Tuesday, May 23, 2017

His Personality Blocks His Agenda

I voted for him, yes, and given the same choices I’d do so again, but he’s making an ass of himself. Maybe that’s not entirely true because he’s behaving much the same way he did through the primaries, so I guess he already was an ass and he’s just reinforcing that general perception. When he actually governs I like what he does, but his personality blocks his agenda.
Cruz was my choice, but Trump won the nomination. During the primaries and general election campaign I wrote columns critical of Donald Trump and my conservative readership reacted. Some agreed. Others said Trump was the only candidate strong enough to kick butt in Washington — both Democrat and Republican butts — as necessary. I agreed that was indeed necessary, and Trump seemed fearless — unaffected and unintimidated by whatever criticism media directed to him. He’d throw it right back and that’s why he won. But is he really as fearless as he seemed?
A truly tough leader would stick to his battle plan, would expect criticism, and wouldn't let it knock him off track. But maybe voters overestimated Trump’s strength. We’re still in the early rounds of this long fight, but the left and the media — which are one and the same — are getting to him. They haven’t landed any solid punches because there’s no evidence of collusion with the Russians, but they’re playing a head game with Trump and it’s working. He’s not sticking to his fight plan. The criticism is affecting him, bigly. The Hillary campaign focused entirely on Trump’s temperament, but she lost because of her own flaws. It’s ironic now that she was right about his temperament. It’s tripping him up.
Senior advisor Steve Bannon said last February at CPAC that: “[C]orporatist, globalist media… are adamantly opposed -- adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has… If you think they're going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every day -- every day, it is going to be a fight.”
Bannon was absolutely right. He said then that he believed Trump would stick to his agenda through it all, but I wonder what he’s thinking now. Are the rumors of Bannon’s reduced influence true? I have no inside information, but I don’t think Trump has been acting on Bannon’s advice during the past couple of months. I’ll bet Bannon is trying to channel Will Rogers, whose sage advice was: “Never miss a good chance to shut up.” Most of us who voted for him wish Trump would just shut up — and put his phone away too. Don’t tweet until you first consult with advisors.
Is Trump really as tough as he pretends to be? Perhaps, but with many braggarts there’s a deep-seated, inferiority complex under a brusque persona. He can’t point to positive opinion polls the way he did in the primaries, and from which he drew energy. Media onslaught against him since his inauguration has been unprecedented and relentless — and he’s not handling it well at all. A recently-released study on Trump’s first 100 days from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy claims he got three times more media coverage than previous presidents — and 80% of it has been negative.
Harvard's Kennedy School of Government study

Fox News was the most balanced, but even their coverage was slightly more negative than positive. O’Reilly and Hannity were unequivocally with Trump, but the rest were either lukewarm or against him. It’s not too late to get back on track. The foreign trip is helping and Trump is sticking to script, mostly. Let’s hope that continues.
Harvard's Kennedy School of Government study

When he was negotiating real estate deals, Trump dealt with people who wanted to do business with him. If he expressed annoyance they would be inclined to compromise, but it’s not like that in politics. Political enemies on the left are not moved by petulance. They’re persuaded only by massive public support of the kind Ronald Reagan had. They’re not seeing that behind Trump so they’re obstructing him wherever they can. They rely on their media army to portray the November election as illegitimate. They’ve relentlessly charged that Trump won only because the Russians helped him. That there is no evidence to support this after almost a year of investigation — zip, zero, nada — doesn’t deter them in the least.
I don’t know this but I’d guess that Trump hasn’t played much poker. The left is bluffing. It has nothing, but as Cool Hand Luke said in the famous movie by that name: “Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand.”
Especially if you’re playing against the fragile ego of Donald J. Trump.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Off The Bucket List

Crossed “Grand Canyon” off my bucket list last week and, according to weather reports, it was a good time to be away from Maine. We stayed in Flagstaff, Arizona and took day trips, but only one to the big canyon last Thursday. It was cool and windy, but the sun was out. I got a sunburn on my face, arms, and that alleged bald spot on the back of my head I can’t see but people tell me is there. It feels sensitive under a hot shower now.
Hard to photograph how steep the drop-off is

