Monday, April 05, 2021

THE FINAL DEADLINE


Sunrise at Spring Point, South Portland Maine

“The days of our years are threescore years and ten,” according to Psalm 90, and I reached that milestone yesterday, April 7th. We live longer here in the 21st century United States than people did in ancient Israel when Psalm 90 was written, but not much longer. Because of a circulatory condition I didn’t think I’d make it even this far because I haven’t been able to purchase life insurance since I was thirty-three. Yet here I am, still sucking oxygen.



Reaching seventy seems like a good time to take stock and make some changes. I began writing for publication sometime during the Carter Administration. My pieces were occasional until sometime late in the George H. W. Bush Administration when I committed to writing a regular, weekly column for various newspapers. With advent of the internet, several web sites picked it up too, and up to now about 1500 columns have been published in hard copy. Deadlines for 800-word columns have crimped my weekly schedule ever since, and that has become tiresome.



When I turned sixty, I retired from the classroom. Now, at seventy, I’m liberating myself from deadlines and returning to occasional-writer status. Why? Mostly because writing keeps me at my desk when I’d rather be outside taking pictures, especially now that spring is here. Photography is much more fun, and it scratches my creative itch more thoroughly than writing does. It’s also more lucrative.


Sunrise from Christian Hill last month
After a day exploring my environs through the lens of my camera, I still find myself sitting in front of my computer, but I’m seeing beautiful color photos instead of words in dull black-and-white. It’s relaxing and energizing at the same time — and I listen to music while I edit— classical piano mostly. With income from sales, I purchased high-end cameras, lenses and other tools of the trade and I want to use them more. Already I’m waking up with excitement as I think about where I’ll go with my photo backpack after breakfast, or even before breakfast if I feel like it.



Going into my office now, I’m eager to see what my latest photos look like on the big monitor. Although I discard most, I like using an editing program to make the rest better, but even fewer of those make it onto my web site to be offered for sale. As I said, the whole process is much more fun than writing. Conscious that this is my final regular column, I’m feel liberated from deadlines already. I’ll be free all next week, and for however many more weeks my Creator wishes to give me. Only He knows what my final deadline will be  — and about that I prefer to remain in ignorance.



Whatever occasional writing I may do will be published on my blog, and will likely be in the form of photo essays. Now, however, they can be less than 800 words, or more. I can write whatever comes to mind and go on for as long as I want. I can go off on tangents without feeling guilty for not sticking to the subject. Tangents are usually more creative than the intended script anyway. I never know where they’ll take me but the trip is always enjoyable.


Old Orchard Beach at dawn

My blog is a better medium than newspapers for photos and words and that’s where future pieces will go. If publications ever wishes to pick one up, they can, but I won’t be promoting them. I don’t enjoy marketing and have never done much of it.


Somewhere in Kennebunk, Maine

I intend to continue my TV show: “Left & Right,” because that’s only twice a month and it’s still fun. Whereas writing columns was a solitary endeavor, TV is interactive and I can invite anyone I wish. Show prep is easy because I’m always keeping up with news of the world anyway and I decide what the content will be. 



Positive and negative feedback from my columns have come in newspapers, online, over the telephone, through email, via snail-mail, and in person. It was nice to get it, negative included, and I want to thank the many people who sent it over the years in spite of, or because of, the controversy my columns engendered. I’ve saved most of the hard copy letters to the editor, opposing columns, and snail-mail letters along with digital copies of emails. Comments on my blog will be preserved as long as Google allows.


Sunrise at Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Psalm 90:10 goes on to say, “…and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”




Although there’s been no shortage of labor and sorrow during my 70 years, joy has been thoroughly interspersed as well, and I hope will continue to be before I fly away.



Tuesday, March 23, 2021

"HOCKEY STICK MANN" LOSES AGAIN



Was it wrong for me to feel schadenfreude last week after infamous climatologist Michael Mann’s second court defeat? Maybe, but I savored it anyway.


