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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I Will Not Vote for Donald Trump: My Top Twelve Reasons for Not Voting for Donald Trump



I will not vote for Donald Trump.

My top twelve reasons for not voting for Donald Trump are below.

Background:

I think George Bush and Barack Obama have both been disastrous presidents. The Iraq War, Obamacare: please God let us turn back the hands of time and erase both. We can't.

America needs a charismatic leader who can articulate and champion the Constitution, Western Civilization, the Judeo-Christian tradition and Emersonian self-reliance, achieve energy independence, keep us out of Sorcerer's-Apprentice foreign wars, declare a moratorium on all immigration, and get the American underclass off of generational welfare and doing the jobs immigrants do, earning a paycheck rather than shuffling toward a welfare check.

I planned to vote Republican, as I did in 2008 and 2012. I'm a registered Democrat, but when my party nominated a man whose campaign was typified by the notorious line, "Not God bless America, Goddamn America," the Democratic Party left me.

I don't own a TV and I don't follow celebrity gossip so I came to the 2016 presidential field knowing little about Donald Trump. I drove to a friend's house to watch the first debate and tried to see the best in him.

My favorite was Scott Walker. After he dropped out, I would have been happy with Rubio. I liked Cruz's intelligence and Christianity but had to acknowledge that the mob hated him for the exact reasons I liked him: intelligence, faith, and rectitude.

Trump? With careful study I realized I could never vote Trump. The reasons are below.

1.) Trump's Refusal to Disavow White Supremacists; and His Lies; His Continued Dog Whistling

On February 28, 2016, CNN's Jake Tapper asked Donald Trump three times to disavow white supremacist support, specifically that of David Duke. Trump refused. He later lied, claiming that he had a bad earpiece and could not hear the question. In fact Trump repeated David Duke's name. He heard.

In a more recent development, a critical mass of Trump supporters have openly expressed anti-Semitism. More on that here, but there's much more to this than one article can cover.

I cannot vote for the man in that Jake Tapper interview who declined to renounce David Duke's support and then lied about it. That alone renders him unworthy of my sacred vote.

Further – I *genuinely* don't understand how anyone, in good conscience, can vote for this man.

The KKK is a terrorist organization. No better than any other terrorist organization.

Some estimate c. 5000 lynchings in America, with c. 70% of the victims black. A good percentage of the rest were immigrants, Catholics, and Jews.

In Wisconsin and Utah, a white nationalist made robocalls for Trump. A white nationalist became a delegate for Trump in California.

No one is saying that Trump is personally a white supremacist, or that any given Trump voter is. Yes, since the Jake Tapper interview, Trump has seen which way the wind is blowing and tweaked his public statements, while continuing to dog whistle racists.

How can you play on the same team as David Duke?

2.) Trump's Infantile Temper Tantrum over Megyn Kelly

In the first debate, Fox newswoman Megyn Kelly asked Trump to answer for calling women "fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals." To another woman, Trump said, "Must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees."

Here's how Trump should have answered. "I said those things before I became a presidential candidate. Now I am answering my country's call in a crisis. As part of my service, I now reject my former loose language. I ask forgiveness. I will speak with a new respect for women. Watch me. If I err again, correct me. But I promise you, I won't err."

Trump didn't do that. He collapsed into a mangled, messy heap like cheap lawn furniture. He broke down. He lost it. He made fun of Megyn Kelly for menstruating, even while he, Donald Trump, acted out a parody of a teenage girl overcome by a terminal case of PMS.

Trump refused to participate in the next Kelly debate. Subsequently, he lost Iowa.

Jesus said, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."

Man-baby Trump will do to America what he did to his own campaign in Iowa. He's done it already. He reduced America's relationship with London's new mayor, Sadiq Khan, into a personal feud because Khan said something that Trump didn't like. "I will remember his nasty statements," Trump said. President Trump will bring America into nuclear war because Kim Jong-un will insult him.

You don't hand the car keys to a raving drunk. Not if you want to get home in one piece.

3.) The John Miller Interview Demonstrates Trump's Pathological Level of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

In 1991, Trump, in an interview with a People magazine reporter, pretended to be a PR man named John Miller. In that interview, he spoke in an inflated way of what a great guy Donald Trump is. You need to read the transcript, here. This behavior is outside the realm of normalcy.

4.) Trump's Pathological Lies. Truth Means Nothing to Him.

In May, 2016, on the day of the Indiana primary, Trump insinuated that Ted Cruz's father played some role in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. After winning that primary, Trump openly acknowledged that he did not believe that Cruz's father played any role in the JFK assassination.

Google "Trump's lies." Yes, we know politicians lie. But there is a difference between what most politicians do and what Trump does, and that difference is enough to disqualify him for any public office.

5.) There Is No There There. Trump Believes Nothing He Says.

Trump doesn't give a whit about the wall, or immigration, or making America great again any more than, when he ran four years ago, he gave a white about Obama's birth certificate. Trump poll-tested these issues and went with them because they got the masses riled up. Trump said, "You know, if it gets a little boring, if I see people starting to sort of, maybe thinking about leaving, I can sort of tell the audience, I just say, 'We will build the wall!' and they go nuts."

