Friday, August 19, 2016

Snowflakes, Town & Gown, and Human Rights Task Forces


“What do you get when you cross a …….”  On second thought, we won’t stoop so low as to make a joke on this.

Besides, what happens here in official Brunswick when said Task Force finally fights their way out of the box they’re in will in all likelihood be far more yuk-worthy. 

And wouldn’t you just know it, we got a glimpse into this just today:

Let’s look at a few passages:

BRUNSWICK — The Town Council accepted a report from the Human Rights Task Force Monday, and authorized the panel to continue working on its mission through the end of the year.  The 7-1 vote approved eight recommendations and initiatives that the task force will undertake in the upcoming months, many of which build on or complete  work the group has already begun.

Translation: “Whooh!  We managed to kick the can down the road, and avoid having to be decisive, conclusive, or judgmental in any way.”

The Human Rights Task Force was established last December in response to an increase of racial and gender-specific slurs downtown and near Bowdoin College. Soon after its inception, the task force expanded the scope of its inquiry to include all classes protected under the Maine Human Rights Act. Brayman called the conversations “open and informative,” and an opportunity to sit down and listen to the community. Most notably, the conversations have resulted in the Police Department’s implementation of an online bias report page, which has had two submissions to date.

Translation:  “In keeping with bureaucratic tradition, we immediately expanded the agenda to muddle the original impetus for the effort.  Our PD has established an on-line reporting portal, whose use to date has been underwhelming, but we still consider it a major step forward.”

According to the report, “the Task Force was not presented with evidence of widespread bias. The incidents reviewed by the Task Force appeared to be isolated, individual acts.”  The task force’s inquiry was originally supposed to take six months. But Brayman said the group believes the town will benefit from the continuation of the conversations they’ve started, especially because it has since widened its scope.

Translation:  “Yeah, we got swept up in the heat of the moment and over-reacted.  But now that we dug this hole we’re in, we’re hoping to find some prescious stones to make the effort seem worthwhile.  And come up with post facto reasons for why acceding to campus demands will eventually look like the right thing to have done.”


Beyond granting the task force more time, the council also accepted a list of recommendations to encourage community organizations to participate in the dialogue. The recommendations include workshops and web pages devoted to the issue, as well as promoting lines of communication between the town, Bowdoin College, and the Police Department to identify and deal with incidents of bias.“We met people from different parts of the community that we don’t usually talk to,” Wilson said Monday. “I think the relationships (the task force) is building with organizations in the town will be worth” the effort.

Translation:  “More workshops, more web pages, and encouraging dialogue.  Leadership 101, making it clear ‘this is who we are.’  Besides, we met some more people, and we’re hoping they can offer up some new complaints to make the task force seem worthwhile in retrospect.  They may even give us reasons to turn this into a never-ending effort, with no need to reach a conclusive result.”

We’ve written about the Task Force, as you likely know, in cautionary terms, and wondered when we would hear something decisive.

We submit that the use of the term “bone-headism” by one of our town leaders may be the most piercing and prophetic observation to date on this subject.

Enough said.  Our purpose tonight is to pass along a ‘learned article’ to provide some context for the task force.  Written by a faculty member from Princeton, it provides some ‘insider’ insights into the campus activism of  our age, along with an interesting theory on what is behind much of it.  We found the article informative and rational.


We caution you not to assume from the title that it’s ONLY about black rage.  You’ll see as you read it that it covers virtually every type of ‘snowflake’ currently inhabiting IHE’s like Bowdoin.  Here’s a key passage:

I believe that much of this recent frustration can be explained—and the perplexing question “Why now?” answered—by a phenomenon long known to historians and social scientists that might be termed the “Tocqueville Effect,” after its first extensive description by Alexis de Tocqueville in The Old Regime and the French Revolution (1856). In this work Tocqueville explains why extreme anger and hostility are often the result, not of the most objectively oppressive conditions under which people may live, but of what has been called a “revolution of rising expectations” in which people come to entertain exaggerated hopes of a better future that the actual conditions of life inevitably disappoint. Unfulfilled social expectations lead to painful frustration, frustration leads to bitterness and anger, which, in turn, lead to social and political unrest—up to and including riots and revolution.[1]

The article is a bit of a slog, but we believe that those who read it all the way through will be much better informed in the atmospherics of our ‘community.’  And when you do, keep in mind that the physical borders separating the campus from the town are indefinite and confused.  So when you read the words ‘campus community’ in the article, we think it’s fair to interpret that more broadly to include in town neighborhoods surrounding the campus.

The article is well foot-noted.  And it may cause you to wonder whether what transpired in Cape Brunswick isn’t part of a larger, orchestrated effort to show ‘solidarity’ with other campus activists across the nation by ‘joining up,’ rather than an organic initiative arising from within.

Here’s the link:

We’ll be interested to hear your reactions and comments, though our readers are historically loathe to post actual thoughts.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

$10 million here, $60 million there, pretty soon you’re talking real money….

We’re paraphrasing, of course, a famous quip by Senator Everett Dirksen some decades ago in which he famously said something like “a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

If you really want to shock your system, watch the under two minute video recorded in 1965 in which he worries about national debt.  You’ll find it here:

We’re here today because of circumstances that astonish even your correspondent, and that’s a bit of a challenge, given the bizarre behavior we’ve observed over our lifetime.  Thanks to the Mackinac Center for their concise intro for what we have to say.



So let’s get right to it.

There appears to be no limit to the preposterous stupidity and recklessness with which our federal and state governments will spend other people’s money.  Money they don’t even have to spend, given federal deficits and runaway national debt.