It was only five years ago that the litigious, pretentious, and hypersensitive climatologist signed his April 29, 2016 letter to the Conway Daily Sun as: “Michael E. Mann, Distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center, Penn State University.” After Mann had sued multiple critics over the previous ten years, it looked as though he would add me to his list of defendants which included The National Review, New Hampshire columnist Mark Steyn, Canada’s Dr. Timothy Ball, The Competitive Enterprise Institute, and others.



Mann’s 500-word screed against me began with: “An individual named Tom McLaughlin did a tremendous disservice to your readership by spreading falsehoods about the topic of human-caused climate change, and about my scientific work specifically, in his misguided recent commentary (“Campus craziness” published April 28).”



That column was about loopy developments on American college campuses in general. I mentioned Michael Mann in only one paragraph but he immediately fired off his letter to the Sun



Mann is the creator of the now-debunked “hockey-stick graph” first made famous by former Vice President Al Gore’s film: “Inconvenient Truth” and then cited by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Whenever anyone publicly criticized Mann for his faulty scientific reasoning, he sued them. The suits dragged on almost ten years costing defendants millions, but they’re finally being settled.



Last week, Mann’s suit against National Review was dismissed. In 2019, a Supreme Court judge in British Columbia dismissed Mann’s suit against Dr. Timothy Ball with prejudice. That judge also ordered Mann to pay Ball’s court costs which run into the millions. It’s possible Mann will have to pay National Review’s court costs as well, but that hasn’t been decided at this writing. His suits against Mark Steyn and the Competitive Enterprise Institute will likely be dismissed soon with similar results.


David Suzuki


I don’t know how deep Mann’s pockets are, but I think wealthy climate Cassandras like Canada’s David Suzuki who backed him will have to pay Mann’s victims now. I’m no lawyer, but I think that’s how it works. Suzuki said politicians skeptical of anthropogenic climate change “should be thrown in the slammer.” Democrat politicians in the United States have also called for jailing climate skeptics. These court defeats would seem to indicate that if anyone is going to the slammer, it’s more likely to be Michael Mann. Dr. Timothy Ball was right when he said: “Mann belongs in the state pen, not Penn State.”



There’s little doubt that our climate is warming. Portland [Maine] Harbor used to freeze regularly but it rarely does now. The question is whether human activity [burning fossil fuels] is causing it. The left believes it is while conservatives generally do not. Conservatives see the left using the issue to justify expanded government control over the energy sector of our economy. The new Biden Administration is populating the federal bureaucracy with officials who believe they can prevent global warming by phasing out coal and petroleum products in America and substituting expensive alternative energy sources like wind and solar for them.



Public concern about alleged anthropogenic climate change has waxed and waned over the years since Columbia University’s James Hansen predicted doom back in 1988. When scientists like Mann are challenged, mainstream media goes after skeptics. On 60 Minutes last year, Mann said: “There’s about as much scientific consensus about human-caused climate change as there is about gravity.”




Mann's hockey stick cannot be reproduced without his data

If Mann is that confident in his position, why has he refused for more than a decade to turn over the data he used to compose his hockey stick? The scientific method requires that for a theory to become scientific fact, hypothetical experiments must be reproducible with the same results. That, of course, would be impossible because Mann won’t release his data despite court orders to do so. His refusal was cited by both judges in his two recent court defeats.



Even though neither the polar ice caps nor the Himalayan glaciers have disappeared as predicted by green Chicken Littles, mainstream media habitually trumpet climate Cassandras like Mann and attack his skeptics. So, it shouldn’t surprise us that media have ignored Mann’s legal defeat versus Dr. Timothy Ball in British Columbia. They’ve been ignoring Mann’s loss against National Review so far as well. Both contradict media’s “We’re all gonna die from catastrophic climate change!” narrative.



When Mann’s remaining suits against Mark Steyn and the Competitive Enterprise Institute are also thrown out, should I try to suppress my inevitable resurgence of schadenfreude?


