M.D. Harmon – Press Herald http://www.pressherald.com Tue, 21 Nov 2017 13:43:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 Greg Kesich: Columnist M.D. Harmon showed there’s more to us than what we think and say http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/04/greg-kesich-columnist-showed-theres-more-to-us-than-we-think-and-say/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/04/greg-kesich-columnist-showed-theres-more-to-us-than-we-think-and-say/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1132590 If I hadn’t known M.D. Harmon, I might not have liked him.

The arch-conservative writer whose column led the Press Herald’s Friday op-ed page for more than 20 years was a hard-core opponent of what I consider fundamental freedoms, like who gets to decide when to end a pregnancy or marry the person they love. He wrote stinging commentary that could be hurtful to people who are important to me. He made me mad.

But I did get to know Mike Harmon and I liked him very much, so his tragic, pointless death in an accidental shooting last week still has me reeling.

We shared a small office space for more than a decade. For a while, we were a two-headed editorial board with no tie-breaking vote if we couldn’t agree, and we didn’t agree on much. If we both dug in, we would each have to write a mini-column that would be laid out, side by side, with mine on the left and Mike’s on the right (of course).

He was the kind of friend you get to make at work. Through no choice of your own, you’re thrown together and spend more time with each other than you do with your family. You see your co-workers at their best and at their worst and really get to know them.

Here’s what I got to know about Mike:

He was courteous, treating people with respect even when they did not respect him. (For a while and without complaint, he regularly processed letters to the editor from a writer whose email address ended with “@mdharmonisanidiot.com.”)

He was kind – kind to me, kind to other people in the office, kind to strangers. He bought doughnuts. He would recommend science fiction books to my teenage daughter. He used to make an annual trip to the Maine State Prison as part of a Christian ministry group.

And he was an old-school newspaperman, who felt more allegiance to the readers who bought copies of the newspaper than to anyone who happened to own the newspaper itself.

He was a stickler for detail who couldn’t rest until there was a half-point rule around every cartoon and the right number of picas between the lines.

He liked bad puns, the Pittsburgh Steelers and golden retrievers. He believed in God and loved his family and the United States of America.

So, how do I reconcile the Mike who I knew and liked, with the M.D. Harmon I didn’t know and thought I couldn’t like?

It involves something that Harmon himself must have understood, sharing so many years of his work life with people who disagreed with him on nearly every issue that mattered: There is much more to us than the things that we think and say.

He held strongly to his beliefs. He was a passionate advocate, and that, at times, could make him rigid and impenetrable. He gave no ground. (Ask anyone who ever served on an editorial board with him.)

But people are not ideas. We are more complicated than the caricatures we draw of each other – we are even more complicated than the life stories we tell ourselves.

It’s an error to think that we can know much that really matters about anyone just because we know who they voted for or what kind of bumper sticker they plastered on their car. So, if that’s the case, it makes sense to treat everyone you encounter with respect and kindness, even when you disagree with them. Maybe, especially when you disagree with them.

Doing that is not so easy when you are doing battle with people who spout ideas that you feel are just plain wrong. You can’t accept that they could really believe the crazy things they say.

For instance, I often hear people on the left dismiss right-wing political ideas, saying that they were invented to fit the economic interests of the super rich and sold to people who aren’t smart enough to look out for their own interests.

Well, Harmon championed all of the conservative ideas and I can assure you that – after a lifetime in the newspaper business – he was not rich, let alone super rich. And the Bowdoin graduate was not dumb.

He was a complicated person, just as we all are complicated, and the things that he said and wrote over the years matter, but not nearly as much as the man mattered to his family and friends.

Today, we can all be sorry for their loss.

Listen to Press Herald podcasts at www.pressherald.com/podcast.

Greg Kesich is the editorial page editor. He can be contacted at:

gkesich@pressherald.com

Twitter: @gregkesich

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/04/greg-kesich-columnist-showed-theres-more-to-us-than-we-think-and-say/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/12/Mike-Harmon-new-collage.jpgWed, 04 Jan 2017 12:23:58 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Obama flounces out of office as Democrats ponder much-diminished prospects http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/29/m-d-harmon-obama-flounces-out-of-office-as-democrats-ponder-much-diminished-prospects/ Thu, 29 Dec 2016 16:47:30 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/29/m-d-harmon-obama-flounces-out-of-office-as-democrats-ponder-much-diminished-prospects/ Editor’s note: M.D. Harmon filed this column earlier this week for publication Friday. A longtime columnist and former Maine Sunday Telegram and Press Herald editor, Harmon died late Wednesday.

President Obama’s last few days in office (writing those words is one of life’s simple joys) illustrate the lyrics of the old country song: “How can we miss you if you won’t go away?”

Oh, he’ll depart the Oval Office soon, but because Hillary Clinton’s defeat meant his policies will get no “third term,” he has become like a spiteful ex-spouse smashing as much furniture as he can before the door slams and the lock clicks behind him.

Fortunately, most of what he’s done “with a pen and a phone” can (and likely will) be overturned.

But his failure to block a critical U.N. resolution this week boosted the Palestinian goal of making Israel an international pariah, and President-elect Donald Trump may find that harder to undo.

Still, while supporting the U.N.’s genuine relief efforts, Trump could ask if it wants to lose the 22 percent of its general funding America provides. He could even suggest it find a more suitable home, perhaps in Kazakhstan or Yemen.

This betrayal ought to show Jewish Democrats how little Obama values their support. Secretary of State John Kerry nailed that down hard when he said Wednesday that Israel “can be Jewish or it can be democratic, but it can’t be both.” (A Jewish state has to be dictatorial? Who knew?)

Many Democrats blasted the resolution, including Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Vermont’s Richard Blumenthal, Virginia’s Mark Warner and Delaware’s Chris Coons.

They had joined Trump’s earlier call to veto the measure, which he had said would put “Israel in a very poor negotiating position” and be “extremely unfair to all Israelis.”

Schumer, who is Jewish and is the incoming Senate minority leader, said the “U.N. has been a fervently anti-Israel body since the days of ‘Zionism is racism,’ and, unfortunately, that fervor has never diminished.”

And Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, a liberal who supported Obama’s domestic agenda, said after the vote that history will see Obama “as one of the worst foreign policy presidents ever.”

“He called me into the Oval Office before the inauguration – he said he wanted my support, and he told me he would always have Israel’s back,” Dershowitz said. “I didn’t realize what he meant: That he would have Israel’s back so he could stab them in the back.”

As a result, “This will make peace much more difficult to achieve because the Palestinians will now say, ‘We can get a state through the U.N.’ ” (and ignore Israeli concerns).

That’s bad enough, you’d think. But even worse for Democrats, Obama has rented a mansion and is not leaving Washington, as his predecessors uniformly did.

While that will give him a platform to stick it to the newly arrived Trump administration, he will probably do Democrats even worse damage.

While Obama’s personal popularity remains above 50 percent, Trump’s election is what’s offering “hope and change” these days.

As Rasmussen reported this week, “Sixty-one percent (of respondents) believe American society is fair and decent, the highest level of confidence in 3½ years. Americans also are more optimistic about the future than they have been in over four years.”

And a new Associated Press poll found that 55 percent of Americans believe things will be better for them in the coming year – up 12 percentage points in the last year, with Republicans “especially likely” to feel such optimism, the poll said.

Meanwhile, Obama’s standing doesn’t mean much for Democrats in the 2018 and 2020 elections.

It’s true that Trump and his party could mess up royally, leading Democratic prospects to improve.

But it’s also true that Democrats have a greatly depleted political bench. The party has lost more than 1,000 state-level officeholders over the past eight years (Obama has left it “looking like an Ikea bookshelf hit by a semi,” one comic noted), and it is from the ranks of state officeholders that future national leaders commonly arise.

Further, when a real choice exists, Democrats seem to prize gerontology and defeat over youth and success.

First, House Democrats rejected a young and vigorous candidate to re-elect the most notable failure of the ancien regime, 76-year-old Nancy Pelosi, as speaker.

Then look at who’s being mentioned for president in four years: Vice President Joe Biden, who will be 78 in 2020. Sens. Bernie Sanders (he’ll be 79) and Elizabeth Warren (she’ll be 71) are right behind him.

And with Obama refusing to withdraw from the national stage, he will soak up tons of still-adoring media attention that otherwise would go to viable candidates for office.

He’ll be like that other country song, which when you play it backward says your dog comes back, your pickup truck gets fixed and your spouse returns home – only this time, never leaves.

Editor’s Note: Comments have been removed from this story because of personal attacks.

]]>
http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Thu, 29 Dec 2016 20:01:14 +0000
M.D. Harmon: German terror attack reminds us why Christmas is important http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/23/m-d-harmon-german-terror-attack-reminds-us-why-christmas-is-important/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/23/m-d-harmon-german-terror-attack-reminds-us-why-christmas-is-important/#respond Fri, 23 Dec 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1127774 The Germans do Christmas big. We have relatives by marriage who live in Berlin, and a few years ago they asked us to spend the holidays with them.

Central Germany in winter is a dark and often moist and misty place, with even the fair-weather sunlight filtered by the fact that Berlin is at the same latitude as the southern tip of Hudson’s Bay. So daylight is precious for its brevity.

Which may be why the city’s night-time streets glow brightly during Christmastide, with shopping areas (located in the center city and smaller districts away from the core) ablaze with light and decorated to the max.

We got to accompany our hosts on what seemed to be a mandatory holiday visit to KDW – KaDeWe (“Ka-Deh-Veh” in German), the Kaufhaus des Westens, an eight-floor “Shopping Center of the West.”

KDW is the second-largest store in Europe, after Harrods in London, and is an experience from a former era. Each floor is devoted to a different type of merchandise (this being Germany, two of them are for food).

Back at our hosts’ home, I found one big surprise on their tree. The first time I saw it, I thought the lights on its branches were the most realistic electric simulations of lighted candles I had ever seen. Then I realized that they actually were real lighted candles, which apparently are common decorations, as I saw them in other homes as well. At least they keep a bucket of water nearby.

But the delights of the season were the many examples of a neighborhood or municipal Christkindlesmarkt, literally “Christ child’s market.”

These Christmas markets, found all over Germany and dating back hundreds of years, often take up a group of side streets, big public squares or entire parks. The one we visited in Potsdam occupied the entire downtown, and according to the Deutsche Welle website, collectively they draw upwards of 85 million people annually.

They are cornucopias of mulled wine, food, many handmade and commercial gifts, food, street performers of all varieties, food, children’s play areas, food, beer gardens, arts and crafts displays, and much more. (Did I mention food? Wurst is the best, that’s my motto. With a stein in hand, of course.)

Not only were the markets themselves delightful, but we got to see Germans of all ages departing from their dour reputation to hang out and play, enjoying themselves in full appreciation of the season. Gemutlichkeit abounded, and the spirit was contagious.

So of course it was devastating to hear that one of the most prominent Berlin markets was the target of a terror attack, with 12 killed and dozens injured by a truck smashing into a crowd, as happened on Bastille Day in Nice, France.

Happy holiday crowds were the target both times, which likely is no coincidence.

This time, however, we received a reminder in no uncertain terms of why Christmas is important, and why it is necessary.

Theologians debate over just how much of our nature is good or evil. That’s an important discussion – we don’t understand as much about ourselves as we think we do – but no matter what the balance is, human beings have shown themselves capable of all sorts of despicable deeds throughout all of history.

Germany is covered with the scars of such behavior (the starkly brutal Holocaust Memorial near Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate is but one reminder), but none of us is immune.

As Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn noted, the dividing line between good and evil runs straight down the middle of the human heart.

Which is why, at the first Christmas, light came into darkness, peace entered into the midst of conflict and war, joy made itself known in deepest sorrow, and love shouted out its message of hope – in the form of a helpless baby – into the teeth of hatred.

During our visit, we went to a couple of church services (of the Lutheran variety), where it turned out that you can still sing familiar carols even if the words are sometimes strange.

And I saw a couple of new things in some German manger scenes. First, perhaps with the idea that the Magi represented different cultures, some creches had only one of them riding a camel. The other two arrived on a horse and an elephant.

And in front of the manger at the packed church we attended on Christmas Eve was a figure I’d not seen in a creche before: a young man facing toward the congregation and cupping his hands around his mouth, shouting a message to the people of Bethlehem (and the world).

“Come!” he seemed to be calling. “Come to see the one who will save us from ourselves! Come to see the newborn King!”

So, Frohliche Weihnachten. Merry Christmas.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/23/m-d-harmon-german-terror-attack-reminds-us-why-christmas-is-important/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/12/berlin2.jpgFri, 23 Dec 2016 11:48:43 +0000
M.D. Harmon: So-called progressive movement may grind to overdue halt http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/16/m-d-harmon-so-called-progressive-movement-may-grind-to-overdue-halt/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/16/m-d-harmon-so-called-progressive-movement-may-grind-to-overdue-halt/#respond Fri, 16 Dec 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1124344 “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”

– Nobel-winning free-market economist Milton Friedman

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher occasionally referred to a political effect she called “the leftward ratchet.”

That was the idea – actually, it was more of an unquestioned assumption by “progressives” – that any program or policy favored by the left might be delayed for a time, but could never be truly reversed or even halted in place.

Based on a philosophy called “historical determinism,” the idea led influential left-wing thinkers and political leaders to proclaim that opponents could not long “stand against history” – as if the tide of events itself were somehow conscious and purposeful, and so powerful that imposing different priorities on it would be impossible. (Conservatives have long disagreed. When William F. Buckley founded National Review magazine back in 1955, he said its mission would be to “Stand athwart history – yelling ‘Stop!'”)

But for many decades, it has seemed as though progressives were right, and even when a conservative president took office or a conservative congressional majority appeared, the ratchet may have paused for a time, but was never truly reversed.

Until a president who was most decidedly not a conservative was elected, and the nation suddenly and unexpectedly found itself at a potentially historic turning point. If and when President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees take office, and he appoints Supreme Court justices who understand and honor the Constitution, the tide of “leftward progress” may not only be halted, it has a surprising chance of being significantly reversed for many policies and programs.

This is not something the progressive movement anticipated (and neither did many of its opponents, who had little faith in Trump’s consistency or his ability to choose good advisers and Cabinet leaders).

So while many conservatives and even centrists are finding themselves relaxing and even breaking out in the occasional happy dance, the progressive movement is coming all unglued. Indeed, its adherents are floundering around, trying everything they can to prevent Trump from taking office next month .

Jill Stein’s Clinton-donor-financed recount ploy failed miserably, rejected by the courts in Michigan and Pennsylvania. In Wisconsin, the one state where it went forward, Trump ended up gaining 131 votes.

So now we have allegations that “the Russians hacked the election in Trump’s favor,” based on anonymous claims from shadowy figures in the CIA. But those claims are disputed by the FBI and many other intelligence agencies.

Nonetheless, the claims (which deal not with any assault on the actual vote, but instead on long-revealed leaks of genuine emails sent by Clinton and her aides) are being used to leverage attempts to get the Electoral College to change its vote from Trump to … Hillary Clinton? Jill Stein? Joe Biden? Tom Brady?

We can all agree it would be horrendous for Vladimir Putin to interfere in the election (and we should indeed investigate these claims.) But if the process should be inviolate, then why is it OK for Democrats to try to subvert the sworn duty of electors to vote for the person who won their states on Nov. 8?

However, since that likely won’t happen, let’s consider the probable fate of progressives’ pet programs under a Trump administration.

Energy and climate? Environmental policy seems headed for a genuine U-turn, not away from clean air and water, but from the bottomless arrogance of know-it-all bureaucrats. Perhaps we could designate Aug. 28, the date in 1859 that Col. Edwin Drake struck oil in his first Pennsylvania well, as “National Hug A Fracker Day”?

Obamacare? Congress and the new president pledge to “repeal and replace” it, but the form the replacement takes is critical. It’s not that there are no ideas to adopt, but that there are so many good ones. Nevertheless, though Republicans have continually failed at this before, the project’s finally under way.

Foreign policy? As the world’s peace continues to crumble, will generals and businessmen do a better job than academics and failed politicians? It’s hard to see how they could do worse.

Education? The time of selling out our children’s future, particularly that of inner-city minorities, to the teachers’ unions may soon end – as may the idea that a vast nation can have goals imposed on it from Washington that directly contradict local priorities and values.

There’s much more, but space has run out. Still, perhaps we finally can prove Professor Friedman wrong, and make the word “temporary” truly accurate when it’s applied to wasteful and harmful government programs.

Indeed, could we actually achieve the dream of eliminating a whole Cabinet department – or more than one? If so, political scientists might someday be documenting “the rightward ratchet.”

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/16/m-d-harmon-so-called-progressive-movement-may-grind-to-overdue-halt/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Thu, 15 Dec 2016 20:47:33 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Hasn’t Santa lost all traces of being a religious figure? Maybe not http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/09/m-d-harmon-hasnt-santa-lost-all-traces-of-being-a-religious-figure-maybe-not/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/09/m-d-harmon-hasnt-santa-lost-all-traces-of-being-a-religious-figure-maybe-not/#respond Fri, 09 Dec 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1121127 “Jolly old St. Nicholas

Lean your ear this way,

Don’t you tell a single soul

What I’m going to say!”

– Christmas carol, 1881

It started last week with an online survey I saw that asked something like, “Should Santa Claus be banned from public property because he’s too religious?”

I was taken a bit aback, because it seemed entirely mistaken to me to think of the idea of Santa Claus, at least in its contemporary iteration, as a religious figure in the slightest way.

Santa hasn’t appeared at any church worship service I’ve ever attended; he might occasionally sneak in a side door to show up at the children’s Christmas party, but that’s about it, and even that’s a stretch. We certainly get enough of him everywhere else.

That’s because he is said to live at the North Pole, but his real home is in the mall, where he can direct shoppers to the best sales and pose for photos with the young’uns and an elf or two.

In fact, TV ads reliably inform us that he’s given up his reindeer and sleigh for either FedEx’s overnight delivery service or a red Mercedes and a matched team of eight silver ones.

Still, there had to be some reason for the question, and a quick online search found a news story a couple of days earlier from Oregon, where a school district had indeed banned Santa and other “religious-themed” decorations from classroom display.

God knows (yes, He does) exactly why these Christmas-hating educators don’t want any of their charges wondering why the holiday (“holy day”) combines the words “Christ” and “Mass,” and therefore why they ruthlessly stamp it out when it raises its joyful head. We understand all that. But banning that tired old pitchman Santa? Seriously? Why?

Still, the idea didn’t leave me, and I remembered that Santa started out as St. Nicholas of Myra, a 4th-century Greek bishop from Asia Minor who, legend says, helped the three daughters of a poor man find husbands by anonymously giving them each a bag of gold for a dowry.

The Dutch tradition of a gift-giving “Sinterklaas” transferred the idea to the modern age, and we all ended up with the Americanized Santa Claus, who has since spread to many nations.

Thus, there is a religious tradition behind the figure, so maybe the Oregon school district saw his full meaning a bit more clearly than I was originally prepared to.

Then, scrolling through another site I visit regularly, the Mere Comments blog of an ecumenical journal called Touchstone, I found a reprinted 2005 article titled, “Yes, Aquinas, There is a Santa Claus.”

Written by Nathan Schlueter, an associate professor of philosophy at Hillsdale College in Michigan, the article takes the form of a classical philosophical disputation with St. Thomas Aquinas, a 13th-century Italian philosopher who, along with others, created an enduring doctrinal system of theological study called Scholasticism.

The Thomistic argument that Schlueter presents can be summed up as an analysis of the proposition that “the Santa Claus tradition is not permitted by the Christian faith.”

That is, parents are committing a sin by deceiving their children about Santa, and thus children will learn to distrust their parents and become cynical about “the truly miraculous and supernatural.”

That’s not necessarily true, replies Schlueter: “God has often condescended to the human intellect, making use of figures, parables, and the events of history itself to better disclose to human beings the reality of his Nature and to better prepare them to accept that reality.”

Thus, he says, the story of Santa Claus resembles the parables of Jesus, the Miracle Plays of the Middle Ages, or the Christian fantasies of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and it offers three benefits to children: It tells them there is a realm beyond that of the physical world; it “helps cultivate those imaginative powers in children upon which the depth and richness of human knowledge depend, such as a sense of mystery and wonder.”

And finally, “It helps instill in them the moral lesson of selfless giving.”

So there’s more evidence the Oregon Grinches got it right, at least in part. The Santa they’ve banned may not always be a religious figure, but viewed in the light of the true Christmas spirit, he certainly can be. So, I learned something from all this.

And as I sat down to write this on Tuesday for my Wednesday deadline, I looked at the calendar of the church year I have hanging beside my desk and saw this: “Dec. 6, feast day of St. Nicholas, Bishop.”

There really are no coincidences, are there?

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/09/m-d-harmon-hasnt-santa-lost-all-traces-of-being-a-religious-figure-maybe-not/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Thu, 08 Dec 2016 20:01:31 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Outpouring of fake news on the left deserves attention http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/02/m-d-harmon-the-outpouring-of-fake-news-on-the-left-deserves-attention/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/02/m-d-harmon-the-outpouring-of-fake-news-on-the-left-deserves-attention/#respond Fri, 02 Dec 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1117648 This week’s chuckles come from the left’s newest effort to push a contrived narrative.

This time it’s the “fake news” campaign, which is partly an effort to use Donald Trump’s more outré claims to divert attention from (#NotMyPresident) Hillary Clinton’s multiple flaws, which are the real reason for her loss.

But it’s also partly an effort to discredit conservative opinion sources as purveyors of intentionally false narratives, as opposed to what they mostly do, which is to dare to disagree with progressives.

In addition, the campaign has vainly tried to tie Trump to odious fringe movements with few supporters and zero influence.

But the plethora of “fake news” on the left deserves attention, too:

“Hillary is a shoo-in for president!” If there was one talking head who called the race in September, there were dozens, to the point where the only doubt was how many seats Democrats would win when they took over the Senate on Nov. 8.

True, this story’s purveyors apparently believed it. But it turned out to be fake nonetheless – just like Jill Stein’s money-grubbing “recount campaign” will soon prove to be. (Who knew “Green Party” meant the size of her bank account?)

“Fidel Castro was a patriot who served the Cuban people.”

This fake story has been going on for half a century.

After his death at age 90 last week, we were told Castro was “the George Washington of his country” (Jim Avila, ABC News); he “will be revered” for “education and social services and medical care to all of his people” (Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC); and he was a “legendary revolutionary and orator” who “made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation” (Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada).

Education matters little when the regime censors information, and visitors to ordinary hospitals (not the elite ones shown to foreigners) report beds without sheets and no antibiotics – or even Band-Aids.

Castro’s fortune was estimated at $900 million, while the average monthly wage in Cuba is $20. And his executioners slaughtered between 7,000 and 10,000 political opponents while imprisoning scores of thousands more.

While President Obama issued a bland statement of ill-defined regret, President-elect Trump, who promises to push for real change in Cuba, knew exactly what to say: “Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights. While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.”

That’s attested to by a genuine Cuban patriot, Armando Valladares, who spent 22 years in Castro’s prisons.

In one, La Cabaña, he said, “Each night, the firing squad executed scores of men in its trenches. We could hear each phase of the executions, and during this time, these young men – patriots – would die shouting ‘Long live Christ the King. Down with Communism!’ And then you would hear the gunshots. Every night there were shootings. Every night. Every night. Every night.”

 “There were no real scandals in the Obama administration.”

The president recently repeated this claim, which requires that you forget about his doubling the national debt from $10 trillion to $20 trillion in just eight years; or the veterans who died while on Veterans Administration waiting lists; or the conservative groups excluded from the political process by his Internal Revenue Service; or his promises that Obamacare would save you $2,500 on health insurance and let you keep your doctor (a major fake news story all by itself); or that his secretary of state let four Americans die at Benghazi by denying them military aid and then lying about it, and also transmitted secret data using a private server; or his bypassing the Constitution with “a pen and a phone.”

No scandals, nope, none at all.

 Finally, ponder “climate change.” Sure, it’s happening because it always has and always will.

But the real issues are how much human action influences it; is what’s happening actually persistent and harmful; and can we somehow identify an “ideal” climate state and then fine-tune the entire planet to achieve it?

Claiming we have definite answers to those extremely complex questions is the epitome of “fake news.” Trump appears to know that, because he’s appointed a climate realist to address the actions of the rogue bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency.

I also read that there’s an excellent way for Trump to deal with the Paris climate treaty that Obama has pretended to enact: Simply follow the Constitution (for a change) and submit it to the Senate for an up-or-down vote.

There will be nothing fake about what happens to it then.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/02/m-d-harmon-the-outpouring-of-fake-news-on-the-left-deserves-attention/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/12/fake-news.jpgFri, 02 Dec 2016 18:42:09 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Love comes on the wings of a dove and from grandchildren http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/25/m-d-harmon-love-comes-on-the-wings-of-a-dove-and-from-grandchildren/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/25/m-d-harmon-love-comes-on-the-wings-of-a-dove-and-from-grandchildren/#comments Fri, 25 Nov 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1114495 I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m ready to give politics a rest today.

Political junkies often believe their monomania is 1) the most important thing in the world and 2) as utterly fascinating to everyone else as it is to them.

That’s not just terribly wrong, it’s doubling down on wrongness.

But today is the day after the one national holiday dedicated to gratitude itself (as opposed to being thankful for maternal parental units, hard-working exemplars of organized labor, or Italian explorers who financed their wacky schemes with money wheedled out of naive Spanish monarchs).

Instead, in an idiosyncratic spirit, I’d like to explore a couple of things worth appreciating that have nothing to do with contested elections, prevaricating politicians, wildly off-the-the-mark polls or bureaucrats’ regulatory nightmares.

That is, I want to write about things involved with real life, as it is rather charmingly called.

1) So, let’s start with birds.

No, not the turkey you are still digesting, but ones with feathers still attached.

I worked for years for a man whom I still consider the nation’s No. 1 birdwatcher, former chief editorial writer George Neavoll, and for a long time I regarded his hobby as a cross between playing tiddlywinks (look it up, kids) and collecting pull-off tabs.

Oh, I could probably tell a robin from a bluejay from a crow, but I didn’t see any reason why it made a difference, and most varieties were just bunches of feathers with feet to me.

But then something odd happened. One summer Saturday, in a tree at the end of my driveway, I saw one of the biggest, oddest-looking birds I’d ever seen. It had a long, sinuous neck, and was mostly black but with white stripes along the head and a big red topknot.

