Tom McLaughlin: Democrat War on Cops

Most of us are hyper-aware of police. If we're in a hurry and driving over the speed limit, we're trying to avoid them. We look in the rearview mirror or ahead of us and cringe if we see one, slowing down immediately. Cops know this. If we're victims of a crime, however, they can't appear fast enough. Cops know this, too.

Years ago, a cop knocked on my door, and when I invited him in, he handed me a summons. He wore a bullet-proof vest under his shirt, and I asked him why he had to wear that just going around delivering paperwork. He said cops don't know what type of reception they're going to get and have to prepare for the worst. It's the same reason they don't stand right outside of your driver's side window after stopping you. They're trained to stand to the rear, and you have to turn your head way around if you want to make eye contact.

Regardless of what you may have heard, cops don't like writing speeding tickets, but they do like helping people. That's why they became cops. They also know more about the public than the public knows about them because they see us at our worst. Years of dealing with people who are stealing, molesting, assaulting, killing or just going crazy is debilitating. A retired detective recently told me he's writing about cops partly to help civilians understand why so many become alcoholics and/or suicidal. It's a tough job.

I had dinner with another cop soon after the Michael Brown shooting two years ago. The media was full of stories of how racist cop Darren Wilson shot "gentle giant" Michael Brown in the back while he had his hands up pleading, "Don't shoot!" After a few weeks, some of us learned that none of that was true — it was all made up by Brown's friends and completely swallowed by liberal media. He wasn't a gentle giant. He was a thug, and he wasn't running away. He was assaulting Officer Wilson and trying to grab his gun. After the media had so saturated the public with the "Hands up! Don't shoot!" lie, however, facts didn't matter. Most Americans still believe Brown was shot by a racist cop.

The officer with whom I had dinner was very dismayed. He said cops everywhere were affected, even in rural Maine. The atmosphere had changed. Cops were second-guessing themselves — thinking about how public encounters might be spun by media instead of reacting instinctively to potentially dangerous situations — and that hesitation put them in still more danger. Cops know they're the good guys and don't like being portrayed by media as the bad guys.

It didn't help when the day after the Michael Brown shooting, President Barack Obama's Justice Department sent teams of people to Ferguson to instruct local officials and the general public about "White Privilege" and racism. It got worse when Democrat billionaire George Soros sent $33 million to organize Black Lives Matter. My cop friend believed things were going to get worse and he was right. Black Lives Matter and other groups held demonstrations all over the country chanting: "Pigs in a blanket (body bag)! Fry 'em like bacon!" and "What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want 'em? Now!" Hillary invited BLM leaders to meet with her. President Obama invited them to the White House. Then five cops were murdered in Dallas by an angry black man. Three more were murdered in Baton Rouge by another angry black man — all just because they were cops. Individual police officers all over the country were shot as well.

According to Heather MacDonald's new book "War on Cops," a cop is 19 times more likely to be killed by a black man than a black man to be killed by a cop. That's a fact, but media portray it otherwise. Their narrative is that racist white cops like to shoot young black men and media controls public perception. In politics, perception is reality. It's no coincidence that Michael Brown's parents spoke at the UN. The Democratic Party hopes to benefit from public misperception so they invited Brown's mother to speak at their national convention in Philadelphia this week.

CBS reported that: "(Philadelphia Police) Union president John McNesby says Hillary Clinton should be ashamed for allowing relatives of people killed by police to speak, but not give equal time to families of fallen officers."

Many declare that President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party itself have created the war on cops. Repeatedly embracing the allegedly Reverend Al Sharpton and other race-baiters as well as granting legitimacy to wild accusations about "racist" cops has created a dangerous climate.

None of this is good, and cops know it. As they back off confronting black criminals, murder rates climb. Should Democrats win in November, we can expect that trend to continue.

 

William Marvel: Calling G. K. Chesterton

In the spring of 1747, G. K. Chesterton wrote a long, encouraging letter to his son, who was away at school. Perhaps the best-known maxim from that letter was his adjuration about “never putting off anything till to-morrow that could be done to-day,” but the wisest of his advice had come a couple of sentences earlier. “There is time enough for everything, in the course of the day,” Chesterton assured the boy, “if you do but one thing at once; but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at once.” For the benefit of a student faced with studying both Homer and Horace in the original on the same day, he added that “steady and undissipated attention to one subject is a sure mark of a genius; as hurry, bustle, and agitation, are the never-failing symptoms of a weak and frivolous mind.”