Trump didn't address Islam till the San Bernardino jihad attack. You can't turn into a counter-jihadi overnight. Trump made a ham-handed statement about Muslim immigration because he knew it would raise his poll numbers as Americans mourned more dead. He spoke about Islam so idiotically that he singled-handed set back the counter-jihad movement at least a decade. More about that at my American Thinker article, "Donald Trump and Counter Jihad" here.

Trump has backtracked on his key positions because his key positions mean nothing to him. If he were to attain office, he would backtrack and do whatever it serves his purposes at any given moment to do. The past is prelude: Trump has no record of work or sacrifice or leadership or accomplishment on tightening America's borders, putting Americans to work, thwarting jihad, lowering the number of abortions, keeping business in the US. He is merely mouthing words that make his mobs of supporters "go nuts."

6.) Trump Does Not Love America

Donald Trump will be seventy years old in June. He has been incredibly wealthy and privileged his entire life.

What, exactly, has Trump ever done for America?

When he was 45, Bill Gates set up the Gates Foundation.

When he was a bit over 60, Andrew Carnegie began giving away 90% of his vast wealth, supporting libraries, universities, and charities. Carnegie is practically synonymous with philanthropy.

Julius Rosenwald, a child of Jewish immigrants, grew up doing hard manual labor. He got rich. When he was in his early forties, began giving his wealth away to educate African Americans in the American South.

That's what rich people who love America do. They spend hours and hours and much labor and lots of money changing America and the world for the better.

One could go on. The Rockefeller Foundation. The Ford Foundation. The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. The MacArthur Foundation. St Jude's Hospital.

Trump?

Don't waste my time.

Trump could not take the time to understand the Constitution. He thinks judges sign bills. He does not respect free speech; he promises that when he is president he will squash free speech rights. He will order soldiers to commit unconstitutional acts. He encourages his supporters to beat up his opponents.

This is not a man who loves America.

This is a man who is using America to fulfill his narcissistic fantasies. We are the reporter audience to whom, as John Miller, he sang the praises of Donald Trump.

When Trump encounters men who have worked and sacrificed for America, like John McCain, who was a Vietnam veteran and prisoner of war, and Ted Cruz, who argued for our rights before the Supreme Court nine times, Trump mocks them.

7.) Trump's Plans, If Applied, Would Lead To Disaster, Say Economic Experts.

Trump's tariffs have no happy ending for American consumers. Read Mark Levin on this, for example, here.

8.) Trump's Worldview Is A Nativist House Of Cards that Delays Solutions.

Immigrants and cheap goods from China are the cause of all our problems. We are completely innocent. If we can just eliminate immigrants and cheap goods from China, we'll return to the glorious days of the late 1950s when America strode the world like a colossus.

Except that none of that is true.

Both Democrats and Republicans, both leaders and common folk, want immigrants. Immigrants gave you a cheap car wash. They give you cheap lawn care and cheap nannies and cheap food and cheap restaurant meals. If you can't face that, you aren't mature enough to vote.

You shop at Walmart. You buy cheap goods.

Any solution to the problems immigrants and China present will only be found when we acknowledge what Pogo did: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Trump's nativist rhetoric sells a fantasy that feeds on his followers' worst instincts. His rhetoric manipulates his followers into adopting and maintaining an infantile stance, one that rejects the demands of maturity: admit your own participation in the problems you face; don't pretend that it's all somebody else's fault.

"Make America Great Again" is a backward-looking slogan. The train has left the station. America will never return to 1955. Let us love and celebrate America as she is today, and move forward from today, not look backward to the past.

9.) Trump Does Not Walk the Walk; He Does Not Practice What He Preaches.

Trump talks up employing Americans. In fact he and his subcontractors hired illegal Polish immigrants to clean up asbestos in the preparation for Trump Tower. They were not given adequate safety gear for this carcinogenic work, they worked twelve hour shifts seven days a week, and they were promised five dollars an hour, and not even paid that. They sued; Trump and his cohorts settled, after sixteen years of litigation. The story was covered in the New York Times back in the 1990s and it is easily found online.

At Mar-A-Lago, Trump declines to hire American applicants. He hires Romanians. That story is also in the New York Times.

Trump merchandise is made in China.

10.) Trump's Ego Would Not Inspire Him to Succeed; Quite the Opposite

The other day an author I like and respect very much was on the Dennis Prager show. This author said, paraphrase, "Trump has a big ego. He puts his name on everything. His big ego will force him to succeed. He doesn't want to fail."

Wrong.

This is how someone with Trump's personality disorder works.

If Trump becomes president (heaven forbid) he will fail. He will fail because he lacks the temperament, the commitment, the love of country and training necessary for the job.

After he fails, *he will blame us.*

He won't change real world facts to coincide with his own self-narrative as Mr. Success.

He will merely change the story he tells himself and others to coincide with his own self-narrative as Mr. Success.

He will say, "Congress was against me. There was a conspiracy. My plan was really good but Megyn Kelly sabotaged it. It's all Ted Cruz's father's fault."

Want to see an example of this kind of self-mythologizing, this kind of manipulation of facts to coincide with one's inflated ego?

Read the John Miller – People magazine reporter transcript. Trump cheated on Ivana, thus sabotaging his marriage. Trump cheated on Marla Maples, thus sabotaging his adulterous relationship. Did Trump change his own behavior to save his marriage? No, he changed the story he told. It was all somebody else's fault. It was Ivana's fault. It was Marla's fault. Trump was superior and blameless. You can read a lot of it here.

