Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Calloused Americans

Look! A working class white guy!

After a few hours of writing on my laptop, I need to get up, change my clothes, and do another kind of work that involves more than my brain and my fingers on a keyboard. I have to use tools invented and manufactured in previous centuries — tools like saws, hammers, drills, chainsaws, tape measures, rulers, squares, scrapers, and the like. I have to think and work in three dimensions. I have to feel my tools and materials, and smell things like earth, sawn wood, or paint. I have to move my body, lift things, climb ladders, set up saw horses — either fix something or build it.
There are callouses on my hands and I own a pickup truck. That makes me different from most Americans on the east or west coast. That I’m also a heterosexual, white guy (HWG) makes it very likely that I voted for Trump. When the uncalloused try to analyze what happened last November 8th, they refer to us as “non-college-educated white men.” It’s ill-concealed condescension, but if called out on it, the uncalloused hastily add a Seinfeldesque: “…not that there’s anything wrong with that” as a further effort to camouflage contempt.
They were the ones laughing last September 9th in New York City when a smug Hillary Clinton put half of Trump supporters into a “basket of deplorables.” We’re not nearly as sophisticated as she and her audience. We’re calloused, deplorable, HWGs. We’re “irredeemable” because we can never be as smart as they are — even though we’re the ones they call when something doesn’t work and they cannot figure out why, or something breaks and they don’t know how to fix it. They think our intelligence is limited, but we know it’s the other way around. We know more about their world than they know about ours, but they never suspect that.
NBC Pajama Boy in shock
We were the ones laughing on November 9th — at the shocked faces of the uncalloused sophisticates on NBC, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, as well as the tearful faces on college campuses. We’re still chuckling at pussyhat marches and the rest of the protests.
Non-college-educated white men didn't borrow against their future to spend years being inculcated with progressive pap. They don’t have to spend still more years learning that what they purchased with those tens of thousands of dollars was worthless, or that it could all have been picked it all up just be reading a few books here and there. We respect the college-educated who studied the hard sciences: physics, engineering, biology, chemistry, nursing, IT, and so forth. That kind of college is worth something. It’s grounded in the real world, unlike: sociology, education, art history, journalism, or any of the “studies” — like “ethnic studies”; “queer studies”; “women’s studies”; “gender studies”; and so forth.
In the interest of full disclosure, I had to get some degrees because they were necessary for a teaching certificate, thought they shouldn’t have been. They didn’t teach me to teach. To do that, one must know the subject matter, and then be able to impart it to others. There’s no need for college “education departments.” I endured dozens of worthless courses before I could get into a classroom, but I wasn’t brainwashed by them: I worked full-time in the real world throughout the process and stayed grounded. I knew academic baloney when I heard it, and that was more than forty years ago. It’s exponentially worse now. There was a gulf between academia and reality back then, but it’s an ocean today. The 21st century college campus is La-La Land, and you won’t find anyTrump voters there. You might be escorted off campus if you even utter his name without first issuing a trigger warning. Trump voters exist only in the real world.
"Black Bloc" leftist thugs
Leftists dressed in black and wearing masks are attacking people pro-Trump rallies and conservatives on college campuses with fists, clubs, and pepper spray. Last Saturday, however, they got their butts kicked in Berkeley, California. Videos indicate the butt-kickers belong to a demographic that might be described as non-college-educated, white men with callouses. Will the left escalate beyond fists and clubs next time? Let’s hope not, but as David French writes in National Review

We are now teetering on the edge of a truly terrifying incident, one trigger-pull away from a slaughter. Campus and urban progressives have a choice to make. Is this a nation of laws? If it is, then it’s time to grow a backbone, protect free speech, punish rioters, and expel those who disrupt the educational environment regardless of ideology.

