All Over But the Pilings–Memories of a Dock

All Over But the Pilings–Memories of a Dock

Anyone who spends a lot of time on boats likely spends a fair amount of time on docks. Relatively speaking, that is, as the dock is usually just a transit point for getting from land to boat. But along with being an important junction point between land and boat, docks offer plenty of opportunities for recreation on their own merit, with fishing and swimming quickly coming to mind. Indeed, a dock’s utility can go well beyond its purported uses and some docks can also develop distinct characteristics, such as romantic, haunting, or full of life, to name a few.  

My favorite dock of all time based on inherent recreational components and other distinct characteristics was the U.S. Coast Guard pier at Cape Lookout, North Carolina. It is also, by far, the largest dock I have ever had the pleasure of becoming intimately familiar with, thanks in large part to the Coast Guard’s abandonment of its facilities on that island in 1982.

The dock was located in front of a house that my family shared with three others as as vacation and weekend getaway spot. My father had spent significant time at that house during his childhood and teen years and, when given the opportunity to buy a share in the 1970s, jumped in with cash and several years of hard work to bring it back from the brink of dilapidation. It was his slice of heaven on earth, a slice I was blessed to enjoy, too.   

The dock served as a convenient amenity, but our usage of it was dependent upon the good nature of the Coast Guard station’s captain, who generally changed each year. “By the book” captains generally prohibited our use of the dock, which meant multiple long slogs through the salt marsh to get from our boat to the house with our attendant coolers, luggage and assorted gear. This also meant that I could not use the dock as my personal playground and swimming/fishing platform. 

The few captains with a more-laid-back attitude would grant us permission to unload at the dock, which also gave me leeway to fish and swim from it. And in the latter years of the Coast Guard’s tenure there, my sisters had reached an age at which the Coast Guard sailors would “look the other way” when by-the-book captains were shoreside, and were more than happy to help us bring our gear to the house. 

That annual worry about whether or not we would be able to use the dock came to an end in 1982, and the dock, while still property of the U.S. government, started to feel like ours. And we used it like it was ours. No more slogging through the salt marsh, and I was able to fish and swim from it with impunity. For a while, anyhow…. 

The island had fallen under U.S. Park Service Control, and it seemed to take them a few years to get the place up and running as a park. They also didn’t utilize the Coast Guard pier, as it was across the bight from where they had set up their facilities. Nevertheless, starting in about 1989 we started to get push back from the park superintendent. U.S. Government issue “No Trespassing” signs went up on the dock and Park Service personnel started kicking us off the dock and warning us that we were breaking the law. As with Coast Guard captains, the park superintendents generally changed year by year, and that year’s was the only one that proved to be of the “strictly-by-the-book” variety. After she was shipped off to Alaska, the signs stayed up, but succeeding superintendents looked the other way and park rangers generally ignored our use of the dock. 

And use it we did. It was our go-to for the basics of docking, unloading gear, swimming, and fishing. In fact, even though I have not cast a line from that dock since 2007, I have undoubtedly caught more fish from that dock than from all of my other fishing forays combined. Spot, pinfish, hogfish, croakers, bluefish, skate and dogfish by the thousands; flounder, sea bass, pompano, mackerel, sheepshead, puffer, trout, sharks and snapper by the hundreds; and a wide variety of other fish–known and unknown–by the dozens. It was a fishing paradise. If nothing was biting on the surf, and no hits while trolling, I could always count on catching something off that dock. And more often than not, something substantial. My dad’s biggest flounder and King Mackerel ever were both caught off that dock, and all of my 20-plus pound bluefish were caught there. It’s the only place I have ever caught a hammerhead shark, and a place where I’ve caught plenty of “the one that got away.” And while some of those “got aways” were undoubtedly sharks, others were definitely of the game fish variety, as evidenced by great leaps from the water, or up-close views before a last lunge and breaking of the line.

My Last Sunrise from the Coast Guard Dock at Cape Lookout

That dock also served as a perfect walkway for morning and evening strolls, as well as a perfect spot for sundown cocktail hour. While on that dock I have experienced countless magical moments brought forth by various elements—big and small—of nature putting on shows. And that dock as been the site of great bonding with friends, romance, and, sadly, even mourning.   

The view is magical, too, with all of Cape Lookout’s bight before you, along with the black and white diamonds of the state’s most beautiful lighthouse. Along with the house, the dock was  truly a magical place and my most favorite spot in the world. But it’s all gone now. 