Trump is not Hitler, and most Trump = Hitler analogies are absurd. But in this small respect, this analogy works.

Everyone thinks Hitler loved Germany, just as Trump's supporters think Trump loves America.

In fact Hitler ordered Germany destroyed. It's called the Nero Decree, after another ruler who destroyed his own empire. Hitler said, "If the German people loses the war, it will have proved itself not worthy of me."

Hitler could have said, "Whoops. I screwed up. The Soviets are advancing from the east. The Allies are advancing from the west. We've committed history's most notorious war crimes and Germany will be hated for generations. It's all my fault. I'm sorry."

No such luck.

No, Trump is not Hitler, but a failed President Trump would resort to the exact same psychological legerdemain for the same narcissistic-personality-disorder reasons. He would say, "I'm not the problem here. You are. America, you are unworthy of me. I wanted, by encouraging you to hate each other, by slapping tariffs on foreign goods, by building a wall, even though most illegal aliens arrive by plane, to make America great again. You didn't follow up. It's all your fault."

11.) Trump's Wealth Braggadocio Is Bogus

Trump is nowhere near as rich as he claims. See here.

Trump's hidden taxes hide secrets. See here.

Trump shafted Atlantic City says Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, see here.

Yes, Trump's four bankruptcies matter. See here.

One analyst says that if he had just invested his inheritance, he'd be richer today than he is now. Read that here.

12.) Cults of Personality Always Go Splat

Trump's followers love Trump. Not positions. Not policies. Not America. Not Americans. Trump.

"Only he can save us!" "Without Trump we are lost!" "I don't care if he insults women / publicly humiliates the Republican Party / promises to violate the Constitution. He is our leader!"

I don't hear, in those hosannas, any investment in America, any respect for, or even awareness of, the Constitution, or any faith whatsoever in American citizens. Without Trump America will fall? What about three hundred million Americans? Are we all chopped liver?
 That's a cult of personality. Cults of personality have a history of ending badly.



Sunday, May 22, 2016

Meetings with Remarkable Birders at Garret Mountain, Paterson, NJ, May 2016

Melina Gioffre Fuda
Thursday, May 19, I got up at 3:30 a.m. I had things to do later in the day and I planned to devote one hour to birdwatching on Garret Mountain.

I didn't leave Garret Mountain until 12:30 p.m. I had been there for six and a half hours.

It's a small park. The trail that loops the top is only two miles.

I just couldn't stop oooo-ing and aaaa-ing. Each particle of light on each leaf seemed a miracle it would be a crime not to witness and celebrate and allow to change me – to humble me, to cleanse me, to make me more at peace, grateful, part-of-it-all. To remind me who I am.

I arrived at six. The sky was gray. I was wearing a down vest, an unusual garment in late May. I heard no birds. I walked down Wilson Ave to the area where I saw a female rose-breasted grosbeak the other day. I really wanted to see the male. A busy little Carolina wren all but pecked at my sneakers. Cool to see her so close.

Never saw the male grosbeak. I hear them, but with my hearing problem I can't locate sound. This breaks at my heart, as, before the incident, I was really good at locating birds by sound. I was bulldog determined. I would stand in the same spot, practically running an intravenous to the mosquitos, never leaving till I found the bird.

I saw a blue-gray gnatcatcher on the nest. The Cornell Lab All-About-Birds page for the blue-gray gnatcatcher informs us that

  • they don't eat a lot of gnats

  • they sometimes build as many as seven nests a season, because they are parasitized by cowbirds and mites and many predators eat their young

  • they build their nests from lichens and hold them together with spider webs.

They are, simply, adorable, as close to fairies as I ever hope to meet; I can't imagine that real fairies would be any improvement on blue-gray gnatcatchers.

I also saw a robin, a titmouse, and two blue jays on their nests. Blue jays are so obstreperous it was moving to witness their more tender, parental side. Actually for all I know they were telling their kids, "It's a dog-eat-dog world! Get out there and succeed! Don't be a wimp and don't make me ashamed!" Probably.

But of course I was lusting after warblers. I saw plenty, but not the cerulean I hoped to see. They are becoming rarer and rarer. :-(

I also wanted to see a Kentucky warbler, because I thought I had seen one the other day but it was a mere nanosecond flash between leaves in a treetop, and I'm very scrupulous and noting all field markings before a bird disappears.

Birdwatching really educates me about my own mind, how it works and how much information I can store. Warbler identification is all about stripes, bars, and washes, in yellow, black, brown, blue, green, and red. To identify a given bird, you must remember the number and placement and color of any given property. While you are looking at the bird, you are certain. That was a line through the eye.

You put your binoculars down, and turn to your field guide, and suddenly you are not so certain. Was that a line through the eye, or was it a triangle shape around the cheek? Was it feathers, or a mere shadow on the bird's face?

And yes, in the seconds it takes you to lower your binos and pick up your field guide, you do forget. These fine points probably meant very little to our primitive brains. I've lived in remote villages in Africa and Asia and no one I knew could name more than ten or so wild birds. The differentiation between one species and another meant next to nothing to my neighbors. For them it was all about, "We eat that. We don't eat that."