So, of course, I called George and described it to him. “That’s a pileated woodpecker,” he informed me. “They usually stay in the deep woods, so you should feel happy you saw one.”

And the strangest thing was, I did feel happy, like I’d seen an eclipse or a scenic vista. Something different had visited my yard, and suddenly I began to notice birds, and look them up in books, and discuss varieties and migration habits.

Now, we have three feeders in the backyard (we finally found some genuinely squirrel-proof ones, so my former tree-rat resettlement program is on hiatus, and the arboreal filchers feed on the seeds the birds drop).

Two feeders hold black-oil sunflower seeds, and the third is thistle for goldfinches (aka “pigs with wings”). Two suet holders for hairy and downy woodpeckers and upside-down-feeding nuthatches round out the set, which is supplemented in the spring with an orange-streamer-decorated jelly dish for Baltimore orioles.

Watching them flit and feed and filibuster (they get raucous when the feeders aren’t promptly filled) is remarkably entertaining.

And no one is more surprised at that than I am.

2) Then there are the grandchildren.

I know, I know, the two most terrifying things you can hear are “We’re surrounded by a pack of ravenous zombies!” and “Want to see pictures of my grandkids?”

But I’m not going to expound on their various wonderfulnesses, as I know everybody exults to see a grandchild take a first step, or utter a few halting words, or grow up to make a million dollars, buy Nonnie and Pawpaw a new house and take them on a round-the-world cruise.

(OK, that last hasn’t happened yet, but there’s still time. Right, kids?)

Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with specifics, but instead to verify that the Bible speaks an absolute truth when it says, “Blessed is he who lives to see his children’s children.”

When you see your own kids, whom you shepherded through all the pitfalls and pratfalls of growing to adulthood, actually restart the process all over again, the whole “life-is-a-flowing-river” metaphor becomes real right in front of your eyes.

So when you watch them making the same mistakes you did, and help out where you can (but not too much, because they have to stand on their own or they will never stand at all), and bite your lip when you want to give advice, and watch triumphs and disasters occur among those you love, and discover that love really is endlessly expandable – you discover that living, even in the most quotidian circumstances, is an adventure unlike any other.

So you are grateful for the common things of life, for they often are the best parts of it. (Blessed, too, is the person who knows where to address his daily missives of thanks.)

What’s that? You say I wrote a whole column on the day after Thanksgiving and didn’t mention until now that it was Black Friday?

Gee, you noticed.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/25/m-d-harmon-love-comes-on-the-wings-of-a-dove-and-from-grandchildren/feed/ 4 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Thu, 24 Nov 2016 21:44:59 +0000
M.D. Harmon: The Electoral College isn’t going anywhere – nor should it http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/m-d-harmon-the-electoral-college-isnt-going-anywhere-nor-should-it/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/m-d-harmon-the-electoral-college-isnt-going-anywhere-nor-should-it/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1111350 I was going to write a column about the Electoral College, but Bill Nemitz not only beat me to it this past Sunday, but also made me wish I had written what he said.

Hillary Clinton’s winning a plurality of the total vote but losing the election has raised ire among her backers, some of whom want to abolish the Electoral College so the president could be chosen by direct popular vote.

But Nemitz, quoting Colby College government professor Sandy Maisel, pointed out several problems with that, including the fact that eliminating it would require three-fourths of the states to pass a constitutional amendment – which is not likely to happen.

Let me expand a bit on why. In the Electoral College, each state gets votes for president based on its number of senators (two) plus one for each congressional district. Maine has two districts, so we get four electoral votes. California has 53, so it gets 55. But if we chose the president by popular vote, voters in a dozen of the largest states could pick our chief executive every time, while voters in the other three-dozen-plus states would never again feel like they participated in the process.

That’s why the Founders created it: So a successful candidate would have to raise broad support over the entire nation. And that’s what Trump did: A map of the vote by county shows the nation as a sea of red with a few blue islands scattered here and there. (Email me and I’ll send you a copy.)

Disenfranchising most states’ voters in every presidential election would create far more problems than the occasional presidents (five in our history) picked without a majority or plurality behind them.

Thus, most smaller states would never approve an amendment that would void their presidential votes. The Electoral College isn’t going away – nor should it.

n I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Donald Trump is a populist, not a conservative, and while there is some overlap, he will make decisions that will not please those on the right.

For example, his endorsement of a couple of Obamacare’s most popular provisions disappointed some on the right (and cheered some on the left). Both sides misread him, because the provisions are relatively minor features that can be folded into any major reform.

So conservatives should hold their fire. He’s pledged to take on “sanctuary cities,” those refuges for criminal aliens whose attitude toward federal authority is reminiscent of the Confederate States of America. And he promised again this week to appoint Supreme Court judges who take the Constitution, the Second Amendment and the rights of the unborn seriously.

n He also pledged during the campaign to protect traditional Christians and others in exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religious expression.

That goes a long way to explain why Trump got 81 percent of the white evangelical Christian vote. (He also won the Mormon vote, 61-25.)

And, according to a Nov. 9 report by Cruxnow.com, a Catholic site, “Trump decisively won a majority of those self-identifying as Catholics, by 52 to 45 percent. By contrast, President Barack Obama won Catholics narrowly, by a margin of 50 to 48 percent, in 2012.”

Clinton did win Hispanic Catholics 67-26, but that was an 8-point drop from Obama’s 75-21 margin in 2012.

All that has produced some consternation, with last Saturday’s Religion & Values page carrying a Washington Post story proclaiming a potential “evangelical schism” over support for Trump.

One Anglican laywoman was quoted as saying that evangelicals’ Trump support showed “the underbelly of the toxic relationship that can develop between politics and religion,” and a former staffer for President Obama said, “The people I work with view Trump as a moment for Christians to actually separate themselves from towing (sic) a particular party line.”

But you don’t have to wonder why Trump won majority Protestant and Catholic support. First, his choice of a staunch and vocal evangelical, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, as his running mate was well received by traditionalists.

And as the Crux story says, “Coming on the heels of an administration known for court battles with faith-based businesses, the U.S. bishops and other religious leaders over policies such as the HHS contraception mandate, which includes sterilization procedures and drugs critics regard as abortion-inducing, revelations (from WikiLeaks and other sources) seen as indicative of team Clinton’s hostility to aspects of evangelical Protestantism and the Catholic faith certainly didn’t help.”

Religious voters who backed Trump weren’t electing a church leader. They were supporting a modern Conan the Barbarian who promised to fight for them against the forces of secular progressivism that have targeted traditional Christians for years.

They backed him because he knows how to swing a mean sword when a fire-breathing dragon is eyeing them for dinner.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/18/m-d-harmon-the-electoral-college-isnt-going-anywhere-nor-should-it/feed/ 8 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Thu, 17 Nov 2016 19:47:25 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Let’s take time to understand the implications of Tuesday’s vote http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/m-d-harmon-lets-take-time-to-understand-the-implications-of-tuesdays-vote/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/m-d-harmon-lets-take-time-to-understand-the-implications-of-tuesdays-vote/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1108105 Well, that was something, wasn’t it? Now we know what “peak schadenfreude” feels like.

There are those who say – and the president-elect, to his credit, was first among them – that this is the time to bring us together and to begin immediately to address the great problems that confront us.

Donald Trump was, of course, correct, and his call was echoed later in the day by both President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Nonetheless, it’s hard to move forward without understanding the implications of Tuesday’s vote.

Here are a few of them:

• Like Al Gore in 2000, Clinton seems to have won the popular vote. Look for assaults on the Electoral College to resume if that’s the case.

• Still, the Clinton era is over. Their hundreds of millions will cushion the blow, but now they have no influence with government and thus no favors to grant. So they’d better invest wisely for their declining years – which began Tuesday.

• The Obama era is also over. The lame-duck president will probably do what damage he can for the next two months, but his legacy will be measured by how many of his plans and programs come to a screeching halt.

Among them, we can expect, will be Obamacare, which was an ideal plan for a socialist welfare state (and apparently intended only as a step toward it). Now we have a chance – and Speaker Paul Ryan promised Wednesday to provide it – to repeal and replace it with a system that offers people affordable choices and real control over their own well-being. That is, a system appropriate to a free people who are not mere wards of the welfare state.

• We have elected a friend of Israel and a supporter of the Second Amendment, both of which are good. We also can hope he will provide a corruption-free Department of Justice, FBI and Internal Revenue Service, which would be a welcome change.

Add to that the demise of the whole “climate change” regime. Trump promised to repudiate the (never-ratified-by-Congress) Paris climate accord calling for $100 billion in transfers to other nations and to cut off all funds this nation sends to the United Nations to “fight global warming.” About time.

Add also a reversal of the ruinous decline in the strength and morale of our armed forces, which have for too long been the target of progressive social experimentation. The military exists solely to fight and win wars (wars that weakness invites and strength helps avoid), and we need to realize that.

Illegal immigration will be addressed, presumably not with mass deportations but also without mass amnesty. Border control is the place to start, along with expelling criminal aliens and making those expulsions stick. And we may be seeing that not all Latinos vote as a bloc. Some surveys show that long-term citizens see uncontrolled immigration as harmful to Latino interests, just like other groups – which may have shown up in the Florida vote.

Indeed, CNN reported Wednesday that Trump outperformed Mitt Romney among both black and Latino voters.

Also, the prospect for a Supreme Court that respects both the Constitution and the rights and interests of the American people – and perhaps even those of unborn babies – has greatly brightened.

While critics have rightly belabored Congress for not standing up to Obama’s autocratic impulses, holding up his nomination to the court of the stealth left-winger Merrick Garland was a triumph for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Now the new president will have majorities in both houses of Congress, while Republicans continue to dominate in governors’ mansions and statehouses around the country. Halting infighting and working with willing Democrats and independents is critically important at all those levels.

• Pollsters have a lot of explaining to do. While a few surveys, including daily tracking polls such as the Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP poll and the one by the Los Angeles Times/USC, regularly showed Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton, most did not.

Indeed, the latter poll was actually excluded by the folks who aggregate polls to provide the rolling averages of multiple surveys that many news outlets relied on. Averages can also conceal critical shifts in opinion by melding newer surveys into previous polls. On Tuesday, we saw where that ends up.

• Let’s be proud of Maine’s 2nd District. Not only did its voters make history by contributing its electoral vote to Trump’s margin, but it returned Bruce Poliquin to Congress as a member of the majority who can work for the state effectively in Washington.

(Meanwhile, 1st District voters re-elected Chellie Pingree.)

• Finally, holding true to their heritage of freedom, Mainers defeated Question 3’s infringement on our firearms-related civil liberties, rejecting its out-of-state financial supporters’ fear-mongering campaign.

Good show, folks. Good show.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a free-lance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/11/m-d-harmon-lets-take-time-to-understand-the-implications-of-tuesdays-vote/feed/ 14 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/11/1106327_839097-Voting_buttons-e1478577017815.jpgThe principle of one person, one vote recently has been under attack in Maine: Fliers handed out around Bates College last weekend included false information about state voting laws, and Gov. LePage threatened to investigate students who vote.Fri, 11 Nov 2016 10:08:36 +0000
M.D. Harmon: We need to end the grind that we see every election year http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/04/m-d-harmon-we-need-to-end-the-grind-that-we-see-every-election-year/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/04/m-d-harmon-we-need-to-end-the-grind-that-we-see-every-election-year/#comments Fri, 04 Nov 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1104515 As former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said, “Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

Unfortunately, this year Americans have been receiving an object lesson in exactly what it was he meant.

The good-government types who usually show up around this time of year to decry “negative campaigning” seem to be curled up in corners sucking their thumbs, as without attack ads flooding the airwaves, there wouldn’t be any political advertising at all.

‘COLD CIVIL WAR’

I’ve mentioned the idea in the past, and others have also used the image, but it seems obvious to me that the nation is so divided along widely divergent ideological lines that we are essentially engaged in a “Cold Civil War.”

Americans are diametrically opposed on some very basic levels (the “civil” part), and are using politics as a way of contesting a variety of issues that engage incompatible yet fundamental worldviews (the “cold” part).

This election will not resolve those differences. Indeed, elections by themselves cannot resolve such basic conflicts, and the side that prevails, inasmuch as it tries to use political and legal means to impose its views on the losers, will only exacerbate the problem by implacably forcing the electoral minority to bend to its will.

Progress in a democracy depends on persuasion and compromise, and we have seen precious little of either from our incompetent elites. Indeed, their failures fully explain the rise of Donald Trump.

Moving on, there’s not much point in commenting upon recent developments in the presidential race. First, it will all be over next Tuesday (except for the court suits challenging the results, which are bound to come from whichever side loses – another fruit of our present disarray).

Second, it’s likely that 37 important things will happen between the time I write this and the time it appears in print that will bear on the outcome of the vote, which is another reason to refrain from commenting on events that are now unfolding at a hectic pace.

Regarding polls, the only one that counts now is coming up in four days. Let’s see how it comes out.

Nonetheless, the current flood of late-breaking events should (but probably won’t) be a lesson to those who have worked tirelessly to encourage people to cast their ballots days, or even weeks, before Election Day.

‘VOTER’S REMORSE’

Sold as an effort to encourage more people to vote, all it has produced is millions of ballots cast without critical but late-unfolding information that has recently come to the fore.

Half a dozen states permit voters to recall their ballots and cast new ones up to a deadline, and it seems as if that would be a good policy for all states that permit wide-open early voting.

Election Day used to be seen almost as another Fourth of July, a day to celebrate our democracy and come together as a nation to meet one of our principal obligations as citizens.

Now, it has been considerably watered down – and I wonder how many early voters are saying to themselves, “Gee, I wish I could get that one back.”

Want to avoid “voter’s remorse” next time around? Have some patience, wait until you’ve seen all the information available and then cast your ballot – on Election Day, the wise voter’s choice.

But that’s not easy or convenient? Folks, we’re picking the leaders of our communities, our states and our nation, the most powerful republic there ever has been.

An action that significant shouldn’t be easy or convenient. It should be difficult to vote, to impress on voters the importance of what they are doing.

LIMIT TERMS

Finally, if I were dictator for a day, my reform of the electoral process would: Have a primary campaign season that begins May 1. Have all national primary elections and caucuses take place during July and August. Hold the party conventions the week after Labor Day, after which campaigning can begin.

Amend the Constitution to restrict the House and Senate to 12-year term limits (six terms in the House, two in the Senate – with no later returns permitted. People say, “Oh, we’ll lose so many well-qualified representatives.” What about all the good people who never get a chance to serve because an incumbent has homesteaded a seat for 30 years?)

Ban early voting except for illness, travel or military service. Make Election Day a national holiday. Ban lame-duck sessions of Congress. And swear in the new president on Jan. 1.

Maybe all this would help us avoid the “When will this ever end?” bout of ennui that normal people felt coming on months ago. We need to end the present election-year grind before it eats up a full four years.

And us along with it.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance journalist and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/04/m-d-harmon-we-need-to-end-the-grind-that-we-see-every-election-year/feed/ 8 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Thu, 03 Nov 2016 19:25:44 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Hillary Clinton’s shortcomings are far deadlier than Trump’s http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/28/m-d-harmon-hillary-clintons-shortcomings-are-far-deadlier-than-trumps/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/28/m-d-harmon-hillary-clintons-shortcomings-are-far-deadlier-than-trumps/#comments Fri, 28 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1100991 Ever since the end of the Republican primaries, a dialogue from an alternate version of “The Lord of the Rings” has been running through my mind.

In it, the Elf Lord Elrond meets Galadriel, Queen of Lothlorien.

“Well met, my lady Queen,” he greets her.

“Well met indeed, Lord of Rivendell,” replies Galadriel. “How fared your Council in the disposition of the One Ring of Power? Now that it is available again and Sauron has reached out her scaly claws to grasp it for her own aggrandizement, it has become a great concern.”

“Indeed it is, my lady. It was not until the final days that a Ringbearer was selected, and only then because he was the last available choice.”

“Oh, no! You have not chosen …?”

“Yes, fair Queen. We had to give the Ring to – Gollum.”

So for months I have been searching for suitable reasons to recommend a vote for Gollum, with only one answer coming to mind: Hillary Clinton.

Oh, once in a while he would say something worthwhile, and finally, last weekend at Gettysburg, he listed a double handful of reforms, pledging to rebuild the military, deal strongly with terrorists and control federal spending.

While he may or may not deliver on these vows, he also pledged to repeal and replace the failure called Obamacare, support term limits on Congress, appoint clones of Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court, freeze federal hiring, control illegal immigration and implement new ethical rules for elected and appointed officials.

One thinks, for example, about Clinton’s famous complaint that she and her husband were “dead broke” upon leaving the White House. Forbes reports that they have made nearly $250 million since then. One searches in vain to discover just what it was they produced or contributed that justifies that fat-cat status.

Indeed, far too many of our “public servants” of both parties hold public jobs paying the equivalent of mid-level corporate executives and somehow end up being worth millions – or tens of millions – upon returning to private life.

But still, Donald Trump is no conservative, and comparing his personality to Gollum’s is insulting to wizened, gnome-like creatures everywhere.

But we are not offered a choice in which his opponent typifies probity and accomplishment.

While critics rightly point out Trump’s multitudinous flaws, they are primarily ones of personal passion – flaws of the flesh. His boasts of conquests involve women and business rivals, and his ego seems boundless.

However, that’s only half the story. “None of the above” will not be elected Nov. 8, and Clinton’s moral (and legal) shortcomings appear far deadlier than his, because they are not of the flesh, but of the spirit.

Cold ambition and self-will, when combined with high office and immunity from accountability granted by influential allies, will affect huge numbers of people in many more destructive ways than physical passions.

Clinton is as hard and sharp as a field of broken glass, and her lust for conquest is laser-focused not on pleasure, but on power.

She exemplifies the “soft-totalitarian” ambitions of the administrative state, the progressive project to control people’s lives “for their own good,” following the ideological visions of those social and political elites whom political philosopher Thomas Sowell called “the Anointed.”

They are only self-anointed, of course, yet they remain convinced they were born, educated and groomed to rule over the “basket of deplorables” they regard the rest of us as being.

As Christian author Eric Metaxas wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Oct. 12, “Many say they won’t vote because choosing the lesser of two evils is still evil. But this is sophistry. Neither candidate is pure evil. They are human beings. We cannot escape the uncomfortable obligation to soberly choose between them. Not voting – or voting for a third-party candidate who can’t win – is a rationalization designed more than anything else to assuage our consciences.”

Those seeking greater power over us are happy to see us vote for people who can’t win, or forgo voting altogether, as that allows them to whoosh on by us to an easy victory. And we will all be stuck up to our necks in the resulting morass.

For example, many people in Venezuela didn’t vote for Hugo Chavez, but they still ended up fleeing to Colombia to buy a loaf of bread or giving birth in hospitals without antibiotics or even bedsheets.

The Clintons remind me most of Shakespeare’s iconic power couple, Lord and Lady Macbeth, devoured by ambition and heedless of its consequences.

Thus, I see a blasted heath, where three women chant incantations while stirring a boiling cauldron filled with horrific ingredients.

One of them spies a pant-suited figure striding through the mist. As it approaches, she utters the prophetic couplet that begins: “By the pricking of my thumbs …”

M.D. Harmon. a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/28/m-d-harmon-hillary-clintons-shortcomings-are-far-deadlier-than-trumps/feed/ 132 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/10/1097260_Campaign-2016-Debate.JPE70.jpgHillary Clinton speaks to Donald Trump during the heated debate in Las Vegas. "Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger," she said during one of many testy exchanges.Fri, 28 Oct 2016 10:48:14 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Trump may be an outlet for Americans’ anger, but defeating him will not end it http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/21/trump-may-be-an-outlet-for-americans-anger-but-defeating-him-will-not-end-it/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/21/trump-may-be-an-outlet-for-americans-anger-but-defeating-him-will-not-end-it/#comments Fri, 21 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1097593 The other day I met a fellow who, I discovered, also has a degree in political science, and after we talked a bit, I said to him, “Oh, you’re a quant.”

He seemed a little bit taken aback, but not because he thought it was an insult; his reaction seemed more along the lines of “What else would I be?”

The term “quant” was coined in 1979 (according to Merriam-Webster) as shorthand for “quantitative analyst.”

It describes a social science professional who focuses on how human behavior can be quantified – reduced to charts, tables, graphs and numbers – in place of “softer” intellectual analysis.

That’s OK as far as it goes – professionals like Charles Murray do excellent work teasing normative truths out of numerical tables – but because you can’t measure everything (or even the most important things) by numbers, it has turned most current non-quantitative political analysis over to historians, journalists and similar observers of the human condition.

Thus it has fallen to non-specialists to peer behind the curtain of opinion polling, crime rates and economic statistics to look at what is motivating Americans’ psyches from the inside out these days.

To start, the decidedly non-Donald-Trump-friendly political consultant Reed Galen wrote Tuesday in his “The American Singularity” column that, “According to a Politico/Morning Consult survey out this week, 41 percent of all voters (73 percent of Republicans) believe that the election could indeed be stolen from Trump. … His words shock the American political soul, are cause for concern and are a pro-active threat to how we conduct ourselves in the public square.”

Where, one wonders, could Trump backers have gotten the idea that the political process is stacked against them? Oh, that’s right, the recent revelations about Democratic corruption from WikiLeaks, clandestine videos and FBI document dumps.

If they’ve been allowed to hear of them, that is.

As The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel noted last week: “If average voters turned on the TV for five minutes … chances are they know that Donald Trump made lewd remarks a decade ago and now stands accused of groping women. But even if average voters had the TV on 24/7, they still probably haven’t heard the news about Hillary Clinton: That the nation now has proof of pretty much everything she has been accused of.”

Even as the major media downplay and even ignore them, revelations have emerged of paid provocateurs picking fights at Trump rallies that get blamed on his backers; slurs against Catholics as backward and benighted; Clinton’s expressed need to have contrary “public and private” positions on issues where the private ones favor fat-cat supporters of her campaign and family foundation; and direct coordination between some of those covering the campaign and Clinton’s staff.

Such events appear to be why, Galen notes, that Clinton “is the embodiment of what so many Americans (and almost all Republicans) see as a country run by elites who truly care little for their well-being. Clinton’s example is less stout, less noisy and less ugly (than Trump’s), but no less insidious, odious or threatening to the Republic.”

Should she win, Galen says, and again acts “to save the big guys at the expense of the little, the ensuing wildfire will be more than just an election can hope to head off. Trump may be an outlet for the anger of many Americans, but his defeat will not end their disaffection.”

That’s an idea echoed and expanded on by (no surprise) classical historian Victor Davis Hanson, who wrote Tuesday on National Review Online that “a political neutron bomb” has exploded in our political institutions, leaving them hollow shells.

Once the Bernie Sanders insurrection was disposed of (by close coordination between the Clinton campaign and supposedly “neutral” party officials) Democrats found apparent unity – as a Clinton family enterprise, in the full Sicilian sense.

As Hanson says, “Collate the (Clinton adviser John) Podesta e-mails. … Review Hillary’s Wall Street speeches and the electronic exchanges between the media, the administration, and the Clinton campaign. The conclusion is an incestuous world of hypocrisy, tsk-tsking condescension, sanitized shake-downs, inside profiteering, snobby high entertainment – and often crimes that would put anyone else in jail.”

Republicans, meanwhile, are torn asunder: “No one quite knows what the party will become after Donald Trump sprinted away with the Republican nomination and then discovered that most of the Republican establishment, implicitly and explicitly, would rather lose to Hillary Clinton than win with him. Many said they quit the Republican Party when Trump was nominated, as many perhaps will quietly quit when it returns to normalcy. After the election, don’t expect a rapid reconciliation.”

There’s little danger of that. But if traditional governing institutions have been gutted, what will fill their vacant roles?

I doubt it will be pleasant.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a free-lance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/21/trump-may-be-an-outlet-for-americans-anger-but-defeating-him-will-not-end-it/feed/ 5 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:45:53 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Referendum questions problematic if you want to limit government http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/14/m-d-harmon-referendum-questions-problematic-if-you-want-to-limit-government/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/14/m-d-harmon-referendum-questions-problematic-if-you-want-to-limit-government/#comments Fri, 14 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1094418 Mainers are facing five referendum questions Nov. 8 (six if you count an uncontroversial transportation bond of the sort that are approved routinely).

But the others all come from the political left, and contain provisions that are problematic – or worse – for people like me, who prioritize limiting the size and scope of government power. In ballot order, they are:

1) “Do you want to legalize the possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, allow state and local regulation of retail sales of marijuana, and allow state regulation of the cultivation, manufacture, testing and distribution of marijuana?”

Its sponsors must believe that the biggest thing our society lacks is another legal mind-altering intoxicant.

Further, they apparently think we should legalize it before we have any way to test if people driving cars are stoned on it.

Do people really believe that our society is doing so well that increasing the number of people who can tune in, turn on and drop out is exactly what the doctor ordered? Bummer.

2) “Do you want to establish a Fund to support kindergarten through 12th grade public education by adding a 3 percent surcharge on Maine taxable Income above $200,000?”

All this would do is raise taxes on Maine’s highest earners to the second-highest rate in the nation. Are we doing so well economically that we can tell the entire nation that our state wants to put punitive taxes on its most productive citizens? That’s a heck of a way to persuade business leaders to move here.

3) “Do you want to change Maine law to require background checks prior to the transfer of firearms between individuals, with some exceptions for certain circumstances?”

While ads for this useless folly focus on sales, the law also criminalizes entirely innocent “transfers” like lending your gun to a buddy the day before he goes hunting.

Plus, while former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has found a cop or two to promote it in ads financed by his millions, a large majority of elected sheriffs oppose it, and there’s a very effective TV commercial giving their views.

The proposal is a back door to universal gun registration – it wouldn’t work without it – and it would do nothing to stop the most common ways criminals get their guns: stealing them, buying them from other crooks or finding a “straw purchaser” who can pass a background check for them. All those ways are already illegal. Hey, let’s make them more illegal!

4) “Do you want to raise the minimum hourly wage of $7.50 to $9.00 in 2017, and in $1.00 increments up to $12 in 2020; and to raise it for service workers who receive tips from the current rate of $3.75 to $5 in 2017, in $1.00 increments up to $12 in 2024?”

The flaw here is the idea that every job should pay enough to allow a person to subsist on it alone, the so-called “living wage” standard.