I wouldn’t give Chesterton much credit for punctuation, but he postulated a stellar work ethic. His paean to concentration also served as a reproach to the bad habit we now call multi-tasking.

When my wife first took over the little school where she now works, she had to be the director, receptionist, administrative assistant, bookkeeper, janitor, and teacher all at once, and I often heard her explain to questioners how she managed it all. “I do one thing until it’s finished,” she would invariably say,” and then I go on to the next thing.” It was surprising to hear that from her, although I knew it was true, because she worked like a whirling dervish at home, and still does. Sometimes she still congratulates herself on her capacity for multitasking, too. That word makes me cringe, because I associate it with the smell of incinerated vegetables, or with the image of her car barreling out of the driveway with a coffee mug on the roof.

We won’t go into my own remarkable ability to concentrate for days or weeks at a time — partly because it would seem smug and partly because it might get me killed in my sleep. However, I do find that my most productive working hours fall late at night or early in the morning, when the phone isn’t ringing and the world is quiet.

It’s been perversely gratifying to read of one study after another confirming my early suspicions that the obsessive multi-tasking so common in our electronic society would destroy worker productivity, trivialize relationships, and cripple the intellect. Perhaps the most perverse gratification of all was the first news that controlled experiments had demonstrated that talking on a cell phone while driving was almost exactly as dangerous as driving while drunk — even with a hands-free phone.

As early as 2006, a controlled test of 40 drivers found at least equal impairment among those talking on cell phones as driving over the legal alcohol limit; in fact, three of those with cell phones crashed their cars, while none of the drunks did. Subsequent studies have produced similar results, and have recently added the inescapable conclusion that hands-free phones are just as dangerous. As many safety advocates have been arguing for a decade or more, the danger lies not in having one hand busy, but in having one’s brain out of action. A British study concluded, among other things, that the driver visualizes the person on the other end of the line, while the people, objects, and situations in front of the car often don’t register.

Our solicitous guardians in the Legislature, who were so intent on forcing us to wear seat belts just a few years back, waited an unseemly long time to muster enough courage just to protect us from drivers using hand-held cell phones. Judging by the frequency of that sight today, and the number of drivers glancing at their laps at stoplights or on the road, even that belated and perfunctory legislation isn’t being enforced much, in Conway or anywhere else.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for them to ban hands-free phones. If our legislators really were more concerned about public safety than their own electability, they would impose some serious penalties on the highway use of all cell phones. Automobile accidents, rather than guns, are the most common cause of death for American teenagers, and most of those accidents are alcohol or cell-phone related. Those same legislators who are so anxious to restrict guns might show a little interest in a much more widespread threat. Few Americans have ever had a gun pointed at them, but most have had close calls — or worse — with motorists who are more interested in their telephone conversations than in anyone else’s safety. Maybe some of our representatives could concentrate on one thing at a time, and choose the most important first.

William Marvel lives in South Conway.

Tom McLaughlin: American Families

“Ruth is on top, finally,” said my brother-in-law. We were at Arlington National Cemetery to bury my wife’s mother, Ruth Kosiavelon.

The graves are all in straight lines there like soldiers in formation — ever ready, as the cemetery tour guide described them. We had buried my father-in-law, Theodore Kosiavelon there four years ago, and Ruth’s coffin was to be situated above his because there isn’t room to put spouses beside dead soldiers. Her inscription would be etched into the back of his stone.

Ruth was Ted’s second wife, loved and respected as mother to children and step-children. Nearly all made the trip down along with friends who had attended her wake and funeral Mass back in May. It takes time to arrange a burial at Arlington, and they do 30 every day. Ted earned the right to be buried there during World War II when he was wounded in the Manila Bay by a Japanese torpedo plane attack. Ruth wouldn’t be anywhere but with Ted, and so we all gathered again for her ceremony. It’s the end of an era because Ruth was the last remaining member of the greatest generation on my wife’s side.