One autumn, I trekked through Muktinath, Nepal, at 12,000 feet in the Himalayas, one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites to Buddhists and Hindus. The ground was littered with common crane carcasses. Local boys had been amusing themselves with bolas, a rope with a weight at both ends. They tossed them at the migrating cranes' long necks, and choked them. Hated people that day. Hated, hated.

I wanted to see a Kentucky warbler again so I could be sure of the identification. I wanted to see a cerulean because they are blue, my favorite color, of the sky, my favorite element.

Birds laugh at such desires. And then they ice the cake by mocking us.

For years I had futilely been trying to see a yellow-billed cuckoo. They are a totem bird to me, and if I ever manage to find a publisher for God through Binoculars, you will discover why they are a totem bird to me.

As I hankered, yearned, and panted after cerulean and Kentucky warblers, a yellow-billed cuckoo, a normally secretive, skulking bird, all but landed on my face.

This was no retiring Geisha, a fan of leaves splayed across her countenance. This was a diva cuckoo. She stretched. She preened. She stared at me with strumpet like abandon.

"How could you be thinking of cerulean warblers when you could be looking at my creamy, immaculate breast, my fetching, elegant spotted tail and my rufous-tinted primaries?" she cooed.

And then she completed her show by vocalizing. So maybe she was a male; I don't know. But it was cool to watch a cuckoo call.

Watching sounds come out of bird's throat is mind boggling. Bird sounds are unlike any other sounds I know. They are layered. They are often impossible to describe. There are things going on there that seem to defy location in space and time. You can't plot bird song. It escapes our mind's parameters.

We can read lips because there is some relationship between the sounds we make and the shapes our lips assume.

Not so with birds. They all just get the same basic beak. It opens and symphonies or farts or scary movie soundtracks come out. Same two-part beak. Mind boggling.

Near Lambert Tower, I ran into a white-haired gentleman in a blue sweatshirt adorned with snow geese.

"Anything good?" I asked. I was wearing binos. He was wearing binos. No more words were necessary.

"I just saw two male scarlet tanagers in this bushes here."

"Wow!"

I was immediately envious. You always are. The other birdwatcher, not you, had found the good spot, and was seeing all the good birds, as you strained your neck under one oak tree, trying to use your mojo to psychically will cerulean and Kentucky warblers to fly into view.

Gordon said he has been birding at Garret Mountain since 1963. He said that his hearing was not what it once was, nor his ability to move about quickly, so he had spent much time planted in that one spot against the stone wall, trying to find a worm-eating warbler.

"I see some clumps of leaves hanging from these bushes directly across from me, and in the past I've seen worm-eating warblers pull spiders out of such clumps," Gordon observed.

I nodded.

The other day I ran into a man who had seen a black-billed cuckoo by standing still as Gordon was doing right now. Just plant your boots in one spot and stare and stare and stare. Eventually a bird will fly by you. You might even achieve enlightenment. Worked for Buddha!

I was very glad I had run into Gordon. Before the incident, my hearing had been perfect and my most important sense. I am dyslexic and I learn best by hearing, not seeing. In fact my hiatus from birdwatching was caused partly by how depressed I was about losing so much of my hearing. Believe it or not, a good percentage of birdwatching is really bird-listening.

I was grateful that God had placed Gordon in my path. Gordon was showing me that there is more than one way to bird.

Gordon reminisced about all the birdwatchers he has known at Garret. There was a regular team of about eight people, and only two (?) are still at it. I'm probably misremembering the exact census.

"Do you know Bill Elrick?" I asked, mentioning a name I knew only from the internet.

"Yes," Gordon said. "I got him started. At first he wanted to band birds."

"Wow."

He mentioned Phil DelVecchio.

"He wrote 'Nature and Science' for the Paterson Evening News," I said.

"Yes!" Gordon said.

"He mentioned me in his column once," I said.

"Oh?"

"Yeah. I saw a Lawrence's warbler on the Wanaque River."

My sister Antoinette had been so excited. Her little sister was mentioned in the newspaper! She read the column out loud – I can hear her right now. I think that that was one time in my life that I managed to please someone in my family. Very important to me.

A Lawrence's warbler is a hybrid between a blue-winged and a golden-winged warbler. I have not seen a Lawrence's warbler since that summer day on the Wanaque River so many decades ago. A blue-winged warbler calls every summer from the tops of the weeping willows in a low, wet patch at Skylands. Every time I hear the blue-winged's lazy call, bee buzzzz, bee buzzzz, I think of the time I saw a special bird, and my sister was proud of me, and I am lifted up, even if only subconsciously.

Birdwatching means so much to me. That's why it breaks my heart when I encounter dark behavior among birders.

"Is he gone?" I asked Gordon about Phil Delvechhio, trying to find the most delicate way to phrase my question.

"Yes," Gordon said. "It was back in … [I don't remember the year] that Phil called me. He was over ninety years old then. He was driving [to some remote location] to look at a bird."

Here's a salute to Phil DelVecchio from Paterson resident E. A. Smyk:

For 50 years, he wrote a popular weekly column called "Nature and Science" in the Paterson News. To this self-taught scientist, butterflies and stuffed ornithological specimens were not simply dust catchers sitting on the shelves of the Paterson Museum building on Summer Street. Rather, Del Vecchio used the products of the taxidermist's art to feed the wide-eyed imagination of young visitors.