The Park Service took possession of the house in 2007 and, with no maintenance over the years, was finally claimed by a storm in 2020. Likewise neglected by the government, the old Coast Guard dock is being claimed by the sea and will soon consist of nothing but some old wooden pilings . . . and some wonderful memories.

—Originally published in Slidemoor.

Finding Holiday Bliss Under a Parasitic Weed

Finding Holiday Bliss Under a Parasitic Weed

—December 1, 2020

Christmas has far more traditional elements to keep track of than any other holiday. Think about it, you’ve got your Christmas tree, wreath, ornaments, lights, carols, stockings, gifts, advent calendar, charitable giving, candy canes, gingerbread houses and people, and a dozen or so other traditional food items. And let’s not forget Santa Claus, flying reindeer, and some dwarves—wait, we mean elves.

No doubt we’ve neglected a Christmas traditional element or two, but among the strangest—come on, flying reindeer?—of Christmas traditions must be the hanging of a parasitic weed, under which anyone inadvertently or purposely standing is susceptible to sexual advances from others in the room. And by susceptible, tradition has long held that a woman under the mistletoe is supposed to allow a man to kiss her, with noncompliance leading to potential bad luck, lack of Christmas presents, a life of spinsterhood, future infertility, or some other woe depending upon the country or region.

Frankly, we’re a bit surprised that the “Me Too” movement hasn’t jumped all over this one, with calls to ban its sale or maybe get it regulated as a Schedule 1 date rape drug.

So how did this strange tradition come about? Well, for some reason several ancient cultures, including Greeks, Celts, Druids, and Vikings, associated mistletoe with fertility and used it in fertility related rituals. While historians aren’t exactly sure how these varied folks actually utilized the plant, when the English incorporated it into their Christmas celebrations in the 1700s they couldn’t exactly promote it as “great for fucking” or some such, given the propriety of the times. Thus, it’s association with kissing, which, as everyone certainly knew back then, often leads to fucking.

Anyhow, the hanging of mistletoe during Christmas has endured, and kissing a girl/woman under the mistletoe is almost a rite of passage of sorts. And for those lucky ones among us, that mistletoe-inspired kiss has led to some passionate lovemaking with one’s wife or girlfriend, or, for singletons, perhaps a memorable, all-night fuck-a-thon with a co-worker you hooked up with—Barb from accounting?—at the office Christmas party thanks to a little bit of mistletoe initiation.

But how did this weed become such an enduring Christmas tradition and a harbinger of what can become tidings of great joy? And what is its connection to fertility? 

Perhaps it has something to do with the parasitic nature of the plant. As a parasite, mistletoe latches on to trees and shrubs and then leaches out whatever nutrition it needs from the host plant. Some mistletoe species even go so far as to letting the host plant take care of their photosynthesis needs.

With this in mind, one could posit that the tradition may have evolved to let men act like mistletoe to their host plant women….

But don’t share this bit of intel with the Me Too Movement. Little doubt that plenty of letches have taken advantage of mistletoe to steal a kiss and try for more, but we would suggest that mistletoe has inspired far more sweet kisses, passionate lovemaking, awesome fucking, and overall joy than it has sexual assault. And with that, we wish you a Merry Christmas and tidings of getting lucky under the mistletoe!

—Similar version originally published December 2019 by Sleazy Greetings.

Your Potential Descendancy from a World Conquering Postmaster General

Your Potential Descendancy from a World Conquering Postmaster General

—May 5, 2020

Do you have world conqueror genes coursing through your blood? Let’s consider the possibility:

  • Alexander the Great?—While his only legitimate child died at age 13, it is possible that he sired some illegitimate children during his extensive travels.
  • Julius Caesar?—Same, with no known legitimate children, but perhaps some seed spreading while on any number of expeditions.  
  • Napoleon Bonaparte—while his one legitimate child—Napoleon II—died childless (Napoleon III being a cousin), Bonaparte did have at least two acknowledged illegitimate sons, both of whom have a few living descendants. Thus, there is a slight chance that you could be a direct descendant from one of these Bonaparte trysts.

Look East for Your Possible World Conquering Ancestor?

That all said, Napoleon’s blood line, as well as that of just about all other historically significant figures, has got nothing on Genghis Kahn. In fact, about one out of every 200 men alive today are descended from the Great Khan—that is, about 19.5 million men around the world (though most live in Mongolia and surrounding countries).

