Thursday, February 14, 2019

Left and Right February 12, 2019

Gino starts talking about a dead goose that he loved, which had been hit by a car in Jackson, NH. He wrote a letter to the editor about his grieving and got lots of feedback. We go next to the battle for Trump wall funding. Do we think he will declare a state of emergency? I say yes. Gino doesn't declare exactly what Trump may do. We go on to European immigration by Muslims and how politically destabilizing it is. George Soros is concerned that conservative backlash moving European nations rightward -- because of immigration which he has financed, both here in the USA and in Europe. He is worried the EU may disintegrate and wrote an op-ed about it. I describe the expansion of no-go zones in Europe where Muslims let no one in, where they have their own police and courts. Demographers forecast the trend to accelerate because Muslims have five or six times as many children as native Europeans -- and they're harassing Jews. Muslim Democrats elected to US Congress recently are increasingly anti-Semitic as well. I introduce Alexandria Occasio Cortez's proposed "Green New Deal" and read specific items from her FAQ released last Friday. It was endorsed by five announced Democrat presidential candidates and it's painful to read. After reading four or five specific items in the proposal, Gino acknowledges it's crazy and it will never happen. Then he actually blames the right for it. Why? He offers no evidence. We travel over a lot of territory. As I make points Gino doesn't like, he quickly introduces red herrings. He changes the subject so as not to respond to my arguments -- especially about the newly-elected, radical-leftist, Democrat members of Congress and takes things in a different direction. I go along, struggling to keep my tone moderate, and countering with facts. Ultimately, he plays the racist card again, and again with no evidence, because I criticize statements from newly-elected Muslim, Democrat members of Congress.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Ancestral Stones

Bug Light Park
Though it was still very cold last weekend, I felt the hope of spring. Maybe it was the angle of the sun, the heat from which was melting snow and ice even when the air temperature was well below freezing. As I ran along the waterfront at Bug Light Park Sunday morning there was no activity in Portland Harbor. Only one ferry to Peaks Island was moving and that had docked by the time I began. There was a quiet I seldom perceive down there. Very few people were stirring, only a couple dog owners out for a walk. It was cold, but the air wasn’t moving and the sun felt warm on my face. That hope of spring is an ancient thing for people in northern climes.

Stone circle in County Cork
I just booked my fourth trip to Ireland, the land of my ancestors, which is amply sprinkled with prehistoric stone formations everywhere going back five millennia. No one knows for sure who built them but archaeologists are slowly piecing bits of evidence together which indicate that many if not most of the curious structures are oriented according to the solar calendar — to confirm that yes, the sun is getting higher each day and spring will indeed return. People around the world are familiar with Stonehenge, which is the largest of numerous other stone circles all over England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Atlantic coast of France.
Human remains, sometimes cremated, have also been found around these stones in Ireland. Some such formations are enormous like Newgrange in the Boyne River Valley which predates Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. We don’t know for sure who built Newgrange, but whoever those people were, they were skilled at working in stone. As with Stonehenge, they moved stone from many kilometers away to build and we don’t understand how they did so. Unlike Stonehenge, Newgrange (and two other huge mounds near it) was also a passage tomb built with corbeled stones and covered with still more stones to make a tumulus covering more than an acre. Like Stonehenge, it was oriented to sunrises on the solstices.

Other stones the size of automobiles are arranged all around Newgrange and inscribed with spirals and concentric circles the meanings of which no one knows. When I visited there I was told by officials on site that they were close to an understanding and a report would be issued within months. I’ve been waiting ten years and there’s been no report.
Isle of Doagh
There are similar concentric circle designs carved into stones on the Isle of Doagh on the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal which is the northernmost part of Ireland. When I was there on my first trip, I wasn’t aware of those stones, but I’ll be spending several days on Inishowen again because it’s the land of the McLaughlins where my great-grandfather was born. I’ll be sure to look for them this time.
Another in County Cork (photo by John Banagan)
My great-grandfather, James whom I never knew, was born in a little village called Cloontagh but he emigrated to Boston from the nearby Isle of Doagh. My brother Paul and his girlfriend will be with us for a few days. He’s going to Scotland first and we’ll meet up in Donegal after he flies in from Edinburgh. It’s his first trip to Europe.