And no limit to the number of silver pompadoured elite activists who will demand government do so to satisfy their hobbyist cravings, and  then have the gall to pat themselves on the back for coming up with the idea and convincing those in charge to spend it with wild abandon. 


Flim-flammers like this believe it is their right to have Government take funds from others (you and yours, and ours as well) by force of law, so they can spend it on their personal wants and ego monuments.


What are we talking about?  This article from yesterday:

It describes NNEPRA’s plan to spend another $10 million or so ‘optimizing’ the Portland North Downeaster Expansion, on which roughly $60 million has already been spent on capital projects, with no hope of recovery.  Downeaster operations, just for good measure, bleed about $1 million a month on top of that.

So you can readily understand how another $10 million in capital spending is warranted.

We’ve written about this very subject before…in fact a number of times.  We all know that NNEPRA, TRNE, AAB, and the other guardians of public funds have a stable full of horses in this race. Still, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a horse that’s too dead to beat.

So we’re going to refer you to a post of last year, in which the need for this siding was proven totally false, based on the analysis of a career professional passenger rail manager, with far greater experience than anyone on the proponent’s side.

Here’s where you can find the post:  You’ll find out that NNEPRA has failed more than once getting a federal TIGER Grant to fund their wildly unnecessary expansion plans, because, well, it’s fun to spend OPM, right?


The core of the opposition to the need for this $10 million siding is this simple diagram, which shows existing track conformation, and the proposed new siding:

In a blinding statement of the obvious, just 3 miles away from the site of the proposed project is an existing 1.9 mile siding which can easily accomplish the same functions.  If only those concerned wanted to do so.  Yet there has been no public airing of the options, or second thoughts in the halls of Augusta.


Why?  Because if we don’t go ahead and spend money we don’t have, there will be too, too many unhappy ladies of the town, worrying that they’re not being catered to like they’ve come to expect.

Here’s an idea that builds on the fine example set by our governments.  The next time you want to ride the Downeaster, buy your tickets with counterfeit currency, or pay for them with a maxed out credit card, or write a check for them on an overdrawn checking account.

We’ll close with another truism, and remind you that in this case, ‘government’ is, in effect, NNEPRA, and their hired abetters at TRNE, AAB, MRTC, MRG, and the rest.


So whenever you ponder what your share of the national debt is, be sure to thank your lucky stars that at least you know exactly who to hold accountable for some of it.

As if that will do any good.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Maine Wire: A nation of laws?


The Maine Wire ran another one of our commentaries this week.  You can find their presentation of the item here:

Their editorial practices are a bit less flexible than our own, especially as it pertains to the use of embedded graphics, which as regular readers know, is something we use extensively, if not wisely.

They chose to drop this visual


in favor of the stock US Capitol shot above.  A matter of personal taste, we suppose.  The lovely shot of King George III (the third) followed this opening text:

Recently I attended the MHPC luncheon at which Tom Fitton, Head of Judicial Watch, was the guest. As he spoke, it occurred to me that saying we are ‘a nation of laws’ needs a modifier, and that would be ‘from time to time.’ Or if you prefer, ‘when we feel like it.’

Having laws on the books is one thing; administering them, obeying them, and enforcing them is an entirely different concern. And these are the things that matter; not having the laws on the books.

It became apparent as Tom spoke that when it comes to the latter aspects, we are anything but a nation of laws. In fact we are just the opposite.

You may recall that the President who would be King, currently reigning over the United States, came into office on the heels of an unusual public statement by his Senior Advisor, Valerie Jarrett. Most prior presidents said they were ready to lead, serve or govern. But in the climate of today’s imperial ‘administration,’ such old-fashioned ideas are passé.

“Given the daunting challenges that we face, it is important that President-elect Obama is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one,” Jarrett, then Co-Chair of the Obama Transition Team told Tom Brokaw.

We hope you’ll read the entire published column, and perhaps be motivated to ponder the subject, and our current state of affairs, a bit more deeply.


It can’t hurt to know who your Kings are, even if we’re not talking chess.

Your move, reader.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

A MUST SEE at MSMT: Mama Mia!

We gave a glowing review to MSMT’s Production of Fiddler on the Roof several days back.  It was a truly memorable show, and one of the all time favorites of musical theater fans.

Well, here we are with an even more emphatic review of MSMT’s Mama Mia!, which the Sides saw tonight.

It is, simply put, colossally good!  We had seen it in Toronto in a touring Broadway production perhaps 10 years ago, and loved it then.  We had front row center seats sitting over the shoulder of the musical director, who was sitting at our level.  The energy of the show was beyond anything we had ever seen, and totally absorbed us.

ABBA is a mostly forgotten musical group at this point, and probably invites laughs if you mention them in discussion.  This show’s magic is that it was created well after their peak popularity, and weaves a compelling  story by using their songs to carry the story forward, and very cleverly so.

As we walked out after the show, Mrs. Side said “this is the best show we’ve ever seen here,” which is high praise, given we’ve had season tickets for 20 years.  We have to agree with her, though we’re reluctant to lower our ranking of the favorites we’ve seen in prior years, like Fiddler.

We had front row seats for this production; our usual location.  The fact is that the quality and professionalism of MSMT offerings has steadily improved over the years.

Trust us when we say that if you like musical theater, you will LOVE this show.  Even if you turn up your nose at ABBA’s music and their costuming.  The show is chock full of superb song and dance numbers, and we promise it will put a huge smile on your face.  It works like magic.

We’re not sure how easy it will be to get tickets at this point; MSMT’s web site says they’ve added additional performances.  We implore you to do what you must to to scare up some tickets; you won’t be sorry.

And you can trust us on this; we’re not like all the others.

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