Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Threescore And Ten More Or Less

“The years of our life are threescore and ten,” wrote King David three thousand years ago in Psalm 90. People in their sixties who are approaching that milestone often review their past lives. That’s what a friend who is a psychotherapist told me recently. Thoughts, feelings, images, smells, sounds from our past all come unbidden into our consciousness — some pleasant, some painful. We can push them away or we can entertain them — watch them and feel them as they play out.

Ma's house in Lovell

Triggers include old songs or passing by places where something significant occurred long ago. Sometimes it’s just a smell. It’s all those for me but lately it’s old photographs too. I thought I was done sorting through boxes of old pictures from my mother’s house in Lovell. Two years ago “Ma,” as everyone calls her, decided to go into assisted living and my nephew was invited to take over her place. We moved only the contents of her bedroom into her new facility, then children and grandchildren were invited to take whatever was meaningful to them. That made only a small dent in the house’s contents and my nephew was told he could keep or dispose of whatever was left. Last month he dropped off still another box of old photos we had overlooked.

Tewksbury neighborhood 1959 or so

One envelope from the box contained wallet-sized photos of more than seventy children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Those little pictures used to cover the entire front and one side of Ma’s refrigerator because her thirty-plus grandchildren sent her school pictures for every grade. I sorted those into envelopes for myself and my siblings now that each of us heads a three-generation extended family of our own. Most live in Greater Boston and all came up to bucolic Lovell, Maine for summers and vacations with Ma. Widowed at 52, she bought an old farmhouse here and lived in it for more than thirty years. Back in the twenties and thirties, Ma’s own grandmother brought her grandchildren for extended stays “out in the country” of Cochituate, now part of a Boston suburb called Wayland. Ma had such fond memories of those days, she wanted to repeat the process.

Kate Carney, Ma's grandmother 1890?

Also in the box were more pictures of myself and my siblings as we were growing up in the forties, fifties and sixties, some of which I had never seen. There were also more shots of my mother and her siblings from nearly a hundred years ago. There were photos of her and my father after they had eloped during World War II and before all us children came along in the baby boom. Some of those I’d never seen either.

My mother and father 1940s

Then one of my daughters gave me a photo album she retrieved from my late mother-in-law’s condominium with shots my immediate family from thirty and forty years ago. I spent two days at my computer scanning hundreds of these formerly one-of-a-kind keepsakes. Now they’re re-produceable with only a keystroke thanks to the wonders of digital imaging.

Daughter Annie and wife Roseann 1978

I’d forgotten much of what I was seeing as I sorted through all this, including just how beautiful my wife looked as a young mother. She is still stunning as a grandmother and I have many, more recent images of her which I see regularly thanks to digital photo frames I bought for us and our children. They have motion detectors and turn on when someone walks by, then turn off after five or ten minutes. Now I’m compiling hundreds of selected family photos from 2017 and this year’s collection will contain extended-family shots from forty, fifty, and sixty years ago as well.

Some of the grandchildren around 1985

I also gave a digital frame to my mother who turned 93 in September. Soon I’ll bring her a thumb drive with our 2017 images so she can plug it in and see what my branch of the family has been up to. She has only a tiny refrigerator in her studio apartment at the facility but many of her grandchildren are still begatting great-grandchildren. Today each branch can bring her a thumb drive too. There are always new names to learn as more babies are born and she prays for all of them every day.

At fourscore and thirteen, Ma is the last of her generation. When she passes my siblings and I will be the elders and younger ones will look to us. Continuing what David wrote in Psalm 90:

The years of our life are threescore and ten,
    or even by reason of strength fourscore;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.

Ma in 1948?

But they’re not all toil and trouble. There’s plenty of happiness along the way too as Ma keeps reminding us before that day comes when she, too, flies away.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Portland Press Herald Panel on Media Bias

The Maine Sunday Telegram reported there will be a panel discussion Friday, November 17th at USM in Portland on media bias and the question: “Is the Press Being Fair to President Trump?” On that I agree with former President Jimmy Carter, who said two weeks ago: “I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president, certainly, that I've known about. I think they feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.”