With six Mongolian wives and more than 500 concubines, the Mongol terror was a baby making machine. Researchers have identified a Y-chromosome sequence believed to be from the Great Khan that is present in 8% of men in 16 population groups spanning Asia. If you’re not from Asia, there’s still hope, though, as the sequence is found in about 0.5% of men in the rest of the word. And your odds of having that world-conquering blood may be enhanced should you have red hair and green eyes, as a Persian chronicler described Super G with those distinctive characteristics, which were present among the ethnically diverse Mongols of that time.

What Was Your Potential Ancestor Like?   

Born around 1162, young G had a rough childhood that included the murder of his father, his family’s exile from his tribe, and a stint as a slave for a rival tribe. But by his early 20s, he had established himself as a strong warrior and leader, and by 1206 had confederated the Mongol steppe tribes under his leadership. He quickly set about meeting the neighbors, and, up until his death in 1227 introduced himself to people from as far east as Korea to as far west as Kiev Russia (his son, Kublai, would subsequently say hello to Europeans proper).

Not that anyone in his path wanted to say hello to the Great Khan and his horde, as historians believe his world tour may have been responsible for the deaths of up to 40 million people, or more than 10 percent of the world’s population at the time (guess he needed to make room for his offspring). But Super G wasn’t all badness. Those who did not resist and gave freely of their possessions generally kept their lives. An early proponent of religious tolerance, he passed religious freedom laws and tax exemptions for places of worship. He brought order, stability, and free trade to the silk road, and developed an extensive postal system, an early form of the Pony Express.

Of course, any interest you might have in being a Genghis Kahn descendent is likely stoked more by his world conquering creds than that of perhaps being the world’s first Postmaster General.  

The South’s Prohibition History and Rise of NASCAR

The South’s Prohibition History and Rise of NASCAR

—April 2, 2019

Along with celebrating life’s best moments with drinks and friends, we here at the Southern Drinking Club thoroughly enjoy learning about history, especially when it focuses on the South and/or drinking. When one considers the history of drinking in the U.S., however, nothing captures the public’s imagination more than America’s failed 1920-1933 effort to ban it—that is, Prohibition.

While Prohibition represents a broad-based story, with components touching upon just about every aspect of American life at that time, the first thoughts that come to most people’s minds when the word is mentioned today are Chicago gangsters, bootleggers, rumrunners, and speakeasies. In short, Prohibition tends to be billed primarily as a northern history, with scant participation from, or impact on, the South. Part of this is undoubtedly due to the fact that much of the South was already “dry” when Prohibition was enacted, though it’s also likely due in some part to Yankee propensity to co-opt history.

And sure, Yankee big-city gangsters of that time, along with border-crossing bootleggers and rumrunners, make for exciting history, but the South’s Prohibition history was equally exciting, and perhaps more relevant in its impact on America’s overall historical evolution. Not only did many big Southern cities have their own bootlegging gangsters—plenty of gangster-style shootouts and the like in New Orleans, Houston, Mobile, Tampa, and Tallahassee during Prohibition—but Southern moonshiners and bootleggers had been battling state and local government agents for years prior to the enactment of national Prohibition.

We Southerners just don’t like being told what to do, and long resorted to moonshining in the face of local, state, and then national efforts to stop us from enjoying a drink. And while rumrunning is historically associated with running it down from Canada, rumrunning from the Caribbean into Southern ports had been turning Southern entrepreneurs into millionaires for decades before that form of smuggling was needed up north.

In short, while more and more cities, towns, counties and states in the South went dry in the decades before Prohibition, that level of aridness was dry in name only. The only thing national Prohibition did was enhance the Southern moonshine business and number of Southern entrepreneurs engaged in it. Oh, and it also brought about the rise of the great Southern sport of stock car racing,  which is now watched by millions around the world under the banner of NASCAR.

With national Prohibition leading to such an increase in business, Southern moonshiners had to spend more and more time on the road getting their fine product to market. And while they had long had to contend with local and state efforts to stop them, this only intensified with the addition of the Feds. Southern moonshiners got a big edge in the cat and mouse game with Ford Motor Company’s introduction of the V-8 engine. which provided moonshiners with the “perfect moonshine deliver vehicle.” As noted by Neal Thompson, author of “Driving with the Devil: Moonshine, Detroit Wheels, and the Birth of NASCAR, a V-8-mounted Ford “was fast enough to stay one step ahead of the law, rugged enough for the mountain roads, and had a big enough trunk and back seat to squeeze in the moonshine.”