But many minimum wage jobs are held by teenagers getting their first work experience or people seeking to augment their current income, and higher minimums price them out of the market.

Salaries are an expense to an owner, just like flour is to a baker. The cost of a worker has to be balanced against that worker’s contribution to the bottom line.

Sound harsh? Remember, no bottom line equals no jobs and no workers.

And that segues into the iron economic law that says when you raise the cost of something, demand for it declines. So this idea violates both common sense and basic economics. No wonder leftists like it so much.

5) “Do you want to change Maine election law to allow voters to rank their choices of candidates for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate and State Representative?”

The case for this is based on a presumption and a superstition. The former is that most voters like more than one candidate, when it is just as likely that they really like only one of them.

When all the others are “last choices,” why negate your first vote, which could provide a plurality win for your favorite, to elect someone you dislike?

Second, the idea that majorities somehow legitimize officeholders is a matter of faith, not experience.

I never heard a single liberal say Angus King or John Baldacci were not legitimate governors because of their plurality elections. And Bill Clinton didn’t get a majority either time he ran for president.

So, if it never mattered to leftists before, why should it matter to the rest of us now?

But if all that “no” voting sounds too negative, you can always vote “yes” on the transportation bond. Improving infrastructure is actually something government is supposed to do.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a free-lance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/14/m-d-harmon-referendum-questions-problematic-if-you-want-to-limit-government/feed/ 21 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Fri, 14 Oct 2016 19:13:56 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Claims of Trump tax ‘offense’ ignore federal law’s true meaning http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/07/m-d-harmon-donald-trump-obeys-law-by-using-losses-to-offset-gains/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/07/m-d-harmon-donald-trump-obeys-law-by-using-losses-to-offset-gains/#comments Fri, 07 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1090232 I volunteered this year to teach a math course at the private school where I help out for a few hours a week.

Now, as my calculus-teacher wife well knows, I have precious few higher math skills.

Nevertheless, when consumer math was raised as a possible elective, and I was assured that basic calculator functions could handle all the problems, I said I’d give it a shot – because I would have liked to have taken a similar course in high school.

Had I known more about credit cards, budgeting and getting loans, I might have avoided some financial errors starting out.

My students all have part-time jobs, so when I mentioned the difference between their nominal salaries and the actual net amount on their checks, they all nodded, and one said, “Yeah, they take out a lot for taxes, don’t they?”

So one important lesson has already been learned. I went on to Lesson 2, which was that the amount labeled “FICA” on the stub made me grateful to them, because Uncle Sam immediately adds it to my Social Security checks.

They apparently hadn’t known that, so I explained that when they reached my advanced years, they would have to count on younger people being willing to pay their benefits. They’re probably still pondering the likelihood of that eventuality.

But reading that The New York Times printed a story this week that should have been headlined “Donald Trump Obeys Law by Using Losses to Offset Gains” made me think that those who criticized him for doing that 20 years ago have probably never once (except by error) paid one thin dime more in taxes than the law required.

Sure, Trump should have already released his most recent returns, and he almost certainly isn’t the tax-law “genius” that Rudy Giuliani made him out to be (he did, after all, lose $916 million in 1995).

But he is only one of the estimated 1 million business owners who annually use a tax code feature (hardly a “loophole”) that allows losses in a single year to offset income in that year or a span of years before or after it.

This is not “avoiding” taxes, as some have claimed. In order to avoid them, you have to owe them to begin with.

The real lesson being taught is that if you have offended leftists, they will paste a target on you. Conservatives (Trump occasionally approximates being one) have already felt the impact of a weaponized Internal Revenue Service and a thumb-on-the-scales-of-justice FBI, and now we see the left stealing private information and then falsely twisting its meaning.

As columnist Megan McArdle wrote on Bloomberg.com Monday, being able to claim such losses is vital for businesses of all sizes.

If a business lost $1 million in one year and made a profit of $1.5 million in the next, she noted, it could face a potential tax bill of $600,000 the second year and have only $500,000 in profit to pay it.

Not allowing losses to be deductible over a span of years would be inherently confiscatory – and ruinous to the businesses affected by it.

Which is why the oh-so-righteous owners of The New York Times were able to earn a profit of $29.9 million in 2014 and pay no tax on it whatsoever, offsetting it with previous losses (and even getting a $3.5 million refund for the year).

And while a billion Georges is a substantial loss, the Washington Times reported in 2014 that the State Department lost $6 billion “due to the improper filing of contracts during the past six years, mainly during the tenure of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a newly released Inspector General report.”

The IG report said the loss posed a “significant financial risk and demonstrates a lack of internal control over the Department’s contract actions.”

At least Trump only lost his own money. Clinton lost ours.

Taxes may be “the price we pay” for civilization, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes claimed, but recent experience – including the example above, and many more (Obamacare! The stimulus! The $20 trillion national debt!) – shows we have gone far beyond what is necessary.

The basic principle was expressed by Judge Learned Hand, who wrote, “Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike, and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.”

Besides, it’s a dead cinch we can spend our own money better than government can. Which is why its pound of flesh should always be kept to the minimum necessary.

As I tell the kids, it’s never too late to get your budgets under control.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/07/m-d-harmon-donald-trump-obeys-law-by-using-losses-to-offset-gains/feed/ 89 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/09/1077366_Congress-Trump.JPEG-b75ee.jpgIn cases where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump diverted his own income to his foundation, tax experts said, Trump would still likely be required to pay taxes on the income.Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:49:37 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Those who rise to elective office tend to remain there http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/m-d-harmon-those-who-rise-to-elective-office-tend-to-remain-there/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/m-d-harmon-those-who-rise-to-elective-office-tend-to-remain-there/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1082385 It’s long been a truism of Maine political life that once you get elected to a top-level office, you can likely be re-elected to that post as long as you want to run or term limits permit.

Recent exceptions are rare: U.S. Rep. James Longley Jr., who was elected to Congress in 1994, served only one term before being defeated by Tom Allen; and Sen. Margaret Chase Smith tried to nonchalant her way into a fifth term in 1972 but lost to William Hathaway, who himself was defeated by William S. Cohen in 1978.

Beyond that, it’s hard to find a member of Congress, senator or governor who didn’t remain in office when seeking it.

If current polls are to be believed, the same will hold true in both of Maine’s congressional races this year. 2nd District Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin took his shot when Michael Michaud dropped out to unsuccessfully challenge incumbent Paul LePage for governor, and leads in recent polling against a rerun by his 2014 opponent, Emily Cain.

And Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, seeking her fifth term in the 1st District, is polling well ahead of her Republican opponent, Mark Holbrook of Brunswick.

Holbrook, however, is not discouraged. He said in an interview this week that one of the reasons he was running was to uphold the Founders’ ideal of citizen lawmakers, which he sees as having been long superseded in Congress by people who, once elected, put down anchors in Washington and end up seeming to owe more loyalty to their colleagues and the system than they do to folks back home.

Wonder where he could have gotten that idea?

Anyway, Holbrook, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology (what better field for a politician these days?) and a resume that runs from police officer to licensed ship captain to criminal justice instructor to lobsterman, thinks he’s the one to yank the well-rooted Pingree from her D.C. digs.

While there’s no question the 1st District is more liberal than the 2nd (where Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton in recent polls), Holbrook thinks Pingree is still far more left-wing than most of the people she represents.

“Her real constituency is a minority even in southern Maine,” he says, claiming she supports abortion without any restrictions, “open borders” that would allow anyone to enter this country without screening, and banning a wide variety of firearms, thus “not only attacking our Second Amendment rights but effectively putting two Maine gun manufacturers and their employees out of business.”

Further, he says she supported “crony capitalism” by writing a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy in 2010 in support of a loan for a wind project in which Sen. Angus King was then an investor.

“Liberals helped ban billboards here in the 1960s,” he says. “How can they even stand to look at windmills on top of a beautiful Maine mountain?”

Still, those positions are pretty mainstream for the left these days, as unpopular as they are in other circles. And the cause of “fighting fossil fuels” extends not only to mechanizing once-pristine “viewscapes” but also to dicing and incinerating a wide variety of avian wildlife. What’s a few hundred mangled eagles compared to that?

But merely opposing someone is one thing. What does Holbrook have in mind should he win?

“We need to repeal Obamacare, which is rapidly failing.”

True dat, and some people think it was designed to collapse to pave the way for a fully socialized system, which Holbrook thinks is likely.

What can be done instead? “Give people tax-favored health savings accounts and catastrophic care insurance, and you’ll have a start on a good replacement,” he said.

Meanwhile, because he says he’s sensitive to the charge that restricting immigration from some Muslim nations is “unfair,” he wants to put a temporary stay on all immigration “until we can sort things out at home.”

And he says he would become “an open cheerleader for jobs” in Maine, personally lobbying national business leaders for siting or expanding their operations here.

Yet, he criticizes many in Congress, including members of his own party, for being too rigid in dealing with others, saying he would try to “persuade rather than intimidate” other members.

It doesn’t seem as if there is any doubt Holbook offers a distinct alternative to his opponent’s politics.

There is this, too, in his defense: If the House, and potentially the Senate, remain in Republican hands, who will have more influence on bills that could make a difference in Mainers’ lives – a member of the minority, huddled on the back benches, or a member of the majority?

Holbrook thinks the latter, but he’s got a well-entrenched obstacle in his way. Still, with another recent poll showing Donald Trump in a virtual statewide tie with Hillary Clinton in a four-way race, who knows what will happen Nov. 8?

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/30/m-d-harmon-those-who-rise-to-elective-office-tend-to-remain-there/feed/ 9 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/09/Holbrook-Pingree.jpgFri, 30 Sep 2016 14:18:03 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Fighting terrorism first means clearly identifying the enemy http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/23/m-d-harmon-fighting-terrorism-first-means-clearly-identifying-the-enemy/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/23/m-d-harmon-fighting-terrorism-first-means-clearly-identifying-the-enemy/#comments Fri, 23 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1072082 Gee, it’s a really good thing we can count on gun-free-zone signs to protect us in public places.

Why, otherwise we’d live in a country where a crazed man shouting the name of Allah and asking potential victims if they were Muslims could stab nine people in a shopping mall before he could be shot and killed by an armed firearms enthusiast.

Oh, wait – we do live in a country like that.

Once again, a good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy with a weapon in a place where police were nowhere to be seen when a potentially deadly rampage took place.

The guy with the gun was an off-duty cop? Well, kind of. Jason Falconer reportedly works a shift every other month or so for a local department, but more importantly, he is a National Rifle Association-certified rifle instructor and competitive shooter who owns a range and training facility, Tactical Advantage LLC, which specializes in training concealed-carry permit holders.

It’s just like those unsavory NRA people to bring guns to places where they weren’t invited. The mall where Somali immigrant Dahir Adan decided to carve up some shoppers (including a 15-year-old girl) had a sign prohibiting firearms, but Falconer’s very part-time police status probably allowed it, anyway.

Meanwhile, police shot and wounded Afghan native and naturalized citizen Ahmad Khan Rahami, who had planted bombs in New York and New Jersey (two exploded, wounding 29 people).

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said we were engaged in “a war of narratives” with jihadism, leading one wag to create this Churchillian-themed exhortation: “We will fight them in the subparagraphs, we will fight them in the clauses, we will fight them in the footnotes, and we will never surrender!”

But if Seaside Park, New Jersey, and St. Cloud, Minnesota, aren’t safe from terror attacks, neither are Portland, Maine, or Portsmouth, New Hampshire – or anywhere at all.

As analysts often note, terror “isn’t an enemy, it’s a tactic,” typically adopted by less powerful people or groups driven by fanaticism or hatred to attack more powerful individuals, institutions or nations.

The effectiveness of terror lies not so much in its decisiveness in producing immediate results (although the spark that brought all of Europe to ruin in World War I was the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria by an anarchist in 1914) as it does in its ability to bring about a long-term attrition of the target’s will to resist.

It is a strike not against centers of power but against morale, using fear to reduce opposition to the terrorists’ agenda over a longer period of time. Is it successful? Well, when was the last time you saw a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad?

And what makes it so hard to defeat – and ensures that it will not vanish from the world any time soon – is that it requires only minimal resources and willing agents to use them, of whom there does not seem to be a shortage.

Learning that Rahami’s father warned the FBI about his son without any action being taken is one more piece of evidence that we are not yet serious about fighting terrorism, a fight in which the first step must be to identify the enemy clearly and without illusions.

James Woolsey, the Clinton administration’s CIA director, said Monday that “as long as we have to talk about things in a politically correct way and we can’t say that it’s Islamic terror … we are causing ourselves a massive amount of trouble. There’s virtually nothing that’s worse than political correctness if you’re trying to understand what’s going on in something like a movement like radical Islam.”

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, who successfully prosecuted the first World Trade Center bombers in 1993, was on the same wavelength on National Review Online on Monday: “Here is reality: The enemy that unifies the terrorist siege against the U.S., Israel, and the West is Islamic supremacist ideology, which aims to bring the world under sharia dominion.”

McCarthy said that there is, in fact, no such thing as a “homegrown terrorist.”

As he noted in another column, this time on the PJ Media website Wednesday, “lone wolves” almost always display a history of “extensive connections to other Islamic extremists, radical mosques, and (on not rare occasions) jihadist training facilities … The wolves are members of the pack, and that’s why they are the antithesis of ‘lone’ actors.”

Failing to recognize those global ideological associations (which also serve as support and recruiting networks), presumably to keep from being falsely criticized for “hating all Muslims,” is what is keeping us from acting effectively to counter their adherents, McCarthy says.

But since nonconforming Muslims are just as much jihadist targets as anyone else, the fight against radical Islam is a fight to protect them, too.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/23/m-d-harmon-fighting-terrorism-first-means-clearly-identifying-the-enemy/feed/ 20 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Thu, 22 Sep 2016 20:34:43 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Upcoming debates will be key in tightening presidential race http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/16/m-d-harmon-upcoming-debates-will-be-key-in-tightening-presidential-race/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/16/m-d-harmon-upcoming-debates-will-be-key-in-tightening-presidential-race/#comments Fri, 16 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1061152 When I said a few weeks ago that those who claimed Hillary Clinton had the election sewn up were standing on rhetorical quicksand, I didn’t expect to be proven right this quickly.

Indeed, National Public Radio commentator Cokie Roberts this week floated a story about how top Democrats are wondering who could replace her if she has to drop out. Admittedly, that determination has yet to be made (probably). But the thought is out there.

And some of the newest polls show Donald Trump pulling even or marginally ahead both nationally and in major swing states.

This is not to say Trump is now a shoo-in himself, merely that Clinton’s questionable health issues (not to mention her questionable legal and moral ones) have yielded a highly predictable tightening of the race.

But Trump still has problems, too. He has toned down his rhetoric and given some excellent policy speeches on topics such as crime, immigration, foreign policy, school choice and taxation (so good, in fact, that they were clearly written by others – but at least he accepted them).

However, he still praises Vladimir Putin, a cold-hearted despot who considers America his chief international rival, and he continues to address Islamic terrorism as though a wave of the hand could halt it.

The news this week was full of stories about Clinton’s knee-buckling collapse after leaving a 9/11 memorial Sunday (the New York Post kept its front-page tabloid cred firmly intact by calling her “Illary” in approximately 1,000-point type).

The Hill, an online publication covering Washington politics, quoted Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor who specializes in political communications, as saying that on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being the most damaging, the video footage of her rated “a 15.”

Berkovitz added: “No matter what you say and no matter how you say it, everyone sees the presidential nominee basically collapsing, almost on the street. When you are saying, ‘I want to be commander in chief and I have the toughness and the strength to lead America during trying times,’ well, you don’t want to see that person being carried into a van.”

Still, the telling policy story of the weekend was Clinton’s gratuitous description of tens of millions of Americans who support Trump as “a basket of deplorables” at a big-dollar LGBT fundraiser.

That includes “the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it,” who she says make up “half of Trump’s supporters.”

Although she later said she “didn’t mean half” (only 49 percent, perhaps?), the internet quickly became flooded with offers for T-shirts, hats, bumper stickers and other paraphernalia saying “I’m a Deplorable for Trump!”

That’s cute, but the real issue is that for a brief moment the Democrats’ standard-bearer let the mask slip and progressives’ actual contempt for a huge number of Americans came through.

It recalls President Obama’s 2008 remark that rural Democrats who opposed him in the primaries “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Thus, the party that loudly proclaims its “tolerance” contains at its heart a fetid swamp of disdain for those who dare to disagree with its “enlightened” views.

As syndicated columnist William Murchison put it on Sept. 13, “A few moderates – I haven’t heard of any conservatives lately – remain in Democratic ranks, but not enough to tame the party’s general animus against local rights, capitalism, traditional moral norms and foreign policy that recognizes and seeks to counter real, live enemies of democracy and freedom.”

To take the heat off Clinton, Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, found himself under pressure to label Louisiana Klansman David Duke “deplorable.”

Duke is that, to be sure, but as a Trump spokeswoman noted, he wouldn’t even have a platform if the media didn’t provide one, and he hardly represents Trump supporters (although Democrats seem to believe he does – which says much more about them than about Trump).

But Pence, even while emphatically repudiating Duke and his views, saw the intentional trap: Apply Clinton’s terminology to even one bad example and the media’s list will continue forever. Nonetheless, the headlines that said “Pence won’t call Duke ‘deplorable’ ” got their predictable play.

Meanwhile, no journalists were asking Clinton to reject the support she receives from abortion profiteers, anti-Israel advocates for Palestinian terrorists, race hustlers, free-speech-crushing academics and all the other hard-left people and causes she attracts. (Mind you, no one expects such questioning. It is restricted exclusively to conservatives.)

Because of all this, the upcoming debates have morphed into not only critical tests for Trump, but Clinton as well.

And now the polls really start being important – culminating, of course, with the one that matters most, on Nov. 8.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/16/m-d-harmon-upcoming-debates-will-be-key-in-tightening-presidential-race/feed/ 25 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/06/TRUMP.CLINTON.2pack.jpgFri, 16 Sep 2016 16:21:58 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Good news on the energy front shouldn’t come as a surprise http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/09/m-d-harmon-good-news-on-the-energy-front-shouldnt-come-as-a-surprise/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/09/m-d-harmon-good-news-on-the-energy-front-shouldnt-come-as-a-surprise/#comments Fri, 09 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1050160 The headline caught my eye, not because it was a surprise, but because I had suspected something like it was the case.

“Labor Day gas prices hit 12-year low,” announced a note Sept. 2 on the American Interest website, citing a release that same day from the federal Energy Information Administration.

The agency’s statement began: “The U.S. average retail price for regular gasoline was $2.24 a gallon on Aug. 29, the lowest price on the Monday before Labor Day since 2004, and 27 cents per gallon lower than the same time last year.”

Why? “Lower crude oil prices are the main factor behind falling U.S. gasoline prices. Lower crude oil prices reflect continued high global crude oil and petroleum product inventories and increased drilling activity in the United States.”

Put another way, “Thank fracking.” And it’s not just oil whose price is dropping, but natural gas as well.

Forget that whole “peak oil” nonsense. The U.S. has whole underground oceans of fossil fuels that the fracking process has opened up, which has forced the world’s “petrostates” into a quest to depress their own production to force prices back up. But so far, they have failed.

As Reuters reported on Sept. 6, “Oil prices are half their level of mid-2014, hurting producing nations’ income. OPEC and Russia tried earlier this year to curb the glut by seeking an output freeze, but the deal collapsed in April due to tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.” It added, “The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers such as Russia will hold informal talks in Algeria on Sept. 26-28. Others in the market are skeptical a deal will happen,” because other producers are still making a profit.

In fact, U.S. production has risen to the point where experts can see the time when our nation will become a net exporter of fossil fuels.

CNN Money reported Aug. 9, “U.S. energy independence looks ‘tantalizingly close.’ ” If current trends continue, the story said, we could be “teetering on the edge” of self-sufficiency by 2020, just four years down the road.

Already, the fracking boom has saved American families an average of $750 a year, the Energy Information Administration says. In a May 3 report, the agency noted, “Between 2008 and 2014, average annual household energy expenditures declined by 14.1 percent. During this period, household expenditures decreased by 17.7 percent for gasoline, 25.1 percent for natural gas, and 28.3 percent for fuel oil.”

Estimates vary, but some economists say consumers save upward of $300 billion every year from peak pricing when oil sells below $60 a barrel (the current price is hovering around $45).

That’s a “shovel-ready stimulus program” worth celebrating, and if the price rises a bit, more producers will enter the market.

Note, too, that U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told a field hearing in Seattle last month, as quoted in the Washington Examiner, “The increased production of oil and natural gas in the United States has, obviously, been a major story in terms of our economy, and also our environment.”

That’s because it’s benefiting the environment, a good-news story few people know about: “The natural gas boom, in particular, has led to the displacement of high-carbon coal with low-carbon natural gas producing fewer emissions,” Moniz said.

Indeed, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have dropped more than 1 million tons since their 2007 peak, according to U.N. figures.

Prices are predicted to fall even more, perhaps below $2 a gallon for gas, as winter brings a drop in demand that will further increase supplies.

It’s a gift delivered every day directly to you from one of the nation’s most unfairly maligned industries. Let’s be grateful for a change, OK?

CLARIFICATION

This is what I get for being an English major, I guess – being taken to task for using a word some people might have to look up, and then being misunderstood as a result.

The word in this case is “deracinated,” which means “separated from its roots” (it has nothing to do with race, if you were wondering).

But because some really nasty people, past and present, used it to refer to their vicious delusions about their wholly fictitious “racial purity,” I got tarred on these pages with that brush.

However, meaning depends on context, so let me clarify things.

When I referred in a recent column to our statist elites as “deracinated,” I meant they had separated themselves from the constitutional order of limited and restrained governmental powers and formal protections for basic human rights that the Founders established and challenged us to uphold.

So deracinated is what I said they were, and deracinated – uprooted from the essential political and moral ideals of our Republic that our Founders valued and worked hard to preserve – is exactly what I meant.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/09/m-d-harmon-good-news-on-the-energy-front-shouldnt-come-as-a-surprise/feed/ 20 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Thu, 08 Sep 2016 19:23:12 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Just a little logic essentially shoots Question 3 full of holes http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/02/m-d-harmon-just-a-little-logic-essentially-shoots-question-3-full-of-holes/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/02/m-d-harmon-just-a-little-logic-essentially-shoots-question-3-full-of-holes/#comments Fri, 02 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1040358 Founding Father Benjamin Franklin is believed to have been the author of a letter that contained this oft-quoted sentence: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

His words have resonated in a society in which the power of government has swelled as both internal and external threats proliferated.

Still, their relevance to any discussion depends on the weight assigned to the word “essential.”

I can give up a nonessential freedom (for example, not wearing a seat belt) much more readily than an essential one (being forbidden to drive when and where I wish after I buckle up).

That’s where the discussion should begin when we ponder Question 3 in the Nov. 8 referendum.

In essence, the bill would require all gun sales, and (here’s the hidden kicker) all “transfers” of firearms, to be processed through a federally licensed dealer.

The licensee would, for a fee, perform a federal background check to be sure the recipient is legally entitled to possess the transferred weapon.

Requiring all sales to be processed would void the current state law permitting private sales without background checks (sometimes called the “gun show loophole” – though most private sales do not occur at gun shows, and the organizers of most shows require a check for any transaction).

Is surrendering that right merely forgoing an “nonessential liberty”? As academic studies have verified, very few criminals get their weapons by buying them themselves.

The vast majority either get them from people who bought them legally at their behest (“straw buyers”), or buy them on the street from other illegal owners, or steal them.

All those acts are already federal crimes. This bill will not make them any more illegal, and thus its rationale is nonexistent. Why pass a freedom-limiting law for little or no benefit?

But what’s even more upsetting to thousands of Mainers is that including firearm transfers will make law-abiding Mainers vulnerable to committing a crime (on second offense, a felony) for an act that offers absolutely no risk to public safety.

Question 3 defines “transfer” broadly: “to sell, furnish, give, lend, deliver or otherwise provide, with or without consideration.” While it exempts certain “family members” from its prohibitions, great-grandparents are oddly excluded, and the bill’s other exemptions are also strange.

For example, Question 3 says you could legally let someone use your gun without going through the mandatory approval process if the firearm transfer “is temporary and is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm,” or if it takes place “at an established shooting range” or “a lawfully organized competition,” or occurs while “hunting or trapping,” or while “in the actual presence of the transferor.”

What would be illegal (and remember, potentially felonious), according to an analysis by the pro-gun group Gun Owners of Maine, would be lending a gun to Joe or Jane, whom you’ve known all your life, on the way to the range; or letting them take it on a hunting trip, or just out to the back 40 to shoot, without you along; or offering one to them if they are being threatened, but are not under attack at that exact moment.

Further, Gun Owners of Maine says, “The law is unenforceable as it stands. Law enforcement has no way to know, and no way to check, if a firearm owner complied with the law when he obtained the firearm.”

That carries this obvious implication: “The only way to enforce it is to institute a universal firearms registration program,” which in other nations has routinely been a prelude to firearm confiscation.

Mainers have always been jealous of their civil rights regarding firearms. In 1987, voters passed a constitutional amendment reading, “Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.” (Article 1, Section 16)

And last year, they approved a law to allow the “constitutional carry” of weapons (that is, without permits, which were not on anyone’s mind when the Second Amendment was adopted).

Are the same voters going to diminish their gun rights at the behest of a group backed by out-of-state activists and financed by gun-hating billionaire Michael Bloomberg (whose bodyguards, by the way, carry guns for his protection)?

(Yes, the National Rifle Association is also an “out-of-state” group. But it has thousands of Maine members, something Bloomberg can’t claim.)

With the former New York mayor’s crime-ridden hometown in mind, the “No on 3” campaign adopted the slogan, “Don’t NYC My Gun Rights.”

But it could just as easily substitute Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit or Washington, D.C., to mention some of the cities whose gun laws are far more restrictive than Maine’s – and murder-by-firearm rates are far higher.

Why should we import their liberty-subverting failures when what we do now works fine?

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/02/m-d-harmon-just-a-little-logic-essentially-shoots-question-3-full-of-holes/feed/ 74 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Thu, 01 Sep 2016 20:14:09 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Man on a mission brings message of Gospel-driven political activism to Maine http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/26/m-d-harmon-man-on-a-mission-brings-message-of-political-activism-to-maine/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/26/m-d-harmon-man-on-a-mission-brings-message-of-political-activism-to-maine/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1030079 Franklin Graham’s a tall man, as is his father, Billy, who’s 97 now and mostly housebound at his North Carolina homestead.