The big name brought in for the panel is The Boston Globe’s Walter Robinson, head of the Globe Spotlight Team which won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the homosexual priest scandal in the Catholic Church. Robinson would likely chafe at my characterization because his team was careful to label it a pedophile priest scandal and play down the overwhelmingly obvious homosexual dynamic. Nonetheless, I applaud the Spotlight Team for their work. It nearly caused me to abandon Catholicism -- the religion of my  youth to which I had returned only a dozen years before the scandal broke in 2002.

When Maine Sunday Telegram reporter Ray Routhier asked Robinson why it’s important to look at Trump’s treatment in media, Robinson said: “…because nearly half of the American people believe that the so-called ‘mainstream media’ are making stories up about him.” That’s an accurate assessment borne out by opinion polls, but then Robinson said: “When…the president…spends all of his time saying that reporters are enemies of the American people and they make everything up all the time, that’s bound to have some effect…even if it’s not true, which it isn’t.”

“All his time”? “Make everything up”? “All the time”? Talk about hyperbole. Yes, Trump has tweeted and said: “Fake news,” and has characterized some media as “enemies of the people” on occasion, but not all media. Rather, he singled out obviously biased media like NBC, ABC, NYTimes, CBS, and CNN. If he had more than 140 characters, he would no doubt have included The Boston Globe and the Maine Sunday Telegram as well. Let’s compare two stories currently in the news for just one example of liberal media bias:

Menendez and Moore

Conservative Judge Roy Moore recently won the Alabama Republican senatorial primary in his bid to replace Jeff Sessions who became US Attorney General. Moore defeated what some call the “establishment” Republican, Luther Strange. Weeks later, the Washington Post published allegations that Moore had initiated a sexual encounter wit a 14-year-old girl in 1979. Ever since, those mainstream media outlets cited by Trump have given enormous attention to the story which Moore vehemently denies.

Liberal Democrat New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez has been on trial for corruption for over two months and his jury deliberates at this writing. According to politico.com: “…a grand jury indictment accuses Menendez of carrying out numerous political favors for [Salomon] Melgen, a close friend. Melgen gave more than $750,000 in campaign contributions, flights on his private jet, and hosted the senator at his private villa in the Dominican Republic’s Casa de Campo resort…” However according to The Daily Caller, Menendez and his friend are also alleged to have had sexual encounters with underage girls at that villa — and the FBI has written testimony from at least one of them.

How has mainstream media handled these two stories? Though Moore has not been formally charged, MSM has given extensive coverage to the allegations against him while completely ignoring the two-month trial of the sitting Senator Menendez. According to the Media Research Center: “In the past 24 hours [as of 11-10-17], the same networks that couldn’t find a single second to mention Menendez in 65 days, spent 24 minutes and 36 seconds on serious allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.”

That extremely biased coverage corresponds to how mainstream media has covered flimsy allegations of election collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign/administration. The only actual evidence after more than a year of intensive investigation is circumstantial at best, but mainstream media has given more attention to it than anything else in all of 2017. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller issued indictments against former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and his assistant, but not for collusion. The indictments had nothing to do with Trump. They were for money laundering and other things long before his association with Trump. There is, however, relatively hard evidence against the Hillary Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee of election collusion with Russia which has been virtually ignored.

UPDATE: As of Tuesday morning, four more women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers. Also, the Menendez jury may be deadlocked. The judge sent them home for a rest Monday.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Latest Left and Right TV Show episode

This just got posted to my Youtube account. It was filmed November 2nd. Gino, my left-wing opponent, defends the left's obfuscation of Muslim terrorism as well as all things Democrat. He doesn't do well.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Out of Fashion?

This is the unabridged version of a speech I’m delivering for a luncheon at the Eagle Mountain House in Jackson, New Hampshire later today. An abridged version will run in newspapers tomorrow. Young women from area high schools whose essays were selected by the Daughters of the American Revolution will receive awards and possible scholarships.

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

By greeting you in such a manner, I have identified myself as someone who views the human race as binary. That means I know and publicly state that every human is born male or female and remains so throughout his or her natural life. There are two sexes, and I reject attempts by academia and many in government to refute that basic truth. We are not “assigned a gender” at birth. We are created male and female.