Okay, enough of writing. Time to go outside and move my body — do something in three dimensions, stay grounded.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Eleven Weeks In

Did President Trump have to be the one to enforce Obama’s red line? I’m not sure. No one else would act to punish Syrian President Assad for using chemical weapons. Ideally, it would be the United Nations, but nobody has taken them seriously since Korea. How about we just quit the UN, tell them to leave New York City and go somewhere else — like Brussels maybe? That city can have two useless international bureaucracies to COEXIST with the 300,000 Muslims who live there. Can you picture it? One big, multicultural city full of smiling, happy people holding hands? It’s a  fitting image for the capitol of the EU and the UN, right? Just watch out for airport bombers and careening trucks.
Trump let the world know last week that he’s not Barack Obama, and that’s worth something. He’s not a wuss and he’s not predictable. Now Kim Jong Un can worry that Trump might do to him what he’s threatening to do to us — at any time. Iran can worry too. It won’t likely capture any more US sailors in the Persian Gulf with President Trump as commander-in-chief. All that is great.
It’s not good, however that Trump has put US Marines in Syria. That is contrary to what he said during the campaign. A month ago I wrote about the danger:

[Ethnic groups like the] Sunni Kurds, for example, are a minority in the border areas of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey — all of which, along with Russia now, are fighting ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Kurds want to be a nation-state too, but none of the aforementioned countries will cede them their ancestral territory which overlaps all. The US is arming Kurds. Last week, President Trump put US Marines on the ground in Syria. US soldiers must now fight alongside all these groups — some of which are still fighting each other — against ISIS. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot could go wrong, of course, especially after last week’s missile attack. Trump got a lot of votes promising not to mess around in the Middle East without a clear US national interest. Sending in the Marines contradicts his “America First” rhetoric.
Among the sixteen Republicans running in 2016, Trump was my last choice, below John Kasich. He won the nomination and I resigned myself to vote for him, but I wrote several columns detailing my concerns last fall. I won’t go into detail again here: suffice it to say that Hillary was “the devil you know” and Trump was “the devil you don’t,” but I went against the prevailing wisdom that the devil you know is preferable. However Trump turns out, I figured, he wouldn’t be nearly as bad as Hillary would be.
People from different parts of the country who read those columns wrote me about their support for Trump. He alone, they claimed, had guts enough to kick a** in Washington. He certainly had the confidence, but my misgivings remained. Democrats and Republicans both needed serious a**-kicking, yes, but would Trump be the best one to do it? I’m still not sure.
During transition, he picked an outstanding cabinet but it also became evident early in that process that Obama was laying mines for him. Days before his term ended, Obama signed an executive order making wiretap transcripts of Trump campaign officials available to hundreds of people in sixteen different intelligence agencies. This made leaking hundreds of times more likely. If that wasn’t Obama’s intention, it’s hard to imagine what was. Democrats and Mainstream Media — please excuse the redundancy— were, and are, out to get Trump, no question. They’ve pulled out all the stops, but Trump is fighting back and they’re not used to that. They coined the term “fake news,” to use against him, for example, only to have Trump immediately turn it around on them. That was brilliant.
Trump’s inaugural speech was wonderful, echoing what he promised during his campaign. Many of his tweets, however, reflect an obsession with inaugural crowds and the number of electoral votes he got compared to other recently-elected presidents. His claims were obviously erroneous and they undercut his leadership. I found myself wishing his advisors would take his phone away or at least temper his impulsivity. It’s embarrassing. When asked my opinion of our president lately I say I still don’t like him, but I like what he’s doing — except for the tweets and the troop deployments.
We’re eleven weeks in now. Here’s Trump’s report card from this former teacher:

Domestic policy  — A. He reversed most Obama executive orders and is enforcing immigration 

Economy — A. He’s reducing needless regulation and spurring energy development.

Foreign policy — C. He started well, telling other countries he’s putting America first, but he’s made some risky moves lately.