I’m a skosh over 6 feet, and I had to look up to gaze into the younger Graham’s eyes as we spoke.

But the famous evangelist’s offspring has his father’s squared-off face, gray-blue eyes and a voice that speaks with resolute certainty in a soft Tar Heel accent.

And, the younger Graham said when he spoke at a prayer rally at Augusta’s Capitol Park on Tuesday, his present message of prayer, active commitment to public life and the restoration of a God-centered worldview to American society would be exactly what his father would be preaching today if he were able.

Graham runs a charity, Samaritan’s Purse, that sends relief supplies to disaster areas worldwide. He’s collecting now for flood victims in Louisiana.

But unlike some other Christians, he hasn’t forgotten that the Gospel message is twofold, including substantive faith as well as charitable works.

So he’s on a mission to preach in all 50 state capitals before the November election. Augusta was No. 36 on his Decision America tour, which winds up at home in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Oct. 13.

Labeling his talk “controversial” would be both accurate and misleading – because it depends on the audience.

To nearly all the estimated 3,000-plus evangelical Christians that organizers said had gathered to hear him (the media estimate of 1,500 was a woeful undercount), a better word would be “challenging.”

His plea for traditional Christians not only to repent and pray for their communities, their states and their nation, but also to move actively into influential social and governmental roles, was a call to action whose outcome remains to be seen.

In some ways, the rally was a typical evangelical gathering, starting off with a call for repentance of personal, familial and national sins, followed by a request to repeat the standard “sinner’s prayer” for a commitment to following Christ, “the only road to Heaven.”

To outsiders, it probably seemed like boilerplate recitation, but to many people there, it was a chance to commit (or recommit) themselves to Christianity’s life-changing dynamic of belief and growth.

Still, while it may have been standard Graham-family fare up to that point, what followed was not.

Moving from practical spirituality to what might be called “spiritual practicality,” Graham proclaimed a powerful call for Christians to move from the back benches to the front lines of social and political issues.

Quoting from his father’s sermons, and asking people to text the words “Decision” or “America” to 21777 (for either commitment or political information), Graham called on his hearers to combat “secularism” with activism, to become “community organizers” for a restoration of God’s standards in society.

“I’m not telling you who to vote for,” he said, “that’s up to you. But I do want you to educate yourselves about the different party platforms,” and then personally commit to either running for office or finding someone of similar views to back in that pursuit.

He explicitly linked that call with a plea to resist liberal social policies such as abortion on demand and same-sex marriage. It seems clear that among this part of our culture, orthodox biblical teachings still have more to say to believers than changes in secular laws.

“They will call you ‘intolerant,’ ” he said, “but that is just a way to shame you into being quiet.”

The crowd wasn’t unanimous. I ran into Tom Waddell of Litchfield, head of the Maine chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who was there specifically to promote atheism and secularism, and who called Graham a purveyor of “hate, division and inequality.”

In a brief interview after the rally, I asked Graham about that charge. “You were here when I spoke,” he replied. “Did you think anything I said showed hatred of anyone?”

No, but I know that some people will interpret the rejection of actions with rejection of individuals, even if that is not remotely what is intended.

And for those who believe their personal choices outweigh a moral code they reject, calling them to change on the basis of its principles isn’t likely to happen.

That’s the key, isn’t it? I sympathize entirely with Graham’s message, but even if his call for political activism succeeded, the point of the faith is not electoral victories (though they are not incompatible with it), but conversion of hearts.

If people are converted, lasting victories will follow. If they are not, any electoral triumphs will be secondary achievements at best.

Rally attendees may follow Graham’s call for political activism, and more power to them. However, telling one’s friends, family, neighbors and even total strangers about the freedom found in Christ is, I fear, far harder.

But it remains believers’ principal challenge – and obligation.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/26/m-d-harmon-man-on-a-mission-brings-message-of-political-activism-to-maine/feed/ 15 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Thu, 25 Aug 2016 19:16:05 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Leaders need to wake up to the elephant chart in the room http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/19/m-d-harmon-leaders-need-to-wake-up-to-the-elephant-chart-in-the-room/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/19/m-d-harmon-leaders-need-to-wake-up-to-the-elephant-chart-in-the-room/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1020368 Occasionally some opinionator peers behind the curtain of daily events and unveils an insight that puts the news in a newly clarifying perspective.

What’s exposed may not be uplifting or reassuring, but that’s no reason to discount it.

Such exposure is the service Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan performed Aug. 13 by discussing the role played by U.S. and global elites.

Under the jarring headline, “How Global Elites Forsake Their Countrymen,” Noonan wrote that when German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered to accept nearly a million Mideast refugees this year, she “put the entire burden of a huge cultural change not on herself and those like her, but on regular people who live closer to the edge, who do not have the resources to meet the burden, who have no particular protection or money or connections.”

But Merkel and her top supporters are insulated by money and position from those effects. As Noonan wrote, “Nothing in their lives will get worse. The challenge of integrating different cultures, negotiating daily tensions, dealing with crime and extremism and fearfulness on the street – that was put on those with comparatively little, whom I’ve called the unprotected.”

Even worse, “The powerful show no particular sign of worrying about any of this. When the working and middle class pushed back in shocked indignation, the people on top called them ‘xenophobic,’ ‘narrow-minded,’ ‘racist.’ The detached, who made the decisions and bore none of the costs, got to be called ‘humanist,’ ‘compassionate,’ and ‘hero(es) of human rights.’ ”

Noonan ends with a telling American example, noting that State Department data show that almost all of the refugees settled in Virginia since October “have been placed in towns with lower incomes and higher poverty rates, hours away from the wealthy suburbs outside of Washington, D.C.”

That means, “Of 121 refugees, 112 were placed in communities at least 100 miles from the nation’s capital. The suburban counties of Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington – among the wealthiest in the nation, and home to high concentrations of those who create, and populate, government and the media – have received only nine refugees.”

That’s just one example, she concluded, of the elites’ “sheer and clever self-protection.”

Her comments were widely noted, with some recalling President Obama’s 2008 campaign-related statement that “it’s not surprising” that average people “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Others said the trend was reminiscent of the dystopian society of “The Hunger Games,” where residents of Capitol City live in luxury while everyone else labors to support them.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson said in a National Review Online column Monday that ordinary people are not angry at all the wealthy, “but at the well-connected elites whose lives are graced with cultural and social privileges, characterized by insider influence and generationally embedded connections” that blind them to “the direct results of their own ideological agendas.”

And R.R. Reno, editor of the prestigious religious journal First Things, that same day described one potential cause, an “elephant chart” so named because, in tracking global income growth from 1988 to 2008, the curve resembles the outline of an elephant.

From the poorest of the poor, it quickly rises to a big hump for non-Western nations’ middle classes, dips like the bend in a pachyderm’s trunk for middle classes in the West, and rises again to a peak for global elites at the highest income levels.

“The global system,” he wrote, “is committed to the free flow of labor, goods, and capital (and) works well for the leadership class in Europe and North America, as it does for striving workers in China, India, and elsewhere. It doesn’t work so well for the middle class in the West. Thus, in the West, the led no longer share the economic interests of their leaders.”

So, “Ordinary people feel abandoned and frustration builds, driving today’s populism.” which is strengthened, not eliminated, when their concerns over open borders and minimal growth are discounted and their motives are demonized.

If this is correct, and global in scope, then the outcome of a single U.S. election will not resolve it.

What’s Reno’s vision of the ultimate result? “The decoupling of the leaders and the led is ‘something big.’ The economic forces driving this decoupling are powerful. The ideological supports – a morally superior cosmopolitanism, a flexible multiculturalism, and now dominant utilitarian thinking – are strong.”

Thus, the “odds are good that the democratic era will come to an end. The elephant chart suggests the future will be one of empire.”

His grim point is that “Capitol City” is what history shows you will get when resources are concentrated in the hands of deracinated, disconnected and disdainful elites.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/19/m-d-harmon-leaders-need-to-wake-up-to-the-elephant-chart-in-the-room/feed/ 14 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2011/06/portland-press-herald_3553373.jpgGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that nation will phase out its nuclear power plants to focus on renewable energy. A reader wants to us follow suit.Fri, 19 Aug 2016 18:49:23 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Maine’s Sen. Collins part of a Republican mainstream that Trump must divert http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/12/m-d-harmon-sen-collins-part-of-a-republican-mainstream-trump-must-divert/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/12/m-d-harmon-sen-collins-part-of-a-republican-mainstream-trump-must-divert/#comments Fri, 12 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1010840 To everyone’s immense surprise, which in my case bordered on utter slack-jawed astonishment, Sen. Susan Collins announced this week that she would not be supporting Donald Trump, the nominee of the party in which she holds membership.

Well, yes, I exaggerate a tiny bit. OK, a lot.

Despite the lead stories in every paper and on every newscast, and the Washington Post column she wrote that was reprinted here, the idea that this was unexpected was never part of the equation.

Indeed, it would have been far more newsworthy if she had endorsed Trump. That would have been a real shocker, well worth a ton of ink and millions of broadcast pixels.

After all, he ran a complete primary campaign precisely as much in opposition to Republican grandees as to Democratic elites, focusing on what tons of voters viewed as grossly underperforming Pachyderm Party leadership.

Republicans won two majorities in Congress – the House in 2010 and both House and Senate in 2014 – by promising voters they would stand between them and the Obama steamroller. How did that work out?

We all know the answer: Obamacare continues to raise rates and lose insurers; jihadists rage across Europe, killing hundreds; both “lone wolves” and “known wolves” (people under surveillance, but not deterred by it) shoot up U.S. sites; a president who got the Nobel Peace Prize shortly after his election disbanded our Iraq peacekeepers and now bombs the Islamic State futilely trying to fix what he broke; the Environmental Protection Agency is choking our least costly power producers (and the thousands of jobs they support) to death; and the economy bumps along at historically low growth rates for a purported “recovery,” leaving most of the middle class behind.

So a Collins endorsement was probably never on Trump supporters’ wish lists, and it seems unlikely that anyone inclined to vote for Trump is going to be influenced by her disavowal.

In fact, they were likely wondering not if Collins would vote for Trump, but if he would want her support.

It is worth noting, though, that Collins also said that she had serious disagreements with Hillary Clinton, claiming there is “little to like” about her.

And she later said she was not planning to vote for either major-party candidate in November.

I understand her position. It’s got to be hard – even for a relative liberal like Collins – to see someone so disdainful of many traditional party stands take the wheel of the SS Party of Lincoln.

Nevertheless, Collins is one of her party’s most senior officials, so why has she not spoken out as directly and forcefully about Clinton’s disqualifications for the presidency as she has about Trump’s?

She is currently 19th in seniority among all senators and 10th among Republicans, and thus can be expected to carry weight in party councils.

She did give a Maine radio interviewer a few criticisms of Clinton this week, and said she would consider writing in Jeb Bush’s name on the ballot. But that’s hardly the same as a major Washington Post column listing Clinton’s manifold flaws, failures, falsehoods and felonies.

If tossing away the only real top-of-the-ticket choice she has is really what the 10th most senior Republican senator thinks is the best option for herself, why shouldn’t she lay out the full reasons so we all can profit from her conclusions?

Surely a detailed column condemning Clinton would be a public service at the same level of worthiness as her extensive condemnation of Trump. If both are unfit, why leave any doubt that she considers both equivalently awful?

POLLS

Trump is consistently running behind Clinton in nearly all major polls (although there’s been some recent tightening – Bloomberg had the gap at just 4 points this week).

Still, if a big shortfall continues into the autumn, his campaign will be in real trouble. But it’s too early to say that.

Part of the reason is that, historically, equal or greater summertime deficits have been overcome by candidates.

And we simply do not know what events may cast the campaign in a different light.

A new dump of Clinton emails (such as Judicial Watch’s release this week of State Department messages showing a suspicious pay-to-play deal with a billionaire Clinton Foundation donor) could make a difference.

So could a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil, or another foreign policy disaster, or a deeper economic downturn. Who knows what voters would do then?

But if Trump’s this far behind in October, then conclusions can be drawn. Or, if he’s ahead by the same amount (insert smiley-face emoji here).

My guess – and that’s what it is – is that the race will tighten, becoming too close to call by November. But despite all the unhatched-chicken-counting going on here, there and everywhere, nobody really knows.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/12/m-d-harmon-sen-collins-part-of-a-republican-mainstream-trump-must-divert/feed/ 34 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/06/939599_498068-AP16175689376692.jpgMaine Sen. Susan Collins speaks to reporters Thursday on Capitol Hill about the prospects for her compromise legislation restricting access to guns.Fri, 12 Aug 2016 18:44:56 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Basic economics shows forced minimum-wage hike is bad idea http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/05/m-d-harmon-basic-economics-shows-forced-minimum-wage-hike-is-bad-idea/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/05/m-d-harmon-basic-economics-shows-forced-minimum-wage-hike-is-bad-idea/#comments Fri, 05 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=999985 My wife and I stopped Tuesday night at the local Wal-Mart to get something we needed first thing Wednesday, and discovered the new “self-service” checkout stations the store just installed were the only ones open.

There were no human cashiers working at all. Ponder that as we discuss the Nov. 8 ballot.

Along with four other initiatives, Mainers will vote on raising the minimum hourly wage of $7.50 to $9 in 2017, with annual $1 increases up to $12 in 2020, and annual cost-of-living increases thereafter. The bill would also increase hourly pay for tipped service workers “to $5 in 2017, with annual $1 increases until it reaches the adjusted minimum wage.”

This proposal is a consequence of the unfortunate fact that free-market policies are often judged by their relative failures, while statist measures are judged by their loftiest promises.

Free markets have produced prosperity unsurpassed in human history, but some people always “fall through the cracks” – though the average “poor” American lives far better than most of the rest of humanity.

Coercive policies nearly always lead to widespread hardship, or when fully applied, outright misery (just ask the starving Venezuelans), and yet are excused because “their intentions are good.”

Economist Thomas Sowell of Stanford’s Hoover Institution explains the current example in his book, “Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy”:

“Unfortunately, the real minimum wage is always zero, regardless of the laws, and that is the wage that many workers receive in the wake of the creation or escalation of a government-mandated minimum wage, because they lose their jobs or fail to find jobs when they enter the labor force.”

Why? Because “Making it illegal to pay less than a given amount does not make a worker’s productivity worth that amount – and, if it is not, that worker is unlikely to be employed.”

There was a time when sensible liberals knew this, and we can pinpoint it: On Jan. 14, 1987, The New York Times published an editorial headlined, “The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00”, which noted, “Raise the legal minimum price of labor above the productivity of the least skilled workers and fewer will be hired.”

Common-sense, law-of-supply-and-demand principles taught in basic Economics 101 courses? Yes – but few appear to be learning them.

When the options are “Work hard for a basic wage to learn the skills employers want,” or “Just pass this law and everybody will have a unicorn to ride,” the steep climb up the mountain all too often gets bypassed for the gentle descent into a swamp.

The workers who don’t get hired remain invisible, while consumers who pay higher prices for products or services are encouraged to blame “greedy businesses.”

Meanwhile, the unemployed-who-could-have-had-jobs (particularly minorities and the young) get added to the welfare rolls and become dependent on the increasingly powerful government for their subsistence – which the increasingly powerful government hopes will mean more votes for the very people who actually made them unemployable.

However, telling ourselves pleasant lies lets us ignore why our current unemployment rate is officially understated (because 95 million workers have given up seeking jobs); why President Obama will be the first president never to see a 3 percent growth rate during his tenure; why 60 percent of Americans say the economy is “getting worse” (Gallup, July 26); and why we see stories such as this, in The Washington Post on July 29:

Headlined, “Why raising the minimum wage in Seattle did little to help workers, according to a new study,” reporter Max Ehernfreund wrote, “The average hourly wage for workers affected by the increase jumped from $9.96 to $11.14, but wages likely would have increased some anyway due to Seattle’s overall economy. Meanwhile, although workers were earning more, fewer of them had a job than would have without an increase. Those who did work had fewer hours than they would have without the wage hike.”

He cited Jacob Vigdor, an economist at the University of Washington and one of the authors of the study, who “speculated that technology could limit the benefits of increasing the minimum wage. If it becomes easier for employers to replace their workers with machines, they will be more likely to respond to wage hikes by making fewer hires.”

Thus, Wal-Mart stores (and many others) will fire their cashiers, because machines get no pay, earn no benefits and never take time off.

People seeking to supplement their incomes (particularly fixed-income seniors) will suffer, as will teens (many of them minorities) who once used entry-level jobs to learn how to show up on time and please a boss. They will lose the first rungs on a ladder to the better jobs that come with experience.

We can call that “Remedial Economics 101.” But do we really want to pay the tuition it will cost?

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a free-lance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/05/m-d-harmon-basic-economics-shows-forced-minimum-wage-hike-is-bad-idea/feed/ 78 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:30:22 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Clinton’s credibility plunging down a bottomless shaft http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/29/m-d-harmon-clintons-credibility-plunging-down-a-bottomless-shaft/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/29/m-d-harmon-clintons-credibility-plunging-down-a-bottomless-shaft/#comments Fri, 29 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=989777 In the 1967 movie “Divorce American Style,” comedian Dick Van Dyke is getting a divorce from wife Debbie Reynolds. (I know, who does he think he is, Eddie Fisher?)

After she ends up with the house, the car and custody of the kids, he finally sees how the courts treat men: “The uranium mine to her – and the shaft to me!”

That phrase came to mind when U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who until this week was head of the Democratic National Committee, got tossed to the wolves after Wikileaks dumped nearly 20,000 DNC emails that showed her staff’s thumbs (actually, their entire bodies) pressed down on the party’s primary scales in favor of Hillary Clinton.

Who, of course, professed absolute ignorance of the entire slimy mess, just as she did of any possible misuse of her State Department emails.

Which once more raises the inevitable conundrum: If she’s lying, she doesn’t deserve to be elected president. And if she truly is that incredibly ignorant of something so important going on right under her nose – she doesn’t deserve to be elected president.

I know which one of those possibilities I think is more likely (the emails link one of Clinton’s own staff attorneys to an anti-Bernie Sanders ploy), but Wasserman Schultz is a minor figure who, like many others, paid a hefty price for dealing down and dirty on the Clintons’ behalf.

Meanwhile, the emails (Wikileaks hacker Julian Assange has said he has more on the way) offered a fascinating insight into a corrupt system.

They revealed a member of the media emailing a complete story to Democrats prior to publication; a staffer speculating about advertising Sanders’ “atheism” to “my Southern Baptist peeps”; and other staffers sending interns to create “spontaneous” anti-Trump rallies, demanding MSNBC “immediately pull” a commentary critical of Clinton, and ordering one anchor there to be told to “cut it out” when she was scornful of the candidate.

The DNC did its best to play down Sanders supporters’ unhappiness (and also played down the American flag, which didn’t show up on stage until Day 2, after its absence was widely noted).

Unfortunately, the deadline for this column was too early for me to be able to compare Clinton’s acceptance speech with Donald Trump’s.

The left-leaning media uniformly called his address “dark” (so unanimously that it almost made you wonder if a DNC email recommended it), but I wonder how much sweetness and light her speech Thursday night contained.

After all, this week’s Real Clear Politics poll average on the country’s overall direction had just 23.1 percent saying the nation was on the “right track.”

The “wrong track” figure was 68.9 percent, a 45.8 percent negative difference. Is that dark enough for you?

All by itself, that gap is terrible news for a candidate who says she’s going to run on President Obama’s record.

Meanwhile, Sanders entered the campaign like a lion, but exited it with a purring tongue-bath for Clinton. (Sorry, Bernie-bros. You trusted a guy who got rolled by the professionals.)

I must say, however, that it was heartwarming to see Sanders’ supporters marching outside the convention hall (and being held at a distance by a 4-mile-long, 8-foot-high chain-link fence – no word as to whether Mexico paid for it) while yelling the same chant as Republicans did last week: “Lock her up!”

Finally, the spin on the left very quickly became the claim that Russian czar Vladimir Putin coordinated the leaks because he wanted to help Trump and hurt Clinton. Maybe he did – but it still doesn’t change their authorship or content.

However, why would he? While Trump has said clueless things about NATO and the Russians, he’s not the one who made our secrets vulnerable.

And the Obama-Clinton axis has done little to stop Putin from annexing the Crimea and continuing to fight Ukraine; threatening the Baltic states; gaining influence with Turkey; threatening our ships and planes with dangerous overflights; and putting bases in Syria to support dictator Bashar al-Assad.

In fact, the Russians just bombed a Syrian base often used by the U.S. and its allies. Did you know that when we protested the attack, they immediately bombed it again?

Putin clearly doesn’t fear either Obama or Clinton. But there may be an even more sinister possibility.

Some are saying that, if Putin was the source, the leaks might represent a shot across the bow for her presidency.

Trump’s call Wednesday for Putin to release anything he has only highlights the fact that her negligence in office meant security for her home-server State Department emails was essentially nonexistent.

The really important question is this: What might Russia – or China or North Korea – possess to use against her if she is elected? Now, there’s a reset button for you.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/29/m-d-harmon-clintons-credibility-plunging-down-a-bottomless-shaft/feed/ 26 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/07/Clinton.Sanders.jpgSen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. listens as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a rally in Portsmouth, N.H., Tuesday, July 12, 2016, where Sanders endorsed Clinton for president. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)Fri, 29 Jul 2016 15:53:53 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Trump could win because Americans are tired of condescension http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/22/m-d-harmon-trump-could-win-because-americans-are-tired-of-condescension/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/22/m-d-harmon-trump-could-win-because-americans-are-tired-of-condescension/#comments Fri, 22 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=980308 When I think of the presidential campaign, I keep recalling those old Westerns where the bad guys blow up a railroad trestle and the train crashes into a deep gorge.

The only question is, who’s the engineer?

Despite what I hear from progressives, the job is still up for grabs. That Hillary Clinton will be picked in November to put her hands on the controls is not assured.

Many people think Donald Trump (the last person I would have picked as the Republican nominee, as if that mattered) may end up holding the keys to the Oval Office. As it happens, they make an interesting case.

What about Clinton? Well, the delegates at the Republican convention may have been chanting “Guilty!” and “Lock her up!” during Chris Christie’s rousing “indictment” speech Tuesday, but that’s not gonna happen.

But keeping her a private citizen could, so let’s look at Trump’s chances as things stand now. First, some polls:

The Real Clear Politics poll average this week has Clinton up by just 2.7 points, well within the margin of error of any major poll.

On Tuesday, analyst Nate Silver said on his FiveThirtyEight blog (there are 538 votes in the Electoral College), “Trump’s odds have improved. He has a 36 percent chance of winning the election,” according to one model, “and a 38 percent chance,” according to another.

This has led to “a lot of consternation among Clinton voters: Why isn’t her position safer? There’s really about a 35 or 40 percent chance that Trump will become president? Based on the polls, we think the model is setting those odds about right. The race is a long way from being a toss-up, but a 3 or 4 percentage point lead heading into the conventions isn’t all that reliable, either. While Obama won twice with pre-convention leads of about that margin, John Kerry went into his convention with a lead of about 3 percentage points in 2004, but lost to George W. Bush.”

Silver says polls over the next few weeks should show “convention bounces” for both candidates, but if Clinton doesn’t end up 3 to 5 points ahead in September, that’s a bad sign for her.

Then add this from The Washington Post: On Monday, reporter Aaron Blake wrote, “It’s hard to overstate just how bad Clinton’s (disapproval) numbers are.” But “while Clinton is hitting a new low,” Trump’s negatives, which are only slightly worse than hers, seem “to have leveled off and maybe even improved a bit in recent months.”

John Brabender, a Republican strategist, wrote Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal that Trump needs to win all the states Mitt Romney won in 2012, but of course that’s not enough.

However, he said, “the best news for Trump” is that “with the right nominee,” Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which all have Republican senators and two have Republican governors, “aren’t afraid to vote Republican.” And he adds Virginia, Colorado and New Hampshire to the list.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson, a top-ranked conservative social critic, Tuesday listed “Ten Reasons Why Trump Could Win” on National Review Online.

The whole thing’s worth reading, but his top three in my view are these: 1) While both are “elitists,” Trump speaks in a popular idiom while Clinton “talks down” to the average person; 2) Trump is not as disliked by minorities as liberals and the media think he is, because many Americans in all groups see unrestricted illegal immigration as a threat; and 3) As with the Brexit vote on the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, many Trump backers are likely to keep their views to themselves, making polls (which misread the EU outcome) unreliable here, too.

Regarding Brexit, columnist Anne Applebaum wrote June 24 in The Washington Post, “Identity politics trumped economics; arguments about ‘independence’ and ‘sovereignty’ defeated arguments about British influence and importance. The advice of once-trusted institutions was ignored. Elected leaders were swept aside. If that kind of transformation can take place in the U.K., then it can happen in the United States, too. We have been warned.”

And echoing Hanson and Applebaum, Republican strategist Steve Schmidt nailed it down Wednesday in a Real Clear Politics interview: “Don’t underestimate the power of the cultural condescension that millions of Americans feel from the elites in this country. From the Beltway, to New York City, to Hollywood, millions of Americans feel condescended to culturally.”

Of course, they feel that way because they really are condescended to, and more than just “culturally.”

If they support Trump, this race may become a very unpleasant surprise for some of our most arrogant elitists.

I’m not sure we all deserve Donald Trump, but from Hillary Clinton on down, these people could use the ice-water hose-down his election would represent.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/22/m-d-harmon-trump-could-win-because-americans-are-tired-of-condescension/feed/ 94 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/07/952562_Income-Inequality.JPEG-ae07.jpgBoth U.S. presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, have pledged to institute policy changes that would help combat ever-widening income inequality. This photo combo of file images shows U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump, left, and Hillary Clinton. Income inequality has been a rallying cry of the 2016 election, with more Americans turning fearful and angry about a shrinking middle class. Trump has pledged to restore prosperity by ripping up trade deals and using tariffs to return manufacturing jobs from overseas. Clinton has backed a debt-free college option and higher minimum wages to help the middle class. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Chuck Burton)Fri, 22 Jul 2016 11:07:55 +0000
Letter to the editor: Columnist Harmon offers off-base jibes at Humphrey, War on Poverty http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/21/letter-to-the-editor-more-of-columnist-harmons-facts-innuendos-addressed/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/21/letter-to-the-editor-more-of-columnist-harmons-facts-innuendos-addressed/#respond Thu, 21 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=978769 I appreciated Alan Caron’s July 17 response (“Solution to race problem: Open eyes”) to M.D. Harmon’s July 15 column (“Will America repeat history of the summer of 1968?”). But several of Harmon’s factual statements and innuendos still need addressing.