Enforced by the British in Ireland
After Paul flies back to the USA my wife and I will head south to County Cork where other branches of my family originated — the Sullivans and Mahoneys, also on my father’s side. I’ve discovered where and when some married and where and when some died, so if I have time maybe I can find their homes. Maybe not though, because they were Roman Catholic and, as such, they wouldn’t likely have inherited real property since it was illegal for a Catholic to own property in Ireland until 1792. They were born in the early 1800s.

On the way south from Donegal to Cork, I can pass through Limerick where John Fitzgerald, great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side was born July 4, 1836. That information should be specific enough to perhaps find data on his parents, Patrick and Catherine, about whom I know nothing but their names. The further back I go the more names there are, but records become harder to find, so perhaps I will reach dead ends during this trip. Knowing a few things about ancestors who lived and died there will help me feel connected to the land as I explore it.

The ancestors I’ve learned of so far were all poor. The McLaughlins couldn’t afford stones to mark their graves in Donegal and I may not find any for the Sullivans or Mahoneys in Cork either. However, I will see plenty of the standing stone circles erected five thousand years ago to mark passing seasons — and the graves of more distant ancestors. Those are everywhere.

Monday, February 04, 2019

The Power of Images

Pictures and words: Both are powerful. Governor Ralph Northam’s remarks about an abortion bill last week put him on the hot seat, but pictures from an old yearbook released a couple of days later left him hanging by a thread. He began the week describing how a newborn baby would be kept comfortable while parents and doctors discussed killing it. Two days later he tried to explain two of his old pictures: one in blackface; another of a figure wearing a KKK hood. If he has to resign, it’ll be the pictures that force it and not his talk of killing babies after they’re born.

The Congressional Black Caucus knew a 2005 picture they had of then-Senator Barack Obama smiling with Black Muslim Minister Louis Farrakhan would make his election to the White House difficult, so they buried it for twelve years. It only came to light in 2018 when his second term was over. "I do believe that it would have had a very, very negative effect in that given moment as far as the candidacy of candidate Obama at that time," says Dr. Shayla Nunnally, president of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.

As I’ve reported before in this space, my students often debated abortion in my classes. During one of the first debates, pictures of aborted babies were introduced by the pro-life side and it was all over. The pro-choice side conceded immediately. After that, I made a rule against using them. The purpose of debating was expressing ideas, making coherent points and counterpoints, and stimulating thought. The pictures were so powerful they prevented that exchange and rendered mere words superfluous.

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) knows the power of images. Shortly after announcing her candidacy for president two weeks ago she took on the gun lobby. Referring to a failed gun control bill following the Sandy Hook massacre, she said: "This is going to sound very harsh, [but] I think somebody should have required all those members of Congress to go in a room, in a locked room with no press and nobody else, and look at the autopsy photographs of those babies.”

However, when at least one video image of a baby murdered at an abortion clinic was revealed during Harris’s tenure as Attorney General of California, she worked to suppress it, claiming it was deceptively edited. Together with videos of abortionists discussing how they try not to crush heads and other body parts so they could sell them later, those images threatened government funding of Planned Parenthood and exposed it to prosecution for trafficking in aborted babies’ body parts. Dozens of undercover videos had been recorded at public events attended by David Dalieden and abortionists, then released online.

Planned Parenthood was a major contributor to Harris’s US Senate campaign. In April 2016, her office sent eleven agents to raid Dalieden’s home and seize all his equipment and remaining videos after which Dalieden released a statement saying:

Today, the California Attorney General’s office of Kamala Harris, who was elected with tens of thousands of dollars from taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood, seized all video footage showing Planned Parenthood’s criminal trade in aborted baby parts, in addition to my personal information. Ironically, while seizing my First Amendment work product, they ignored documents showing the illicit scheme between StemExpress and Planned Parenthood. This is no surprise–Planned Parenthood’s bought-and-paid-for AG has steadfastly refused to enforce the law against the baby body parts traffickers in our state, or even investigate them–while at the same time doing their bidding to harass and intimidate citizen journalists. We will pursue all remedies to vindicate our First Amendment rights.

