Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Left & Right January 15, 2020

Publisher Mark Guerringue again sits in the left chair. We open with a question from the producer about what we think the long-term effect of the Soleimani killing will be.

It’s a good thing in my view. Soleimani was a bad guy, responsible for the deaths of more than 600 American soldiers through the use of Iranian IEDs against US forces in the region. His death opens a window into what Iranian media and western mainstream media have not shown — that he was an Iranian terrorist operative, that he trained and equipped Iranian proxy armies including Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthi Rebels in Yemen and others in Syria to make war against Israel and the USA. The aftermath of his death shows also that many, if not most Iranian citizens do not support the theocratic regime in Iran.

Mark says the killing lacks a strategic objective in that Trump says he wants to withdraw Americans from the region but is ordering killings there and increasing the likelihood that we are going to have a war. He points out that wo months ago I defended Trump’s taking American troops away from the Turkey/Syria border, but now I support the Soleimani killing. The general was an Iranian government official. We got lucky the airliner was shot down because it reflected badly on the Iranian government and that seemed to prevent further escalation against us. Mark believes Trump lacks a strategy in the region and this action reflects that.

I compare killing Soleimani to killing al Baghdadi two months ago and Obama’s approval of killing Osama Bin Laden years in 2012. But Soleimani was an Iranian government official, Mark says. He was going into other countries in the region killing Americans, I said, so we should tolerate that because he was an Iranian government official? It’s a sliding scale, Mark said. There’s a reason Obama and Bush decided not to take him out, a good reason in Mark’s view.

I raise something publicized two years ago called “Operation Cassandra,” an FBI investigation into drugs and money laundering conducted by Hezbollah operatives working for Iran in the US in 2015. Involved were the Awan brothers who were also IT specialists employed by the Democratic National Committee. Although the FBI had 50 agents on the case, the Obama Administration blocked the investigation because it might interfere with efforts to reach an agreement with Iran for the Nuclear deal. Over $1 billion in laundered drug money went from the USA to Hezbollah and the Iranian Quds force under General Soleimani.

Also part of this drug scam was the stealing of intelligence from the computers of Democrats serving on congressional committees - including the Intelligence Committee — and sent to Iran by the Awan brothers. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz ran interference for the Obama Administration and key congressional Democrats to cover it all up. The coverup continues as the DOJ and others are still hiding documents requested by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A federal court hearing was being conducted as our show was being taped because a federal judge wanted to know why the FOIA requests were being blocked.

On the last show, Mark requested that I investigate the California law about consent from two parties when conversations are being recorded. I did and discovered Mark is right about the California law but there are exceptions as I though then: if one party believes a crime is being committed, and if the recording is in a public place. 

I bring up another surreptitiously-recorded tape released the day before the show of a Bernie Sanders Campaign employee in Iowa saying Milwaukee would burn if Bernie doesn’t get the nomination there this summer. If Trump wins again in November, cities would burn. The employee, Kyle Jurek, also said gulags would be opened for Trump supporters, and other outrageous things. The networks ignored it last night (Tuesday, January 14) and so did Brett Baier on Fox.

Then I bring up a lawsuit recently settled between the Covington Catholic boy wearing a MAGA hat who was trashed after the Pro-Life march last year in Washington, DC and CNN, who was sued. CNN settled rather than go to court, but we don’t know yet the details of the settlement. Several other lawsuits against the Washington Post, reporters from other networks, Elizabeth Warren, and others are still pending.

Mark hadn’t heard of these developments and calls them “hobby horse” cases that fit my agenda.

The second question from the producer asks us if we support legislation granting religious exemptions to parents about having their children immunized. Mark says we have to balance individual rights with the public good. I agree with that and didn’t have much more to offer beyond it.

Mark asks which Democrat candidates I like and I say none of them. If I had to choose which I disliked least it would Amy Klobuchar. Mark says she’s practical in a midwest sort of way and very smart.

Mark said he had Governor Weld in (to a Sun Editorial Board interview) who is running against Trump, and Weld said someone has to do something about the deficit. He said we have to worry about AI (Artificial Intelligence) and 800,000 trucker will be out of work, which is what Andrew Yang said. He said Bernie is coming in Sunday (January 19) and Mark would ask him about those issues.

I said I would ask Bernie about Kyle Jurek but Mark isn’t inviting me to interview presidential candidates anymore because I asked a tough question of Hillary four years ago. Mark said it was a disrespectful question and it made the women in the room (on the editorial board) uncomfortable and I wouldn’t have asked a question like that of a man. He said I had a unique opportunity in life to talk to a Secretary of State and former first lady and I ask a disrespectful question. I tell him George Stephanopoulos asked Hillary the same question a week or two before our interview and it was all right for him, a former Clinton aide, to ask it but it’s a gotcha question when I do?