Del Vecchio died in December 2001 at age 97, but a glimpse of his passion for natural phenomena can be gleaned in this excerpt from his "Nature and Science" column, dated Feb. 26, 1970:

"One night at sunset we went to the highest point of Garret Mountain to look for a new comet … Higher, above the haze and pollution levels, the moon shone with a sparkling radiance; and as the western sky grew dark we witnessed a rare phenomenon for these latitudes, the zodiacal light, a violet triangle against a darkening blue sky, based in the greens, oranges and reds of the setting sun."

In his column, which I read regularly, DelVecchio had mentioned Pete Both's walking the Appalachian Trail.

"Gordon," I asked. "Do you know Pete Both?"

"Yes."

And two male scarlet tanagers landed in the bushes directly across from Gordon.

Holy moley but do they look like living fire.

"Oooo! Aaaa!"

I said goodbye to Gordon and moved on. The sun started to peak through heavy cloud cover, now breaking up. Within a hundred paces or so, I ran into a guy in his thirties, all suited up in spiffy, crisp, fresh-out-of-the-box Burberry beige. I admired his gear. When it comes to outdoor stuff, not cars, I am a gear-head.

"Anything good?" I asked.

"What's good?"

Aha. A coy one.

"A painted bunting," I replied, fantasizing thoroughly. Might as well have said, "Passenger pigeon."

"I saw one!"

"Ah!"

"In Louisiana, last year."

"Oh."

"But I saw a worm-eating warbler, and a Kentucky."

Oh. My. God.

"Listen," I said. "There is a gray-haired gentleman up ahead, leaning on the stone wall under the tower. Can you please tell him about the worm-eating warbler? He is looking for one."

"No problem!"

The man was smiling from ear to ear, with the enthusiasm of a child. He told me that this was his first time at Garret Mountain and that he was thrilled. I realized he had missed the biggest days this spring. I was seeing many fewer birds on this day than I had a few days earlier. I didn't want to spoil anything for him.

I moved on.

From about ten paces away, I could see that the woman standing in front of me was a celebrity. It was Melina Gioffre Fuda, a superb photographer, a true artist. I had never met her or spoken to her. I had stumbled across her photos on Facebook and "friended" her and admired her shots ever since. I knew we'd meet eventually.

The sun was fully out now. Melina was looking through her camera lens at a flycatcher perched on a bare branch.

"Melina," I said.

She looked at me, a bit quizzically. I don't post many photos of myself on Facebook.

"I'm Danusha. Your Facebook friend."

We shook hands. And then we talked, as if we had known each other for fifty years. She is Italian American, I am Polish American, we are both Jersey girls and bird lovers. That is how that is.

I moved on to the ridge trail. It was magic. I could have been in a hobbit forest; I was, in fact, within view of Manhattan. It was so private back there that I managed to do something I had really needed to do all morning, and not trouble anyone. It's biodegradable.

I hiked on through miniature little pockets of basalt and fallen leaves and patches of sky that gave my soul everything it needed: beauty, tranquility, mystery, the splendor of God's creation.

Down at the pond I ran into two birders who appeared to be in the early twenties. The guy was ridiculously handsome. Even as he reported to me all the birds he had seen, with great excitement, I kept thinking, "Do you realize how handsome you are? It's freakish."

And up walked Gordon.

I said to my two young interlocutors, "This is Gordon. He's been birding Garret Mountain for fifty-three years."

They were suitably impressed.

Gordon talked about the diminution of bird populations. He said that back when he was starting out, you'd just get out of your car at Barbour Pond, and not move past that, the birds were so thick and varied.

Gordon is right. Bird population declines are dramatic, depressing, and scary. Just one article here.

But we don't have to be depressed or scared. We can be active.

I don't make much money but I regularly donate to Audubon, Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife, World Wildlife Fund. I also publish articles talking about the mistreatment of women. When women are empowered, they have fewer children, later in life, and those children do better, and so does the planet.


We can change the world. One bird at a time. Please donate to the nature organization of your choice today. Thank you. And the blue-gray gnatcatchers thank you – by eating bugs that might pester you. 


Blue-gray gnatcatcher on nest by Steve Proviser
Yellow-billed cuckoo Dan Pancamo 
worm-eating warbler by Bob MacDonnell

Obama and Bathrooms. The Hidden Truth


On Friday, May 13, the Obama administration released guidelines stipulating that American schools must allow biological males into changing rooms, showers, and bathrooms previously reserved for biological females, and vice versa.  Schools that do not comply will be subject to lawsuits and fines. 

I have researched and published on WW II and jihad.  I've had the unfortunate experience of reading of many invaders, unconstrained by any concept of decency, whose only goal was absolute power at any price.

There is a predictable second act after the initial onslaught.  After soldiers have killed enough to win a victory, there is theater.  Evil men on an evil mission stage public displays designed to demoralize the populace.  These displays involve predictable scenarios: children are damaged in front of their helpless parents, who are made to watch.  Priests, rabbis, and sadhus are humiliated in front of their flocks, who must merely stand by helplessly, as everything they perceived as sacred is debased.  Women are raped in front of their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons. 

After the invaders do that, the population is demoralized.  Broken.  Easier to manipulate.

Men want to protect women.  Women want to be protected by men.