Deportment — D. He’s impulsive and he doesn’t play well with others.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Strong Arm Needed For Abortion

“Calling them babies is creepy,” said Arizona abortionist Dr. DeShawn Taylor, referring to what she surgically removes from women. She admitted on a video released four weeks ago that she routinely did abortions on healthy babies up to 24 weeks. She also admitted that late-term babies born alive after her abortion attempts are sometimes killed, but that depends on who is in the room at the time.
Rather than dismember a late-term baby in utero, she tries instead to deliver it intact so as to salvage organs and other tissue for possible sale: “It’s not a matter of how I feel about it coming out intact,” she says, ”but I gotta worry about my staff and people’s feelings about it coming out looking like a baby.”

It comes out looking like a baby, Dr. Taylor, because it is a baby.

The investigative journalists recording Dr. Taylor said they wanted to buy baby parts for biomedical research and were interested in intact bodies not “mashed” by the usual abortion procedures. Dr. Taylor said she prefers to deliver the body intact because it requires a lot of strength to tear off pieces. Here’s how she described it: “I remember when I was a [Family Planning] Fellow and I was training, I was like, Oh, I have to hit the gym for this,” because ripping off legs and other parts required strong biceps in the arm holding the forceps.
She was laughing as she said this. I was horrified, as anyone with an ounce of humanity left in them would be. The video is politically explosive. Though it was released four weeks ago, you won’t see it on NBC, CBS, ABC, or CNN. Formerly medical director for Planned Parenthood, Arizona, Dr. Taylor now owns her own abortion clinic in Phoenix, where she happily reports her “market share” is up.
Sometimes the baby is born alive in spite of Dr. Taylor’s attempts to kill it during the abortion. “In Arizona,” she said. “if the fetus comes out with any signs of life, we’re supposed to transport it. To the hospital.”

The investigative journalist asked, “Is there any standard procedure for verifying signs of of life?”
“Well, the thing is,” said Taylor, “I mean the key is, you need to pay attention to who’s in the room, right?” Then she laughed again. I cringed. She obviously implied that she kills the living child if no one who might object is present to see her. That’s murder — homicide — because once a baby is entirely outside its mother’s body, it’s legally a human being. Ask abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell. He’s serving life in prison for doing what Taylor laughs about.
Infanticide and conspiring to sell body parts are both felonies. So how did authorities react? Three weeks after releasing the video, the two investigative journalists who made it, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, were indicted in California on fifteen felony counts. Attorney David French, writing in National Review, described the charges as: “recording alleged ‘confidential communications’ between complete strangers at public conferences and at public restaurants.”
French points out that animal rights activists secretly recorded conversations about the mistreatment of ducks at a California farm and reported it to authorities who then investigated the farm. In another case it was a secretly recorded conversation about mistreatment of chickens, and again California responded with an investigation. At no point were the animal rights advocates admonished for secretly recording conversations, much less indicted for it. I guess we can assume that ducks and chickens are more important than babies in California.
Pressured by citizens in Texas who watched Daleiden’s videos about similar Planned Parenthood practices in that state, Houston District Attorney Devon Anderson empaneled a grand jury to indict PP, which does 350,000 abortions a year nationwide. Since grand jury proceedings are secret, we cannot know what Anderson presented to jurists behind closed doors, but rather than indict PP for selling baby parts, they turned around and indicted Daleiden for exposing it. A year ago, I published a column documenting this. The charges were later dropped, but Houston’s Planned Parenthood still has not been brought to justice as of this writing.
See a pattern here? Daleiden’s investigative journalism exposed things so horrible, the left cannot bear to leave them out there unchallenged. They know their charges against Daleiden serve only to harass him, to cost him money and time, and to discourage him from doing any more investigating. Democrat Attorney General Kamala Harris raided Daieiden’s home and confiscated his computer, his hard drives, and the rest of his unpublished videos. Then she was elected to the US Senate. New Attorney General Xavier Becerra, also a Democrat, brought the charges. According the Washington Free Beacon, both received over $45,000 from Planned Parenthood and NARAL — the National Abortion Rights Action League.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Banging It Out