My wife and I checked out cliff dwellings of the Sinagua Indians in Walnut Canyon the first day. They were western cousins of the better-known Anasazi. The National Park Service did a nice job building a path along what would otherwise have a treacherous hike for older tourists like us. My wife, Roseann, said raising toddlers on those narrow trails must have been a nightmare. I’d have put them in harness and roped them to a juniper growing out of a crevice. On the canyon rim, pottery sherds and chips left from knapping stone tools abounded on the surface. Archaeologists call it debitage — waste from manufacture of stone knives, scrapers, and projectile points. We both enjoyed it.
Then it was down to Sedona where aging hippies and young hipsters comprise a critical mass. Vogue describes a visit there as: “…basking in the pink glow of Sedona, Arizona’s red rock canyons and its aura-obsessed, pleasantly frozen-in-time, hippie-dippie community.” We drove around as I photographed red sandstone formations — some sun-lit, others in shadow.
Loopy people, but beautiful countryside
Vogue said Sedona contains, “an array of healers and their own breed of eccentric methodologies.” They were everywhere but we avoided them. The landscape was interesting, but I felt even more out of place in Sedona than when I visit Whole Foods back in Portland, Maine. I’m just not organic enough, not sustainable enough, and I eat gluten. I like preservatives and I’m free-range only in an intellectual sense that’s threatening to both hippies and hipsters.
Next day we visited a national park called the Wupatki Monument and Sunset Crater. It was fun listening to the female robotic voice in my dashboard GPS unit pronounce it. Looking north from the long road in was a pale-green sea of grass stretching to the horizon. Tasseled tops waved in a steady wind with small evergreens here and there resembled grazing buffalo. To the east were round, grassy hills. To the south were the snow-capped San Francisco Peaks — highest in Arizona.
But the flatness of the grass sea was illusory. Along the way were ravines and small, box canyons offering shelter from relentless wind. Beside these were pueblo ruins. Getting out and walking, the grass sea that seemed unbroken, down at my feet was actually sparse. Pottery sherds littered dry, gravelly soil. Here and there were small, sharp bits of chert and obsidian debitage from ancient tool-makers right on the surface. No wonder westerners find artifacts so easily. Here in New England, they’re covered with accumulated soil from decayed leaves and pine spills.
Nearby was Sunset Crater, formed in a volcanic eruption less than a thousand years ago — very young in geologic time and still in the traditional memory of nearby Hopi, Sinagua, and Navajo Indians. There were lava bombs strewn around and incorporated into the limestone walls of pueblo ruins. Black cinder covered entire hills between which were rivers of solidified lava that looked as if it hardened only yesterday. A Wupatki Park Ranger said Clovis points from 12,000 years ago were found in the region indicated a human presence then to now. What’s buried under that lava? I’ll never know.
Pueblo on the rocks

Lastly, we went the giant hole in the ground that is the Grand Canyon. It was warm and sunny when we got to the south rim and we walked along for a few hours until it got crowded. I heard many languages spoken and Asians were everywhere taking pictures of themselves and each other. We had to stop often so as not to walk between photographer and subject and that got tedious.
Neither of us would get close to the edge of the mile-deep canyon because it drops off sharply. It’s not as if you’d slide down an incline should you fall. It’d be more like a free fall until that thud at the bottom — although you might bounce off a stone spire here and there depending on where you fell off.
The Grand Canyon is aptly named. I’d call it awesome if that word hadn’t lost its literal meaning after decades of misuse. The views are truly awe-inspiring. We allowed two days to see it and were even ready to take a helicopter ride across. We didn’t go back though. It was the crowds.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Is Paris Safe For Our High School Students?