The Obama administration's announcement that it will force males into females' private space, where vulnerable, naked, not yet mature girls will be exposed to situations that frighten them, parallels other spectacles where men are demoralized by being forced to surrender their role as protectors of women.  I don't know if Obama planned this.  I do know that this is a minor parallel to major atrocities. 

My male friends express their frustration to me.  They want to protect their wives and daughters.  Male school administrators and elected officials are equally frustrated and increasingly desperate.  My heart goes out to them as they juggle their natural urge to protect against Obama's and society's threats to stigmatize them as bigots and punish them financially. 

I would like to address the transgendered, including one of my loved ones who was born female and now lives as male.  (Love to you if by any chance you are reading this.)

The left is using you.  The left doesn't care about you.  The left cares about taking down Western Civilization.  You are merely the tool, in the same way that they are using Muslims and African Americans and women.  They are using you in the same way that they once used my ancestors, the so-called "white ethnics," the immigrant Poles, Italians, and Jews who arrived in America a hundred or so years ago, and were recruited, and then spat out when they refused to relinquish their families, their patriotism and their God.  Read leftwing literature published early in the twentieth century.  We were the beautiful workers back then.  Read leftwing literature now.  We suddenly morph into monsters, the worst reactionaries, the biggest obstacles to Revolution. 

My transgendered fellow citizens, don't buy the left's product.  Don't be their tool.  They will betray you as quickly and thoroughly as they betray everyone they use.  Look what they did to Juan Williams.  Look what they did to the women of Cologne, Germany.

When you, the transgendered, are no longer useful to them, you will be out in the cold again.  They will denounce you as decadent, as they have done in the past. 

I appeal to you: reject this fascism.  Come to terms with the rest of us.  Let's work on a solution that respects everyone.

Danusha Goska is the author of Save Send Delete

This piece appeared on American Thinker here

A Teacher Learns Something

Jordan Sokol Teacher Source
Somewhere on a university campus in North America in the not too recent past, a teacher did something she thought she would never do. Some thing she has not done in a lifetime of teaching.

This teacher is very scrupulous. She believes that there is an objective standard that exists outside the person, and the ethical person's job is to adhere to that standard. In short, you *don't* do just what you want to do, or what feels good to do. You do what is right, and what is right is defined by criteria that exist outside of you.

This teacher has none of the signatures of worldly power. She is not pretty, rich, or successful.

And yet. Year after year, she makes men cry.

She doesn't want to. She never knows when it will happen. It's not something for which she can prepare.

It's often the toughest of males. "Given your number of absences, assignments not completed, and test scores, your final grade is an F."

And the lids blink, and the whites cloud to red, and the tears flow.

It's awkward. How do you comfort someone with a skull tattoo and an obscene t-shirt? Really she doesn't know.

Look -- she's not looking for this. She doesn't like this.

When she meets with students, she brings a computer if the meeting place doesn't have a computer, and she puts a video of a flowing waterfall on the computer screen. She plays New Age music of wind chimes, yoga flutes and chanting monks.

She's a writer herself so she offers feedback in the gentlest of ways. "So, when you next write a paper like this, perhaps, in the future, rather than, as you do here, alternating between MLA style and APA style, pick one style and use it throughout the paper."

Even with that students cry. Male students cry. It's so awkward. A handsome young man who had been the model of self-possession all semester. Actual tears.

"Why???" she asks, throwing up her hands.

"I've never had anyone critique a paper I wrote the way that you do. This has just never happened to me before."

Is this really the participation-prize generation? Are millennials really made of spun sugar? Have they been helicopter-parented into fragility? Or is she really such a bitch?

She does not know.

But now there is a new phenomenon. Students crying when they get *good* news.

"You liked my paper!!! You appreciated it!"

"I thought I was going to fail your class!!"

"You're giving me an A? Thank you!!"

How to handle this?

She calls up images of kittens on the computer screen. "Here! Look at this!" she wants the kittens to provide what she feels it would be inappropriate to attempt to provide. She's trying to be Spock -- fair. Impartial. She can handle tears at a Polish wedding, but not at moments like this.

Recently, she did something she never thought she'd do.

There was -- This. Student.

Difficult.

Oh. My. God.

She would have just pulled out a gun and shot him, were she not a Christian -- and a supporter of gun control. Google would probably provide all the necessary clues on how to dispose of the body without leaving any trace. Probably it would involve bleach. She'd be into that. She's a clean freak. She likes a challenge.

Difficult in ways she could detail but not in a public forum.

Just go down the list and check off all the things a human can do to be a hemorrhoid, a delayer of sleep, someone who makes you, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday increasingly dread a scheduled Monday encounter.

So. Fairness. It is out there, It is numbers. It is reached by being Spock.

Years ago, a student, someone she loved, who was, yes, a criminal, threatened to kill her if she wouldn't give him a grade higher than earned. And she said no. Really. it means that much to her to be *fair.*

With this more recent student, because of a series of factors she cannot disclose, for the first time in her entire career, she bestowed a grade higher than had, strictly, in keeping with that external quality of fairness, been earned.

Tears? Ach yai, as Aunt Tetka used to say.

And then some words.

And the teacher realized -- it could have been pure chance -- but in this one instance, she realized, giving that grade turned out to be the exactly *right* thing to do. It was the thing that needed to be done to teach well, and to ... well to do the right thing.