That Ford V-8 may have been an innovative Yankee invention, but Southern boys love to tinker and moonshiners across the South put their ingenuity into V-8 modifications that would give them even more speed to elude Johnny Law during deliveries. These deliveries undoubtedly became easier with the end of national prohibition in 1933, though they were still needed as many state and local governments opted to remain arid with regard to booze.   

Southerners also liked to compete, and at some point in the mid-1930s moonshiners started racing their delivery vehicles against each other at local fairgrounds and improvised tracks. These early stock car races drew in the crowds, which led local entrepreneurs to start planning races with paid attendance and cash purses for the winners. By 1938, stock car racing was pretty much established across the South, with numerous dedicated racing tracks that drew in crowds by the thousands.

Not only had many of these pre-NASCAR drivers trained by running moonshine, but “a large percentage of the early mechanics, car owners, promoters, and track owners had deep ties to the illegal alcohol business,” say Daniel S. Pierce, in his book, “Real NASCAR: White Lightening, Red Clay and Big Bill France.” In fact, Raymond Parks, the first person to establish a professional stock car racing team, had made a fortune in running moonshine in Georgia and  his investment in a professional team was likely used in part to launder some of his ill-gotten gains. His racing team drivers were some of the top moonshine runners in North Georgia, and his primary mechanic was known as “the bootleggers’ mechanic.”

The intersection of moonshine running and stock car racing is perhaps best evidenced by a stock car race held at Atlanta’s Lakewood Speedway in September 1945, when police intervened to ban five drivers from racing due to their prior moonshine running convictions. The 30,000 fans did not take kindly to this police action, and in the face of what was about to be an ugly riot, the police relented and a top moonshine runner won the race.

Bill France, the founder of what was to become NASCAR in 1947, did not have a background in moonshining, though he was an avid recruiter of moonshine runners during his initial efforts to standardize stock car racing. In fact, many of the teams involved in the first official NASCAR races in the late 1940s had deep ties to moonshining. According to the aforementioned Neal Thompson, moonshine money was instrumental in sustaining NASCAR through its early years.

In the early 1950s, though, France made a concerted effort to bury NASCAR’s moonshine connections as part of an ultimately successful effort to make NASCAR more family friendly. Any connection between NASCAR and booze was pretty much then lost until 1972, when Canadian-based Carling Brewery sponsored a rookie driver with its Black Label brand. And, since then, NASCAR’s association with alcohol has primarily revolved around beer, but now you know that NASCAR was initially fueled by moonshine and driven by Prohibition.     

In honor of the South’s Prohibition-related heritage that led to the rise of NASCAR, we suppose we should offer a NASCAR-themed cocktail recipe . . . .

Easy! Grab a beer and bottom’s up. OK, but for those of you with more refined tastes, we offer the following:

The Green Flag

Fill a tall glass with ice and add:

  • 2 Oz premium vodka
  • 1/4th Oz melon liqueur (or any green-tinted liqueur, really)
  • 1 Oz white cranberry juice
  • 1 Oz Sprite
  • 1//2 Oz lime juice    

Garnish with lime and enjoy!

The Red Flag

Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add:

1 Oz premium vodka

1 Oz white rum

1/2 Oz Red Bull

1/2 cup of cranberry juice

Mix for 30 seconds, pour into a chilled Martini glass, and savor!      

—Originally published in March by the Southern Drinking Club   

Left-Wing CNN Pundit Pilloried on Social Media for Giving Conservatives Credit, Encouraging Bipartisanship

Left-Wing CNN Pundit Pilloried on Social Media for Giving Conservatives Credit, Encouraging Bipartisanship

—March 1, 2018
Left-wing pundit and CNN commentator Van Jones is being pilloried by the Liberal social media outrage mob for stating some inconvenient truths during a panel session at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The reaction to Van Jones’ Feb. 28th commentary lays bare the utter intolerance by many on the Left for giving Conservatives credit for doing anything good or for trying to work in a bipartisan manner to make meaningful changes.