It’s likely that, holding these beliefs and being inclined to profess them, I would not be permitted to speak at whatever university you ladies attend next year. If you joined student government — which is likely, given each of your records in high school — and you were to suggest inviting me to speak, you would be criticized. You would be opposed, and if the invitation were issued anyway and I showed up, I might be shouted down. That’s how it has become on campuses across our great country. Colleges and universities preach diversity, but only the diversity of skin color. Most disdain intellectual diversity and censor opposing views.

Many faculty in our colleges and universities today have been strongly influenced by movements like post-modernism, critical theory, and other neo-marxist-freudian ideas which may read like so much gobbledygook if you were to look up definitions for them. If you have courage enough to admit confusion and question professors who propound them, you’ll likely be told that they’re “dialectical,” as if that would explain everything. If you remain courageous and ask what dialectical means, you’ll be given still more of what sounds like gobbledygook. If you reach this point, trust your instincts. Remember the axiom: “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

Deliberate gobbledygook accepted and published in "academic" gender studies journal

Realize that many college faculty today do not believe there is any such thing as objective truth. considering that idea only a social construct. In other words, they don’t believe it exists so they do not seek it. Their view of the world can be summed up by the old Beatles tune Strawberry Fields: “Nothing is real, and nothing to get hung about.” So, don’t let them take you down to Strawberry Fields of nihilism. Objective Truth is real. Seek it, always.

Perhaps you noted that I believe we were created, you and I. That’s what our Founding Fathers believed as well, and proclaimed in our founding document — The Declaration of Independence, and I quote: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…”

That concept has also become unpopular among our academic and political elites. When President Obama spoke during his first term before a group of Hispanic Americans, he stumbled over the passage I just quoted you. As he read from his teleprompter “…we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal” — here he paused and fluttered his eyelids nervously before continuing: “endowed with certain inalienable rights, life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness…” He conspicuously left out the phrase, “…by our Creator.”

Belief in a Creator has declined among those who govern us and who teach our children in government schools. They believe our rights come from government, which would imply that the government which grants those rights could also infringe on them or even take them away entirely. They’re enumerated in our Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to our Constitution, which each of you praised in your qualifying essay.

Our academic and government elite believe that most important of documents to be malleable — something that can be changed in ways that were not intended by the men who wrote it, that is, changed by judicial fiat in our courts and not through the amendment process outlined in Article Five. The Constitution allowed for change but only through a deliberately long and difficult process. It’s much easier to “legislate from the bench” with the votes of only five Justices on the Supreme Court. Whatever opinions they might render, however, can be overturned just as easily by five votes on a subsequent court. That’s an unstable process and not what our Founders intended.

The men who wrote our Constitution were nearly all godly men and assumed American citizens would be as well. As John Adams stated, and I quote: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

There are still religious people on college campuses but they’re increasingly closeted. Religion is considered naive, childish, even moronic — certainly not fashionable. The pervasive idea now is that God did not create man but that man created God. “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to create Him,” goes the aphorism. Some claim that new Gods have been created by those who believe the Judeo/Christian God to be dead, as philosopher Frederich Neitzche declared more than a hundred years ago. Those gods include the newer religions of environmentalism and big government.

Speaking of big government, this year, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Josef Stalin birthed an 80-year experiment called the Soviet Union — the ultimate state of atheistic, big government that mandated equality (for everyone but Communist Party members) and brutally persecuted dissenters. Historians estimate that somewhere between 40 and 60 million were exterminated by the Party in the name of preserving “The Revolution.” Documentation of this tragedy is so thin due to the absence of a free press that we cannot know if it’s 40 million or 60 million. Twenty million are simply unaccounted for. Consider that. Twenty million people were “disappeared” from the historical record.

President Reagan called it “The Evil Empire” and he is credited with winning the Cold War that brought it down shortly before you were born. The killing was even worse to the southeast during the Cultural Revolution in Communist China. Some historians estimate that 80 million died there under Mao Tse Tung. Then there was the communist regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia where three million more were murdered. It’s a sordid history of which your generation seems largely unaware. An article last week in the Sacrament Bee contended, and I quote: “Ask a millennial if they would rather live under a socialist or capitalist country, and they’re likely to give an answer much different than their parents or grandparents would.”

