Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Much has been made of the complete freak out of the American Left over the election of Donald Trump. Indeed, in a lifetime of observing politics, I have never seen such a total refusal of the losing side to accept the results of an American presidential election. That refusal is all the more ironic because at one point during the 2016 presidential debates, Donald Trump refused to promise that he would accept the election results, causing a great outcry from Democrats who declared that Trump's hesitancy was a threat to democracy itself. The Democrat Party's media allies chimed in with solemn editorials demanding that Trump publicly accept in advance whatever the results were, with everyone of course at that time assuming that Trump would lose. So what did we hear from the Democrats when Trump unexpectedly won?

But is this angry denial on the Left so unique? Recently I discovered in the archives of The Diary of J. Wesley Miller this old issue of the Valley Advocate, which had on its cover a simple and concise response to the defeat of John F. Kerry by George W. Bush way back in 2004:

So maybe the more things change, the more they stay the same. Can it be that modern Democrats have pretty much always been graceless losers? Anyway, in that same issue of the Advocate, I was surprised to find a brief, pre-election interview with me that I had completely forgotten about. It was part of a series of interviews the Advocate did before the election with people like myself who have a reputation for sometimes sorta knowing what they're talking about when it comes to politics, but before the actual election results were known, with those results determining who was a guru and who was a fool. Here's the interview:

The international headquarters of the Baystate Objectivist - Amherst, 2004.

The Day After

Tom Devine, the force behind the long running Baystate Objectivist website, told the Advocate in an interview that he is hardly optimistic about a future under Bush or Kerry.

Advocate: How do you see the future of the country if Bush wins the election?

Devine: Because of our system of checks and balances, it is almost impossible to govern America from anywhere but the center. Therefore, any tendency of Kerry to be too liberal or Bush too conservative is likely to be reigned in. For example, Bush's desire to insert religion into public life will continue to be slapped down by the courts, while any attempt by Kerry to socialize medical care will probably be no more successful than Clinton's was.

Ironcially, on the issue where there is the most passion, the war in Iraq, there is actually the least disagreement between the candidates once you cut through the rhetoric. Anti-war voters counting on Kerry to radically alter Bush's policies are likely to be bitterly disappointed. What I fear most in a second Bush term is further curtailment of civil liberties in the name of fighting terror. If we are not careful, such restrictions could send us down a slippery slope that may land us where we don't want to be when it's too late to do anything about it. And look for a big escalation of the war against the insurgents in Iraq. Bush has been holding back because of the fear of a lot of casualties before the election, but all restraint will be gone after November 2.

How do you see the future of the country if Kerry wins the election?

I have a digital copy of a picture Kerry once gave to the now disgraced former Springfield Mayor Michael Albano. On it Kerry writes, "Mayor Mike, you're the best!" I'm fearful of whether someone who would write that has the judgement to be appointing Supreme Court justices.

Do you see a difference for the future of your community if Kerry wins or if Bush wins?

As a Western Mass peson primarily interested in issues of liberty, I am not particularly hopeful about either candidate. I've learned over the years that politics is not likely to be a means of solving problems. I trust technology to fix things more than politics. Most of the time politics is a farce that will only break your heart.

These are some views from the top of the parking garage of Union Station in Springfield I took in September. Here's looking across towards the former bus station.

Looking towards the Springfield Newspapers.

Looking towards the post office and beyond.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Late Election Roundup

It's been a year since the stunning presidential election of 2016, and I clearly recall where I was when the biggest electoral upset in American history occurred. For reasons I won't get into here, I spent that Election Night in circumstances that meant I had no access to a television set or computer. Instead, all I had was a radio, and not a very good one. It had difficulty getting stations, and the only one that was coming in at all clear was WHMP in Northampton. For their presidential election coverage, they had the analytical team of Greenfield reporter Chris Collins and leftist Attorney Bill Newman.