Greta Thunberg

Nah. I’m going to savor it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Speech to Carroll County New Hampshire Republicans Monday, 3-15-21


Only seven at this point

Way back in the 20th century I was born into a family of Boston-Irish-Catholic-Democrats, the fourth of eight children. We were taught that Protestants and Republicans were different from us and not to be trusted. My parents were politically active at the town level and some of my earliest memories are of our mother driving us kids around town to deliver fliers door-to-door encouraging people to vote for either my father running for local office, or a family friend. Politics of all kinds were discussed most nights around our supper table beginning at 5:45 pm. If I showed up late because I was fishing, playing baseball, or finishing my paper route, there would be consequences.

My mother and father

After supper I would sit in front of the television while my father watched the news. John F. Kennedy was our hero and my father proudly displayed a photo of him and Congressman JFK standing next to each other at a meeting to organize a public-employee union called NAGE — the National Association of Government Employees. That union later morphed into today’s SEIU, which functions as an army of Democrat poll workers and thugs. On weekends my father watched 30-minute episodes of “World at War” or “Victory at Sea” When a flotilla was crossing the English Channel on D-Day he would say, “I was there.” When the Battle of Okinawa was depicted with kamikazes crashing in to US ships he would say, “I was there.” 


Okinawa

But then most other fathers on our street were WWII veterans. That’s how it was in suburban Massachusetts in the 1950s and 60s. Every kid was proud of his father and that shaped our world view. In the late sixties and early seventies, however, things changed. Baby boomers grew up, went to college. Many challenged the values of the Greatest Generation. They used drugs. They ignored sexual norms, and opposed the Vietnam War. Heroes like JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King were assassinated. Cities burned in riots. Protests divided the country. President Johnson chose not to run again. Nixon resigned. My older brother started using drugs and left home. Those previously edifying conversations around our supper table became acrimonious.



Similar things were happening up and down my street and across the country. American culture was fraying. Respect for the Greatest Generation was replaced by: “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” 



That unraveling of American pride then paused during eight years of the Reagan Administration, but began anew under the Obama Administration. Last summer cities were again burning in the riots following the George Floyd’s death. America has started shaking again. Today, after only two months of the Biden Administration, political polarization in America is worse than at anytime since the Civil War.


And racism is back in the form of Critical Race Theory. Although banned by President Trump, it has become dominant in public school classrooms just since the November election. If you look at sample curricula virtually anywhere in our country now you’ll see students being taught to categorize themselves by the color of their skin, not the content of their character. White people are born “privileged.” They’re inherently racist against all other people. White people perpetuate “institutional racism” the theory claims, consciously or unconsciously. 

Such BS


Curricula like “The 1619 Project” which purports the United States was built on slavery — and not on notions of liberty and freedom spelled out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The 1619 Project is being adopted in public schools across several states and a new acronym has emerged: “BIPOC.” If you haven’t seen it yet, you will. It stands for: Black, Indigenous, People of Color. Our country is divided in two now: whites and BIPOCs. This is not good and it’s gaining momentum. Ask your children and grandchildren if they’re hearing it.



And it’s not just in schools. Coca Cola and many other mainstream corporations today train their employees to first acknowledge, then renounce their alleged “White Privilege” and learn to “Be Less White.” The training is mandatory and they must admit being racists.


My teaching career began in the 1970s after I was influenced by the craziness of the 60s and 70s. The first US History textbook I used was one of the most widely-used at the time. Today, however, it would banned. In the chapters leading up the Civil War, it summarized debates between between members of Congress from northern and southern states on slavery. Here’s what it says on page 274 of American History:


Southerners justified slavery as a good thing because:


  1. The African slave was an inferior human being. As an inferior, he was suited only to special kinds of work. This work was best done under a system of slavery.


  1. Slavery was approved by the Bible. Many southerners pointed out that slavery had existed in Biblical times. The Bible did not condemn slavery. Therefore, they added, it could not be bad or sinful.


  1. The slave was treated better than many white factory workers in the north … who worked 12 snd 14 hours a day often in poorly-lighted and unhealthy factories. The slave did most of his work in outdoor in an area that was much warmer and healthier than a northern city.


  1. Slavery was important in helping the South develop its leaders… The use of slaves made it possible for southern leaders to devote themselves to law, politics, and government service.