Van Jones’ invitation to CPAC was inspired by his role in working on behalf of Democrats to push the White House’s support of the First Step Act, which passed Congress and was signed by the President in December. Jones reportedly worked closely with White House advisor Jared Kushner to successfully rally all-around support for the legislation, which the New York Times called the “most significant changes to the criminal justice system in a generation.” In essence, the bill is designed to unwind “tough-on-crime” federal policies that were initiated in large part by the Clinton Administration as part of its “War on Drugs,” which led to what is believed to be a disproportionate incarceration of Black Americans over White Americans. The legislation will lead to the early release of thousands of federal prisoners and ensure that future sentencing is fairer and geared towards rehabilitation rather than punishment. It is also designed to significantly improve prison conditions and the lives of prisoners.

Whatever the merits of the legislation and Jones’s role in getting it passed, his mere attendance at the annual conservative conference was enough to stir up Left-wing social media outrage before he had even spoken, with people on Twitter and other social media calling him a “sellout,” “traitor,” “Uncle Tom,” and other related epithets. But the social media outrage erupted in force and great numbers after Jones gave Conservatives credit for leading the nation’s push for criminal justice reform, citing both recent federal legislation and reform efforts by at least 19 Republican-led states.

In praising the recent bipartisan passage of the “First Step Act,” the most comprehensive criminal justice reform legislation in decades, Jones said, “the conservative movement in this country, unfortunately, from my point of view, is now the leader on this issue of reform,” adding that Conservatives are “stealing my issue.” Jones said that on the state level, Republican governors are being “tough on the dollar, tough on crime, and shrinking prison populations.” He also said that Conservatives need to “take some dadgum credit for being smart—take some dadgum credit for getting it right.” Jones also lent his support for more bipartisanship efforts in Congress by stating, “I’ve never seen a bird fly with only a left wing—we need each other.”

Spurred on in part by Leftist media—such as Vox’s Aaron Rupar—live-tweeting the event, social media commentary immediately started pillorying Jones for his statements. Jones’s CPAC commentary spurred thousands of Tweets within an hour, and even 24 hours later #Van Jones was generating a new tweet every few seconds. Overall, the ratio trends heavily to the negative, with only about two out of every 10 offering support for Jones. The commentary and memes run the gamut from incredulity to outright hatred and everything in between, with sentiment suggesting that Jones needs to be excommunicated from the Democratic Party, if not worse. Commentary also tended to strongly disparage Jones for suggesting the need for more bipartisanship, with sentiment suggesting that the idea itself was treasonous.

The intolerance from the Left for all three of Jones’s alleged transgressions—attending CPAC in the first place, giving credit to Conservatives, and encouraging bipartisanship—is utterly appalling and does not bode well for finding common ground between our sharply divided country. In fairness it should be noted that some on the Right also chastised Jones for his statement that illegal immigrants commit fewer crimes than U.S. citizens. However, Right-wing negative commentary on Twitter only amounted to about one out of every 50 or so tweets. In short, the majority of the social media lynch mob was comprised of his erstwhile Liberal comrades.

The Left prides itself on “tolerance,” and yet their actions continue to prove that the only tolerance they have is for those who strictly follow their dictates—Woe be unto anyone who strays from the party line, gives any credit to the enemy, or suggests that perhaps working with that enemy might just lead to progressive results.

—Originally published in Discernible Truth

How Can We Discern the Truth Behind Actual and Manufactured Hate Crime?

How Can We Discern the Truth Behind Actual and Manufactured Hate Crime?

—February 26, 2019

Truth has been a moving target ever since the Chicago Police were called to the home of Hollywood actor Jussie Smollett on Jan. 29, to investigate the report that two white men had attacked him at 2 a.m. on what was one of the coldest nights in that city of the last 100 years. Not to question that there are racist and homophobic Americans who might be prone to engaging in the violent behavior as described by the gay, black actor in his account to police, but that such might be a rare one-out-of-a-million exception rather than the norm.

In fact, when was the last time a black or gay man (or woman) ended up with a noose around their neck or had bleach thrown on them as the result of a racist or homophobic attack? This author would suggest that such attacks are exceptionally rare in modern American times, and that the vast majority of straight, white Americans (and pretty much everyone else, too) are appalled that such could happen in today’s enlightened times.

Nevertheless, and despite the apparent horse feathers weaved into Jussie’s account of the alleged attack, numerous politicians, members of the mainstream media, and celebrities of all stripes jumped on the hash-tag “Justice for Jussie” bandwagon to decry the rampant racism and homophobia that is reputedly roiling our country. Decry the alleged rampant racism and homophobia while obliquely and directly ascribing a significant portion of blame for the attack on President Donald Trump and anyone who supports him.