Harmon’s description of Democratic presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey as “the bland leading the bland” was unconscionable. It was Humphrey who took a leadership role in getting the Civil Rights Act passed.

And Harmon’s description of the War on Poverty as “utterly wrongheaded” is simply not supported by the facts.

In early 1968, I was the acting executive director of the Southern Kennebec Valley Community Action Program. At that time we were bringing surplus food into the state of Maine so that low-income seniors and families would not be forced to choose between heating and eating during the winter. This was food that farmers would otherwise have plowed under or not have produced at all.

Low-income citizens were actively involved in volunteering in the program to make it work. It was democracy working effectively at the grass roots. I can’t imagine anything more right-headed than that!

Dick Cook

Limerick

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/21/letter-to-the-editor-more-of-columnist-harmons-facts-innuendos-addressed/feed/ 0 Wed, 20 Jul 2016 20:03:58 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Will America repeat history of the summer of 1968? http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/15/m-d-harmon-will-america-repeat-history-of-the-summer-of-1968/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/15/m-d-harmon-will-america-repeat-history-of-the-summer-of-1968/#comments Fri, 15 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=970390 Numerous internet commenters are asking if we will go through “another summer of 1968.”

Maybe, maybe not – but that era’s worth revisiting, because the radicalization of the left that occurred then has metastasized to overwhelm many major cities (as their poverty and crime rates demonstrate), and has swept nearly all of academia and much of the permanent bureaucracy into its ranks.

I was 22 that summer, an infantry second lieutenant stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the home of the 82nd Airborne Division and the Army’s Special Forces (the famous “Green Berets”).

Anti-Vietnam demonstrations were rife, while dozens of cities saw protests following the April 4 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Civil Rights Act of 1968 (passed April 11 with Republican votes when many Democrats refused to support it) was an effective response. But inner cities still burned, while the well-intentioned but utterly wrongheaded War on Poverty began its decades-long march toward destabilizing the black family.

When things escalated in Washington, D.C., all the combat-qualified troops at Bragg were lined up so that every fourth one could draw combat gear for riot duty.

I missed that cut, but one of the iconic photos of the ’60s shows a black Airborne trooper who didn’t standing beside an M-60 machine gun – on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Anti-war street violence contributed greatly to the election of Richard Nixon as president, as TV cameras showed police cracking heads outside the Democrats’ convention in Chicago.

That was where Lyndon Johnson’s vice president, the mainstream liberal Hubert Humphrey (“the bland leading the bland”), was nominated to succeed him.

Humphrey’s defeat led to the party’s evisceration by the left over succeeding decades, so there is now no right wing and very little middle remaining in Democratic ranks.

While the Republican Party remains at least nominally conservative, Democrats this week saw socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders willingly bend his knee to Hillary Clinton. I guess he got what he wanted from her.

Not coincidentally, we have riots again, and the demonization of police in general, and a rush to judgment about all police shootings before any facts are known.

In fact, a study released this month by Harvard economics professor Roland Fryer (who happens to be black) “found no evidence of racial bias in police shootings even though officers were more likely to interact physically with non-whites than whites.”

And Heather Mac Donald of the conservative Manhattan Institute, author of a new book, “The War on Cops,” said in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, “Make no mistake: Assertions about systemic, deadly police racism are false. … But no number of studies debunking this fiction has penetrated the conventional story line.”

She adds, “Police officers face an 18.5 times greater chance of being killed by a black male than an unarmed black male has of being killed by a police officer.”

Meanwhile, black-on-black killings, which comprise the vast majority of black homicides, are virtually ignored by our national media and politicians.

To them, such facts are irrelevant. Guns and Republicans are the real threats. Meanwhile, the small number of truly unjustified police shootings are wildly exaggerated by activists to smear all officers – and put them all in danger.

Thus, any hope of dealing with the true factors behind black homicides is trampled for facile political advantage.

How will violence, especially if it escalates (and the news is full of people taking potshots at cops this week), affect the election? If the Nixon precedent holds, law-and-order voters might show up in greater numbers to support a Republican. Is there even a Ronald Reagan in our future?

Sadly, Reagan’s party instead appears set to nominate a blustering political neophyte.

Still, a Quinnipac poll released Wednesday shows Donald Trump leading in two swing states, Florida and Pennsylvania, and tied with Clinton in Ohio.

And an NBC survey had him cutting her national lead to just 3 points after FBI Director James Comey described her as “extremely careless” with classified information, which he strongly suggested made it vulnerable to hacking by our enemies.

In that same NBC survey, 56 percent of respondents said she should have been indicted. But Comey didn’t endorse that, saying she should get off because she was utterly clueless about her legal obligation to protect such data.

If she really is that stupid, she is unqualified to be president. But she isn’t a dimwit. Instead, she counted on her position to protect her from any accountability for her self-serving venality and corruption.

And it did. Thus, only the voters can judge her now.

So if I were you, I might worry about the summer of 2016 – but not too much.

I’d worry more about the winter of 2017. And the spring, summer, and fall.

And then there’s 2018, and 2019, and 2020 … .

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/15/m-d-harmon-will-america-repeat-history-of-the-summer-of-1968/feed/ 22 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/07/AP_68082801703.jpgA group of Hippies raise their arms in the air and taunt bayonet-armed National Guardsmen near Michigan Avenue in Chicago on August 28, 1968. Police and National Guardsmen battled the demonstrators during the evening. (AP Photo)Wed, 20 Jul 2016 10:35:48 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Raising taxes without genuine reforms actually harms education http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/08/m-d-harmon-raising-taxes-without-genuine-reforms-actually-harms-education/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/08/m-d-harmon-raising-taxes-without-genuine-reforms-actually-harms-education/#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=959999 Today, let’s discuss Question 2 on the Nov. 8 referendum ballot, which bears the deceptive title “An Act to Establish the Fund to Advance Public Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education.”

But it really should be called “An Act to Drive Maine’s Most Productive Citizens to New Hampshire, Florida or Texas.”

It asks: “Do you want to add a 3 percent tax on individual Maine taxable income above $200,000 to create a state fund that would provide direct support for student learning in kindergarten through 12th grade public education?”

And it would spur relocation because the states I mentioned have prosperous economies, thus being attractive to people whose contributions and talents have yielded significant financial rewards.

Not coincidentally, these states have no income taxes whatsoever.

There’s an adage, with which I concur, that says, “I never had a paycheck signed by a poor man.”

Mainers in business or the professions who are achieving at above-average levels contribute to the well-being of many others through their spending, saving and investment. And they already pay taxes at Maine’s highest rate, which this measure will drive above 10 percent.

If approved, this law will resound nationwide when people who have the resources to invest and create jobs make decisions about where to start or expand a business, or move to practice their profession.

And one badly needed profession is especially vulnerable.

As Assistant Senate Majority Leader Andre Cushing, R-Hampden, noted in a May 13 column on the Maine Heritage Policy Center’s Maine Wire website, “According to the Maine Department of Labor statistics, the profession that will be hardest hit (is medicine). … The national average is 90 primary care doctors per 100,000 people. According to 2010 census data, much of rural Maine is well below that. Why would more young doctors move to Maine if they are only going to be penalized for earning their salary – a large piece of which already goes to medical school loans, not to mention state and federal taxes?”

Maine’s education spending has already increased 18 percent in the past decade, while the number of students has decreased by 13 percent.

Nationally, there is only a slight correlation between spending levels and educational outcomes. The highest per-pupil spending levels are found in our largest metropolitan areas, but pupils in public schools there fall below educational standards far more often than in less-well-funded areas where inner-city pathologies are absent.

A June 2, 2015, story in The Washington Post analyzing U.S. Census Bureau figures on per-state school spending said Maine already spends well above the national average on K-12 education.

As the Post noted, “U.S. states’ education spending averaged $10,700 per pupil in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but that average masked a wide variation, ranging from $6,555 per pupil in Utah to $19,818 in New York.”

Maine’s per-pupil spending was $12,147, which means we were already 12 percent above the national average without this tax increase – despite the fact that we do not live in a prosperous state.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, suggests that there are better ways to improve results than mindlessly hiking taxes.

In response to a 2012 Obama administration call for a $25 billion increase in national educational spending, Heritage issued a “backgrounder” titled “How Escalating Education Spending is Killing Crucial Reform.”

It noted, “From 1970 to 2010, student enrollment increased by a modest 7.8 percent, while the number of public-school teachers increased by 60 percent. During the same time, non-teaching staff positions increased by 138 percent, and total staffing grew by 84 percent.”

Salaries for those (mostly unionized) positions are where most of the increased spending has gone. But, Heritage said, school systems could instead:

Reduce the number of non-instructional and administrative positions. At a minimum, “states should refrain from continuing to increase the number of non-teaching staff in public schools.”

Eliminate “last-in, first-out” policies. Staffing decisions should be based on “teacher effectiveness and competence, not years spent in the school building.”

Avoid across-the-board raises. Instead, “revamp teacher-compensation systems to better reward those teachers who have a positive impact on student performance.”

Allow alternative teacher certification and reciprocity of teacher licensure among states. “While the barriers to entering the profession should be lowered, states and local schools should make their own teacher evaluations much more rigorous upon classroom entry.”

Thus, raising taxes without genuine reforms is worse than useless – it’s actively harmful.

UPDATE

Three weeks ago, I offered to buy a box of ammunition for the first five people to prove they’d purchased a firearm after a home-grown Islamic jihadist killed 49 unarmed people in Orlando, and I’ve happily furnished one box of 5.56 mm shells to the proud owner of a new rifle.

But four boxes of your choice are waiting. Get yours before they’re gone.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/08/m-d-harmon-raising-taxes-without-genuine-reforms-actually-harms-education/feed/ 39 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Thu, 07 Jul 2016 20:08:38 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Overturned Texas abortion law aimed to save lives of women, babies http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/01/m-d-harmon-texas-abortion-law-aimed-to-save-lives-of-women-and-babies/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/01/m-d-harmon-texas-abortion-law-aimed-to-save-lives-of-women-and-babies/#comments Fri, 01 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=950477 Abortionist Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia may be rotting away in a squalid prison cell (where he belongs), but his spirit goes marching on – and it just won a major victory at the U.S. Supreme Court.

What did Gosnell do? Here is a paragraph from the grand jury report that led him to be tried and convicted on three counts of first-degree murder:

“He regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths.”

Sounds like medical oversight was needed, right? Well, as Conor Friedersdorf noted in The Atlantic magazine on April 12, 2013, “Multiple local and state agencies are implicated in an oversight failure that is epic in proportions.”

He quotes the report: “Pennsylvania is not a third-world country. There were several oversight agencies that stumbled upon and should have shut down Kermit Gosnell long ago. But none of them did … .”

The report cites the state Department of Health, which conducted a half-dozen inspections in the early 1990s, but did nothing when Gosnell promised to resolve the deficiencies they identified.

But then this happened: “After 1993, even that pro forma effort came to an end. Not because of administrative ennui, although there had been plenty. Instead, the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all.”

For. Political. Reasons.

This deserves to be quoted, too: “Almost a decade ago, a former employee of Gosnell presented the (state) Board of Medicine with a complaint … . The department assigned an investigator, whose investigation consisted primarily of an off-site interview with Gosnell. The investigator never inspected the facility, questioned other employees, or reviewed any records. Department attorneys chose to accept this incomplete investigation, and dismissed the complaint as unconfirmed.”

City health workers took blood samples at the clinic and never reported conditions there; local hospitals treated several of its clients, some of them near death, and were required to report complications – but the one time on record they ever did so, it went nowhere; and while the National Abortion Federation turned down Gosnell’s membership application after an investigation, its investigator “never told anyone in authority about all the horrible, dangerous things she had seen,” the report said.

So, the grand jury concluded, “We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion.”

The. Political. Football.

Why do I devote space to an adjudicated case? So such details (and this is only the barest skimming) can show you exactly why Pennsylvania (and later other states, such as Texas and Wisconsin) passed laws requiring that abortion clinics meet basic medical standards and have doctors with admitting powers at local hospitals.

Not to cut down on abortions – but to save women’s lives, and the lives of born-alive babies.

True, as claimed in the stories on the Supreme Court’s decision Monday to void Texas’ law as placing “undue restrictions” on abortion, the law may well have led a substantial number of clinics there to close because they could not meet those medical standards.

But think about that: We already know that in left-wing political circles, abortion is a sacred-cow issue.

(In Maine, our liberal attorney general, Janet Mills, is prosecuting a clinic protester for speaking too loudly at a demonstration. Is she likely to peer too closely at what abortion clinics do?)

So if the number of abortions in Texas declined with the number of clinics, the reason could be that no one wanted to operate those clinics in ways that fully protected women.

And what authority will ascertain that when all those clinics reopen, they will be sanitary and well-run and that their staffs will maintain full medical standards?

Remember, laws to mandate such standards are now officially unconstitutional.

Be that as it may, the pro-life movement can continue working toward this (still perfectly legal) goal: It doesn’t matter how many abortion clinics there are if people can be persuaded not to visit them.

Thus, the Maine Right to Life Committee’s website lists 17 locations where pregnant women can get help keeping their babies – and where women whose souls (and sometimes bodies) have been wounded by abortion can find understanding and aid.

And we can keep proclaiming the simple truth, something more and more people are seeing in ultrasound images every day.

It’s not a lump of tissue. It’s a baby.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/01/m-d-harmon-texas-abortion-law-aimed-to-save-lives-of-women-and-babies/feed/ 40 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/06/945434_Supreme-Court-Abortion-Te7.jpgA poster put up Monday at the Choice Clinic, formerly Whole Woman's Health Clinic, in Austin, Texas, hails a historic ruling that strikes down one of the most restrictive state abortion laws in the U.S.Fri, 01 Jul 2016 16:42:07 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Clinton, Trump or neither? Readers share their opinions http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/24/m-d-harmon-hillary-clinton-or-donald-trump-readers-share-their-opinions/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/24/m-d-harmon-hillary-clinton-or-donald-trump-readers-share-their-opinions/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=940031 Two weeks ago, I asked readers what voters should do who find Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump unappealing, but who don’t want to abandon their obligation as informed citizens to participate in our democracy.

Their responses have been edited for length and grammar, but are otherwise intact.

First, some who thought my diagnosis was in error:

Faye wrote: “I would like to see a person from each party who is honest, sincere and knowledgeable declare themselves as candidates. That is highly unlikely. Do I still plan to vote? Yes. For whom? The lesser of two evils, Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton is a liar, a cheat and a murderer. I deplore the thought that our men and women in the military would be required to salute her as their commander in chief.”

 Ken disagreed, with equal vehemence: “I do plan to vote for Clinton. Though she is a flawed candidate, she is at least psychologically sound as best I can tell, and not the uninformed, xenophobic, narcissistic, racist, global warming-denying, constantly lying (expletive) we have in Trump.”

 Eva wrote: “I will hold my nose and vote for Trump only because of the Supreme Court. If two or three (judges) need to be replaced in the coming years, I would like a Republican president choosing them. Anyone is better than Hillary!”

 Pem wrote: “My wife and I will vote, and we will vote for the Republican nominee. And the more the Illuminati scold us for our inclinations, the more defiantly we will vote for Trump. For more years than we can count, we have been fed up with the say-anything, do-nothing ‘leaders’ of the Republican Party, and have been screaming ‘throw them all out’ at the TV.”

Bill wrote: “I don’t care for either Trump or Clinton, but I will vote for anyone but Clinton. Unfortunately, there is no real chance that a viable third-party candidate could win, because it is too late to get a name on the ballots in most states … .”

 Jeff wrote: “I’ll be voting for two reasons. First: the direction of the Supreme Court, which will determine which direction the country will take for decades. … Every four years we’re told that ‘this is the most important election in our lifetime.’ This time it happens to be true. The second reason? To honor the countless men and women who have given their lives so that I may have the privilege of taking part in our democratic process.”

Others saw different paths:

Mary wrote: “A (Bernie) Sanders option … would be for him to take his votes to an independent ticket, not necessarily in top position but as vice president to lessen the fear of socialism by some voters. Actually, if we could attract a worthy dark horse candidate like Sen. Angus King to head a ticket to which Bernie could bring his supporters … that would be an attractive alternative … .”

Elinor wrote: “I am a Republican, but at this point a man of integrity with the necessary attributes to run this country and a decent approach to the rest of the world would be mandatory. Regretfully, I will not vote for the two choices out there at this time.”

Elaine wrote: “I cannot bring myself to pull the lever for either Trump (my usual party) or Hillary. I had been considering Libertarian (Gary Johnson’s a loose cannon but Bill Weld added weight) until I read a column in the Wall Street Journal … and will follow that lead: a write-in for Paul Ryan (second choice of John Kasich if I change my mind about Ryan before November).”

Joanne wrote: “I cannot believe Trump will win the nomination; what is wrong with the people in this country? … My dream ticket would be Michael Bloomberg/Susan Collins and I believe they would overwhelmingly beat Trump and Clinton. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there will be a third party. If not, I think I’ll just stay home.”

Mark wrote: “My answer is Gov. Gary Johnson. As you are aware, he is a Libertarian (I’m a compassionate conservative), and the other two candidates make me ill. I heard Johnson speak on a number of recent ‘talking-head’ shows, and he made sense to me on every topic he addressed – taxes, foreign policy, illegal aliens, etc.”

“SUR” wrote: “I’d vote for Sanders because I believe the separation of powers will keep him in check. At least he is honest and has a few ideas and can develop a complex thought beyond sound bites. Plus, and most important, he won’t lead us into the pointless, unwinnable wars that are ruining us. … The country will be better served by the implosion of both (major parties).”

Thanks for participating, folks. Things continue to percolate, so let’s see where it all goes from here.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/24/m-d-harmon-hillary-clinton-or-donald-trump-readers-share-their-opinions/feed/ 12 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/08/Clinton-Trump-2-pack.jpgThe results of Super Tuesday votes in more than a dozen states will determine whether Maine's presidential caucuses become a high-profile battle for delegates or an optional side trip for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in their glide toward party nominations. Fri, 24 Jun 2016 18:38:24 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Law-abiding gun owners unfairly blamed in Islamic extremist’s Orlando attack http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/17/m-d-harmon-nearly-50-killed-and-dozens-wounded-in-gun-free-zone/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/17/m-d-harmon-nearly-50-killed-and-dozens-wounded-in-gun-free-zone/#comments Fri, 17 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=930303 Why is it that when a man motivated by a foreign ideology attacks a group of Americans, many of us ignore the perpetrator and attack each other instead?

It’s been more than a little sickening to see commentators, celebrities and politicians from our top national leadership on down (all of whom seem to lack an effective strategy for defeating jihadists, “homegrown” or otherwise) blame gun owners, traditional Christians, Republicans and conservatives in general because a U.S.-born son of immigrants from Afghanistan killed dozens and wounded many more in a vicious attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

I doubt that quail hunters in Wisconsin, target shooters in Arizona or gun collectors in Maine were responsible for this massacre. And it’s more than hypocritical for people who have armed guards protecting them 24/7 to tell free Americans they can’t even defend themselves with guns.

In addition, while this attack should have put to rest the canard that moral qualms about baking a cake for a gay wedding are equivalent to wishing deadly harm to its participants, people who hold to biblical moral standards on sexual issues are also being criticized for somehow contributing to it.

Further, it’s extremely doubtful that any of the calls for increased laws restricting firearms sales would have prevented this crime, because the killer was employed as a security guard by a company that had a contract with the Department of Homeland Security to transport illegal aliens around the country.

Thus, he had already passed a number of background checks. And warnings of his repeated radical statements and threats were apparently ignored by his employer (a security firm, remember) and discounted by the FBI, which investigated him twice.

As has been noted elsewhere, it doesn’t do much good to say, “If you see something, say something,” if when you say something you get slammed for “not respecting diversity.”

There’s little doubt the gunman was motivated by Islamic extremism. Of course, most Muslims don’t hate gays – but being gay is illegal in at least 10 Islamic nations, and punishable by death in several. They include our new treaty partner Iran and the Islamic State, to which the Orlando shooter pledged fealty during his rampage.

In truth, however, this could just as easily have been a church or a synagogue – or a shopping mall or school – as a gay club. Jihadists hate us all equally.

And since I fall into two of the categories listed above for criticism – firearms civil rights supporter and orthodox Christian – I want to counter those slurs with action.

So, I think I’ll take my cue from a group called “Pink Pistols.”

It’s a international gun-rights organization (pinkpistols.org) started by gays with the motto: “Pick on someone your own caliber.”

Why? “We advocate the use of lawfully-owned, lawfully-concealed firearms for the self-defense of the sexual minority community.”

I’ve read dozens of stories on this attack, but the headline I haven’t seen yet is the most pertinent: “Nearly 50 people killed and dozens wounded in shooting in gun-free zone.”

Thus, Gwendolyn Patton, the Pink Pistols’ “First Speaker,” said, “This is exactly the kind of heinous act that justifies our existence. At such a time of tragedy, let us not reach for the low-hanging fruit of blaming the killer’s guns.”

Patton’s concerns are that “knee-jerk gun-control efforts may make preventing future events harder rather than easier, as only the law-abiding potential victims will be affected by such laws.”

And she suggests that in bars and clubs, “Just as one might have a designated driver who stays sober, one might have a designated carrier with a concealed-carry permit who goes armed and does not drink.”

So, let me chip in. I’m not rich, so I can’t buy people guns (even if that weren’t already illegal).

So I will offer my expertise instead. As a retired Army officer (and Vietnam vet) who has fired everything the Army has to offer, up to and including a 105 mm tank cannon, I will consult for free with first-time gun buyers, male or female, gay or straight, who want to acquire a weapon for self-defense.

I can also put people in touch with range officials and firearms instructors who can teach them how to shoot safely and maintain their firearms, both critical components of their use.

And here’s a special bonus: For the first five people who contact me and prove they have acquired a gun since the Orlando attack, I will buy them a standard-sized box of ammunition.

Now, ask yourself: Would I do that for people I hate?

Don’t forget that Maine has recently become a constitutional-carry state, so no permit is required to carry concealed.

And learn to beware of “gun-free zones.” We’ve seen how quickly they can end up being dangerous places.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/17/m-d-harmon-nearly-50-killed-and-dozens-wounded-in-gun-free-zone/feed/ 172 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/06/AP16166042877738.jpgPeople gather for a vigil in memory of the victims of the Orlando, Fla., mass shooting, Monday, June 13, 2016, at City Hall in Philadelphia. A gunman opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub early Sunday, before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)Fri, 17 Jun 2016 17:53:25 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Sanders should consider what’s happening in socialist Venezuela http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/10/m-d-harmon-sanders-should-consider-whats-happening-in-socialist-venezuela/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/10/m-d-harmon-sanders-should-consider-whats-happening-in-socialist-venezuela/#comments Fri, 10 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=918996 Clio, the Greek Muse of history, may not have much of a sense of humor (tragedy’s more her speed), but boy, her irony spell is getting a real workout nowadays.

In classical mythology, the Muses are nine daughters of Zeus who give inspiration to creative people and enterprises.

And Clio’s current ironic accomplishments, all firsts in American history, are these:

First, she has raised up as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee a person who says whatever he happens to be thinking at the moment. Oddly, this is regarded as a virtue by his supporters.

Second, she has given us a person who thinks that her gender is a qualification for office.

While Hillary Clinton may become the first woman to gain a major party’s nod as its candidate, her real “first” is to be the first target of an FBI investigation to aspire to that status. (Unless the investigation precludes it before the Democratic convention in July.)

Third, Clio has given us a remarkably popular major-party presidential candidate who is an avowed socialist – while simultaneously giving us a socialist-run country in our own hemisphere that is at the inevitable end stage of left-wing policies.

You’d think Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters (and Clinton supporters who lean his way and want her to, too) would ponder what’s happening in Venezuela right now, but there’s no sign of it.

Though there is some wry amusement in all this for the rest of us, it’s still not a good thing that so many people are blind to Clio’s lessons.

Particularly since they’re so obvious. The late British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, is reported to have said: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money” – and Venezuela has.

Its descent into deprivation was begun under the now-deceased strongman Hugo Chavez, and his disciple Nicolas Maduro currently misrules in his stead. Some recent headlines about their legacy:

“Venezuela drifts into new territory: Hunger, blackouts and government shutdown,” The New York Times, May 28. Quote: “This country has long been accustomed to painful shortages, even of basic foods. But Venezuela keeps drifting further into uncharted territory. … Electricity and water are being rationed, and huge areas of the country have spent months with little of either.”

” ‘We want food!’, Venezuelans cry at protest near presidency,” Reuters, June 3. Quote: “Despite their country having the world’s biggest oil reserves, Venezuelans are suffering severe shortages of consumer goods ranging from milk to flour, soaring prices and a shrinking economy. … Critics say Venezuela’s economic chaos is the consequence of failed socialist policies for the last 17 years, especially price and currency controls.”

“Dying infants and no medicine: Inside Venezuela’s failing hospitals,” The New York Times, May 15. Quote: ” ‘The death of a baby is our daily bread,’ said Dr. Osleidy Camejo, a surgeon in the nation’s capital, Caracas, referring to the toll from Venezuela’s collapsing hospitals.”

“Venezuela’s crisis is the latest example of why socialism doesn’t work,” The Daily Signal website, June 3. Quote: “Even the most basic services and products are becoming inaccessible as a result of cronyism, interventionism and a controlled prices policy. … The inflation rate is the highest in the world: It is expected to be at 720 percent by the end of 2016.”

There are dozens more, but let’s end with this:

“Stump the socialist: Bernie would rather not talk about Venezuela,” HotAir website, May 28. Quote: Sanders was being interviewed May 26 by Univision correspondent Leon Krauze, who asked: “Various leftist governments, especially the populists, are in serious trouble in Latin America. The socialist model in Venezuela has the country near collapse. Argentina, also Brazil, how do you explain that failure?”

Sanders replied: “Right now I’m running for president of the United States.”

And that’s all he would say. But, claiming he can still move the needle because Democratic superdelegates “don’t actually vote” until the convention, he refuses to drop out.