“That’s according to a new YouGov study commissioned by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, an anti-communist organization, which found that 44 percent of millennials would prefer to live in a socialist country, with another 7 percent saying the same about communism.” Remember, the Founders wrote a Constitution designed to restrict government, not grow it into the behemoth it has sadly become.

How many of you were born in the 20th century? One could say the struggle between capitalism and communism defined that century. Did capitalism prevail? For now it has, but your generation may see communism’s revival. Right now you seem to believe the US Constitution to be the most brilliant governing document ever written.

Well, you’re right. It is. Never forget that.

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Shaking Things Up

My room circled in red

Every so often the Creator lets me be shaken up. It’s probably a sign that I’m getting too complacent, that He wants to remind me of my mortality, and that He sustains me in existence just has He does everything else. Not everybody who has read this far believes as I do, but it’s both an enriching and a sobering awareness. Here at Maine Medical Center where I’ve been staying for a few days there is lots of time to reflect. I’ve been taken out of my element and confined in another to ponder what I was doing before I came in and what I’ll do after I go back into the world outside.

It’s Monday morning and I won’t be getting out today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe the day after that. I have little control and it’s blowing a gale out my third-floor window. There are few leaves left on the trees but some cling tenaciously while the branches are blown about violently. I’m right above the main entrance and I see the American and State of Maine flags on the pole out there are torn ragged and are tangled up with each other. Metaphoric? Perhaps the Creator has decided the whole region needs some shaking up.
Flag out my window
Five thousand people work here in this complex. Doctors, nurses, maintenance, and housekeeping staff keep it all running — mostly nurses. They’re very good here and it’s a kind of sisterhood. Because two of my daughters are nurses and they’ve been in here advising me, they connected with the sisters on the ward. Come to think of it, “sisters” is what nurses were called in England back in the day. So now I’m connected. I’m “family” as they put it. Nice.

Friends are watching the properties I’m responsible for in Lovell while this storm blows itself out. Messages and phone calls are coming in to my hospital bed and going out again. Down the hall, men in work clothes with hands accustomed to holding tools are on their cell phones instructing others to move generators around as they’re in here visiting family members.

I’ve always been busy, but thirty years ago I was even busier with a young family and all that goes with it. When my health problem flared up I’d be incapacitated for five or six weeks and discover again that the world could get along fine without me. It was humbling then and it still is. I’m not indispensable. I can be replaced. We all can. It happened five times in fifteen years and now I’m getting a reminder, but this time it’ll only be about a one week I think.

My mother turned 93 last month and five of her eight children helped her celebrate. All of us have taken care of her in one way or another for years whenever she’s needed it. We’re all glad to do it because she took care of us. Now my kids are pitching in for me when I need it. It’s a wonderful arrangement and it used to be the norm, but that’s changing. Visiting the Portland environs regularly the past five years, I’ve noticed far more people out and about with dogs instead of children. It’s a definite trend and a troubling one. Dogs are fine, but as substitutes for children?

Last May, France’s President Macron became the twelfth European Union leader who never had children. Others include Italy’s, Scotland’s, Germany’s, Luxembourg’s, Sweden’s, Holland’s, Latvia’s, Romania’s, Lithuania’s, and the EU President, Jean-Claude Juncker as well. I noticed the trend in my old profession. A fellow teacher leaned over at a contentious staff meeting and whispered: “Ever notice that the teachers who constantly profess to ‘care about the children’ the most never had any?” I looked around and realized he was right. It’s a definite trend and I don’t believe it’s a good thing.

No kids

Raising children can be expensive, time-consuming, heart-breaking, and tedious. It’s also rewarding, meaningful, heartening, fulfilling, wonderful, and sometimes you get grandchildren in the bargain. They’re terrific. All that experience changes us. Rising to the challenges of parenthood improves us and confers wisdom, and to completely deny ourselves is to diminish life. When parents and grandparents make plans, the needs of our offspring get major consideration that is personal as well as professional.

The Maker of us all knows this and I suspect it’s part of His protocol for those who would lead us. Some politicians may not be childless by choice and parenthood isn’t a necessary precondition for wisdom, but it’s a plentiful source of it.

As we rural folks go without electricity and all its amenities for however long during this latest shakeup, we will appreciate them when they come back. Then let us remain in that state of mind as long as we can.