Easy to do, as the attackers were described by Jussie as shouting “this is MAGA (acronym for Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” slogan) country,” and many in the media initially reported that the attackers were wearing MAGA hats. In fact, the addition of those MAGA details to the alleged attack is likely the only reason that the story went viral, given that Jussie is only a B-list celebrity, and one that many Americans had never heard of until the alleged attack became A-list news.

And perhaps the alleged details regarding MAGA are why so many mainstream media journalists, politicians, and celebrities were willing to overlook some questionable details about the attack that belied the truthfulness of Jussie’s account:
—Given the extreme temperatures that night, Jussie and his alleged assailants were probably the only people out on Chicago’s streets that night.
—Chicago is definitely not MAGA country, and one would be far more likely to run into an attacker in that area claiming that it was “Obama country.”
—Hard to believe that Jussie held on to his Subway sandwich during and after the attack, especially when it might have been tainted by the bleach thrown on him.
—Why did Jussie leave the “noose” (reportedly, a clothesline) around his neck long after the alleged attack?
—Jussie’s unwillingness to provide police with complete access to evidence that could be gleaned from his cell phone.

As Commentary Magazine editor Noah Rothman noted in a New York Times op-ed, despite details of the alleged account that “strained credulity from the very start,” numerous “politicians and journalists seemed to suspend all critical thought in a campaign to indict not just Mr. Smollett’s attackers but the country as a whole.” Furthermore, and as suggested by Rothman, in their rush to judgement many within this campaign doubled down against those who started to question the original narrative, insinuating that such questioning was just bigoted salt being poured into Jussie’s wounds. Jussie himself said as much when he publicly discussed the attack for the first time on Good Morning America, noting that those who doubt his account of the attack are causing him as much pain as the actual assault.

Ironically, Jussie’s narrative started to formally collapse as the Good Morning America episode aired on Feb. 14, at the same time news was emerging that Chicago Police had arrested two suspects who may have been involved in the attack. Two “black” suspects who were later released along with a police statement that the scope of the investigation “had shifted.”

Chicago Police detectives were reportedly skeptical about the alleged attack from the get go, and, with some good due-diligence investigating, have apparently determined that the entire incident was likely a hoax constructed in great detail—complete with rehearsals with the paid attackers—by Jussie himself. Chicago Police are now seeking a follow-up interview with Jussie, but the actor’s defense attorneys say that Jussie has no intention of speaking to police, and that the attorneys will speak to the police on his behalf. In a statement released over the weekend, Jussie’s attorneys also said that the actor has been further victimized by claims that he played a role in his own attack. “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”

We will just have to wait for the Chicago Police to discern this truth, or lack thereof.

In the meantime, what of real hate crimes that occur in America? Is it at epidemic levels as suggested by the mainstream media and others? And, more specifically, what of hate crimes that can be directly linked—as with the alleged Jussie attack—to Donald Trump and/or his supporters?

Well, a progressive group called America’s Voice has an online “Trump Hate Map” that purportedly tracks all Trump-inspired hate crimes against immigrants, minority groups and other marginalized people. Initiated with Trump’s campaign launch in June 2015, the map highlights less than 100 Trump-inspired hate incidents. While some of the incidents include murder and assault, most involve vandalism and/or harassment, with some not even rising to the level of an arrestable offense.

The relative low numbers of Trump Hate Map incidents must be a bit disappointing to progressive activists who are convinced that the millions of Americans who supported Donald Trump for president are rabid racists and homophobes. And this lack of substantial evidence supporting the notion that Trump supporters in general are racist homophobes leads some folks—such as Jussie Smollett—to manufacture their own hate crime incidents. In fact, the number of Trump-inspired hate crime hoaxes since 2015 might even outnumber actual Trump-inspired hate crimes.

—Originally published in Discernible Truth

What is the Ultimate Sailboat for Canada’s Sailing Mecca?

What is the Ultimate Sailboat for Canada’s Sailing Mecca?

Among factors that make Nova Scotia “Canada’s Ocean Playground” is the Village of Chester, which effectively serves as eastern Canada’s Mecca of sailing. Not only is Chester perfectly positioned at the head of Mahone Bay with sweeping views and access to its beautiful waters and 365 islands, but is host of Chester Race Week, the largest keelboat regatta in Canada, and second-largest in all of North America. Recreational sailing has been a primary component of Chester’s heritage for well over 100 years, and many full-time and seasonal residents call Chester home distinctly because of the sailing.    