Has radical Muslim terrorism made Paris too dangerous? That question was debated by the school board in Conway, New Hampshire a few weeks ago. The local Kennett High School French club went to Paris during an April terrorist attack. Two jihadis opened fire with assault rifles, killing a policeman and a tourist, and wounding another policeman.
“Kennett students were heading down the famed Champs-Elysee toward the Arc de Triomphe (pictured) when shots rang out,” reported the Conway Daily Sun. “Kennett High School senior Will Synnott planned on having an exciting April vacation during a student trip to France, but he didn't expect to be running for his life from a gun-toting terrorist.”
Mr. Synnott is a senior and, in spite of his exposure to terrorist murders, wants the student trips to continue. The Sun said he also wants “to discourage people from becoming bigoted against Muslims because of last Thursday's attack.” In that, he sounds like the European media or a European Union official. After every attack in every European country, they warn against “Islamophobia,” as if that were a bigger problem than jihadis raping and murdering Europeans nearly every day somewhere on the continent.
France has been in a national state of emergency for two-and-a-half years since January, 2015 when Muslim terrorists murdered twelve people for publishing pictures of Muhammed. Months later Muslim terrorists murdered 128 people in a series of Paris attacks with guns and bombs, and wounded many more. In Nice last summer, a Muslim terrorist drove a truck into a crowd killing eighty-six. There have been rapes, stabbings, and shootings too numerous to mention before the latest attack on the Champs-Elysee. There are “no-go zones” in Paris and across the country into which even the police don’t dare to go lest Muslim residents riot. In recent presidential debates, the liberal Macron said to the conservative Le Pen, “You are giving into their [Muslims’] trap of civil war.” As I write this on Tuesday, The UK Telegraph is reporting: “Paris' Gare du Nord train station was evacuated last night as armed police reportedly searched for three 'dangerous' terror suspects.”
Such is the new Europe under multiculturalism — the word to which liberals ascribe their notion that all cultures are equal. It became an official EU policy when that multinational body came into being. Conservative European leaders like Holland’s Geert Wilders and France’s Marine Le Pen who dare criticize passages in the Koran advocating the killing of Jews? They are prosecuted, but they continue to garner support nonetheless. In spite of European mainstream media’s constant drumbeat for multiculturalism, in spite of all the wonderful falafel restaurants that have opened across Europe, a growing percentage of ordinary Europeans are observing that millions of Muslim immigrants are not assimilating.
A critical mass of Muslim immigrants in Europe have no intention of becoming French, German, British, Dutch, or Swedish. What they want is to establish Sharia Law in their adopted countries. They want to make Europe Muslim. After centuries of trying by military invasion, they’ve changed tactics. Now they’re doing it through hijrah, or jihad by migration. In the late 20th and 21st centuries, this is coincident with a drastic decline in native European birthrates. The French, Germans, British, Swedish, Italians, Greeks, Spanish, etc. are simply not reproducing. Muslim immigrants are, however, and profusely. Demography is destiny and native Europe has essentially stopped reproducing, while Muslim immigrants multiply rapidly. Muslims are 7.5% of France’s population now. What will France and the rest of Europe be like in the next generation? The one after that?
Sexual assaults against European women skyrocket across Europe while governments forbid identification of perpetrators as Muslim immigrants. Media cooperates in the coverup. When for years young Muslims set hundreds of cars on fire in France during almost any given weekend, they’re called, simply, “youths,” not Muslims. Ordinary French are not fooled, but they fear being called racist or being prosecuted for speaking up. There’s no First Amendment in the EU Constitution. It is still in force in the USA though — except on college campuses.
Those pesky French "youths"at it again

Unlimited immigration was the biggest reason for the Brexit vote in the UK. British citizens wanted out of the EU and that sentiment is spreading across Europe. On Sunday, French voters elected a left-center president who promises to stimulate the moribund French economy. In spite of France’s never-ending state of emergency, he defeated the conservative candidate who promised to restrict Muslim immigration. Economics has trumped demographics for now. Meanwhile, France is being transformed.
If the purpose of sending American high school students to France is to provide them a taste of French culture as the “Religion of Peace” changes it, then yes, send them. But first, teach them to duck and cover.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Gospels Not Gospel Anymore?

