like paying taxes. Quoted in the Wall Street Journal: “Greeks consider taxes as theft,” said Aristides Hatzis, an associate professor of law and economics at the University of Athens. “Normally taxes are considered the price you have to pay for a just state, but this is not accepted by the Greek mentality.” Taxes are also the price of civilization. It’s not accepted by nearly half the US population either, who pay no federal income taxes.
By the time he leaves office, President Obama will have raised our national debt more than every other president combined. He will have doubled it to about $20 trillion. Do we hear about this in the mainstream media? No, we don’t. What do we have to show for all that money? I don’t see anything, do you? No infrastructure improvements, no projects that were supposed to have been “shovel ready” when he rammed through his $864 billion “stimulus” in 2009.
Do Americans intend to pay off our growing debt? Doesn’t look that way. Like the Greeks, we keep on spending money we don’t have and passing the bill onto our grandchildren. Are we going the way of the Greeks? Seems like it, but there are differences. The entire Greek economy is only about 2% of the European Union economy. If it went belly up, it shouldn’t affect the rest of the EU or the world. But what if we went bankrupt? The whole world would likely go down with us.
Wife Roseann and her niece Christina on Athens Street

Traveling around Greece last year, what I remember most is graffiti. In Athens, it was everywhere! There were layers and layers of it on virtually every vertical surface reachable by a human hand holding a can of spray paint. There were countless acts of people using someone else’s property as an easel, as a billboard, to display whatever notion was in their mind at the time. Owners of the property must then expend time, energy, and money to clean it up. It was evident that they couldn’t keep up. It’s vandalism, plain and simple, not unlike that of the original Vandals who assaulted Rome and helped bring down Roman civilization with their wanton pillaging. 
Off Congress St. Portland, Maine
Attempting to clean up

Layers of spray paint don’t bring down a civilization. Rather, they’re a symptom of the underlying decay that brings it down. They’re a sign that those who work to maintain a semblance of order are losing out to those who spread anarchy. As I travel around North America and Europe, the presence or absence of graffiti is my way of taking the temperature of whatever city or country through which I’m traveling. Presence of graffiti is a measure of decline. Lack of effort to clean it up is a measure of cultural despair. Greeks thinking they can live the good life on someone else’s nickel, and thinking they can spray whatever they want on someone else’s property are similar. There’s a connection.
Congress St. Portland, Maine

I’m seeing graffiti in more and more places around Portland and it worries me. First it was  on boxcars. Watching a train covered with it pass by depressed me. Clearly the railroad company had given up. I used to see it here and there along Forest Avenue and Congress Street, but it wouldn’t remain long before someone cleaned it up or painted over it. Now, however, it’s staying on longer and even being added to. I’ve been seeing the same graffiti for nearly a year and that’s not good. Property owners are responsible to remove it and if they don’t, they’re subject to penalties and fines. But, the will to remove it or to enforce penalties is clearly waning. As the saying goes: The handwriting is on the wall.
As a sixty-four-year-old baby boomer, I was born into a country that had just saved the world from German and Japanese totalitarianism. For that we can thank our parents’ generation, which went on to build the most prosperous, most powerful country the world had ever seen. Unfortunately, my generation began tearing it down, and some of us fear the process can’t be reversed. We cannot be proud of what we’re passing on to our grandchildren.

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Monday, July 06, 2015

White Privilege? Oh Please...

Been thinking lately about teachers and cops. Both are besieged by left-wing, multiculturalists and results are disastrous for schools, cities, and everywhere else. The left needs a public perception of pervasive white racism and it’s stoking the fires whenever it can. Reality has little to do with the campaign, and our mainstream media is assisting whenever they can. Former Attorney General Eric Holder saw this effort as his primary responsibility. According to an article in National Review Online:

“When Department of Justice officials arrived in Ferguson, Mo., one day after the death of Michael Brown, it wasn’t just to conduct an investigation on potential civil-rights violations. In fact, officials from one Justice Department office were conducting meetings with Ferguson residents to educate them on subjects such as ‘white privilege.’”

First Holder put out the notion that a higher percentage of black men in prison as opposed to white men was in and of itself proof of racial discrimination by cops and courts, ignoring the overwhelming evidence that black men commit many more serious crimes than whites. Then he and President Obama accused white teachers and principals in public schools for creating a “pathway to prison” by suspending a higher percentage of black teenagers than whites. Again, both ignored overwhelming evidence that black students misbehave much more than white students. It’s racial discrimination, they insisted, ordering schools to reduce black suspensions.
Leftist educators feeling guilty for being white ordered staff indoctrination in “white privilege,” the trendy notion that white people are unconsciously racist and need to acknowledge, then shed their “privilege.” Completely ignored are fifty years of Affirmative Action during which blacks have been given privilege over whites in hiring, granting of public contracts, and college admissions.
The St. Paul, Minnesota school district spent over $3 million to educate white teachers and principals about their “privilege.” EAGnews (Education Action Group) had to file Freedom of Information requests to learn the amount the district spent over a five year period. The money went to an organization called Pacific Educational Group founded in 1992 which offers conferences around the country at which caucasian teachers can flagellate themselves for their “White Privilege” and their sins of unconsciously propagating “Systemic Racism.”
According to a New York Post article by Paul Sperry: “[Pacific Education Group does] the racial-sensitivity training of teachers as part of professional teacher training workshops, reprogramming them to think that THEY are the problem, not the misbehaving kids, that their ‘whiteness’ and ‘cultural insensitivity’ is the reason African-American students tend to be, on average, more disruptive and violent than other students and tend to underperform academically.”

“Some of the teachers come out of the workshops sobbing,” wrote Sperry. “It’s classic brainwashing.”

St. Paul’s school behavioral policies were modified to make sure the number of suspensions for black students was the same as that of white students based on the percentage of each in the student population. That is, there were racial quotas for suspensions. Once the quota for black suspensions was reached, no more could be suspended until the white quota went up too. Meanwhile, misbehaving black students were given “time outs” instead, as recommended by the all-knowing and all-wise Pacific Education Group.

And how is that working? It’s a disaster. According to City Pages:

“At John A. Johnson Elementary on the East Side, several teachers, who asked to remain anonymous, describe anything but a learning environment. Students run up and down the hallways, slamming lockers and tearing posters off the walls. They hit and swear at each other, upend garbage cans under teachers’ noses. Nine teachers at Ramsey Middle School have quit since the beginning of this school year. Some left for other districts. Others couldn’t withstand the escalating anarchy.”
On another level, cops face a similar quandary. President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and countless mainstream media outlets fabricate the narrative that “racist,” white cops are to blame for the crimes of young black men. When they’re told to stand down in the face of looting and arson in Baltimore, to use only one example, chaos reigns. “No,” insisted Baltimore’s black police chief Anthony Batts, according the New York Daily News. Cops were not told to stand down. Rather, they were instructed: “Do not engage,” as if there were any difference.
Anthony Batts

Teachers are demoralized when told they are the reason for disruptive behavior by black students. They back off and chaos takes over. Cops are demoralized when they are blamed for the crimes of young black men. They back off and crime skyrockets. Chaos reigns in cities across the country.
Just a few of the killer gang members in Chicago

Even in rural Maine where I live, cops are demoralized. They go into law enforcement thinking of themselves as the good guys who are there to protect people from bad guys. They take their “To Serve and Protect” motto seriously. The Obama Administration and mainstream media assault on the character and integrity of all police has enormous effect on morale. That 95% of “racist” incidents are fabricated or exaggerated is the worst part. It’s all so unnecessary.
How will it all end? Not well, I’m afraid. We still have another year and a half before it can even begin to get better.

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