Given this focus on sailing, a fair question to ask is what is the ultimate Chester sailboat? A question that could serve as an apt topic for debate among Chester sailors during the long sailing-free months ahead. Little doubt that every sailor has an opinion, so I’ll get the debate rolling by rendering my own experiences with various contenders for the title of “ultimate Chester sailboat.”

I am fairly certain that I took my first sail ever on my parent’s Bluenose, hull number 46 and then named Kaila. I was five or six years old at the time and can report that I did not enjoy the experience at all. She leaked heartily, had to be bailed constantly, and totally freaked me out despite forewarning from my parents when she went atilt to heel—I just knew that we were gonna flip over and sink! I did eventually get over my fear of flipping, but can’t say that I took to sailing during those early years. The water was cold, the directions regarding what to do next confusing, and the heat and passion of the few races I went on a bit too much for my sensitive nature at that young age.

Which is too bad, as the Bluenose is definitely in the running as the “ultimate Chester sailboat.” Designed in 1946 by William J. Roué, the same guy who designed and built the iconic Bluenose schooner as featured on Canada’s dime, the first dozen or so 23-foot one-design class sloops were built at the Barkhouse Boatyard in East Chester. Other local builders, including the Stevens Boatyard in Chester, also began producing Bluenoses, with a total of 77 wooden versions of the boat produced in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1968, Roué granted rights to produce a fibreglass version of the boat to McVay Yachts out of Mahone Bay, and since then another 100 or so fibreglass versions have been produced, first by McVay, and then by other builders such as Herring Cove Marine, and two other boat builders in Ontario.

The Bluenose is a great daysailer, but it’s primarily known for its racing pedigree, which has been a staple in both Chester and Halifax since 1949. In fact, the Chester Bluenose fleet is the largest one-design keelboat fleet in Atlantic Canada, and the Chester Yacht Club hosts an active racing schedule from June to September, and alternates with Halifax the hosting of the annual Maritime Bluenose Championship. With such a large fleet, and an exceptionally robust Chester community of Bluenose sailors, the Bluenose would undoubtedly be named the “ultimate Chester sailboat” if the designation was based strictly on local sailor polling.

Many Chester old-timers might argue that the Chester C-Class sloops represent the “ultimate Chester sailboat.” Built starting in the mid-1930s in Heisler’s Boat Yard in Chester’s Back Harbour, these sleek, beautiful racer-cruisers—Eclipse, Ripple, Ohop, Mistral, Restless and Whim—quickly joined Chester’s other Universal Class wooden sailboats such as Hayseed and High Tide in winning numerous races for their owners. Even with the rise of faster plastic boats in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, the Chester C Class boats were considered the grande dames of Chester’s sailing season, and would continue to bring home the glory well into the first years of this century.

While Ben Heisler famously said that “if God had wanted fibreglass boats, he would have made fibreglass trees,” none of Chester’s iconic C Class boats were on the water this year. Fibreglass boats have definitely been dominating the waters of Chester of late, though there is a small fleet of “Classics,” along with the wooden Bluenoses, and a half dozen IODs (International One Design class), all of which continue to stir the souls of the old timers and anyone else who appreciates the beautiful lines and craftsmanship of these old wooden boats.

My own personal experience with Chester C Class racing was short lived. I was probably eight or nine years old when my parents decided to expose me to the joys of big boat racing and offered my services to Danny Blain, skipper of the Eclipse. Danny, who wrongly assumed that I must know something about sailing, put me on foredeck duty where not only was I scared to death that I’d be swept overboard—Eclipse had no lifelines—but I promptly screwed up every command given. I did not last long on foredeck, and wasn’t much better at following commands anywhere else he put me, either. While I didn’t gain any new appreciation for sailing during my short-lived apprenticeship, I pretty much learned every curse word in the book that I hadn’t already known, being the recipient or cause of the many he expressed that day. I did sail on Eclipse on rare occasions in subsequent seasons, though only as a last resort when Danny couldn’t find anyone else.