While polls on a Trump-Clinton race vary, here’s what Rasmussen said Monday: “Right now Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are going nowhere. Rasmussen Reports’ regular polling shows them both hovering around 40 percent support, where they’ve been for weeks. … In both matchups, though, there remain an unusually high number of voters who prefer some other candidate or are still undecided. Undecideds in single digits are not unusual at this stage of the election season, but when nearly one-in-four voters say they’ll vote third-party or stay home, it’s time to wonder why.”

D’oh! Seriously? I think we all know why.

So, if you don’t like the current choices, send me an email saying what you would like to happen. Do you still plan to vote? For whom? I’ll give the results (the printable ones, anyway) in a future column.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/10/m-d-harmon-sanders-should-consider-whats-happening-in-socialist-venezuela/feed/ 67 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/06/AP16162545078511.jpgCustomers enter a bakery that was looted the day before in the Petare neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, June 10, 2016. In the city's largest slum, dozens of people looted bakeries and food trucks in a spat of food-related violence that has become increasingly common in recent weeks. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)Fri, 10 Jun 2016 18:54:03 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Maine initiative’s backers fail to make convincing case for ranked-choice voting http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/03/m-d-harmon-why-are-we-messing-around-with-ranked-choice-voting/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/03/m-d-harmon-why-are-we-messing-around-with-ranked-choice-voting/#comments Fri, 03 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=907181 With regard to our democracy, Americans have always been what I would call “proceduralists.”

If we perceive a flaw, we figure that if we introduce just the right tweak to some structure or procedure, government will perk along like a well-tuned engine or bug-free computer program.

It won’t, of course, because we forget that all societies are still composed of badly tuned and glitch-filled human beings.

Still, some examples are coming up for a vote in November, one of which I will address today. But first, a bit of political history.

Maine is one of a minority of states (24) that permit the “initiative and referendum” process, which has an interesting lineage.

Initiatives allow voters to propose and pass laws directly, while referendums permit them to alter or reject a legislative statute – though today we typically call either type a referendum.

The process was added to numerous state laws by Progressive reformers early in the last century, with the goal of taking power away from what were seen as unrepresentative and even corrupt legislatures and enabling direct democracy.

Along with popular election of senators (via the 17th Amendment, ratified in 1913) and Prohibition (which was very much a Progressive idea, ratified by the 18th Amendment in 1919 and repealed by the 21st in 1933), direct voting on statutes represented a significant philosophical change in our democratic vision.

It’s one that the Framers, who understood human nature better than we do, viewed with a skeptical eye.

That’s because their vision of democracy was founded on the philosophies and experience of the Athenian and Roman republics, which provided real-life proof that unchecked majority votes could void republican guarantees and sweep dictators into power on the enthusiasms or fears of the moment.

So our Framers built a republic with firewalls, including:

 The Electoral College, to assure small states a voice in the selection of a president.

A Senate of two members from each state (again, to keep small states engaged) chosen by state legislators, to hold senators a step above popular passions.

A constitutional amendment process that required a supermajority of states, not voters, to ratify any changes.

The “separation of powers,” by which each branch of government had its own defined duties and powers.

But paper barriers are weak ones when citizens don’t respect them. Thus, our Supreme Court sweeps aside laws at the whim of a handful of unelected lawyers, while our president rules by “a phone and a pen” – ignoring our Founders’ warnings and the safeguards they so carefully established.

So, as a state-level example of majoritarianism, let’s take one of the pending ballot questions – so-called “ranked-choice voting.”

Unless a late alteration occurs, the ballot will ask us: “Do you want to change Maine election law to allow voters to rank their choices of candidates for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate and State Representative?”

That is, voters would pick a first choice and then rank the other candidates second, third and so on. If no candidate gets a majority, the lowest is dropped and the ranked votes are added to the survivors until one exceeds 50 percent.

The idea apparently is that electing leaders by mere pluralities is less than fully democratic, and that achieving a majority (even if voters have to be forced into it) extends greater legitimacy to the winner.

Oddly, this wasn’t an issue until Gov. LePage won the Blaine House by consecutive plurality votes (though there’s an argument to be made that his 48 percent second-term margin would have easily been a true majority if it had been a two-man race between him and the less-than-effective Michael Michaud).

But did Gov. Angus King and Gov. John Baldacci, two other plurality winners, also lack legitimacy in office? Few were saying so at the time.

As a supporter of this measure told me months ago, experience in the few places that have tried this system shows that people “don’t need to fear it,” because the person with a plurality on the first round wins the ranked-choice runoff nearly 90 percent of the time, anyway.

If that’s the case, then why are we messing around with the law to produce the same result?

Because, I guess, proceduralists think procedure is what’s most important about government – or, for that matter, life in general.

It’s not, but that’s another column.

CORRECTION

Last week I wrote, based on a breaking story, that “the state of Maine” had joined a suit by 10 other states against the Obama administration’s lawless “bathroom rule.” As later accounts noted, it was Gov. LePage’s choice alone to stand up to political correctness run amok.

Which just proves that he has a genuine backbone, while too many others in our state’s leadership remain spineless. Good on you, gov.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/03/m-d-harmon-why-are-we-messing-around-with-ranked-choice-voting/feed/ 7 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/02/797079_voting_1104-e1461172238406.jpgNew Hampshire voters will do more than pick the names on the top of the November ballot: They’ll also demonstrate which assessment of the depth of the nation’s problems makes the most sense.Fri, 03 Jun 2016 17:53:07 +0000
M.D. Harmon: ‘Totalitolerance’ is the secular faith of the progressive reformer http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/27/m-d-harmon-totalitolerance-is-the-secular-faith-of-the-progressive-reformer/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/27/m-d-harmon-totalitolerance-is-the-secular-faith-of-the-progressive-reformer/#comments Fri, 27 May 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=897492 My friend Bob Knight, a Cape Elizabeth native who writes a column for The Washington Times, coined a new word this week.

It’s “totalitolerance” – and I wanted to share it because its progressive practitioners are doing their absolute best to make you shut up and obey them under the false flag of “toleration.”

On issues ranging from climate change to gun control, from abortion to wedding-cake bakers to access to addictive drugs, the secular faith of the progressive reformer is a jealous one.

And like any faith, progressivism has unquestioned assumptions and strict rules, and its own Inquisition to enforce them (using insults, threats, exclusion and, where possible, legal action).

A few examples:

North Carolina was recently threatened with the withdrawal of federal funding for the offense of not wanting fully equipped male persons to use the same public restrooms as women and little girls.

And the Obama administration wants to force the same practice on every public school bathroom and shower in the nation – although no federal law requires it.

Were we really supposed to “get the government out of our bedrooms” so it could push its way into our bathrooms instead?

“Transgender people have rights,” we are told. But do not women and little girls have rights, too – to privacy in a bathroom, for example?

Apparently not, according to The Charlotte Observer, which stated in a recent editorial: “Yes, the thought of male genitalia in girls’ locker rooms – and vice versa – might be distressing to some. But the battle for equality has always been in part about overcoming discomfort … .”

If you define “some” as “nearly everyone,” then that first sentence might make sense. But the idea is still insane.

And might not a man who is not part of the estimated 0.3 percent of the population that considers itself “transgender” (an entirely subjective self-identification, remember) use this rule for some quality Peeping Tom time – or worse?

Providing single-occupancy bathrooms would solve this problem, but that’s too easy. Instead, we are told, “You will be made to care.”

Fortunately, resistance is rising. On Wednesday, 11 states, including Maine (at Gov. LePage’s behest), filed suit against the administration on this issue.

The lawsuit says: “Defendants have conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”

Indeed they have – with malice aforethought.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Human Rights Commission has decreed that covered businesses and individuals must use whatever personal pronouns employees and customers desire – or face fines of $125,000, rising to $250,000 for “willful, wanton or malicious” violations. Some examples that “gender-nonconforming people” may desire include “ze,” “hir” or “xem.”

Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor, says that means “People can basically force us – on pain of massive legal liability – to say what they want us to say, whether or not we want to endorse the political message associated with that term, and whether or not we think it’s a lie.”

I guess the new policy would mean that Nancy Kwan’s famous ditty in “Flower Drum Song” would have to be revised substantially if the musical were to appear on Broadway today:

“I’m strictly a zemale zemale,

And my future I hope will be,

In the home of a brave and hirmale

Who’ll enjoy being a zuy having a xirl like zeeeeee!”

As I said, insanity.

Our military, which has been reduced to pre-World-War-II levels in the face of ever-growing threats from powers such as Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, not to mention numerous international terror networks, has not escaped the totalitolerance movement.

We are actually putting women into infantry units, when we wouldn’t dare put them on the same pro football field, rugby pitch or hockey rink with men (and no, heavily protected kickers and goalies don’t count).

This has nothing to do with equality. It springs instead from the progressive assumption that sexuality is a “social construct,” not a matter of innate biological reality.

While that weakens us from the inside, former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said in July 2015 that force cutbacks left us even then without “the ability to deter (hostile nations). The reason we have a military is to deter conflict and prevent wars. And if people believe we are not big enough to respond, they miscalculate.”

But if an enemy attacks because it considers us weak, it’s only a “miscalculation” if the onslaught fails. Instead, if we lose that battle (or that war), the enemy will have made an “accurate judgment” about us – unless things turn around soon.

It’s time to pay attention, folks. The frog is boiling.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/27/m-d-harmon-totalitolerance-is-the-secular-faith-of-the-progressive-reformer/feed/ 21 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/02/796795_shutterstock_157089065.jpgA 2014 court decision made clear that under Maine law, transgender boys are boys, transgender girls are girls, and that is to be reflected in how they are provided educational and extracurricular opportunities in Maine’s schools.Fri, 27 May 2016 18:58:27 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Nation’s voters are looking for an outsider this year http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/20/m-d-harmon-voters-including-mainers-are-looking-for-an-outsider-this-year/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/20/m-d-harmon-voters-including-mainers-are-looking-for-an-outsider-this-year/#comments Fri, 20 May 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=887781 Last week, I discussed in some detail Maine voters’ history of re-electing top-level political figures, a trend that has applied for many decades to senators, members of Congress and governors.

When defeat does happen, it most often occurs at the end of an official’s first term, when voters can actually remember that the post wasn’t held by its current occupant in perpetuity.

Which is why the case of Sen. Angus King is intriguing.

King’s term as an independent governor wasn’t particularly outstanding – the Democrats who ran things back then weren’t always willing to accept his priorities when they differed, as they occasionally did, from their own.

But it also met the typical voter’s minimum requirements for the job, and King had no trouble moving on to the Senate, again as an independent, once Olympia Snowe’s retirement (see “guaranteed to win re-election as long as she wanted the job,” above) produced an open seat.

And that brings us again to Gov. LePage, and the coincidence that the Republican’s second term expires along with King’s first one.

Speculation that the governor would run against King in 2018 is met with a number of objections, one being that current polls show the senator with substantially higher ratings than LePage, and another that King is Mr. Smooth on the hustings, while LePage is, well, not.

But so what? Recall that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is as rough as a buzz saw, and it hasn’t kept him from driving many more-polished candidates from the race.

Where polls are concerned, they showed his prospective opponent well in the lead all along – until suddenly she wasn’t. One poll this week had Donald Trump actually ahead of Hillary Clinton in a nationwide sample. Who knows where things will stand six months from now?

As an aside, wasn’t it fun to watch the Nevada Democratic delegate selection process descend into a booing session (targeting California Sen. Barbara Boxer, certainly a boo-worthy figure) and then become an altercation where the police had to restore order? (The headline on the Real Clear Politics website’s story was “Chaos at Nevada Democratic convention; state party chair flees building as Sanders supporters demand recount.”)

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters aren’t exactly going gently into that good night, a fact that led the state party’s lawyer to caution that they threatened the Democratic convention this summer.

“Having seen up close the lack of conscience or concern for the ramifications of their actions – indeed, the glee with which they engaged in such destructive behavior – we expect similar tactics at the National Convention in July,” wrote Bradley Schrager in a letter dated Monday.

Makes you wonder how many Sandernistas are going to support Clinton in November. Assuming she makes it that far, of course.

On May 11, FBI Director James Comey reinforced that his agency was conducting “an investigation – that’s what we do” – not, as Clinton has often claimed, a mere “security inquiry” into her private-server emails as secretary of state.

Thus, if you believe that Vice President Joe Biden was merely speaking off the cuff by saying that “if” he had run, he would have picked Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as his running mate, you might want to adjust the sensitivity setting on your Democratic Duplicity Detector.

Here’s hoping that Sanders, who has been a Democrat about as long as Trump has been a Republican (and actually does better than Clinton against him in the polls), keeps fighting all the way to the Philadelphia convention.

Would Clinton make him her running mate? If not, wouldn’t a third-party socialist-themed campaign be really exciting? Run, Bernie, run!

Back to LePage: If the conventional wisdom about the extremely unconventional Trump is right, voters – potentially including many Mainers – are looking for an outsider this year. Might they be of the same opinion (or even more so) two years from now?

LePage does the outsider shtick better than almost anyone else – because he actually is one.

If voters want someone to protect them from what is widely believed to be a conspiracy of the elites to enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary Americans (who have seen abundant evidence that “crony capitalism” is a Washington way of life), then LePage may be just what the downtrodden-feeling masses ordered.

And the slicker and smoother any insider opponent appears to be, the greater the contrast will become between them.

Still, LePage, who is highly unlikely to make a decision to run any time soon, also seems to believe that if Trump wins the presidency, he might find a place in his administration for Maine’s governor, who is his most prominent state supporter.

I must admit there is a Trump administration job I would love to see Paul LePage accept.

Why, press secretary, of course.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/20/m-d-harmon-voters-including-mainers-are-looking-for-an-outsider-this-year/feed/ 35 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/04/Election-Wisconsin_Byun.jpgStudents wait in long lines as register and vote at UW-Eau Claire Davies Center on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 in Eu Claire, Wis. Wisconsin voters are expected to turn out Tuesday in large numbers for the presidential primary and statewide races.(Dan Reiland/The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram via AP)Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:36:05 +0000
M.D. Harmon: De facto Democrat Angus King poses looming Senate dilemma http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/13/m-d-harmon-de-facto-democrat-angus-king-poses-a-dilemma-for-the-party/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/13/m-d-harmon-de-facto-democrat-angus-king-poses-a-dilemma-for-the-party/#comments Fri, 13 May 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=877980 If Maine voters have one persistent electoral trait, it is that once they elect someone to a statewide office (including Congress), they are highly reluctant to reject that person later on.

Oh, it’s happened. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith was a fixture for four terms, but she finally concluded that she didn’t really have to campaign anymore.

Voters, diagnosing disrespect, replaced her with the obscure 2nd District Democratic U.S. Rep. William Hathaway, who so undistinguished himself in office that his successor in Congress, Republican Rep. William Cohen, easily defeated him six years later.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. George Mitchell went on to become Senate majority leader before retiring and turning his seat over to Olympia Snowe (a move that had some Democrats I know furious at him for a long time afterward).

In the 1st District, Rep. Peter Kyros, a Democrat, lasted four terms before being beaten by David Emery in 1974.

A possible reason that Kyros, a somewhat slippery character who had occasional run-ins with the law, was atypically defeated was that, a former Press Herald editorial writer told me, “More than half the people in the district finally got the chance to meet him.”

Another 1st District casualty was James Longley Jr., the son of the independent governor. Likely too conservative for the district, he lost his re-election bid to my college classmate Tom Allen.

But every other holder of the seat post-Kyros left it voluntarily, Emery to run for the Senate (and lose); John McKernan to run for the governorship (and win); former Gov. Joseph Brennan to run for his former office again (and lose); Tom Andrews to run for the Senate (and lose); Allen also to run for the Senate (and lose) – until finally we come to the current incumbent, Chellie Pingree, who, true to form, is in her fourth term.

The 2nd District seat after Cohen voluntarily retired was Snowe’s until she left it for the Senate, when she beat Andrews like a rented mule. Then John Baldacci used it to ascend (or descend) to the Blaine House, whereupon Michael Michaud held it for six terms until he unwisely retired to run for governor, and was replaced by Republican Bruce Poliquin, who will himself win re-election if history holds true.

And with the exception of Gov. Longley, who kept his promise not to seek a second term, Maine’s governors have had no trouble winning twice in a row after the Maine Constitution was amended to permit two four-year terms.

Kenneth Curtis served the full eight years, as did Brennan, McKernan, Angus King (elected senator when Snowe retired in 2012) and Baldacci, while Paul LePage has half a term left to make it.

(At this point, I’m telling myself, “You’ve written a Jim Brunelle column” – because my former colleague, a politics and history buff and “Maine Almanac” editor whose column once occupied this Friday space, loved this stuff.)

All that, however, is prologue. Sen. Susan Collins, elected in 1996, easily won a fourth term in 2014 and seems destined to bask in perpetual voter approval.

However, Sen. King faces his first (and therefore most vulnerable) re-election campaign in 2018, when Gov. LePage is term-limited out of office. The governor has saidseveraltimes (retracting one reference “as a joke,” but not the others) that he would considerchallenging King.

Where does one start? King is one of Maine’s most popular politicians, and Republicans would be hard put to unearth any other rival with LePage’s name recognition – or his hard-core support. Poliquin’s unlikely to challenge King, and the party will be focusing on a primary battle for governor that year.

So, considering how different our politics could look after this year’s presidential race, who’s to say where any advantage would lie?

Meanwhile, what will Democrats do? They, too, must find a gubernatorial candidate (preferably one who won’t pull a faceplant like Michaud’s). Cynthia Dill’s name gets mentioned, but she’s had some full-length frontal impacts of her own.

So, what’s on Rep. Chellie Pingree’s mind? If the House remains in Republican hands, will she grow tired of being in the minority and strike out for the Blaine House or the Senate (leaving her seat open for, perhaps, an ambitious legislative leader – or an equally ambitious mayor)?

My (wildly premature) guess? Well, since King is a Democrat in all but name, the party would be crazy to oppose him seriously. So if Pingree moves at all (a very open question), it will likely be for Augusta, not Washington.

But if the Democrats run any old doofus as a Senate placeholder, they risk siphoning votes from King. Could they give this race a pass and still remain a serious party?

Or – just maybe – could Angus be persuaded to swap his “I” for a “D”?

Jim Brunelle would be so proud.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/13/m-d-harmon-de-facto-democrat-angus-king-poses-a-dilemma-for-the-party/feed/ 27 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/03/824691_75060-20160325_King002.jpgSen. Angus King speaks with reporters prior to his news conference at Bowdoin College in Brunswick on Friday.Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:36:05 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Legalizing marijuana isn’t worth the risks to health and safety http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/06/m-d-harmon-legalizing-marijuana-isnt-worth-the-risks-to-health-and-safety/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/06/m-d-harmon-legalizing-marijuana-isnt-worth-the-risks-to-health-and-safety/#comments Fri, 06 May 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=867540 So, a judge, Maine’s secretary of state and state legislators have paved the way for Mainers to vote Nov. 8 on a citizen-initiated bill to legalize marijuana for everyday use.

If the referendum, sponsored by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, passes, adults could possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow a “limited number” of plants, according to news accounts.

Retail sales and social clubs would be allowed, with approval from communities. Public use would be banned, punishable by a $100 fine. Finally, retail sales would be taxed at 10 percent.

Maine would join four other states and the District of Columbia if this vote succeeds. Several other states are considering such laws as well.

I’ve supported medicinal pot, but retain strong doubts about it as a legal recreational drug. (Notice I refrained from saying the issue has its highs and lows.)

Still, some of the conservatives I admire most, notably the late William F. Buckley Jr. (whom I had the very great pleasure of dining with at the Black Point Inn several years ago) were strong supporters of legalization.

Liberals and libertarians have long said that a society that accepts one legal intoxicant, alcohol, for widespread but regulated sales, doesn’t really have much of a rationale to prohibit a similar intoxicant simply because the first one is imbibed and the other smoked.

Well, yes and no.

Why, for example, does the acceptance of one substance, used since hunter-gatherers turned to farming grain and grapes and turning them into alcoholic beverages, automatically justify adding another to the list?

It’s logical to argue that the problems we have with alcohol are quite enough to occupy our police, judiciary, counseling centers and social service agencies without adding some unknown but certainly substantial number to their caseloads.

This is not a call for a return to Prohibition. It didn’t work – but a big part of the reason was that alcohol use has a history that goes back at least 6,000 years.

Pot, not so much. And if you like the argument that our current laws against its use amount to a modern version of the 18th Amendment, then by the same logic, so do our laws applying to other mind-bending narcotics such as cocaine.

Once we have opened the box that releases new entries to the legal public pharmacopoeia, we are likely to find it very difficult to shut it again.

Remember, marijuana is not a “harmless” drug. As WebMD.com notes, marijuana use can create “a distorted sense of time, random thinking, paranoia, depression, anxiety and short-term forgetfulness.”

Further, “Though you may have heard otherwise,” it says, “marijuana can be addictive: Nearly 10 percent of people who use it become dependent on it.” And: “Marijuana can also cause more health problems if you have a condition like liver disease, low blood pressure, or diabetes.”

And ponder this: A bill to codify the blood levels of THC (marijuana’s psychoactive component) that would render a driver in violation of operating-under-the-influence standards passed the Maine Senate but was rejected in the House – by a unanimous vote.

As this paper noted April 1, “According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 17 states have laws setting limits on THC in the bloodstream of someone operating a vehicle. Several of those states have set the amount between 1 and 5 nanograms per milliliter. The Maine bill sought to impose a 5 nanogram limit – the same as in Colorado and Washington state, where recreational marijuana use is legal.”

But opponents said no reliable standard exists. So, do we want to legalize something that can result in the impaired operation of dangerous machinery without any standard for holding someone accountable for such actions?

As the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana Maine wrote in an op-ed on these pages, “Many issues have arisen in Colorado since marijuana was legalized and commercialized. Discharges from ERs for marijuana have more than doubled. There has been a frightening trend in young children admitted to ERs for accidental marijuana poisonings. Children as young as fourth-graders are selling or exchanging marijuana on school property. Fatal car crashes involving drivers who test positive for marijuana have also been on the rise.”

The group added, “Legalization would bring ‘Big Marijuana’ (out-of-state large-scale entrepreneurs) to Maine and with it the kid-friendly marketing seen in Colorado. Legalization would further normalize marijuana and increase youth access to the drug. Legalization would harm our growing and rebuilding economies, increasing already significant substance abuse costs borne by all Mainers.”

Finally, the referendum could potentially permit uses that are illegal under federal statutes. While those prohibitions are not now widely or uniformly enforced, that could change without warning.

Thus, a “no” vote in November seems the prudent course.

OH, AND HERE’S a brief addendum on the presidential race:

Winter is coming.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/06/m-d-harmon-legalizing-marijuana-isnt-worth-the-risks-to-health-and-safety/feed/ 59 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/01/777682_medical_marijuana_research_.jpgMarijuana is legal as a prescribed medication in Maine, but its status as a prohibited substance under federal law makes banks reluctant to accept deposits from medical marijuana caregivers.Fri, 06 May 2016 10:39:44 +0000
M.D. Harmon: When the Donald calls, people listen http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/29/m-d-harmon-when-the-donald-calls-people-listen/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/29/m-d-harmon-when-the-donald-calls-people-listen/#comments Fri, 29 Apr 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=857087 I got to the office late this morning, as it had snowed and the tires on the old jalopy are as thin as a presidential promise.

(For those of you reading this in Florida, it occasionally snows in Maine in April. Don’t knock it – it keeps the alligators away.)

Anyway, I tore the yellow “Crime Scene” tape away from my door and went in. There was enough of it to nearly cover up the “Dick Richards, P.I.” sign on the glass (it’s the landlord’s idea of a subtle reminder to pay my rent, but he overdid it this time).

Then I noticed I could see my breath inside just as easily as I had outside, and realized the owner had decided to escalate his case for moving up the payment priority scale by cutting off the heat, too.

So, I kept my hat and coat on and decided to open the week’s worth of mail I’d been ignoring on my desk.

I worked my way through ads to buy gold and silver from some guy who always plays the president on TV (and is more convincing than the real one) or put my money into a numbered account in the Bank of the Marianas Trench (somebody’s anticipating a Democratic win in November).

Then there were the pleas for donations to the Save the Plastic Bag Foundation, the Environmental Offense Fund, the Social Justice Warriors Scholarship Pledge Drive (a mind is a terrible thing to waste, all right) and the Campaign to Raise Conservatives’ Taxes (that one came on official IRS stationery, I noticed).

Then I saw the phone’s message light blinking. My last secretary, Sheila, had quit weeks ago, having finally realized that actually being paid wasn’t in her job description.

So I punched the button, to hear an instantly recognizable voice say, “Hey, jerkface, call me now!” So I dialed the number he left and said, “This is Dick. The Donald called for me.”

“OK, jackwagon,” his aide said (the boss likes to keep the branding consistent). “He said to put you right through.”

And then he was on the line: “Dick, first thing is, your nickname is ‘Rotten Richard’ from now on out, got it?”

“Sorry, Donald, my mother already beat you to it. What’s up this time?”

“Did you see Lena Dunham from that show ‘Bimbos’ promised to move to Canada if I won? She said, ‘I know a lot of people say this, but I really will!'”

“It’s called ‘Girls,’ Donald, and I figure your potential support just went up a half-dozen points.”

“Yeah,” he replied, “I already said that. You don’t get endorsements like that every day. But how come nobody ever says they’ll move to Mexico? Is it the wall thing?”

“Yeah, that’s it,” I said. I knew he hadn’t really called to tell me that, he just likes to boast. But you already knew that.

“What’s really on your mind, Donald?”

“Couple of things. One is the new George Washington University Battleground Poll this week that has me within the margin of error against Hillary Clinton, just 3 points apart. How about that, huh?”

“You know I’m not surprised. I said a long time ago you could win this, but I still don’t support you. And your negatives are still higher than hers – even though both of you are in uncharted territory there.”

“Ah, who cares? You’re not going to vote for Hillary, are you?”

“No, it may have snowed here, but I don’t think the freezing temperatures got all the way down to Hades.”

“Hey, Ted Cruz and John Kasich worked out a deal to be my only opponent in their strongest states, but couldn’t hold on to it for two days in a row. All the high negatives mean is that people who don’t like either one of us won’t vote at all, and Republican primary voters have outnumbered Democratic ones by a ton.”

“True dat,” I said, “but more of them voted against you than for you. How are you going to win them and independents over?”