Leaving from the Portland Jetport last Wednesday night, we bumped into conservative commentator Tucker Carlson. He has a place in Andover, Maine, where he told us President Obama got only one vote in the last election. It was a different story in Washington, D.C., where Obama remains popular.

The Obama effect is evident all over town. In the guided tour of the Arlington National Cemetery, blacks laid to rest there were mentioned most prominently, from Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, some Tuskegee Airman, Frank E. Petersen Jr., who was the first black Marine general, Matthew Henson, who was with Admiral Peary when he discovered the North Pole, and so on. Museums we toured showed similar influence, where attention is constantly called to the first black this and the first black that.

Worldwide, there was a lot going on last week, but I couldn’t study events as closely as I usually do with doing the tourist things as well as commiserating with family. The five Dallas police officers killed last week were being laid to rest, then three more were killed in Louisiana. A Muslim terrorist killed 85 with a truck in France.

Information about torture at the November Paris nightclub attack emerged after the French government withheld it for months. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, to whom I’d been introduced by a mutual friend during an earlier trip, was selected as Donald Trump’s running mate.

It stresses me when I can’t find time to keep up with world events, and last week I was falling further behind with so much going on. Ruth had always tried to keep up, too, and I’ll miss getting her perspective.

After the burial we all gathered in the revolving sky dome restaurant on the 14th floor of the Doubletree Hotel in Crystal City. The Pentagon is nearby with Arlington National Cemetery beyond, and we could see across the Potomac to the Washington Monument. Ruth had bought everyone a round of drinks at the sky dome when we buried Ted, and we all toasted her memory.

Also at the hotel was a reunion of another extended family calling itself the Demery, Farley, Syas, Taylor Family. Four hundred of them wore red T-shirts, and I’d get snippets of information from members during elevator conversations. In an extended discussion with one member I learned they’re all descended from two brothers who were “free people of color” in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and fought in the Battle of New Orleans. For this, they were granted special permission to live as free blacks in Louisiana, which would not otherwise have allowed it. Their descendants have kept in touch for two centuries and still meet every two years.

And speaking of family reunions, last week I guided members of the Stiles Family to the lonely, 1848 grave of ancestor Olive Stiles for the third time after I wrote about finding it in 2007. It’s on the slope of Stiles Mountain in the White Mountain National Forest. Ten of them were making a side trip from their larger reunion in New York City.

As she lay on her death bed, Ruth told her loved ones she knew she was going to her Lord. That awareness gave her strength to die with peace and dignity, which in turn helped ease the loss for everyone.

Also, the DSFT family reunion activities included “Family Worship” on Sunday, the day we left. Awareness of where we come from strengthens us all. Our Founding Fathers understood that and referred to our Creator at our country’s birth — a good thing to keep in mind at a time when our country and the families that make it up are feeling the strain of troubled times.

Tom McLaughlin lives in Lovell, Maine. He can be reached on his website at tommclaughlin.blogspot.com.

National Perspective: A tale of two Clintons

By David Shribman

She is private; he is public. She studies bulging policy briefing books to look prepared; he studies them to look spontaneous. She has the gift of iron discipline; he has the gift of gab. Hillary Clinton regards a crowded auditorium as hostile territory; Bill Clinton regards it as his sweet Arkansas home.
"Bill is a big-picture guy but isn't as disciplined as she is," says former Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, a onetime Democratic National Committee chairman who has observed both at close range. "He's incredibly bright and a very fast learner, but she's more detail-oriented."
For the third time in a quarter-century, the Democrats are gathering to nominate a Clinton for president. But the Clinton who now begins her general-election campaign is seeking the White House in a different century and, in many ways, in a different country from the one her husband governed.
This third Clinton campaign comes in an age when the Democrats have virtually abandoned the free trade Bill Clinton espoused, when their constituent groups are rethinking his views on crime and welfare, when they are re-examining the Wall Street ties that in the 1990s were refreshing symbols of a new approach to business.