President Trump felt the power of images while campaigning for president in 2016 after NBC released a video of him talking to someone about grabbing women by their genitals. While he squeaked by in the November election, the video definitely cost him support among women. The day after his inauguration, hundreds of thousands marched wearing “pussy hats” in Washington, DC. Tens of thousands more marched in cities and towns across the country.

A dorky-looking picture of Governor Michael Dukakis wearing a helmet in a tank may have contributed to his loss against George H. W. Bush in 1988. An image of John Kerry crawling around in a spacesuit at NASA hurt him in his campaign against George W. Bush in 2004. Richard Nixon reinforced voter impressions of being too stiff when a picture emerged of him walking on a beach in San Clemente wearing his wing tips.

How many words is a picture worth? Sometimes it seems like way more than a thousand.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Courage From a Boy and a Priest

Father Peter Shaba
America sent many missionaries to Africa. Now Africa is sending them to us because the Catholic faith is growing there but has atrophied here. One such is Father Peter Shaba from Nigeria who said 10:30 mass last Sunday at Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Fryeburg, Maine. His homily on abortion was only the third I’ve heard in thirty years of attending mass nearly every week all over New England.

“If the mission of Jesus is to save life,” said Father Shaba in reference to Sunday’s mass readings, “for us his followers, our mission is to save and protect life as well. Yes, to save and protect life no matter how young or old that life is, especially the most vulnerable, the unborn. But is that the world mission today? Especially [for] those [who] call themselves Christians — good Catholics? Brothers and sisters, good Catholics don’t support the killing of innocent children — never.”

“We [all]watched what just happened in New York — the passing of the abortion law legalizing abortion up until birth, the Reproductive Health Act which was called ‘a historic victory for New Yorkers and for our progressive values…’ Are we progressing as humans in matters of life or are we retrogressing?” asked Father Shaba. “When we can kill babies who are very vulnerable, who should be cared for and protected since they cannot do that for themselves — but instead of doing that, we are happy and joyous that a law signing their death warrant has just been passed?”

He was referring to all the Catholic legislators who celebrated as Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law on the 46th anniversary of Roe V Wade. As Fox News reported it: “Cuomo directed the 408-foot spire on the One World Trade Center, the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, the Kosciuszko Bridge, and the Alfred E. Smith Building in Albany to be lit pink to ‘celebrate this achievement and shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow.’” 

Father Shaba continued: “I watched with sadness the man who signed this law [and] the women who were with him, other men and women present there especially those close to him — how happy they were, cheering him on, the grandmother who sat close to him, happy, laughing, cheering evil and thinking that all is well? These people should be crying and wailing. Brothers and sisters, I am telling you today: all is not well. We need to pray for our nation.”

Catholics, including lay people, priests, and a few American bishops are calling on their fellow bishops to censure Governor Cuomo — either excommunicate him or at least to deny him the Eucharist in his home parish. Is anything stirring? On Saturday, Bishop of Albany Edward Scharfenberger wrote to Governor Cuomo, according to according to Fox News: “Your advocacy of extreme abortion legislation is completely contrary to the teachings of our pope and our Church.”

Cuomo knows what he’s doing: making an ass of his bishop. So what now Bishop Scharfenberger? Another strong letter to follow? Only days before signing this sinful bill, Governor Cuomo “touted his Catholic faith during the State of the State address,” according to Fox News. Ordinary Catholics want their bishops to do something and we’re gravely disappointed with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for refusing to uphold, or even practice Catholic teachings. How can they now allow Cuomo to peddle his Catholicism for political purposes and days later publicly defy the church to which he claims to belong? According to the Catholic Encyclopedia of Canon Law: “The diocesan bishop governs with legislative, executive, and judicial powers according to the norms of law.” Do your job, bishop!

Nick Sandmann, Bishop Foy
And speaking of cowardly bishops, what did Covington, Kentucky Bishop do last week after a Covington Catholic High School boy was pilloried in the pro-abortion media for marching against abortion? Did he defend the boy? No. The bishop threatened him with expulsion! As LifeSiteNews reported: “Bishop Roger Joseph Foy of Covington, Kentucky, along with the Covington Catholic High School administration succumbed to the mainstream media's leftist spin of the Friday, January 19 altercation.”