“It was disrespectful,” said Mark.

“I see. Was it disrespectful for Stephanopoulos to ask it?”

“I’m the one who controls the editorial board and guess what? I’m not inviting you back.”

You aren’t, I know, because I asked a tough question,” I said.

We went back and forth several more time and I said, “Okay, we disagree.”

“We do, and I get to not invite you. That’s the great part,” Mark said.

“Right. You don’t want to invite me and that’s fine, because I’m too tough on the women.”

Then Mark brought up Andrew Yang and how well he’s doing. I question his idea of giving $1000 to everyone.

As time is running out I thank him for appearing on the show and point out that we see things quite differently but that’s good for viewers.

 Mark says, “Well, thanks for having me back — and you can ban me from your show.”

“I wouldn’t do that to you,” I say. “I mean, you do it to me, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna do it to you.”

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Catholics, Jews, Politics, Muslims and Murder

“Anti-Catholic bigotry is alive in the U.S. Senate” read the headline of a January, 2019 article by Michael Gerson in the Washington Post. It’s getting tougher to be Catholic here or nearly anywhere else. Gerson citied tough questioning of US District Court Judge Brian Buescher when he was up for ratification in the US Senate last year. Senators Kamala Harris and Maize Hirono believed his membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic mens’ organization, disqualified him because the Catholic Church considers abortion sinful and homosexual acts “intrinsically disordered.”

Senator Dick Durbin’s questions of Buescher went to the Catholic Church’s position on so-called “transgenders” who believe they’re “assigned” a gender at birth. Catholic teaching asserts there are only two unalterable biological sexes. The professed Catholic Senator Durbin was recently denied the Eucharist which the Catholic Church believes is the body of Christ and the essence of Catholicism. Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois made that ruling because Durbin violates Catholic teaching by his support of abortion. Former VP Joe Biden was also denied the Eucharist by Bishop Joseph Francis Martino of Scranton, PA for the same reason.

When conservative Catholic US Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett was up for confirmation, US Senator Dianne Feinstein said: “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” and voted against her. Should there be another vacancy on the Supreme Court, many expect Judge Barrett to be Trump’s nominee. She was runner-up to Brett Kavanaugh, another conservative Catholic, last year.

Osama E. El Hannouny
It’s getting difficult to be a Christian, especially a Catholic Christian, in the early 21st century as these four stories reported in just the past two weeks attest:
*Illinois: (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — “Charges have been upgraded against a man [Osama E. El Hannouny] who allegedly slashed tires of multiple vehicles at churches in Palos Hills… because he didn’t like Christians. The charges against him were upgraded Thursday to 14 counts of hate crime, police said. He allegedly admitted to slashing tires of 19 vehicles at two churches because he didn’t like Christians.”

*According to “Christian sites in Europe suffered a record number of attacks in the year 2019, with some 3,000 Christian churches, schools, cemeteries, and monuments vandalized, looted, or defaced.” Most were Catholic Churches. Most perpetrators arrested so far have been Muslims.

*ROME ( - “Hundreds of Christmas cribs have been smashed, burned and vandalized across Italy in a binge of violence unparalleled in recent memory. Statues of the Baby Jesus and the Holy Family have been beheaded, stolen or hanged — in one shocking incident even impaled on an iron pole in a public square.”

*Nigeria (Morning Star News) “Armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed 13 Christians in Plateau state, Nigeria on Wednesday (Jan. 8), the same day four students were kidnapped from a Catholic seminary in Kaduna state.” Over 6000 Nigerian Catholics were killed in 2018, thousands more in 2019. 

Five years ago, I interviewed Father Innocent Okozi who was then my parish priest in Fryeburg, Maine. I asked about the situation in his native Nigeria and he confirmed all the reports I had been reading about the murder of Catholics and other Christians in his country. Soon, I’ll be interviewing his successor priest in Fryeburg, Father Peter Shaba, also a Nigerian native, for his perspective.

Up to 100 bodies have been found in a mass grave near the Nigerian town of Damasak, after troops from Chad and Nigeria liberated the locality from Boko Haram militants.
One of my Jewish friends sent me another link last week about murders of Christians around the world. As the descendant of several Holocaust victims, he asked me where was the outrage among Christians? Murders of Christians get some media attention, but not nearly as much as there would be if the stories were about Christians murdering Muslims. My friend and I are watching closely as both anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish violence accelerates on several continents.