Erik Eisele: God, science and wonder

A few weeks ago I woke up to a bear in the yard. He wasn’t doing anything really, just milling about. I watched him through the window as he sniffed, coursing back and forth over the grass lazily, painted orange in morning sunlight. When he lumbered off to the next yard, I packed my things to go swimming.

I’m not much of a swimmer. I did a lap across the Echo Lake, pausing in the middle to rest, lie on my back and float. I could feel my heartbeat in my ears as I stared upwards, leaving my wetsuit to buoy me. My arms and legs hung in the water. When I exhaled I sunk. When I inhaled I rose. Clouds tracked overhead and ripples brushed my face. I closed my eyes, floated.

I stayed like that, motionless, just breathing. It may have been a minute, maybe five; I lost track of time. After a time I turned, rolled into the water and aimed for the near shore.

On the drive home my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered anyway. On the other end was Gene Likens, the scientist who 50 years ago discovered acid rain. An ecologist and former Dartmouth College professor, his most recognized work took place at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, a site an hour drive the Mount Washington Valley. Likens co-wrote a book on the forest, and I wanted to write a story about it. We spent 20 minutes talking, and he described the surprise of discovering acid rain: “Nobody knew there was a problem,” he said, but “the very first sample of rain we collected was very acidic,” up to 100 times the normal levels.

What got them to look at rainwater? I asked. Intuition? Some indication something was wrong.

Nothing like that, Likens replied. It was simple curiosity.

“It was purely serendipity,” he said. “So much of science is this way.”

“We didn’t set out to discover acid rain,” he said, but “it was there and we ran with it.”

They were just looking at raindrops. Because raindrops are amazing.

I’ve had a quote saved on my desktop for several years: “The beauty of science is not in the answers it provides, but in the act of questioning. And each question leads to more questions. There are no answers, only infinite questions.”

It’s not from some book or from anyone famous. It’s just some musings I scribbled down one day, the noise inside a writer’s head, something I didn’t want to forget even though I’ve forgotten what inspired it.

But like a tuning fork it sprang to life again, driven by that phone call: Likens was not studying stream water to prove some point. He was there to learn, driven by curiosity. It was a search of wonder, only a few steps removed from the child growing tadpoles from frog eggs she found in a puddle. It is innate inquisitiveness, a joyous exploration.

Science is built on such wonder. It is the act of questioning, of unveilings and discovery and reexaminations and answers so tenuous they are subject to constant revision. It is a process more than an outcome, something built over the soft passage of time, through the constant brushstrokes of curiosity. And in the process the truth emerges, the heart and soul of our world, something foundational. It is both the how and the why, with no part so sacred it cannot be discarded. In science everything is open to more questions.

There is something beautiful in that. Something simple, elemental, pure. And I can’t help but wonder if religion is born from the same roots. Maybe at one point humans looked at the majesty of the universe and couldn’t help but exclaim, “Who could have made such a beautiful thing?!” Maybe the answer they came up with was God.

It is a perfect question: Who could have created such a beautiful thing? What could have led to this world, all its life and all of us? It is the question scientists still ask today, one of curiosity and wonder. Look into the heart of the everything, and whether your launch point is science or religion it is impossible not to be overcome by the ants and oceans, by the volcanoes and the hurricanes. How is it that the Earth spins around the Sun? How did life come into being? How did so much order grow out of seemingly infinite chaos?

Those questions are everywhere. They were in the bear sitting outside the window, in my heartbeat in my head as I stared at the sky, in the cradle of water that held me up, in the clouds that traced the sky as I watched. Wonder. Beauty. Grace. These are the heart of science, and they are the heart of religion. Indeed, they are perhaps the heart of everything. The magic of creation is captured in music, in a van Gogh painting, in Shakespeare and Hemingway. It is in the movie that speaks to us, in the play that touches our hearts, in the book that we come back to and back to. Science, religion, music, art — it is all the same. It is all one thing, different versions of the same performance.

I wrote the piece on Likens. It ran a few days later. It relayed the facts of what he told me, but it missed the heart of his quest, the simple wonder on which his research began. Any written snapshot is guaranteed to be far too brief to do his story justice.

But then again his answers were not the point. He is a scientist; the point is always the questions.

Erik Eisele is a reporter at The Conway Daily Sun.