There were commensurate northern arguments against slavery with which you would already be familiar. My students would study, then role-play as ante-bellum northern and southern senators and members of Congress and debate just as Congress did in those years leading up to the Civil War. If a teacher were to try that today he’d be suspended immediately. On end-of-the-year evaluations, though, my students cited that debate as the lesson they learned the most from.


They learned also that slavery was practiced in every other civilization throughout human history — including in black Africa from which American slaves either purchased or captured. Many of our students today, however, believe slavery was unique to America.

The Allegedly Reverend Al Sharpton


Those southern senators and congressmen my students role-played were all Democrats. After WWII they were called Dixiecrats. Today’s Democrats, however, like to put on historical blinders when viewing their party's racist history. They claim that racist southern Democrats all became Republicans when Richard Nixon implemented his “Southern Strategy.” It’s classic projection. Trouble is, there’s little evidence for it.



Nixon said nothing remotely racist over a very long career from 1940s to the 1970s, but Democrats claim he used “racist dog whistles” like “law and order” and “states rights.” Really? Like a secret code? Only one senator — Strom Thurmond — became Republican and only one congressman — Albert Watson of South Carolina. Nearly all Dixiecrats supported Alabama Governor George Wallace, a Democrat, not Nixon. Though John Tower, Jesse Helms and Trent Lott joined the Republicans too, they hadn’t been Dixiecrats. The South became Republican in the 1980s and 90s because of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, not because of Nixon.



Few people know that a greater percentage of Republicans voted for the 1964 Civil Rights bill than Democrats and Nixon was one of them. He also supported the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Tom Wicker of the New York Times wrote: “There’s no doubt about it — the Nixon administration accomplished more in 1970 to desegregate Southern school systems than had been done in the 16 previous years or probably since. There’s no doubt either that it was Richard Nixon personally who conceived and led the administration’s desegregation effort.”


Nixon is the president who actually got Affirmative Action going which discriminated against whites in favor of blacks and women. The south became Republican not because of any strategy of Richard Nixon’s. The south became Republican because the south became conservative. It had little to do with racism.

Republicans all

So here we are in 2021. The Democrats run the country again and they just enacted a $1.9 trillion “Covid Relief” bill which has very little to do with COVID. Rather, it has everything to do with Democrat agendas, like $350 billion for bailing out cities like Chicago and Los Angeles and states like Illinois, California, New York and others. Decades of Democrat mayors and governors have brought them to the brink of bankruptcy. They did this by negotiating overly-generous pension and benefit packages they knew they couldn’t afford for public employee unions like the above mentioned SEIU, AFS/CME, and others.

Democrat leaders knew these contracts were unsustainable. They also knew they’d be out of office when the bill came due. The so-called COVID Relief Bill also gives Democrat teachers’ unions tens of billions more to open the schools they’ve kept closed. Money isn’t the problem. They still have billions they haven’t spent from the last relief bill. Maybe some of you are old enough to remember Illinois Republican Senator Everett Dirksen’s remark from earlier times in that state: “A million here, a million there — pretty soon you’re talking real money.” If only it were still a million here and a million there. Now it’s a trillion here and a trillion there — and that’s still not enough for the Democrats!



Next will come still another multi-trillion-dollar piece of legislation — ostensibly for rebuilding infrastructure. Remember President Obama’s $800 billion in “shovel ready projects”? I challenge any of you to point to one of those shovel-ready projects we spent hundreds of billions on. I can’t point to any.



It was different with Republican public works projects over the years. We can point to the Hoover Dam in the twenties. Hoover was a Republican. We can point to Eisenhower’s interstate highways in the fifties. Eisenhower was a Republican. Where are Obama’s shovel ready projects from the 2000s? I give up.


We Republicans have our work cut out for us, don’t we? And so it goes…


BREITBART AND LIMBAUGH




Now that Rush Limbaugh is dead, who might replace him as the popular leader of the conservative movement? I’m not sure anyone could, given Limbaugh’s unique blend of high intelligence, prodigious memory, and analytical skills. It might have been Andrew Breitbart if he hadn’t died of a heart attack nine years ago last week when he was only 42. In his largely autobiographical 2011 book “Righteous Indignation,” Breitbart said Limbaugh shaped his world view.


