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.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Progress With The Board of Education

Never have I been paddled, which is the method of corporal punishment still legal in nineteen states. I have, however, been slapped many times — by several teachers and by one principal. Those who have gotten the paddle, the "board of education," the method most common in those states, claim paddles with holes in them hurt more. I wouldn’t know, but I’ll take their word for it.
I think it was in fifth grade at St. William’s School in Tewksbury, Massachusetts that a spring storm delivered three inches of snow perfect for snowballs — and just before recess. Our principal, Mother Edward Mary, anticipated trouble. Prior to the bell for outdoor recess to begin, she announced over the intercom that there will be no throwing of snowballs. Then she stood at a 2nd floor window overlooking the playground with binoculars to identify violators. In twenty minutes, she’d written a long list, and my name was on it.
Allowing time for us to return to our classrooms and put our boots and jackets away, she got on the intercom again to say, “The following boys will report to the cafeteria immediately: “Albert Brackett, Joseph Hedstrom, Thomas McLaughlin…” and about twenty others. All the classroom doors opened into the hallways and two dozen grim-faced boys filed silently down the stairs to the basement cafeteria where Mother Edward Mary told us to line up against the wall. “I told you not to throw snowballs,” she said. She approached the first boy, put the curled index finger of her left hand under his chin to lift his face to her, then slapped it — a stinging blow — with her right. She did the same to the second boy, and so on down the line. I was near the end.
When she was done, I tried hard not to look at Al Brackett because if our eyes met, I knew we would both start laughing. It wasn’t that the slap didn’t hurt, because it did. It was the exhilaration of perpetrating a shared bit of mischief and enduring the consequence collectively. It’s what we did back then, when boys would still be boys. It’s one way we bonded. Mother Superior — that was her other title — did what principals did. She was the school’s leader and insisted that rules be taken seriously. We all got that — no hard feelings. Our parents treated us the same way and none of it diminished our self-esteem. The adults were in charge, and there was security in that.
From St. William’s School, some of us went on to Keith Academy in nearby Lowell where we had Xaverian Brothers as teachers. Strong as Mother Edward Mary was, most of them were stronger. I can attest that they hit considerably harder and only once can I say that I didn’t deserve it. Every other time, more than a dozen, I had it coming. Brother Dennis hit hardest, but we all liked him. He was fair, and he liked us too. He never said it, but we knew. I think he saw himself in us.
Most of my friends went to public school and corporal punishment was common there too. One of the most respected men at Tewksbury High School was Joe Crotty. He was assistant principal in charge of discipline and my friends were frequent visitors to his office. If he closed the door, they’d get a thrashing, but they didn’t take it personally either. They all liked Joe. He had a job to do and he was fair. He liked them too and they knew it.
I suspect it’s much the same way in those nineteen states still allowing people like Mother Edward Mary, Brother Dennis, and Joe Crotty to do their jobs without threat of lawsuits. According to people calling in to a recent Laura Ingraham Show, students who misbehave were offered a choice: suspension or paddling. Most callers chose paddling because they could “get it over with quickly.” Others said they misbehaved because they wanted a few days off under suspension.
My first teaching job was a two-year stint at a private school for juvenile delinquents in Lowell They had been re-diagnosed under the new special ed law as “emotionally disturbed.” I never hit any of them, but I did have to forcibly remove some from my classroom when they refused to leave on their own. The age range was 14-18 and some were my size or bigger. If the big ones resisted there was a ruckus, but I always managed to deliver them to Dr. Herrmann’s office down the hall. He was a former running back at Kansas State. He would take them inside and close the door, just like Joe Crotty did.
That was in the mid 1970s and most states have “progressed” since then, banning corporal punishment. Schools are much better now, don’t you think?

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.