She said to him, "This is a pay-it-forward situation. In the future, because of all that has transpired, you are going to apply what you've learned, and, on that future date, you are going to earn this grade."

The quality of mercy is not strained.

And that quality, like fairness, did not come from her. It was something out there. She was merely the channel.


Because she just wanted to go home and take a nap, and get back to birdwatching.

Jan Steen The Severe Teacher Source

A Joke about Religion

Source
I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: "Stop. Don't do it."

"Why shouldn't I?" he asked.

"Well, there's so much to live for!"

"Like what?"

"Are you religious?"

He said: "Yes."

I said: "Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?"

"Christian."

"Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?"

"Protestant."

"Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"

"Baptist."

"Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"

"Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?"

He said: "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915."

I said: "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off.


Source of the joke: YouTube post here

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Garret Mountain Warblers

Photo by Poronto Source

"Birdwatching" sounds so innocent and uncomplicated but I have a roller coaster relationship with it. When I was a kid, I birdwatched every chance I got. I'd get home from school or work, tear off my clothes, put on a big, cotton man's shirt, probably one of my brothers', cut off shorts, no socks, no shoes, barefoot, grab my brother Joe's binoculars and run down to the woods just three houses away from me.

Near the Wanaque River I climbed rocky balds, strode through grasses, squeezed mooshy swamps around my toes and sometimes stepped into something soft that swallowed me up to my knees – it felt like quicksand – and baked under the treeless sun of a dried out quarry that looked more like a desert than New Jersey. I noticed even then that while I always fell off the horse in gym class, surrounded, as I was, by kids with whom I did not fit in, in the woods I never so much as slipped while crossing fallen log bridges, slick with moss. I stood silent in filtered shafts of sunlight beneath stands of big, tall deciduous trees. I was obsessive and I racked up quite a list of bird species in that little patch of woods.  

When I was in Peace Corps in Central Africa and Nepal I was, of course, in prime birdwatching habitat, but I couldn't bring myself to do it except casually. Africa wasn't safe – people were constantly threatening to rape, kidnap or kill me, and no, that's not hyperbole – and Nepal was just so poor. I never really understood how trekkers can do what they do – put on thousands of dollars of boots and camera lenses and state-of-the-art ergonomic backpacks and walk through villages where children die of hunger. I'm not criticizing; I'm just saying I didn't have the heart to do much serious birdwatching.

Birds were everywhere in Central Africa and Nepal, though, so I couldn't help but see hamerkops and hornbills, blue plantain eaters and lammergeier.

I came back to the states and went to grad school, paying my way as I went by working at everything from carpentry to telephone interviewing. That sucked up so much time that I didn't birdwatch much except during spare hours on weekends.

After I was told I had cancer I began devoting more time to birdwatching. Mortality tends to prod you to do what you enjoy while you can.

I subscribed to an email list of birders. I had always been a solo birdwatcher; it actually never occurred to me that some people do it with others.

The email list educated me and frightened me. A percentage of the people, and given that this was the internet I have no idea how many, were mean to the point of being unhinged.

An enthusiastic beginner, just starting out, posted a message saying that she thought she had seen a golden eagle. A golden eagle in the place and at the time that she claimed to have seen one would be very rare. Rather than gently educating this newbie, a list member tore her to shreds verbally. It was a long, high decibel, rageful post.

It gets worse. One birder broke into another birder's car and stole his field guide.

I hate to admit this but I learned from that list to be nervous around birdwatchers. Again, I've pretty much always birdwatched alone, so I don't have enough positive experience of birdwatching with others to counter-balance the absolute freak-out that that list caused me to feel. There is an undercurrent of rage and aggression, or maybe arrogance and cliquishness, or maybe petty competition, or maybe aloof not-in-touch-with-humanness in the birder world that I don't understand at all.

On the other hand through that list I did meet and birdwatch with another birder who is one of the nicest, smartest, and most pleasant and even-tempered people I've ever met. So … who knows.

It's May. To birdwatchers, May = warblers.

Birdwatchers receive pleasure from seeing a variety of birds, seeing a large number of birds, seeing colorful birds, and seeing new species. The May warbler migration spreads the banquet table with a feast of all these features.

Problem. Warblers are coquettish little sprites who love nothing more than to break your heart.

In late April, birdwatchers look up and dream of the wave that is about to break against the treetops. At that time, the trees are all bare of leaves and what birds there are are very visible. You see the occasional palm warbler, an early migrant, with no leaves obscuring your vision. Too, the palm warbler habitually pumps its tail up and down, so it is quite easy to identify. In late April, no leaves on the trees yet, that tail pumping with poke-you-in-the-eye obviousness, you think, how hard can this be?

Warblers arrive with the new foliage. Most of them like treetops. They are tiny and they move quickly. Birdwatchers in May stand around under trees, craning their necks, staring upward till their shoulders ache, ignoring the gnats flying into their eyes and the mosquitoes biting their ankles, trying to catch a glimpse of five inches of rapidly moving feathers. Warblers come in blue, green, yellow, red, black, white, brown, orange, with stripes, chinstraps, wing bars, eye-rings and eye and tail stripes. We need to see a critical mass of these signs for an accurate identification. As soon as we are almost sure what species we are looking at, the little flirt flits away never to be seen again, taking with it that key rump coloration we needed for a firm ID. Warbler watching is full of rewards and frustrations.