People occasionally ask how I’ve been able come up with something to write about every week for twenty-five years. Actually there’s too much to choose from. Even if I were to write a column a day, there would still be too much. Listening to news while driving or working on the house, a column plays out in my head more than once a day. Sometimes it will stay in mind until I have my laptop open and I can bang out a few lines that will remind me of the rest. Then Saturday or Sunday I start to flesh it out. I edit it on Monday and send it to one venue, then edit some more Tuesday and send it to another. Wednesdays I post it online and send links to other websites, and to people who want them.
My office desk

About a hundred twenty have asked for links over the years, but the “contacts” application on my MacBook Pro lost that folder a few months ago. I had to reconstruct the list but couldn’t remember the names of about ninety people who were on it. We’d never met, and my only contact with them was online. They’d read the column somewhere and emailed me to say they liked it. I’d write back thanking them and ask if they’d like links each week. If they responded affirmatively I put them on the list. Going over the 1100+ people on my total contacts list didn’t jog my memory either. Not wanting to abandon my fan base, I included the emails of everyone whose name was unfamiliar and ended up with a new list of two hundred twenty — a hundred more than there were on the original.
Some people started getting the link for the first time and thanked me for sending it along. Since they were obviously happy about it, I left them on. Three people emailed back and asked me to drop them, which I did immediately. One woman made the request with CAPITAL LETTERS and lots of exclamation points!!! I figured she was a leftist whose email address somehow made it into my contacts. For others, I got those kickback messages indicating email addresses were not longer operational. After a couple of weeks everything was back to normal.
Stream of Consciousness

Sometimes I’ll start writing about something, but as paragraphs multiply and I approach the 800-word limit, I see that I’ve gone off in an entirely different direction and ask myself, “Where did that come from?” Other times, I’ll write an opening, then be unable to string together coherent sentences in anything like a logical sequence that will result in a paragraph. Frustrated at first, I’m forced to conclude the original thought was only a muse, more suited for poetry than an opinion column.
Twenty-five years of weekly columns adds up to over 1200. Nearly half are archived on my blog which I started in January, 2006. The rest — about 650 — were clipped from newspapers and put in a briefcase along with some letters to the editor they generated. When I read over some of the old ones, it seems as if someone else wrote them. It was someone else in a sense, because I’m not the forty-year-old Tom anymore and sometimes I ask myself, “Who was that guy?”
I’m not the twenty-year-old Tom either and I certainly don’t look like him. I should probably update whatever picture you see where you’re reading this because the newest one out there is eight years old. I have less hair now. I have few pictures of myself, however, since I'm the family photographer. I'm always looking out the lens and seldom into it.
Speaking of the effects of aging, my social security checks start in May. However, I won’t get as much as the Social Security Administration said I would in those letters they’ve been sending me every year. It will be forty percent less than that because the school district where I taught didn’t take FICA (social security) out of my paychecks. They deducted Maine State Retirement only.
I always worked other jobs while teaching, however, and paid into social security for all of them. I still pay into it every year in the form of self-employment tax. Will that be cut by forty percent now too? Heck, I’d be satisfied if they just gave me back what I’ve paid in since 1967 because those monthly checks won’t add up to what they took unless I live a lot longer than I expect to.
Come to think of it, I’d be better off without most of the “help” government gives me. So would the rest of the working people in this country, but we’re all beholden to those who vote for a living rather than work for it. Think about that on tax day. It’s coming right up again you know. Are you going to write a check or get one?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cognitive Dissonance in Europe

It had to be galling. Geert Wilders, a member of Dutch Parliament, was found guilty three months ago of “inciting discrimination against Dutch Moroccans” — the very people who have been trying to kill him since at least 2003. Newsweek reported that he has to go around, “wearing a bulletproof vest and being shuttled between safe houses to avoid assassination. ‘I’m not in prison,’ he says. ‘But I’m not free, either. You don’t have to pity me, but I haven’t had personal freedom now for 10 years. I can’t set one foot out of my house or anywhere in the world without security.’” 
The Wilders trial perfectly illustrates Europe’s state of cognitive dissonance. In many European Union countries, one is charged with “hate speech” for criticizing Muslims who are terrorizing the entire continent. France’s Marine Le Pen has also been charged in France, along with Brigitte Bardot.
Bardot and Le Pen