President Evo Morales gift to Pope Francis

It was worse than I thought. The Roman Catholic Church was being undermined by Marxists further back than I ever imagined. I knew there were Jesuits and other priests holding official positions in the Marxist Sandinista government of Nicaragua during the 1970s, but I thought they were anomalous. Now I’m learning that a majority of Jesuits believe Marxism and Christianity have more commonalities than differences.
For decades, Marxist Catholic priests and bishops stayed in the closet, just as Marxist Democrats in the US government did, but Marxists in Catholic Church came out first — during the 1970s near as I can tell. They were led by Jesuits who had for centuries been the most conservative of priestly orders. By the seventies they’d become the furthest left. Marxists in the Democrat Party are mostly closeted, though Bernie Sanders opened the door by declaring himself socialist. The support he received last year indicates like-minded Democrats are in the majority.
Sanders came close to the presidency in 2016. Had he won, he’d have replaced the deeply-closeted Barack Obama. He lost the nomination, however, to Hillary Clinton, who chose as her running mate Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. He was nearly elected vice-president — a heartbeat away from the presidency. Kaine was educated by Jesuits. He’s also a true-believer in Marxist “Liberation Theology” under which Jesuits justify making revolution alongside Marxist guerrillas in the jungles of Central America and elsewhere.
One Jesuit, James Francis Carney, SJ was born and raised in Chicago and killed while fighting with Marxist revolutionaries in Honduras. “We Christian-Marxists have to fight side-by-side in Central America with the Marxists who do not believe in God,” Carney wrote, “in order to form a new socialist society . . . To be a Christian is to be a revolutionary.” If you google Carney's name, you’ll find nothing but adulatory posts about him from other Jesuits and Catholics in general. Tim Kaine sought out and spent an evening with Father James Carney in Central America before he was killed.
I’m nearly done with a book called The Jesuits, by the late Malachi Martin, a former Jesuit. It was published in 1986, and I wish I’d gotten my hands on it sooner. Martin makes a strong case that Jesuits moved away from the traditional Christian view that the individual human soul is where the battle between good and evil is fought. Now, he says, there exists within the order a “tendency to disassociate the concept of evil from the individual man and woman and to place it instead within a societal framework.”
Evil in that “societal framework” is capitalism — as practiced in Central America and elsewhere under the leadership of the United States. That’s what Jesuits fight now. On page 57 of The Jesuits, Martin describes the nexus of Liberation Theology and Marxist-Leninism, in part, thusly: “Hell became the capitalist system. The American president, leader of the greatest capitalist country, became the Great Satan.” In 2013, the conservative Pope Benedict XVI resigned and was replaced by Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope.
Martin sometimes called Jesuits the pope’s “rapid deployment force.” That’s apt, as he explained when describing former soldier St. Ignatius of Loyola’s purpose in founding the Society of Jesus, as the Jesuits are called officially, back in the 1500s. They were like soldiers, only they were fighting intellectually and morally, not physically. Each member had to undergo a rigorous educational training regimen so as to be ready to match up with the sharpest theologians, scientists, philosophers, politicians and government officials the world over. For centuries they engaged in intellectual combat with anti-Christian leaders in Enlightenment Europe and more than held their own.
For more than four hundred years, Jesuits took the usual vows other priests did as well as an additional vow of total obedience to the pope himself, whoever he might be and whatever he might order. Under conservative Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Jesuits chafed against their orders. What will happen under Pope Francis — one of their own?
Recent remarks from Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, the new Jesuit Superior-General, are making big waves. He claims we cannot know what Jesus actually said because there were no tape recorders two thousand years ago. He claims the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John cannot be taken literally, and that: “Doctrine is a word that I don’t like very much. It brings with it the image of the hardness of stone,” he said. “Instead, the human reality is much more nuanced. It is never black or white. It is in continual development.”
What he said about the gospels is much like what Democrats claim about our Constitution: There are no absolutes. They can mean whatever you want them to mean.