I didn't mind my limited media access, because I didn't expect to hear much good election news that night anyway. I recall that the first time I realized something unusual was up was when I heard that exit polls were showing that about 25% of Hispanics voted for Trump, only a few percentage points less than Mitt Romney got in 2012, meaning that despite Trump's controversial statements about some immigrants, Republican Hispanics were sticking with their party. Later it became apparent that Virginia, the home state of Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's running mate, was not the landslide win that was expected, meaning Hillary was underperforming even where she should've been winning handily. Then one by one, each of the major states Trump needed to win fell into his column.

It was really something to listen to how the radio hosts Collins and Newman responded as the electoral momentum accelerated in Trump's favor. Chris Collins seemed surprised, but mostly amused to see all the conventional wisdom of the political experts get thrown out the window. As for Atty. Newman, he grew openly despondent, speaking in increasingly apocalyptic terms, until at one point it sounded almost as if he had fallen out of his chair!

A year later, the 2017 elections were much less dramatic, certainly there was little to knock anyone out of their chair. Still, there were some things worth noting, so here's a recap of what went down:

New Jersey - Despite being the state with the largest population in play, this race was basically a snoozer, with little doubt of the outcome at any point in the campaign. In this heavily Democratic state, to no one's surprise the Democrat won handily to succeed the very unpopular retiring Republican incumbent Chris Christie, who squandered his popularity trying to appease Democrats and Republicans equally, thereby succeeding in alienating both. Christie's terrible fall is a sobering warning to all GOPers who think they can play it both ways and win.

Virginia - This race was more interesting, but not on the gubernatorial level. Here, once again, the Democratic candidate had always been considered the front runner by a comfortable margin of about 15 points. Late polls indicated the race was tightening in the home stretch, but the final nine point win by the Democrat shows that there was only a modest five or six point rightward shift, far too little to make the race competitive. The governorship was already in Democratic hands, so no net gain for the Dems, but there were interesting developments further down the ticket, with Democrats winning a bunch of seats in the state legislature, although not enough to end Republican control.

In both New Jersey and Virginia, polling data showed that Republicans vote totals were just as high as they were in those states in 2015. The difference was that in 2017 the turnout by Democrats was significantly higher. That is good news and bad for the Democrats. The good news is that the Democrats were energized to head to the polls to an unprecedented extent. The bad news is that there is little evidence that the victories were because of Republicans switching their loyalty. Unless Democrats can find a message that can do more than energize the faithful and can actually flip GOP voters, it's hard to see how their modest, widely expected wins in 2017 translate into any longterm threat to Republican dominance nationally, despite wishful thinking by a number of media partisans.

Locally, there were some races of interest:

Springfield held its first municipal election with no mayoral race at the top, resulting in an abysmal turnout, although the political culture in Springfield is so dead at this point that turnout rarely tops even ten percent under any circumstances. One bright spot was the return to the City Council of Tim Ryan, who in a previous stint of service around the turn of the century had been a welcome voice of reason during the dark Albano days. It was also good to see commonsense Councilors Kateri Walsh and Michael Fenton returned by voters. Alas, the other open seat went to leftist activist Jesse Lederman, who while council business rarely has an ideological bent, the position gives Lederman a platform from which to aspire to a higher post in the future where he can do more mischief. Voters would have been far wiser to have chosen Kelly Moriarty-Finn or even Victor Davilla instead. Unfortunately, Henry Twiggs, former aide to sleazy ex-State Rep. Ray Jordan, narrowly survived a strong challenge from reformer Robert Kelly. Political has-been James Ferrara and perennial wannabe Bob Collamore were also not successful. The races for Springfield's rubber stamp School Committee were all yawners and without a single new idea in sight.

Holyoke progressives frowned last year when Mayor Alex Morse rejected lefty darling Bernie Sanders in order to throw his support big time behind Hillary Clinton. The move led to speculation that Morse may have had aspirations of heading to Washington as part of a Clinton administration, and it didn't hurt that Hillary seemed personally taken by the young mayor. Of course, such speculations were dashed by Clinton's defeat, but with Morse's re-election to a first ever four year term, he now has a safe perch from which to wait out Trump's term. He also gained new allies on the City Council, so Morse may have less political resistance from the council than in the past, especially with the unfortunate voluntary retirement of Holyoke's star GOPer Kevin Jordain. Despite a wave of bad publicity over a drunk driving incident earlier this year, David Bartley won re-election with 58% of the vote. And why not? If heavy drinkers were banned from politics, half the seats would be empty.