When our bishops lack the courage of a sixteen-year-old high school junior in the face of political and media pressure, what are we to think? Do they really believe in the teachings of the church they pretend to lead? It’s no wonder pews are emptying and churches are closing in America and Europe. Too few priests and bishops believe strongly enough in church teachings to champion them.
It takes a boy and a priest from Africa to show us what courage looks like, to shine the light on what America has become when “progressive” Catholics celebrate the slaughtering of our unborn children while calling it “Reproductive Health Care.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Male Issues

At the Women's March

Men aren’t doing well here in the 21st century. Male life expectancy has always been lower than that of females by about five years but lately, it is declining further. Researchers cite what they call “deaths of despair” in non-college-educated white men aged 45-54. “The mortality rate for that group… increased by a half percent each year from 1999 to 2013,” according to NPR, mostly because of suicide, drugs, and alcohol, yet progressives insist men should renounce their “white male privilege.” It would appear that white men are feeling anything but privileged.

Fifty years ago, 60% of those with bachelor’s degrees were men. Today the reverse is true. Boys are behind girls in primary and secondary schools as well and according to a 2002 60 Minutes report they’ve been falling behind for a long time. Increasingly, boys simply don’t like school. For many parents, it’s a fight to get their sons to school every morning.

During my teaching career, it was clear that the culture of most public school classrooms suited girls much more than boys, many of whom found it confining and restrictive. They needed more active, hands-on activities such as a vocational school environment would provide. Unfortunately, those were reserved for high school boys only — by which time many had developed profoundly negative feelings about school and themselves that were very hard to penetrate.

Men who do go to college might be considered part of a “rape culture,” especially white men. Ask the Duke Lacrosse team. Ask the University of Virginia’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity about “rape culture.” With no evidence, and only on the word of a single woman in each case, two large universities made these young men’s lives hell because both institutions denied the men any presumption of innocence and automatically assumed the worst. The same phenomenon led to the Kavanaugh Hearings debacle.

At the Women's March
This is not to deny that a lot of men behave abominably toward women and always have. Such men have little or no control over their sexual urges and don’t think they need to either, no matter who is hurt by their actions. Relatively recent laws against sexual harassment were much needed and overdue, but presumption of innocence and due process must be enforced at all times.

Last week’s news included articles on “toxic masculinity” and a Gillette commercial titled: “Is This The Best A Man Can Get?” Several conservative pundits objected but I saw little problem with it. It dramatized examples of men and boys bullying others and disrespecting women, but also of good men speaking up and acting to intervene.

Conspicuous by its absence in any of this was the plague of pornography to which so many men and boys have become addicted, and which contributes enormously to the dehumanization of women. That scourge was never mentioned.

At the March For Life
Last weekend there were two women’s marches in Washington. Friday saw the 44th March for Life. It was attended by a hundred thousand or more conservative women and a few men marching against abortion. Saturday it was the 3rd annual Women’s March with liberal women and many themes: Mostly it was a march against President Trump because the 1st march occurred the day after his inauguration. Second to that was a pro-abortion theme. Then there were climate change, black lives matter, and an anti-male theme. One sign called for the extinction of old white men. 
At the Women's March
Numbers were down at the Women’s March after a controversy over anti-Semitism — especially that of Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. One of the March’s organizers, Tamika Mallory, has a close association with Farrakhan and refused to denounce his Anti-Semitic statements. Ironically, it was Farrakhan who organized the Million Man March which drew more than 400,000 in 2005 and pushed themes of black unity, personal responsibility, and respect for black women — all good things it would seem. Anti-semitic remarks by Women’s March organizer Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian Muslim, drove down numbers as well.

At the Women's March
Meanwhile, $4.4 million in taxpayer money funded an American Psychological Association study that purports to define “traditional masculinity” and especially what it sees as negative aspects of it. Psychologists from Clark University and other institutions contributed to the "First-Ever Guidelines for Practice with Men and Boys," which includes, for example, a "Male Role Norms Inventory-Short Form” by former APA President Ronald Levant — an analysis of how much “toxic masculinity” men have as determined by questions like: “Do you think men should be macho, or do you lean more to the metrosexual?” That is the highlighted question on his web site.
At the Women's March
Levant discounts biological differences between men and women, believing masculinity is entirely a social construct. I suspect that when men learn more about the APA’s new guidelines, even fewer will seek counseling from guys like Levant. They’d rather kill themselves.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Dogma Lives Loudly Within

If someone were to have told me a year ago that many if not most American Catholic bishops disagreed with Church teachings enumerated in the Catechism of The Catholic Church, I wouldn’t have believed it. After the revelations of 2018 regarding Cardinal McCarrick, the Pennsylvania grand jury report, and the Archbishop Vigano testimony, however, there can be no doubt. And I’m sad to say that even more sickening revelations will likely come in 2019 since several other state attorneys general are investigating many dozens of bishops— and so is the US Justice Department.