It was interesting to watch media spin last Wednesday’s Dutch election results as Geert Wilders’ PVV Party, which they always call “far right,” gained five seats (33%), yet he was “defeated.” Prime Minister Rutte’s VVD Party lost eight seats (-20%), but he won a “great victory.” Prime Minister Rutte’s governing partner in the ruling coalition, the Labour Party, lost nineteen seats (-75%). How is this a victory? Because Wilders didn’t thump him as badly as polls suggested he might.
Wilders is tall. I'm 5'10"

I met Geert Wilders seven years ago at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC. He was surrounded by large, shaven-headed, tough-looking, unsmiling, body guards with ear pieces who were constantly looking around at the rest of us in the hotel function room. He cannot go anywhere without them and it’ll be that way for the rest of his life. Why? Because he’s “far-right”? No, it’s because he has dared to criticize Islam, comparing the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf as both advocate slaughtering Jews. For that, Muslims put a fatwa on his head. That means Muslims are obligated to kill him whenever they get the chance.
Bodyguards check me out

He’s been living like this since he came to the defense of a fellow member of Parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was a Somali immigrant. Hirsi Ali got off a plane in Holland rather than go on toward Canada where her family had arranged she be married to an aging relative. She was granted asylum and then got elected to Parliament. Hirsi Ali’s Muslim parents had forced her to undergo a genital mutilation procedure when she was a girl. 
Hirsi Ali and Wilders at The Hague

Together with filmmaker Theo Van Gogh (great-grandnephew of the famous painter) Hirsi Ali made a short film called “Submission” depicting Muslim treatment of women. For his effort, Van Gogh was shot and stabbed on the street in broad daylight by a Muslim immigrant. Pinned to his body with a knife was a note declaring that Hirsi Ali was next. In 2003, Muslims staged an hour-long grenade assault on a building in The Hague where Ali and Geert Wilders were working in an effort to kill both. In spite of all this, it’s still criminal to criticize the “Religion of Peace” in Europe.
Angela Merkel and other European leaders said the Dutch election last week was a “good day for democracy” and for Europe because Wilders wants to lead Holland out of the European Union. All across Europe, however, there’s rising opposition to the EU’s open-borders policy of accepting millions Muslim “refugees” in spite of what millions of native-born citizens want. That’s one of the factors propelling the rise other conservative leaders in France, Austria, Germany, Italy, and other EU countries.
Meanwhile, Turkey is threatening to release 15,000 more Muslim “refugees” a month to “blow the mind” of Europe. The Turkish foreign minister said, “Soon, religious wars will begin in Europe.” President Obama’s good buddy, President Erdogan of Turkey urged Muslims living in Europe to have at least five children. It’s part of the Islamic concept of hijrah, which Islam historian Robert Spencer calls “jihad by emigration.”
If you ask ordinary Dutch, French, German, and British people, they’d say the religious wars are already underway and have been for years. Every day there’s a stabbing, a rape, a bomb, a truck attack, or some other Muslim terrorist incident somewhere in Europe, yet Merkel alone let over a million Muslims into Germany just last year. She’s up for re-election in September.
The left in Europe has for decades been pushing for ever more centralized government through the EU and the UN — and for open borders. To pave the way, they’ve attempted to indoctrinate the populace with the multicultural myth that all cultures are equal. Dutch, French, British, German, or any other European culture is no better than Muslim culture. All should be able to live together in harmony. Ordinary Europeans, however, aren’t buying it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Just Trying To Keep Up