There were a smattering of interesting races in other locales. In Agawam, Republican City Councilor Robert Magovern made a political comeback, but retiring Mayor Richard Cohen's ambitions to serve on the Council got slapped down by the voters with surprising force. Guess everybody's sick of him. Northampton's Mayor David Narkiewicz romped to victory over one issue candidate John Riley, who ran primarily in protest of rising water fees. Meanwhile, an open mayoral position in Easthampton was won by Nicole LaChapelle, one clueless pink hatted lady beating another in a town being torn asunder by attempts to make the town a haven for foreigners who sneak into the country, and whose high school has been taken over by political correctness enforcers due to carefully orchestrated overreactions to minor so-called "racial incidents." Too bad, Easthampton used to be known for its level headedness, especially compared to its neighbor Northampton, but alas, no more. Greenfield continued down the path of folly it has pursued in recent years by putting incompetent liberals in control of their City Council, ensuring more of the same bad policies that have been dragging that city down.

Oh wow, this is the first time I've ever seen Richie Neal in a meme!

Pine Point 1987.

Pine Point 2017.

Monday, November 13, 2017


Last week I went to a meeting of the Philosophy and Free Thought Club in the UMass Campus Center. Here is a view of the campus out the window of the room where the meeting took place.

The guest speaker was Terry Franklin, best known as one of the Valley's foremost marijuana legalization activists.

However, it was not weed that was the topic of Terry's talk, but instead a room-wide discussion that attempted to answer the questions: Why is there war? How do we prevent it? Don't assume that Franklin is tackling fresh topics because there's nothing left for Franklin to do on the cannabis front since marijuana was legalized by the voters last year. The roll-out of legal pot has been a tawdry, anti-democratic and crony capitalist nightmare, requiring committed activists like Franklin to keep constantly vigilant.

It just happens that Franklin is a serious thinker about a number of issues, including foreign policy. The exchange with Franklin and the philosophically inclined, free thinking students was lively at times, but in the end, the question of why we have wars and how to stop them is one that many have pondered throughout history without finding a successful solution. By the end of the discussion, the challenges of war and peace remained unresolved. Yet, these are questions that are always worth raising.

Every so often, maybe two or three times a year, I like to cut myself off from computers. That means no going online for any reason and leaving my cell phone at home without checking it for 24 hours. Of course, the next day I'm swamped with unanswered e-mails and my voicemail is full, but it's generally worth it. I like to remind myself that the first half of my life I never so much as touched a computer. It may amaze some younger folks, but I was fine with it and had no sense that anything was missing in my life. It helps me to keep my head right to go back to that earlier, non cyber mindspace sometimes.

So what did I do on my phoneless and computer free day? I headed down to my old stomping grounds in Springfield, where I was invited to win and win until I won in ol' Pine Point.

I passed by the Hiram L. Dorman Elementary School, where my Dad and his sister attended.

I also paused at the abandoned gallery of Doyle the Twig Painter, where some sun-faded lithographs still stand in the window.

A nice little walk around the neighborhood, and a worthwhile use of computerless time.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Books, Campus and a Cup

The rising sun pouring through the windows of the Haymarket Cafe.

2017 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of President John F. Kennedy. In other words, had he lived he would've been a hundred years old, not something that very likely would have happened but not completely impossible. Of course, we all know about the tragedy that ended his life before he was even 50 years old. Just weeks before that fateful visit to Dallas, President Kennedy paid a visit to Amherst for the groundbreaking of the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College. In observance of the Kennedy centenary, the Robert Frost Library has a special display of Kennedy memorabilia.

There are also large blown up photos of the audience, showing no doubt many residents now deceased, such as attendee Larry Kelley. Here are some protesters that were at that event, notice how nicely dressed they are.

Stop by the library soon and check it out before it's too late.

Seen parked in front of Amherst Town Hall.

I actually somewhat sympathize with this sentiment.

The lobby of Bartlett Hall at UMass.

A video about books, the UMass campus and a coffee cup.