“A lot of the Bernie Sanders socialists are going to stay home, because they’ll think Wall Street has two candidates in the race. And you and I both know Hillary is a terrible campaigner.”

“Uh, I wouldn’t be too quick to jump on that comparison. Are you counting on the FBI email and corruption probes to pay off?”

“I already noted that ‘crooked’ is her first name, and lots of people agree. I’m not going to let up, so whatever the feds do is just gravy.”

“Do you really think you can win?”

“Hey, it’s like the old joke about the two guys being chased by the bear. I don’t have to outrun some ideal candidate like Honest Abe. I just have to outrun Crooked Hillary.”

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/29/m-d-harmon-when-the-donald-calls-people-listen/feed/ 25 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/04/855224_GOP-2016-Trump.JPEG-72e73.jpgRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a primary night news conference, Tuesday in New York.Thu, 28 Apr 2016 20:18:14 +0000
M.D. Harmon: ‘1984’ becomes instruction manual for left’s ‘crybullies’ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/22/m-d-harmon-some-on-the-left-use-1984-as-an-instruction-manual/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/22/m-d-harmon-some-on-the-left-use-1984-as-an-instruction-manual/#comments Fri, 22 Apr 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=847043 Thoughtcrime: The criminal offense of holding unspoken beliefs or doubts that oppose or question officially mandated views. “Crimespeak” is the act of voicing such thoughts. – From George Orwell’s “1984”

Conservatives always saw Orwell’s dystopian novel, based on his Spanish Civil War experience with the twin tyrannies of fascism and communism, as a warning to free societies.

So why are some on the left starting to use it as an instruction manual?

A few examples:

I wrote recently about the nearly two dozen Democratic state attorneys general (and one independent) who vowed to take on “climate change deniers” (as if anyone denies that the climate changes, and always has), with a special focus on energy companies and their allegedly “fraudulent claims.”

As University of Tennessee law professor Glenn H. Reynolds wrote in an April 11 USA Today column, “Federal law makes it a felony ‘for two or more persons to agree together to injure, threaten, or intimidate a person in any state, territory or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the United States, (or because of his/her having exercised the same).'”

He pointedly notes that the law provides grounds for civil action against those who join such conspiracies.

On April 8, Bloomberg News columnist Megan McArdle called such acts “prosecutorial power run amok.” She said the officials “spent a lot of time talking about global warming, and how bad it was, and how much they disliked fossil fuel companies. They threw the word ‘fraud’ around a lot. But the more they talked about it, the more it became clear that what they meant by ‘fraud’ was ‘advocating for policies that the attorneys general disagreed with.'”

Then the AG for the U.S. Virgin Islands decided to subpoena the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank that holds a contrarian view on the issue, for its “communications regarding climate change” over a full decade.

McArdle noted, “Prosecutors know the damage they can do even when they don’t have a leg to stand on. The threat of investigation can coerce settlements even in weak cases.”

However, “In a liberal democracy, every guerrilla tactic your side invents will eventually be used against you. Imagine a coalition of Republican attorneys general announcing an investigation of companies that have threatened state boycotts over gay-rights issues, and you may get a sense of why this is not such a good precedent to set.”

Regarding such boycotts, some may wonder why progressives want to subject women and even young girls to having a fully equipped male use their public restrooms.

But it is a matter of progressive opinion that “gender identity” is entirely up to the person involved, and not agreeing to that is thoughtcrime of the highest level.

Of course, it isn’t mentioned that many of the corporations (such as Coca-Cola and PayPal) threatening to boycott North Carolina because of that state’s “bathroom bill” do substantial business in Middle Eastern nations where gays are persecuted and even put to death.

Is such profitable hypocrisy newsworthy? I guess not.

How brainwashed are some of us? In a scary video, the Family Policy Institute of Washington asked college students on the University of Washington campus what they would tell the interviewer (a youngish white man of average height) if he said he was a 6-foot-5-inch Chinese woman.

None of the half-dozen students interviewed dared to contest the claim, despite its obvious ridiculousness.

Moving on, let’s consider a new development involving campus “crybullies,” students (and some faculty and administrators) who find the slightest disagreeable word or action enough to send them to their “safe spaces” to recover.

On many campuses, administrators have threatened disciplinary action against people who’ve written Donald Trump’s name in chalk on sidewalks.

Garnering the Twitter hashtag #thechalkening, the practice has been spreading. Any parent knows that some kids will double down on behavior that upsets adults, so ignoring this would have been the wise move, right?

Nope. Bowing to the complaints of special snowflakes who felt “oppressed” by this mild prank, many campuses have been in an uproar over it, even calling for “banning chalk” at some schools.

Why parents would waste tens of thousands of dollars sending their offspring to such places is beyond me.

As Dr. Ben Carson said in the 2013 speech opposing political correctness that propelled him to national prominence, “PC is dangerous. In this country, one of the founding principles was freedom of thought and freedom of expression. (Political correctness) puts a muzzle on people.”

Want to get past concerns about thoughtcrime? It’s easy. Just believe and say what you think is right, and if someone doesn’t like it, tell them you’re not about to be muzzled.

That’s what freedom is all about.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/22/m-d-harmon-some-on-the-left-use-1984-as-an-instruction-manual/feed/ 98 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/04/MD-Harmon.jpgFri, 22 Apr 2016 11:57:21 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Democratic front-runner caught weasel-wording the truth about guns http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/15/m-d-harmon-hillary-weasel-words-the-truth-about-guns-and-gets-caught/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/15/m-d-harmon-hillary-weasel-words-the-truth-about-guns-and-gets-caught/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=836174 The two Democratic candidates for president have been said to have “taken the gloves off” recently, disputing each other’s qualifications and quarreling over who better represents average Americans.

Since the choice is between a wacky socialist and a master of crony capitalism, the correct answer is “neither one.”

If their little water balloon fight is taking the gloves off, the Republican race is a cage death match fought with bazookas.

But one of Hillary Clinton’s charges hit Sen. Bernie Sanders where he lives – literally. On April 11, she said, “Most of the guns that are used in crimes and violence and killings in New York come from out of state.”

And, she said, Sanders’ home state of Vermont is “the state that has the highest per capita number of those guns that end up committing crimes in New York …. .”

Leaving aside the fact that guns don’t commit crimes, that claim is one of those perfect examples of how something can be simultaneously factual and false.

The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column, which last Oct. 5 gave President Obama’s claim that “the states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths” a rating of “Two Pinocchios” (out of a possible four), reported April 12 that Clinton’s claim was worth three Pinocchios.

As the Post explained, using a per capita measure is “misleading,” because only “1 percent of (New York) crime guns whose sources were identified in 2014 originated from Vermont: 55 of 4,585.”

So again she weasel-worded the truth to make a political point and got caught. As a Sanders spokesman noted, “No wonder people don’t trust her.”

But let’s consider the gun-grabbers’ claims that the availability of firearms makes their use in crimes more probable.

If Obama had been right, permissive places such as Maine and Vermont would have firefights on every corner.

Instead, as the Post reported, Maine ranks 45th in the nation in the number of gun-related crimes (without counting suicides, which have no relationship to illegal sales) and Vermont is 49th.

It seems it’s not guns, but the numbers of people willing to acquire them illegally and commit crimes with them, that makes New York so dangerous.

And that leads us to the Maine referendum this November on requiring background checks for non-dealer sales.

Published in 2015, a study by researchers from Duke and the University of Chicago found that most criminals who acquired guns illegally got them from trusted friends or family members, because they feared buying them from strangers exposed them to police stings or informants.

“It is rare for offenders to buy from licensed dealers, and also rare for them to steal their guns,” the study says. “Rather, the predominant sources of guns to offenders are family, acquaintances (and) fellow gang members … .”

That means that requiring ordinary citizens to perform background checks wouldn’t affect the vast majority of illegal firearms transfers.

But that isn’t stopping former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg from putting $50 million into campaigns to pass such laws in several states, including Maine.

Mainers are usually pretty fussy about “outsider” plutocrats trying to buy their votes. Perhaps they will consider telling Mike and his minions to go purchase another state, because this one’s not for sale.

UPDATE

Last week I noted that Hillary Clinton had committed a “Kinsley gaffe,” which commentator Michael Kinsley noted was a politician inadvertently telling the truth.

In her case, it was about “human persons” being aborted. This time, it was her husband’s turn, and the topic was crime.

As Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, said in an April 12 column, “When demonstrators (at an April 7 Philadelphia rally) inveighed against the 1994 crime bill signed by Bill Clinton, the former president gave much better than he got. He rebutted them in finger-wagging detail, repeatedly returning to the point that the crime bill sought to diminish the rampant criminality that was destroying black lives. Clinton thought he was winning the argument, and by any reasonable standard he was – but, politically, he committed a multitude of sins.”

That’s because activists now blame the law for greatly increasing the number of young black men in jail.

But, as Lowry noted, “It is easy to forget now, but between 1960 and 1990, the United States experienced perhaps the worst crime wave in its history. Violent crime increased more than 350 percent. Across the 1960s, robbery rose 500 percent in cities with a population of a million (or more). It would be impossible for the political system not to respond vigorously to such a tide of disorder, especially when the criminal-justice system was initially so inadequate to the task.”

Nevertheless, Bill Clinton apologized – sort of – and the fuss died down. Perhaps, once the election passes, telling the truth will become popular again.

Or not.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/15/m-d-harmon-hillary-weasel-words-the-truth-about-guns-and-gets-caught/feed/ 61 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/03/814202_632900-DEM-2016-Debate_Quin.jpgDemocratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, left, and, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., argue a point during a Democratic presidential primary debate at the University of Michigan-Flint on Sunday.Fri, 15 Apr 2016 11:03:42 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Hillary Clinton accidentally tells the truth – and other news from the world of politics http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/08/m-d-harmon-hillary-clinton-accidentally-tells-the-truth/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/08/m-d-harmon-hillary-clinton-accidentally-tells-the-truth/#comments Fri, 08 Apr 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=831368 Herewith, a political potpourri:

ACCORDING TO commentator Michael Kinsley, “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.”

Hillary Clinton committed that sort of faux pas by telling NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” last Sunday that, “The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights.”

Now, I think that’s accurate, as far as it goes. But the left was incensed over her use of the word “person,” because persons have rights.

“Hillary Clinton further stigmatizes abortion,” Diana Arellano, community engagement manager for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, unhappily wrote on Twitter, as quoted by The New York Times on April 4. “She calls a fetus an ‘unborn child’ (sic) and calls for later-term restrictions.”

And pro-life sources took the Democrats’ leading candidate for president to task for not defending the unborn.

Rebecca Kiessling, a spokeswoman for the pro-life Personhood Alliance, said, “It’s interesting that Hillary has now recognized the unborn as persons and that she wants to deny them equal protection. You can’t have it both ways.”

Still, Clinton is right. The unborn are human persons and have been deprived of their rights by the U.S. Supreme Court. Those rights, however, come not from the Constitution, which can only recognize fundamental rights, not grant them.

To find the source of those rights, you have to consult the Declaration of Independence, in which Thomas Jefferson rightly wrote that all human persons “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Note which one comes first.

ATTORNEYS GENERAL from 15 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands – not coincidentally, all Democrats except the last, who is an independent – have announced a coalition to defend the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules on carbon dioxide emissions and investigate energy companies that, in their view, have been misleading investors and the public about “climate change.”

“Misleading” is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but it makes a difference whether the people who don’t see eye to eye with you on a controversial issue can fine you or throw you in jail for daring to disagree with them. First Amendment? We don’t need no stinkin’ First Amendment!

And if you didn’t know, you still could have guessed: Maine Attorney General Janet Mills is one of the baying pack.

If you’re one of those retrograde individuals who dares to breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, better watch out. Janet has Al Gore on her side.

SO FAR, of the 54 Republican senators, 52 have remained solidly behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in opposing a hearing for Judge Merrick Garland.

Garland, as we know, was nominated by President Obama for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

McConnell’s point is simple: No one nominated for a vacancy created in a presidential election year has ever been approved before the election by a Senate controlled by the opposition party.

And top-level Democrats – including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Charles Schumer and Harry Reid – have rejected such nominations in the past.

What’s wrong with making an appointment a campaign issue and getting candidates on record about the qualities they believe their nominees should possess?

Two potential criticisms come to mind: First, judges are supposed to be disinterested regarding the outcome of questions decided by our courts, and therefore we simply need the best qualified legal mind available to fill the post.

Please. That may have once been the sole criterion for choosing jurists at this level, but no one now alive remembers such a time.

The court itself has rendered that argument moot long ago by frequently deciding cases along ideological lines, and weighing judges for political reasons has a long-standing pedigree. If not, why do Democrats keep on seeking nominees pledged to support abortion?

Second, previously rejected nominees have nevertheless all been granted hearings. Why not Garland?

For the same reason we should wait for an election: If a majority believes there’s good cause to reject him, why waste everyone’s time (and taxpayer dollars) on a meaningless event?

Finally, I should briefly mention the charges made by a letter writer last week who said McConnell (and I, by quoting him) had “twisted the facts” about such nominations.

The writer then listed eight judges all confirmed “in an election year” as evidence.

However, none of those examples falls into the category McConnell cited. The first six were appointed and approved by presidents and Senates of the same party; the seventh was a recess appointment and wasn’t voted on in an election year; and the eighth was appointed in 1987, which wasn’t an election year, either.

So the facts remain untwisted. Glad we could straighten that out.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/08/m-d-harmon-hillary-clinton-accidentally-tells-the-truth/feed/ 24 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/04/828806_DEM-2016-Biomedical-Resea2.jpgAfter a year of campaigning, months of debates and 35 primary elections, Bernie Sanders is finally getting under Hillary Clinton's skin in the Democratic presidential race.Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:38:20 +0000
M.D. Harmon: On Obamacare’s 6-year anniversary, the news isn’t good http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/01/harmon-on-obamacares-six-year-anniversary-the-news-isnt-good/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/01/harmon-on-obamacares-six-year-anniversary-the-news-isnt-good/#comments Fri, 01 Apr 2016 08:00:37 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=827796 The Republican Party is in trouble with many voters, who see that failing to act when action is required is just as bad as doing the wrong thing instead of the right one.

One of the principal reasons Republicans won control of Congress was its opposition to the Affordable Care Act, known popularly as “Obamacare.” But that hasn’t produced much of a result downstream.

Without broad support for a competing measure, pledges like Ted Cruz’s to repeal Obamacare on his first day in office ring hollow.

Part of the party’s dereliction of duty was failing to realize decades ago that the employer-insurance model, supplemented by programs for the elderly, the indigent and uninsured children, was costly, inefficient and unstable. Proposals were floated by think tanks and some exceptionally courageous politicians for improvements focused on giving tax breaks and decision-making power over health care to people rather than reserving them to employers and politicians.

But no one did anything, and that left the field open for an end run from the left, which has always had the (substantially more costly and inefficient) federalization of health care as a major policy goal.

Leaving us where we are today. We’ve just had Obamacare’s six-year anniversary on March 23, and the news isn’t good, to no conservative’s surprise.

An Associated Press-GfK poll in February showed 58 percent of respondents disapproving of the way President Obama has handled health care, the highest such ranking since July 2014.

Why? On Nov. 14, 2015, The New York Times noted that Obama has “trumpeted the low premiums available on the law’s new marketplaces.”

“But for many consumers,” the paper continued, “the sticker shock is coming not on the front end, when they purchase the plans, but on the back end when they get sick: sky-high deductibles that are leaving some newly insured feeling nearly as vulnerable as they were before they had coverage.”

And the Kaiser Family Foundation reported Sept. 22 that, since 2010 in the private sector, “both the share of workers with deductibles and the size of those deductibles have increased sharply.

These two trends together result in a 67 percent increase in deductibles since 2010, much faster than the rise in single premiums (24 percent) and about seven times the rise in workers’ wages (10 percent) and general inflation (9 percent).”

Jeffrey H. Anderson, a senior fellow with the conservative Hudson Institute, wrote last Dec. 11 that “Obamacare’s exchange subsidies, which the Congressional Budget Office projected would cost $464 billion over 10 years when the legislation passed the House in March 2010, are now projected by the CBO to cost $849 billion over a decade.”

He added, “This increased expense isn’t arising from increased coverage.” Originally projected to cover 21 million people by 2016, the exchanges may only reach 12 million by the end of this year.

And the exchanges themselves are in trouble. In a March 28 Maine Heritage Policy Center analysis, the conservative public policy group noted that Maine’s “Community Health Options (CHO) has decided to increase prices for patients and customers next year– the latest sign that this Obamacare health co-op is teetering on the brink of a total collapse.”

As the report noted, “The state’s largest provider of individual health insurance, CHO has also stopped accepting new customers because of its poor financial situation after ending 2015 with a shocking $31 million deficit. It is predicted to lose another $43 million in 2016.”

It added, “CHO and the 22 other (state) health care co-ops have been nothing short of a disaster.

“They needed roughly $2.4 billion in federal loans just to get started – and none of those taxpayer dollars have ever been repaid.

“Most of the co-ops never even got off the ground, with all but two of them still losing money by 2014. That same year, 13 of these co-ops failed to hit their projected enrollments. Now, 12 of them have collapsed and disappeared forever.”

Meanwhile, as U.S. News reported March 25, the CBO said Medicaid costs “over the next decade are projected to be $146 billion higher than expected … in spite of the fact that 19 states refuse to participate in the program at this time.”

That’s because, the CBO said, “Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollees will total 68 million people in 2016 – or 16 million more people than anticipated six years ago, when the law passed.”

But we needn’t worry: Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, was recorded telling a recent campaign rally that, if elected, her mother could fix “the kind of the crushing costs that still exist for too many people who even are part of the Affordable Care Act.”

Which brings to mind this saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a free-lance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/01/harmon-on-obamacares-six-year-anniversary-the-news-isnt-good/feed/ 112 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/06/655597_412201_health_overhaul_quin.jpgOver 60,000 Mainers could lose their health insurance if the Supreme Court rules this month that only people covered through state-based exchanges are eligible for Affordable Care Act insurance subsidies.Fri, 01 Apr 2016 17:13:13 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Mitch McConnell should stick to his guns on Supreme Court vacancy http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/25/m-d-harmon-mcconnell-should-stick-to-his-guns-on-supreme-court-vacancy/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/25/m-d-harmon-mcconnell-should-stick-to-his-guns-on-supreme-court-vacancy/#comments Fri, 25 Mar 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=824360 Judge not, that you be not judged, says the Scripture, but that passage is taking on a new meaning after the recent death of a spectacularly great jurist, Justice Antonin Scalia.

To the surprise of many, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky seems to be serious (and hardly “weak” at all) about taking “judge not” as a semi-divine command when it comes to letting President Obama fill the vacancy Scalia’s demise has left on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” McConnell told host George Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton apparatchik and Clinton Foundation donor (but Fox is the biased network, remember) that he would not schedule any hearings or votes on Obama’s new Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.

“The tradition,” McConnell said, “has been in a presidential election year that the next president after the American people have weighed in gets to make the decision.”

And then he laid out the history: “Look, the way Supreme Court justices have been handled in presidential election years is very clear. It’s been 80 years since a vacancy created in a presidential election year was filled. You have to go back to 1888, Grover Cleveland was in the White House, to find the last time a vacancy created in a presidential year on the Supreme Court was confirmed by a Senate controlled by the party different from the president.

“So we know what the tradition is. Joe Biden in 1992, when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, laid down the Biden Rule. He said when the campaign is underway, no Supreme Court judge would be confirmed.

“And in 2005, (then-Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid said, under the Constitution, the Senate doesn’t even have an obligation to give a vote to a nominee. And (New York Sen.) Chuck Schumer, who will be the Democratic leader next year, said 18 months before the 2008 election the Democratic Senate would not confirm a Supreme Court vacancy … .”

Why wait? Because it’s the (lower-case) democratic thing to do.

As McConnell noted, “George, the American people are in the middle of choosing who the next president is going to be. And that next president ought to have this appointment, which will affect the Supreme Court, for probably a quarter of a century.”

To that, Stephanopoulos noted, “But they elected President Obama.”

However, McConnell responded, that was not the most recent time the people had a chance to speak.

“The last time the American people voted was in 2014 and they elected a Republican Senate. And under the Constitution, we have shared responsibility. This is not something he does alone. He nominates. We confirm. The last time the American people spoke in 2014 they gave us nine additional net seats, and we took over the U.S. Senate.”

That some Republican senators, such as Mark Kirk of Illinois, have said that they would hold a hearing on Garland, doesn’t mean anything. McConnell does the scheduling, and as long as he says “no hearings,” no hearings will be held.

Now, will he hold firm to that until November? Beats me. But if not, he really would be exposed as weak – indeed, one of the weakest leaders Washington has ever seen (even including Jimmy Carter).

McConnell has critics beyond left-wingers, however. Prominent conservative columnist George Will says that stonewalling Garland’s nomination is mere obstructionism and an unworthy example of tit-for-tat revenge for Democrats’ deep-sixing the nominations of well-qualified jurists such as Robert Bork and Miguel Estrada.

Further, Will asks, do opponents believe that a President Trump would nominate someone better?

McConnell’s allies reply that even the chance of keeping a nominee off the bench who would cement progressives’ control of the court for a generation is worth taking. And, yes, there is a possibility a Trump appointment could be a decent one.

And one by President Cruz could be even better.

UPDATE

I saw this too late for last week’s column, but it’s too good an example of “virtue-signaling” (taking purely symbolic stands to gain undeserved praise) to let pass.

Last Saturday, left-wing groups sponsored a campaign for people to turn off all their electric lights and appliances from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. to honor something called “Earth Hour,” apparently to mark a global warming protest.

This is too rich. Can they not see how revealing it is to let everything useful, the chief advances of our civilization, be shut off so they can all sit around in the dark?

Naturally, conservatives encouraged people to turn on all their lights and other appliances to mark “Human Achievement Hour” as a time to celebrate actual progress instead of “progressive” neo-Dark Age retrogression.

People who actually live in the 21st century can see that it’s far better to light one bulb than bless the darkness.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/25/m-d-harmon-mcconnell-should-stick-to-his-guns-on-supreme-court-vacancy/feed/ 37 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/09/704476_Congress-Planned-Parenthood.jpgSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky concedes that his party will have to await the next president before it can cut off federal funds that go to Planned Parenthood.Thu, 24 Mar 2016 19:06:34 +0000
M.D. Harmon: The beauty of ‘virtue signaling’ is you don’t have to do anything http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/18/m-d-harmon-the-beauty-of-virtue-signaling-is-you-dont-have-to-do-anything/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/18/m-d-harmon-the-beauty-of-virtue-signaling-is-you-dont-have-to-do-anything/#comments Fri, 18 Mar 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=820422 I’m certain there are many others, but the first example I can recall in literature concerning today’s topic is a minor character in Charles Dickens’ massive novel “Bleak House.”

Mrs. Jellyby was a devout practitioner of what another character called “telescopic philanthropy,” meaning that she was so focused on expressing support for poverty-stricken members of distant African tribes that she completely ignored the needs of her own ill-clothed, malnourished family.

Today, thanks to a British journalist who reportedly coined the term in a column last year, we now have a new name for such activity. James Bartholomew, writing in the London Spectator on April 18, used an American example to lead off his article, “The awful rise of ‘virtue signaling.’ ”

He wrote, “Go to a branch of Whole Foods, the American-owned grocery shop, and you will see huge posters advertising Whole Foods, of course, but – more precisely – advertising how virtuous Whole Foods is. A big sign in the window shows a mother with a little child on her shoulders … and declares: ‘values matter.’

“The poster goes on to assert: ‘We are part of a growing consciousness that is bigger than food – one that champions what’s good.’ This is a particularly blatant example of the increasingly common phenomenon of what might be called ‘virtue signaling’ – indicating that you are kind, decent and virtuous.”

Indicating those qualities, that is, just by where you shop, without your ever doing anything to practice them. That would take effort, and it’s much easier just to spout off.

It’s much better, say, to enjoy a comedian who pokes fun at all the approved topics – social conservatives, gun owners, residents of rural areas (code name: “rednecks”), global warming skeptics (code name: “deniers”) and the like – than to take substantial action.

The audience can laugh, feel superior in the exclusive company of those who agree with them, and go home with a warm feeling of justification: “This guy sure put those awful people in their place.”

Easier, too, to be a politician for whom a higher minimum wage becomes a bidding war – “You want $10 an hour? I’ll give you $12!” “No, $15!” – leaving behind thousands of workers whose unskilled labor simply will not support such a high rate of pay. Who cares? I’m showing how compassionate I am, and that’s what counts. Bartholomew adds, “It’s notable how often virtue signaling consists of saying you hate things. It is camouflage. The emphasis on hate distracts from the fact you are really saying how good you are. If you were frank and said, ‘I care about the environment more than most people do’ or ‘I care about the poor more than others’, your vanity and self-aggrandizement would be obvious, as it is with Whole Foods. Anger and outrage disguise your boastfulness.”

Thus, the attorney general of the United States can tell a friendly senator in a recent hearing that the Justice Department has inquired if it can prosecute “climate change deniers.”

Not that she necessarily would (though, considering how the IRS treats conservatives, she might), but by uttering such comments, she signals the administration’s virtue on this cause to progressives while potentially silencing people who dare to disagree about it.

As Bartholomew says, the real advantage of virtue signaling is that “No one actually has to do anything. Virtue comes from mere words or even from silently held beliefs. There was a time in the distant past when people thought you could only be virtuous by doing things: by helping the blind man across the road; looking after your elderly parents instead of dumping them in a home; staying in a not-wholly-perfect marriage for the sake of the children. These things involve effort and self-sacrifice. That sounds hard!”

Much better to hold a disfavored political candidate accountable for his harsh rhetoric (fair enough, to be sure) but simultaneously hold favored groups to no accountability at all when they gang up in the street to prevent him from speaking.

And how often do we get told, whenever home-grown or immigrant Islamic jihadists attack someone in the United States, how much we all must beware of any kind of backlash against Muslims in general?

Again, it’s a fair warning – but we rarely seem to be told that when hate crimes against religious groups are reported, Jews are four times as likely to be targeted as are Muslims.

The Jewish magazine Forward reported on Dec. 15 that, according to FBI figures for 2014, fully 59 percent of religious hate crimes reported that year had Jewish targets, while 14 percent were aimed at Muslims.

If we need to issue cautions, they would seem more relevant if they were aimed predominately at protecting synagogues than mosques.