More Christian victims of Boko Haram
Of the four US Senators I quoted in the opening paragraphs above, Hirono is Buddhist. Harris seems unsure: “I grew up going to a black Baptist Church and a Hindu temple,” she said. Her husband is Jewish, so we must assume she has yet to choose. Feinstein’s 2000 campaign website said she was Jewish, but seems largely secular now. Durbin is ostensibly Catholic but his bishop has doubts.

In closing, I should point out that of the nine members of the US Supreme Court, six are Roman Catholics and the other three are Jews. All three Jews are reliably liberal votes and all but one of the Catholics are reliable conservative votes. Sotomayor is the odd one out. She was born to a single mother in the Bronx and attended a Catholic high school, but evidence of her alleged Catholicism is thin. She officiated a wedding for two women, and I suspect Senator Feinstein would never say about Sotomayor that: “The dogma lives largely within [her].”

Friday, January 10, 2020

Shifting Political Nomenclature

“Left and Right” is the name of a small community TV show on which I argue from the right, but what does that mean in 2020 AD? Taking a long view, the best I can say is our left/right political spectrum is in flux. What political positions define the two sides? Boston-Irish-Catholic-Democrats in a generation that worshiped John F. Kennedy (and into which I was born) didn’t see all Democrats as leftists or all Republicans as conservatives, but that has changed. There are still liberals in the Republican Party but are there any conservatives among today’s Democrats? I can’t name any. Can you?

JFK was a staunch anti-communist. His fellow Democrats in 1960 saw socialism as communism-lite and disdained both. That cannot be said of 2020 Democrats after a 2018 Gallup poll indicated that: “For the first time in Gallup's measurement over the past decade, Democrats have a more positive image of socialism than they do of capitalism… 57% today having a positive view… [with their] attitude toward capitalism, dropping to 47%.” The same poll indicated Republicans with only a 16% positive view of socialism and a 71% positive view of capitalism.

When newly-elected Congresswoman Alexandria Occasion Cortez (AOC) proposed the Green New Deal last February there was consensus among Democrats that it was a radical-left proposal. Provisions like banning air travel, banning cheeseburgers, banning fossil fuels, rehabbing every building in America, eliminating 99% of cars, free education for life, guaranteed income without work, etc. seemed crazy to them. By spring and summer, however, nearly all Democrat presidential candidates endorsed the Green New Deal and sought AOC’s endorsement.

That most Democrats now favor socialism — and the massive expansion of government into nearly every aspect of life required to implement the Green New Deal — is more than enough to label them the party of the radical left. Now, however, political language has shifted. For example, the headline of a December 21 article in the Washington Post by Chelsea James declares: “Buttigieg shifts to center, embodying the Democratic primary’s rightward drift.” Janes cited shifting positions by Buttigieg on Medicare for all, abolishing the Electoral College, packing the Supreme Court, and decriminalizing illegal border crossings. He also claimed that:“Environmentalists complain [Buttigieg’s] climate plan is less sweeping than his early rhetoric suggested it might be.”

Conservative pundit and attorney Paul Miringoff of asked last week: “Is Medicare for all the liberal position? Is decriminalizing illegal border crossings? Is packing the Supreme Court? I would have called Medicare for all socialist, decriminalization leftist, and court packing radical. I would have expected the Post, at a minimum, to call them progressive. If, instead, these positions are liberal, the political ground has moved from under our feet.”

So then, what positions would be considered radical left today? Must someone be a bomb-tosser like Bill Ayers and advocate violent overthrow of the government? The Green New Deal would put government in control of how people eat, travel, reproduce, work, and what kind of house they live in. What else is there? That looks like total control to me — somewhere between socialism and communism lite.

The Washington Post is a big voice in mainstream media, all of whom are on board with the new labels. What was radical left only months ago is now liberal. What was liberal is now centrist. So, where do mainstream media want to put yesterday’s conservatives? Are they fascists now? If so, it was a short trip from Hillary Clinton’s racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic basket of deplorable to today’s fascists. 

At the end of Barack Obama’s two-year tenure as a US senator, the National Journal labeled him our most liberal senator. As president, mainstream media referred to him and his VP Joe Biden as “centrist” and “moderate.” Until lately, it would have been very hard to call Joe Biden anything but liberal over his 30+ year career in the senate, but liberal media outlets like the Washington Post think themselves moderate too and give plenty of coverage to leftists who charge that President Trump is fascist and compare him to Hitler.