Archbishop Vigano
After being born Boston-Irish-Catholic-Democrat in 1951, I remained a Democrat until 1993 when I dropped out during the first year of the Clinton Administration after realizing that pro-abortion and pro-homosexual biases had been so closely woven into the fabric of the party that I could not in good conscience remain. In 2002, The Boston Globe, which I read every day at the time, broke the homosexual priest scandal and I nearly dropped out of the Catholic Church as well. I didn’t, however, because, to paraphrase Senator Diane Feinstein: The dogma lives loudly within me.

The Globe didn’t call it a homosexual priest scandal. That’s what I called it then and still do while the Globe consistently calls it a pedophile priest scandal. The USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) calls it that too — even after 2004 when the study it commissioned, The John Jay Report, returned overwhelming evidence that it was indeed a homosexual priest scandal. Officially called The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States, the study concluded that 80% of the sexual abuse victims were post-pubescent males. The perpetrators were clearly homosexual priests but the USCCB would not admit that. They still don’t, but some bishops and other clergy are finally breaking ranks after the sordid revelations of 2018.

Divisions within my Church will widen in the coming year as lay people in the pews are forced to choose sides. One or more of several possible scenarios will unfold: A dozen or more state attorneys general in New York, Michigan and elsewhere may call press conferences detailing hundreds, even thousands of sexual assaults by priests and bishops. What if the press conferences come weekly? What if they coincide with still another Supreme Court confirmation battle over a Catholic nominee? Fence-sitting will become increasingly uncomfortable for parishioners.

Many expect liberal Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg to announce retirement after her most recent cancer surgery. If she does, President Trump will likely appoint US Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace her. It was at Barrett’s Circuit Court confirmation hearing that Diane Feinstein said: “the [Catholic] dogma lives loudly within you, and that is a concern.” Democrat Senator Dick Durbin asked her: “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” Barrett’s confirmation will make the raucous Kavanaugh hearings of last year seem tame by comparison.

At the Kavanaugh hearings
We haven’t seen this level of anti-Catholic bigotry since John Kennedy ran for president in 1960. I was in the fourth grade then at St. William’s School in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, and I remember wondering — what was wrong with being a Catholic? For the next four decades or so, anti-Catholicism subsided but now it’s back, among Democrat senators at least. It’s okay to be a Catholic in government as long as you support abortion like Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin, Susan Collins, Sonia Sotomayor, and several others do, but if you live by Catholic teachings you’re an “extremist.”

Left-wing Democrat Senators Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono last week accused Brian Buescher, another Catholic Trump nominee for district court judge in Nebraska, of belonging to an organization that held “extreme positions.” That organization, the Knights of Columbus, supports marriage only between a man and a woman and is against abortion. Though I’m not active beyond monthly monetary contributions, my name is on K of C roles which makes me an “extremist” too. The “extreme positions” in question are basic teachings of the Catholic Church which bishops are responsible to uphold, but most don’t.

A few like Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix warn pro-abortion Catholic politicians not to approach the communion rail to receive the Eucharist. Catholics in the pews can only assume that most bishops don’t take Catholic Church teachings on abortion or homosexuality seriously. As I wrote in a previous column, I’ve heard only two homilies on abortion at weekly masses in Maine New Hampshire, and Massachusetts over the past thirty years. How many have I heard about homosexuality? Despite the enormous media attention given to the issue over that time, I’ve heard only one — and that, ironically, from former Portland, Maine Bishop Richard Malone whose present flock in Buffalo, New York is clamoring for his resignation. He’s under investigation there for protecting homosexual priest abusers. Federal investigators have been asking questions about him here in Maine as well.