But where’s the virtue signaling in that?

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a free-lance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/18/m-d-harmon-the-beauty-of-virtue-signaling-is-you-dont-have-to-do-anything/feed/ 14 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/05/634813_956563-Whole-Foods_Quin.jpgWhole Foods Market is trying to appeal to a broader audience by combating its ”Whole Paycheck” image and keeping prices down.Fri, 18 Mar 2016 18:27:31 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Maybe Sanders knows something that might affect the campaign http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/11/m-d-harmon-maybe-sanders-knows-something-that-might-affect-the-campaign/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/11/m-d-harmon-maybe-sanders-knows-something-that-might-affect-the-campaign/#comments Fri, 11 Mar 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=816342 I don’t recall reading any predictions before last weekend’s party caucuses in Maine saying that Sen. Ted Cruz was a lock for the Republican nod and Sen. Bernie Sanders had the Democratic vote in his hip pocket. But that’s what happened.

Since then, to be sure, Donald Trump continues to win, up this week by 99 delegates over Cruz, but his lead in national polls is narrowing.

If his delegate count falls short of a first-ballot victory at the nominating convention in July, expect a ton of squawking and screaming, along with flying feathers and gigantic tufts of ripped-out fur. Hey, I’m looking forward to it.

But remember there is still a contest on the Democratic side, although Hillary Clinton is being given such overwhelming odds of winning that some people wonder why Sanders keeps trying.

The Dowager Countess of Chappaqua’s advantage in “superdelegates” would seem to make all the primaries and caucuses an exercise in futility for any unanointed outsider.

But their pledges to support her aren’t legally binding, something Nate Sliver’s fivethirtyeight.com website finds significant, because, as he wrote Feb. 12, “some of them probably will switch to Sanders if he extends his winning streak into more diverse states and eventually appears to have more of a mandate than Clinton among Democratic voters.”

Along that line, she once led by more than 20 points in Michigan, and just lost it to a socialist from Vermont in a huge (or yuuge?) upset. Are the polls that far off in other Midwestern contests?

Still, she remains the favorite to win a straight-up nomination fight. But maybe Sanders knows – or at least suspects – something that might affect that outcome.

What could that be? Not campaign funding: Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who hates Big Gulps and gun owners (possibly not in that order), has determined that his bottomless money bags still can’t buy him the presidency, so he’s announced he won’t make the independent run he’s been not-so-secretly pondering.

True, Sanders is taking in decent money – he’s logged his 5 millionth donation and in February took in $42.7 million to Clinton’s $30 million – but lags way behind on delegates.

Including superdelegates on both sides, he now has 574 to Clinton’s 1,223, according to a Bloomberg News report Thursday. The nomination requires 2,383 delegates, and 2,973 remain to be chosen.

So, he’s either in it for the publicity and the chance to make his points – not bad motives, as long as the money keeps rolling in – or he somehow hopes he can still win.

But how? The answer might be found in an MSNBC story Feb. 8, which stated, “In a letter disclosed (that day) in a federal court filing, the FBI confirms one of the world’s worst-kept secrets: It is looking into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.” But the agency said it couldn’t say any more “without adversely affecting ongoing law enforcement efforts.”

The filing made mincemeat of Clinton’s contentions that “the issue is closed” and that what the FBI has been doing is merely “a security review.” An investigation is clearly ongoing – and, outside of its own staff, the FBI doesn’t do security reviews; it investigates potential criminal activity.

In that context, the State Department release of 30,000 of Clinton’s private emails from her term as secretary of state have disclosed that:

Some 2,093 of her emails were classified as “confidential” or “secret.”

Another 22 were classified as “top secret,” and have been withheld even from redacted release.

And 104 that she herself composed and sent contain classified information, according to a March 5 Washington Post story.

A third Clinton contention is that the emails contained “no classified labels” when she either sent or received them, but she is responsible under the law for knowing when data are classified, even if unlabeled.

Further, intelligence officials who have surveyed the released material have said that some of its content was “classified at birth” – it could never have been transmitted without classification unless such labeling was intentionally removed.

Finally, on March 2, the Post cited an unidentified intelligence source saying that Bryan Pagliano, the technician Clinton hired to run her private server (and who in September pleaded the Fifth Amendment when asked to give testimony to Congress), has now been granted immunity from prosecution.

As Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who handled the trials of the first World Trade Center bombers in 1993, wrote March 3 on National Review Online, “a grant of immunity … is a powerful indication either that there is an active grand-jury investigation or that such an investigation is imminent.”

The major media are still downplaying or even ignoring all this, but I’ll bet Sanders is following it very closely.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/11/m-d-harmon-maybe-sanders-knows-something-that-might-affect-the-campaign/feed/ 18 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/09/708370_DEM-2016-Clinton-Emails.JPE.jpgHillary Clinton speaks in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She said in the interview that she didn’t need to apologize for using private email as secretary of state because it was “allowed.” On Tuesday, Clinton offered an apology in an interview with ABC News.Fri, 11 Mar 2016 11:32:25 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Donald Trump’s support stems from widespread discontent http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/04/m-d-harmon-donald-trumps-support-stems-from-widespread-discontent/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/04/m-d-harmon-donald-trumps-support-stems-from-widespread-discontent/#comments Fri, 04 Mar 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=812355 I’ve previously written that one of the chief motivations behind the high level of support for Donald Trump’s astoundingly effective candidacy is widespread discontent over the direction our nation has taken in recent decades.

As we enter the heat of party primaries, let’s explore the roots of that discord.

Three prominent analysts of American life have written recently on this subject: Charles Murray, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has authored many best-selling social science books; David Gelernter, a Yale computer scientist and prominent Unabomber target, does public policy analysis as well; and Angelo M. Codevilla is a fellow of the Claremont Institute and professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University.

Murray, writing Feb. 12 in The Wall Street Journal, says we shouldn’t think “Trumpism” will fade away if he does: “It is the endgame,” he says, “of a process that has been going on for a half-century: America’s divestment of its historic national identity.”

That identity, he says, involved “egalitarianism, liberty and individualism,” which spurred “equality before the law, equality of opportunity, freedom of speech and association, self-reliance, limited government, free-market economics (and) decentralized and devolved political authority.”

But now, our elites have become significantly isolated and our lower class has given up on the benefits of work and marriage to rely on government transfer payments – and the working class has noticed.

“White working-class men are looked down upon by the elites and get little validation in their own communities for being good providers, fathers and spouses – and life in their communities is falling apart. To top it off, the party they have voted for in recent decades, the Republicans, hasn’t done a damn thing to help them. Who wouldn’t be angry?”

Tellingly, Murray adds: “There is nothing conservative about how they want to fix things. They want a now-indifferent government to act on their behalf, big time. If Bernie Sanders were passionate about immigration, the rest of his ideology would have a lot more in common with Trumpism than conservatism does.”

In the Weekly Standard on Feb. 29, Gelernter says Trumpian discontent has many sources, but they all fall under one general rubric: that scourge of modern life called “political correctness,” which has soured nearly every aspect of American comity.

Gelernter offers numerous examples – we fight Islamic terrorism, but our president won’t even say its name; when Marines prove women are far less effective than men in combat, “a hack overrules them”; the Environmental Protection Agency issues rules that will destroy the American coal industry for a purely symbolic statement on carbon; the Internal Revenue Service systematically punishes conservative groups and “not one IRS worker has the integrity or guts to resign on principle, not one.”

I could add other examples: One is that our elites send their own children to exclusive private schools, but join with greedy teachers’ unions to fight charter schools and school-choice programs that would give ordinary people the same discretion. But, Gelernter says, none of that is the main point, which is that “many white male job-seekers have faced aggressive state-enforced bigotry their whole lives.” Preference programs place them – and their college-applying children – at the bottom of too many lists to count, and they are finally, completely, tired of it.

Finally, Codevilla, writing on The Federalist website Feb. 29, says, “America is now ruled by a uniformly educated class of persons that occupies the commanding heights of bureaucracy, of the judiciary, education, the media, and of large corporations, and that wields political power through the Democratic Party. … This class’ fatal feature is its belief that ordinary Americans are a lesser intellectual and social breed.”

No wonder then, he says, that “millions of Americans lose respect for a ruling class that disrespects them, that they identify with whomever promises some kind of turnabout against that class, and that they care less and less for the integrity of institutions that fail to protect them.”

None of these writers are fans of Trump, and for good reason. Americans want and deserve to be governed, and governed well – but they have fallen into the hands of those who would rule over them instead.

As Codevilla concludes, “America’s founders, steeped in history as few of our contemporaries are, were acutely aware of how easily factional enmities deliver free peoples into the hands of emperors. America is already advanced in this vicious cycle. The only possible chance of returning it to republicanism lies in not taking the next turn, and in not following one imperial ruler with another.”

Still (pending the outcome of the Democrats’ ongoing “FBI primary”), we may not be able to avoid that outcome if the race comes down to Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump – a Scylla-or-Charybdis roll of the dice where every result is snake eyes.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/04/m-d-harmon-donald-trumps-support-stems-from-widespread-discontent/feed/ 14 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Harmon-e1476486809355.jpgStaff Photo by John Ewing, Thursday, April 1, 2004: Mike Harmon, editorial page writer, for column sig.Fri, 04 Mar 2016 19:14:27 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Bernie Sanders preys on those who are ignorant of history http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/26/m-d-harmon-bernie-sanders-preys-on-those-who-are-ignorant-of-history/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/26/m-d-harmon-bernie-sanders-preys-on-those-who-are-ignorant-of-history/#comments Fri, 26 Feb 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=808144 Sen. Bernie Sanders, who decided he was a Democrat a few months ago, has spent much more time calling himself a socialist.

When asked about that, he inserts the softening adjective “democratic” in front of the hard-core noun, presumably to differentiate himself from “undemocratic socialists” like Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez, among many others.

When even Hillary Clinton and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz either can’t or won’t explain how being a Democrat is different from being a socialist (both sloughed off the question in recent interviews), one assumes their reticence is conditioned by their desire not to upset their party’s base.

Sanders’ stance has considerable support among people on the left who think “liberal” is antediluvian and “progressive” a dodge for weasels. That’s especially so for the millennial generation, roughly those under 30, who voted for Sanders at or above the 80 percent level in recent primaries.

Yet, few of that group (less than 20 percent in a 2010 poll) could cite socialism’s standard definition, “government control of the means of production.”

Which means they don’t understand that when government controls all the jobs, it controls everyone and everything.

Young people seldom are reminded that where real socialism reigned, freedom was nonexistent and prison camps and cemeteries were kept full by the all-powerful state.

Indeed, “democratic socialism” can be defined as a half-dozen armed robbers stealing a victim’s wallet and justifying their crime because it was decided by a 6-1 vote.

Still, that isn’t what Sanders means, we’re told.

Instead of dictatorships, we should be copying countries like Denmark or Sweden, where health care and higher education are “free,” and citizens are kept wrapped up safe and warm in a blanket of mandated wages and benefits that keep them fully insulated from life’s vicissitudes.

But as a Feb. 15 commentary on The Federalist website noted, “These countries actually are not socialist, but ‘socialistic.’ To accommodate their massive social welfare spending, these countries opened their economies to free-market forces in the 1990s, sold off state-owned companies, eased restrictions on business startups, reduced barriers to trade and business regulation, and introduced more competition into health care and public services.”

In truth, the article points out, the things that millennials find harsh about the United States today – lack of entry-level jobs, the uselessness of many college majors coupled with sky-high tuition rates, and expensive health insurance and housing costs – are primarily because of government interference in the economy.

As Paul Starr, a Princeton professor of social policy and public affairs, wrote on the Politico website Feb. 22, “Sanders’ portrayal of democratic socialism as nothing but the New Deal is a disingenuous sleight of hand that plays on foggy historical memories.”

He added, “He is still calling for a ‘revolution’ to achieve socialism, blasting the ‘ruling class,’ endorsing taxes at confiscatory levels and proposing a health plan that would effectively nationalize a sixth of the economy. Summing up his proposals, left-of-center economists estimate that (they) would increase the size of the federal government by 40 percent to 50 percent.”

And millennials’ hopes that “the rich” will pay the bills run afoul of two facts: First, broad-based welfare requires broad-based revenues. Social Security and Medicare pay their bills by taxing almost every worker and employer, and still face empty coffers in a decade or so. Adding now-exempt income levels would only postpone the inevitable, and Sanders’ “Medicare for all” plan is a red-ink chimera.

The second is that money is portable, and as fast as one loophole closes, another opens – and foreign nations will offer shelters far beyond the current ones if the demand for them increases.

Patrick Deneen, a Notre Dame professor of constitutional studies, admires his students greatly.

And yet, on the Minding the Campus website Feb. 2, he writes, “But ask them some basic questions about the civilization they will be inheriting, and be prepared for averted eyes and somewhat panicked looks. Who fought in the Peloponnesian War? Who taught Plato, and whom did Plato teach? How did Socrates die? … Who was Saul of Tarsus? What were the 95 theses, who wrote them, and what was their effect? Why does the Magna Carta matter? How and where did Thomas Becket die? Who was Guy Fawkes, and why is there a day named after him? What did Lincoln say in his Second Inaugural?”

Deneen concludes, “It is not their ‘fault’ for pervasive ignorance of Western and American history, civilization, politics, art and literature. They have learned exactly what we have asked of them – to be like mayflies, alive by happenstance in a fleeting present.”

By learning history, we are supposed to avoid its mistakes and copy its successes. Sanders and his supporters, however, are getting that exactly backward.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/26/m-d-harmon-bernie-sanders-preys-on-those-who-are-ignorant-of-history/feed/ 53 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/02/DEM-2016-Debate-Sande_Byun3.jpgFri, 26 Feb 2016 18:22:37 +0000
M.D. Harmon: To encourage affordable housing, government should ease regulatory burden http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/19/m-d-harmon-a-ceiling-on-rents-reduces-quality-and-quantity-of-housing/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/19/m-d-harmon-a-ceiling-on-rents-reduces-quality-and-quantity-of-housing/#comments Fri, 19 Feb 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=804026 Jimmy McMillan, a highly eccentric New Yorker, got 41,000 votes in 2010 when he ran for governor there as the candidate of “The Rent is Too Damn High Party.”

Sadly, at least for admirers of the politically exotic, McMillan “retired” last year, saying that despite tons of media attention, including a music video and a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, nobody cared about his cause.

Perhaps he should move to Portland, where rents have been climbing and people have been put out about it – sometimes literally, as in either evicted or forced to leave their rental units because the cost became unaffordable.

A Press Herald story Feb. 13 detailed the problems faced by some low- and middle-income city dwellers, noting that “Portland’s market-rate rent for a two-bedroom apartment, including utilities, has increased 40 percent in five years,” well beyond the rate of inflation.

At the same time, a newspaper survey last fall found the average renter’s income had fallen, making the affordability gap for rental housing even greater.

There’s no gainsaying the hardships involved. When people’s jobs or family networks are tied to a specific location, being able to live nearby is a necessity, not an option.

But important questions are being bypassed. While the discussion in the media so far has focused on passing laws to limit rents, few are asking what can be done to increase the supply of affordable housing – and what government’s role should be in achieving that end.

In the Portland area, the demand side of that question is hitting the supply side head-on.

Opinions may vary, but “rent control” laws are among the best-studied statutes in the economic field. We cannot ignore the real human needs they are designed to address, but it’s perfectly proper to ask whether there is reliable evidence showing that such laws are the best way of alleviating the problem.

As the story noted, rent control laws exist in a few states – Maryland, California, New York and New Jersey, along with the District of Columbia, were cited as examples. Some 35 states, however, legally pre-empt or prohibit local rent control ordinances, and it’s worth asking why they have done so.

Maine does not limit them, although so far no communities here have enacted any. Not surprisingly, most of their support comes from the political left.

Those supporters say the power of the state should be used to raise renters’ needs for housing to a higher legal status than the right of a private property owner to receive appropriate recompense for the use of his personal assets.

In this view, the social good is that renters can find places to live that are more affordable and achieve “stability” in their lives by not being forced to move when rents increase.

Those benefits come at a cost, however, and landlords are the ones who pay it. They may have invested considerable resources in their properties, only to be told that severe restrictions have been placed on the return they expected for their investments.

Thus, these laws essentially make private individuals de facto state employees against their will.

That’s not the only impact. Many studies say rent control statutes actually harm renters because they:

Decrease the housing supply by making it unprofitable to build new units.

Divert money that might have been invested in areas covered by rent control to housing in other cities or other types of development outside the scope of the laws.

Depreciate the quality of covered units by not providing enough revenue for landlords to undertake adequate maintenance.

As The Library of Economics and Liberty noted in its entry on rent control, “Economists are virtually unanimous in concluding that rent controls are destructive. In a 1990 poll of 464 economists published in the May 1992 issue of the American Economic Review, 93 percent of U.S. respondents agreed, either completely or with provisos, that ‘a ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available.’ ”

What’s the alternative? All too often, governments respond to the high cost of housing by restricting its profitability when they should work to increase it to spur more development.

Portland resident Sean Kerwin noted in a column Wednesday that improving public transportation and opening undeveloped areas to construction would make a big difference – as would activists’ acceptance of the results of city processes without initiating costly and time-consuming legal actions opposing them.

But there’s more: Cities like Portland, which, as Kerwin noted, have made some progress in permitting and public notice reforms, should be much more proactive in scouring their housing ordinances to eliminate unnecessary restrictions on new construction and the conversion of older dwellings to rental units.

Increase the supply, and the cost will drop. It’s Econ 101, but it can’t work if no one gives it a chance.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/19/m-d-harmon-a-ceiling-on-rents-reduces-quality-and-quantity-of-housing/feed/ 5 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/12/773598_365663-20140725_housing_015.jpgPress Herald file photo of homes under construction on Munjoy Hill.Fri, 19 Feb 2016 15:52:15 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Maine joins in nationwide Obama-era shift from blue to red http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/12/m-d-harmon-united-states-shifts-from-blue-to-red-over-seven-years/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/12/m-d-harmon-united-states-shifts-from-blue-to-red-over-seven-years/#comments Fri, 12 Feb 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=799979 On Feb. 3, Gallup published a poll revealing something new about Americans’ political preferences.

As a Washington Post story put it, “For the first time since Gallup began measuring party affiliation nationwide, there are now more red (Republican) states than blue (Democratic) ones.”

This clearly isn’t the first time that’s happened, as Gallup has only been measuring the states by partisanship for eight years.

But the fun fact here is the change over the past seven years.

That is, of course, a period coterminous with the tenure of our current Democratic president. Over those years, large numbers of Americans have abandoned his party, Gallup says.

How ungrateful can such wretches get, considering how much our status in the world, our national debt, our levels of social harmony, our military preparedness and our political discourse have improved since 2008?

Gallup defines a state as “solid” for a party if it has a 10-point or larger majority in voter registrations, and “leaning” if there is a five-to-nine-point edge.

The new survey reveals that 20 states are now solidly Republican or leaning to the party, while 14 are leaning or solidly Democratic. The remaining 16 are rated “competitive.”

That’s interesting, but it’s the shift from 2008 that’s important: Back then, there were 35 states in Democratic ranks, with just five rated as solid or leaning Republican and 10 rated competitive.

So from 2008 to 2015, Democrats lost a 30-state lead and now have a six-state deficit, an astounding turnaround. And Republicans have 31 governorships, hold complete control of 30 state legislatures and run 50 percent of the governing bodies in another eight states.

Thus, more than 75 percent of state legislative chambers are in Republican hands.

I suppose nobody is going to call this the “Obama effect,” but it’s a very odd trend if it isn’t related to his impact on the nation.

What about Maine? For decades it was a solidly blue state, but Maine is now ranked “competitive” by Gallup. Here, too, the edge goes to the Republicans: Mainers have a 38.8 percent “leaning Democratic” ranking, but 42.5 percent of us are “leaning Republican,” a 3.7 percent tilt toward the pachyderms. That’s reflected in its Republican governorship and Senate majority, and its first-term 2nd District congressman.

How about a liberal-moderate-conservative ranking? In 2015, only three states showed more self-identified liberals than conservatives. They were Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. (Surprised? Me neither.)

Maine actually had an 11.2 percent conservative edge in 2015, 35.4 percent conservatives to 24.2 percent liberals (moderates had a slight plurality at 36.5 percent).

We hear an awful lot about how the “divided Republican Party” is falling apart at the seams, but looking at these figures – and recent polls showing Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders catching up to Hillary Clinton at the national level – one wonders which party it really is that is splitting apart.

As an aside – but a related one – three recent Press Herald stories deserve notice. The first was a sidebar to a national story Jan. 31 noting that “work requirements” for able-bodied childless adults aged 18 to 49 receiving food aid may soon remove 1 million recipients from the rolls nationwide.

The rules require adults “to work, volunteer or attend job-training or other education programs or have their benefits cut off after three months.”

I think most people would call it only common sense to save the money for families with kids and motivate adults who can work to do so. (Progressives, who never met a program that encouraged dependency they didn’t like, might not agree, but note I said “most people.”)

Indeed, thanks to Gov. LePage and other Republicans, there has been real progress on this front, the sidebar noted: “The number of healthy, childless adults receiving food stamps in Maine has fallen from 13,589 on Nov. 1, 2014, to 1,206 on Nov. 15 of last year.”

But this is even better: A Jan. 29 story reported that “Maine’s coffers are flush with higher-than-expected receipts from sales taxes and personal income taxes,” with revenues “running about 13.5 percent” over the previous 12-month period.

A state official said Maine’s growing economy meant “2015 was a much stronger year for Maine households than we had been predicting,” and the state’s jobless rate, “which has been declining for more than seven years, accelerated in the past two years, reaching 4.0 percent in December,” the lowest rate in the past 15 years.

Finally, on Tuesday, a story said that Gov. LePage, who strangely hasn’t given up yet on tax cuts, drug testing for welfare recipients and importing Canadian hydropower (and why should he?), chose to call his opponents in Augusta “socialists.”

His targets were reported to be upset, but I couldn’t tell whether it was because he was wrong – or because he was right.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/12/m-d-harmon-united-states-shifts-from-blue-to-red-over-seven-years/feed/ 177 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/12/767923_GOP-2016-Debate.JPEG-08d06.jpgThe stage is set for Tuesday night’s CNN Republican presidential debate at the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.Fri, 12 Feb 2016 11:46:30 +0000
M.D. Harmon: Clinton may have ‘won’ Iowa, but what about her emails? http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/05/m-d-harmon-clinton-may-have-won-iowa-but-what-about-her-emails/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/05/m-d-harmon-clinton-may-have-won-iowa-but-what-about-her-emails/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=795945 Let’s make a few observations on the Iowa results, starting with the fact that two middle-aged Hispanics and a black man won 60 percent of the Republican vote.

Meanwhile, the Democratic field has been narrowed to two elderly people of pallor who are competing to see which one can run further to the extreme left of the political spectrum.

There’s been speculation about whether Hillary Clinton actually won the Democratic caucuses by a half-dozen random coin flips – hardly a genuine “win” – but media reports contradict each other, and the end result was she got four more state convention delegates than Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Speaking of the Party of the Rich, CNN reported Feb. 1 that a super PAC supporting Clinton just got a $6 million donation from progressive billionaire George Soros.

Soros, who made most of his fortune through currency manipulation, previously gave $5 million to support President Obama.

Clinton raised a total of $112 million in 2015, and continues to build on that.

Sanders raised $73 million last year and added $20 million in January alone, CNN reported.

Sanders boasts he has many more small donors than Clinton, but interestingly, as Investor’s Business Daily noted on Feb. 1, he is supported by the left-wing group Moveon.org, which also is a big beneficiary of George Soros’ contributions.

Some would say Soros is hedging his bets, but what socialist Sanders calls it is unknown, pretending as he does that big money is not part of his campaign.

Still, his money has bought him the best single commercial of the campaign so far. “We’ve All Come to Look for America” is stirring and upbeat, building to a crescendo of enthusiastic Sanders backers crowding his rallies while cheering heir heads off (even if it’s only for the free stuff he promises them at every opportunity).

I’m sure Clinton would have liked to show the same thing, if she could ever hold a rally that attracted that many people.

Sure, Republicans in total are spending similar amounts. But the party that’s proudly running “against Wall Street” doesn’t seem reluctant to pursue big-money moguls when it needs ready supplies of campaign cash or other outside assistance.

Yes, you could say that’s an argument for the public financing of campaigns.

But the Constitution prohibits making that mandatory, and the first one to volunteer for it at the national level will end up feeling as if he or she tried to stop a buffalo stampede by standing in front of it while waving a hankie.

Iowa’s turnout totals had some good news for Republicans, and less so for Democrats. Eight years ago, when their ticket was last contested, 220,000 Democrats turned out, twice the number of Republicans.

But this year, Democratic turnout declined to 170,000, while Republicans mustered 10,000 more than that, a record for the party.

Looking ahead, the 800-pound gorilla hiding behind the teleprompter is the continuing controversy over Clinton’s private-server emails as secretary of state.

The number with classified content runs to more than 1,200, the Politico website reported a month ago. And recently the State Department held back 22 of them, saying they were so secret that even revealing their titles was too much to risk.

According to former National Security Agency analyst John R. Schindler, writing on the Observer.com website Feb. 1, a number of emails contained the identities of U.S. agents abroad, including both Americans and foreigners.

If Iran, Russia or China got hold of Clinton’s emails – which both former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell said last month is almost certain – the content of such messages could destroy their effectiveness and possibly endanger their lives.

Clinton has said that the State Department needs to release the 22 emails, which, if they are as sensitive as is claimed, simply won’t happen. Schindler calls that demand “pure political theater.”

Clinton also claimed that none of the emails were “marked classified” when she got them. But, as Schindler notes, that’s no excuse under the law, because it was her legal responsibility to determine the classification of a document before retransmitting or storing it outside a secure system.

Clinton downplays the scandal, and much of the national media abets her by minimizing or even ignoring the story. But instead of going away, it keeps on building.

Now the questions are, will the FBI recommend an indictment? And if it does, is the Justice Department too partisan to accept it?

My guesses? Yes, and yes.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

mdharmoncol@yahoo.com

]]>
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/05/m-d-harmon-clinton-may-have-won-iowa-but-what-about-her-emails/feed/ 51 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/02/DEM-2016-Clinton_Byun-1.jpgDemocratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks in front of former President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea during a caucus night party at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)Wed, 10 Feb 2016 13:11:51 +0000