Garret Mountain in Paterson and West Paterson, NJ, is a "migrant trap." It is an oasis of woodland surrounded by urban areas. Migrating birds stopover here as they travel the Atlantic Flyway. Birdwatchers flock to Garret Mountain in May in order to witness the warbler migration.

I checked the weather report yesterday; NOAA predicted rain. I slept in. Around seven a.m. I realized that it was not raining and unlikely to. I thought it late to set out but figured, what the heck, nothing to lose.

I went to Garret and sure enough it was packed with people in jeans, sweatshirts, hiking shoes and binoculars and large lenses. Again, because of the dark experience of the listserve, I was wary. Few of the birders even glanced at me. Phew.

I walk at Garret as often as I can, and I am used to seeing the same birds in the same areas at the same times: the red-tailed hawk on the tower, the rough-winged swallows over the pond, the killdeer working the mudflat near the cattails, the chimney swifts skimming the sheer drop-off of rocks to Route 80 down below.

Today was totally different. Everywhere I looked, I saw warblers, vireos, thrushes, flycatchers, woodpeckers, and mimids. The park is very small; it's really just the top of a hill. You can see houses through the trees. But each little nook and cranny hosted its own convocation. I sat on a cupped mini-ledge hanging over route 80 and watched a house wren, warblers and thrushes swirl around this pocket-sized mini-environment.

As you walk, you attend to each green leaf fluttering in the sun overhead, each moldering leaf under your feet. You hear each tweet, buzz, and trill. You catch sight of a flash like the glow of a fire and you are delighted by that Blackburnian warbler that you see in full sun for mere seconds. Such close attention takes you out of time and place. You are stepping on eternity.

A two-mile loop trail circles the park. It took me three hours to complete the loop. I stopped every few steps to watch brilliantly colored warblers working the treetops. The most amazing sight of the day was a scarlet tanager, its wings closed, dipping and rising, dipping and rising, dipping and rising, over the treetops on the mountaintop, moving like a dolphin underwater.

I ran into a park maintenance man named Chris who chided me for walking on a closed trail. He explained that the trail was closed because workmen had to cut ash trees infected by emerald ash borer, an invasive species from China. Our ash trees have no defense against this species and they are all doomed, pending foresters finding some way to combat the pest. Chris explained that affected ash trees near the trails must be cut down before they fall across the trail. Ash are famous as the wood for baseball bats.

I asked Chris if anyone talks about doing anything about the deer in the park. They are numerous and they are tame. On any given visit, you might easily see twenty deer. They browse the undergrowth, making the park less able to support the many bird and mammal species that require undergrowth.

I am a great fan of Aldo Leopold's piece "Thinking Like a Mountain" that champions the something or someone – either a wolf or a man with a gun – that culls deer populations. I'm also a big fan of a youtube video about the very positive impact that wolves had on rivers in Yellowstone. The wolves culled the deer and the decrease in the number of deer improved life for many species in the park.

Chris said that even the police at Garret Mountain feed the deer. He said that city folk drive to Garret Mountain expressly to hand feed the deer donuts, Big Mac buns and oranges and thus have their encounter with nature.

At times, when I walk around Wayne, a suburban town, I have passed as many as three deer carcasses per mile. One just festered on the side of a very suburban road, on a nicely manicured lawn, for three days, swollen as a fully inflated balloon, before the city workers disposed of it.

I also met a very nice birder who reported seeing a black-billed cuckoo, a bird I did not see. He walked with me back to the spot where he'd seen it. We didn't find it but it was nice to share the trail for a while.

After my three-hour circuit of the two mile trail, of course I had to go around one more time, though I was thirsty and hungry and my back was killing me. It was noon, well past peak birding time, and yet the birds were still throwing themselves against my eyes. I was not walking in that hushed, slow, attentive birdwatcher-step, but merely rushing to get to my car, when a Canada warbler practically flew into my face, as three species of thrushes decorated the forest floor.

Have I died and gone to heaven? I read accounts of near death experiences. People report being greeted by departed loved ones. I don't have any departed loved ones and I won't have a welcoming committee. Maybe I have died and entered paradise and all these species of birds surrounding me are a sign of that. But I realized I still felt creaky and thirsty and that didn't feel like the rejuvenation that near-death experiences promise.

Conventionally a birder ends an account like this with the birds seen that day. I won't do so. I don't like the competitive aspect of birding. The "Did you see the cerulean warbler well if not you didn't see anything you are such a loser. I saw the cerulean and I am better than you."

I will say that I saw more warbler species in one day today than I'd ever seen in one day before.

I'll also say that I didn't see as many as I saw when I was a kid.

Bird population numbers are declining dramatically and visibly. Crashing. Crashing. The canary in the coalmine? Yes. I remember numbers of birds, and numbers of species, that I never encounter any more. Not even on spectacular days like today.

So I donate money to Audubon, World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, National Wildlife, Cornell Labs, and others. And I hope you do, too.

What will really help is elevating the status of women. The better off women are, the fewer children they have. The less educated and more oppressed women are, the more children they have. And so I do my part to educate the public about belief systems that keep women down. What's good for birds is also good for us. 

Photo by Laura Gooch Source
Photo by dbriz Source
photo by dbriz source