In regard to my understanding of the world — what is going on and why — the best I can do is maintain a “working hypothesis.” The “what” is easier. The “why” to explain the “what” is more daunting because as new information emerges, I have to modify.
My biggest challenge is understanding developments in what we broadly call the Middle East. When I taught 20th century US History and current events, I’d start the school year with the essential question: “Why do radical Muslims want to kill us?” Teachers back then were required to formulate “essential questions,” then plan lessons around them. We were at war and some former students were fighting it. Others would be. I wanted them to know what they were fighting.
That involved lessons going back almost four millennia to Abraham’s time, then relating those lessons to current events. I had to teach about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. There was so much information to take in that, without some kind of mental framework within which to arrange that information, it wouldn’t stick. So, I drilled them on regional geography as today’s national borders are drawn. I wanted them to be able to call up a Middle East map in their mind’s eye and know where Iraq was, Iran was, Syria was, Israel was, and so on. As they absorbed both historical and current events, they could mentally pin each onto their mental maps in its appropriate place. Babylon was in today’s Iraq and Persia is today’s Iran, and so on. Borders between land and sea were static, but national borders changed constantly.
Religion is only one dynamic. In my early teaching years, most students came with a basic understanding of Christianity. At the end, only a minority did and I’d have to start from scratch. I’d compare and contrast beliefs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, then historical conflicts between them going back to 600 AD with the establishment of Islam. I’d explain that radical Muslims take Muhammed’s writings literally, especially those in the Medina Koran, which advocated converting Jews, Christians, and others at the point of a sword. Muhammed’s earlier writings in what is often called the Mecca Koran offered a reasoned approach. When some call Islam a “religion of peace,” they’re referring to the Mecca Koran.
ISIS, al Qaida, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood follow teachings from the Medina Koran. Judging from his actions, so, also, did Muhammed himself. Radical Muslims today more closely follow what Muhammed actually did when he conquered the Arabian Peninsula and imposed Islam. It’s also what his followers did for the next thirteen centuries. Only after the last caliphate — the Ottoman Empire — was defeated in World War I did forced conversion end, and then only temporarily. What remained of the Empire became modern Turkey and nation-states created by the winners: France and Great Britain. Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk abolished the caliphate, separating church and state. Violent Islamic expansionism went into remission, one could say, from about 1920 to about the 1970s or so — a half century. Now ISIS calls itself the new caliphate — which carries the mantle of Islamic leadership — and Muslims from around the world are flocking to it.
Then there’s conflict between the two main branches of Islam: Sunni and Shia which have been fighting each other for centuries, not unlike the way Christian Catholics and Protestants in Europe did. Four out of five Muslims are Sunni while Islam edges Christianity as the world’s largest religion. Both sides support radical groups. Iran is the largest Shiite country with its Revolutionary Guard, its proxy armies Hezbollah and the Houthis, and sometimes Hamas. Sunni radicals include ISIS, al Qaida, Boko Haram, Al Shebaab, sometimes Hamas, and others.
Boko Haram

Then come the economics of the region — especially oil. Whatever was going on before oil was discovered in vast quantities, that all changed as petrodollars flooded the region and powered an Islamic resurgence.
Another dynamic is the reestablishment of Israel as a Jewish nation-state in 1948. It’s right in the middle of what had been almost exclusively the Muslim World for centuries. Many Muslims, Iran especially, pledge to wipe it off the map.
And there are ethnic conflicts within Islam. Sunni Kurds, for example, are a minority in the border areas of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey — all of which, along with Russia now, are fighting ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Kurds want to be a nation-state too, but none of the aforementioned countries will cede them their ancestral territory which overlaps all. The US is arming Kurds. Last week, President Trump put US Marines on the ground in Syria. US soldiers must now fight alongside all these groups — some of which are still fighting each other — against ISIS. What could possibly go wrong? Last week I also learned that erstwhile National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was being paid by Turkey while he advised President Trump.
Looks like I'll have to modify that hypothesis again pretty soon.