John F. Kennedy would be called conservative today and wouldn’t likely feel comfortable in today’s Democrat Party He opposed Affirmative Action, was pro-2nd Amendment, and favored major tax cuts. He couldn’t possibly get the 2020 nomination for president. He was a US Senator in 1954 when President Eisenhower implemented “Operation Wetback” and deported over a million Mexicans from the United States. Maybe it’s there somewhere, but I could find no evidence that JFK or any other Democrat opposed it. His predecessor, Democrat President Truman, deported plenty of Mexicans as well at the end of World War II.

How far left will Democrats and their mainstream media go?

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Recognizing Talent And Lack Of It

Lots of talent goes unrecognized. After Tom Brady played what was probably his last game as a Patriot last Saturday, most believe he is (was?) the best quarterback ever, but few saw that talent early in his college career. Coach Belichick saw it though, and it has paid off handsomely for football fans all over New England. It’s been quite a run for Patriots, but it couldn’t last forever.

Maine's Dave Mallett
Often I’ve observed musicians playing locally who are very talented, but had to continue struggling with small gigs here and there while working other jobs to support themselves. I’d see others on television with great notoriety but lacking the talent locals demonstrated. How did they gain widespread fame when the locals were unknown beyond a fifty-mile radius? Marketing? I suppose it’s all good so long as the performers and those listening are enjoying themselves. 
Museum of Fine Art Boston
There are those to whom talent is ascribed but who seem totally lacking in it. Wandering through art museums, for example, one must question the judgement of curators who display absurd objects purported to be “art.” As a boy, my mother would take my siblings and me into Boston to the Forsyth Dental Clinic where fillings and braces were free. Some days I’d have hours to kill and I’d spend it at the Museum of Fine Arts just across the Fens. Most of what I saw was amazing work but in other stuff I could discern no artistic merit. At only eight or ten years old, I knew it was junk.

Alleged Art at MFA Boston
It’s been a half century, but I see about the same proportion of art and junk hanging at the Portland Museum of Art today. A fine museum, it has collections by truly great artists including Winslow Homer, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and many others. And then there’s alleged art by others whose names I cannot recall because I am profoundly unimpressed when viewing their stuff. I felt they were trying to con me. As a kid I trusted my instincts — never thinking, as some others did, that there must be something there I just wasn’t bright enough to see.

Are art “experts” only pretending when they claim to see talent others cannot? Are they like the adults who pretended to see beautiful clothes on the emperor? In that iconic children’s story, the tailor who created the emperor’s “clothes” knew he was a con artist, but the emperor and his subjects on the street who watched him process in the nude didn’t trust their instincts. When they pretended to see beauty, it was out of fear of being seen as stupid because they couldn’t see what they believed everyone else could.

And then there are poets. No doubt there are many talented ones out there, but I’m not sure they comprise a majority. All through elementary school, high school, and college I was encouraged to “appreciate” many different poets. Some I actually did appreciate, but not many. As an undergraduate I had a leftist professor of English who declared Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” the best poem of the age. Drifting leftward myself in those days, I tried hard to see the genius he insisted was there, but never could.

My parents sent me to a Catholic prep school in Lowell, Massachusetts when Lowell native and writer Jack Kerouac was at the height of his fame. Several times I tried to read his books, but just couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. I quit reading after about forty pages into three or four of them. Seeing a drunken Kerouac in 1968 on William F. Buckley’s PBS program “Firing Line,” didn’t impress me either. That Allen Ginsberg and he were close friends only made it worse.

Ginsberg and Kerouac
Very recently, however, I got another insight into Kerouac from an unlikely source. On the 50th anniversary of his death, The American Spectator did a tribute to him. A quote: “On the Road was really an autobiographical expression of Kerouac’s longing and searching for something — that something was God. Historian Douglas Brinkley, the editor of Kerouac’s diary, reported that nearly every page carried a prayer, an appeal to Christ for mercy, or a sketched crucifix. ‘Kerouac was trying to make everything holy,’ said Brinkley.

In its obituary, the New York Times quoted Kerouac from one of his last interviews in which he declared: “I’m not a Beatnik, I’m a Catholic.” Uncomfortable with his literary fame and its cooption by sixties leftists, his drinking got worse. It killed him in 1969 at 47. Lately I’m seeing Kerouac as a conflicted soul who, if he had been able to reconcile his tortured life with his understanding of God and achieve sobriety, might have displayed a more authentic genius than the world had hitherto witnessed.