Raised in Brentwood, California by upper-middle-class Jewish parents who adopted him as an infant, Breitbart had been quite liberal. After he married stage/screen/TV actor Orson Bean’s daughter, he was surprised when seeing a Limbaugh book on Bean’s shelf. He declared that Limbaugh was a fascist and a racist so why the book? Bean asked if Andrew had ever read or listened to Rush and Breitbart admitted he had not, but everyone said so. Bean suggested he give Limbaugh a try. After listening to Rush’s show while driving around LA for a week, Breitbart realized  how wrong he had been. He continued listening and became a conservative for the rest of his life.

Bean and Breitbart

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), both Breitbart and Limbaugh were presenters. It was the first year I attended with a press pass that gave me much more access. I could kneel down onstage alongside the main podium and take photos of big-name speakers. I could set up on Bloggers Row with my laptop. Breitbart and others dropped in there several times but we were not introduced at that point.



I had listened to Limbaugh for more than a decade by then. During his, 90-minute talk he said nothing I hadn’t heard before so I wandered through the lobby into other function rooms where other presentations were going on. It was there that I bumped into Breitbart and we chatted a bit. The previous two days I had become intrigued watching his facial expressions while he was seated alongside the main podium listening to Ann Coulter and other big-name speakers. Because whatever he was thinking or feeling was displayed on his face, it was very interesting to watch him through my telephoto lens.



His presentation at the big podium was unpretentious. He spoke extemporaneously as though everyone in the audience were his friend and they seemed to reciprocate. CPAC’s dress code was “business casual,” so I and everyone else wore a jacket and tie throughout the three-day conference but Breitbart would discard his tie and open his shirt collar whenever he could. Like his many friends growing up in the Hollywood entertainment industry growing up, he had been very liberal by default. After becoming a conservative, however, he developed his mantra: “Politics is downstream from culture.”



Breitbart became convinced that conservatism will continue losing ground so long as the left controls Hollywood, academia, and media — especially mainstream media. Three years in a row at CPAC I heard him declare war on mainstream media. I’ve since come to believe firmly that he was right. The left controls what people perceive and Breitbart understood better than most the aphorism, “In Politics, perception is reality.”



Rush Limbaugh became influential because he was on the radio three hours a day for over thirty years. Fifteen million people listened to his analysis whenever anything big happened, cultural or political. Limbaugh had a profound influence on American perception and that’s why the left hated him so much. He peeled off a chunk of their territory and they attacked him desperately trying to retrieve it from him.



Andrew Breitbart’s skill lay in shrewdly forcing mainstream media to cover stories they were studiously ignoring, like the ACORN (Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) scandal in the fall of 2009. Posing as a pimp, undercover journalist James O’Keefe had collected video from publicly funded ACORN offices in various cities across the country agreeing to help him open whorehouses in which underaged, illegal alien hookers would be hired. O’Keefe offered his videos to mainstream networks but they turned him down. They knew ACORN was a Democrat/Obama-affiliated organization.


James O'Keefe

Through a contact, Breitbart got Fox News to run one video from Baltimore and after a huge outcry mainstream networks were forced to pick up the story. When Democrats then declared it an anomaly in Baltimore, Breitbart then played out more videos once city at a time. Democrats called the second video anomalous too, but then Breitbart continued releasing them from other cities one at a time until it became a huge, very embarrassing story for the new community-organizer-President Obama and the Democrat Party.



In 2011, Breitbart used similar tactics with the unfortunately-named Democrat Congressman Anthony Weiner after learning that Weiner was sending out obscene photos of himself to young women (and later underage girls). Weiner denied everything until Breitbart’s strategy forced him to admit it. He resigned in disgrace soon after.


Matt Drudge

Among many other things, Breitbart helped both Arianna Huffington and Matt Drudge set up their highly-successful web sites — before each turned liberal.