Despite the early setbacks in my sailing career, I did eventually garner a love and passion for sailing. I also found what for me is the “ultimate Chester sailboat.” That is an Ontario 32. Built starting in 1977 as a collaboration between Ontario Yachts and C&C Yachts, the Ontario 32 was designed as a rugged yet comfortable performance cruiser, and adopted many design elements considered novel for that time. With 11 feet of beam, she was one of the beamiest production cruising sailboats being built in her size. Combined with six feet and four inches of headroom, this gave her an expansive amount of below-deck space, and allowed for exceptional comfort down below that is enhanced by an inordinate amount of teak in the joinery work, as well as a cozy miniature wood stove.

The boat yard built 158 Ontario 32s between 1977 and 1986, and, up until a couple of years ago, there were four of them in the Chester area. Not sure where the others went, but I still love mine. With four and a half feet of shoal draft I can enjoy up-close and personal exploration of the coastline. And all that space and comfort means I can share the beauty of Nova Scotia’s coastline for extended periods with my family and friends, something I do on a regular basis. Perhaps the most notable expedition was marked by a week in the Bras d’Or Lakes with another couple and three kids in total, during which the kids managed to play hide-and-seek on board for hours one rainy day. 

My boat is no slouch on the race course, either, with a half dozen third place finishes in various races, and a third overall in the Cruising Class for one Race Week. And, in what I consider an important bonus feature not available with many larger sailboats, she is easy to handle, which allows me to take her out solo without the need for crew.

All in all, she is my ultimate Chester sailboat. And sure, the Bluenose class truly deserves the designation, and the Chester C Class honorary mention, but I wouldn’t trade my Ontario 32 for either of them.       

—Originally Published in the MacDonald Notebook   

They’re Starting to Position Themselves for the 2020 Presidential Election

They’re Starting to Position Themselves for the 2020 Presidential Election

—November 6, 2018
While most Americans’ political attention is focused on the midterm elections, a few potential Democratic candidates appear to be positioning themselves for entering the 2020 presidential election. Consider that Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was on a plane for Iowa within hours of the Oct. 6, vote to confirm Brett Kavaunaugh to the Supreme Court, and has pretty much been spending more time in key early voting Democratic primary states for the past few weeks than he has in his own state. While Booker’s stints in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina were ostensibly related to helping secure Democratic midterm wins in those states, there seems little doubt that Booker is stirring the waters for an impending run for the presidency. In fact, some pundits are already calling the self-proclaimed “Spartacus” a “top-tier contender” for the Democratic nomination.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), another pundit-described “potential top-tier contender,” wasn’t as quick to jump into key early voting primary states, but is starting to catch up to Booker with a recent multi-stop visit to Iowa and trips to New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and Wisconsin. For her part, Ms. Harris told the press that the visits were strictly designed to support Democratic candidates in the midterm election, and had absolutely nothing to do with any presidential aspirations.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) has made multiple trips to Iowa in the past couple of months, while Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) has focused most of his attention on South Carolina. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who recently released DNA test results in a botched effort to settle her disputed claims of Native American ancestry, has reportedly “deployed staffers” to both Iowa and New Hampshire. Rounding out potential presidential candidates from the Senate, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), has recently been making the rounds in New Hampshire. As with Harris and Booker, these potential presidential aspirants claim that they are strictly trying to get out the Democratic vote in the midterms.

Several Democratic governors and a couple of Democratic House members who are presumably considering a run for the office have also been making recent rounds in Iowa.

However, out of all of the above-mentioned politicians, only one—Rep. John Delany (D-MD)—has officially announced his candidacy and filed an official Notice of Candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. The seriousness of Delany’s candidacy is perhaps marked more by his presence in Iowa—ABC News reported that he “has practically moved” to the state—than the official notice with the elections commission, given that more than 440 other potential candidates have filed notices with the commission.

While most of these official candidates for the highest office in the land may not have the name recognition of the above-mentioned already-in-office politicians, in America anything is possible. After all, who would’ve ever guessed that a billionaire reality-TV show host would become president?

So, who are these 440-plus official candidates? Well, let’s take a look at a few Statements of Candidacy and see if we can discern whether any of these candidates have what it takes to unseat the Oval Office’s current occupant. Here goes:

Sexy Vegan—hailing from West Hollywood, CA, Ms. Vegan affiliates with the “Freedom” party. The candidate included supplementary information including a picture of her legal ID, and informed the commission that her legal name was a “topic on the Dr. Phil Show.”

Not sure if that level of name recognition will get her into the Oval Office, but. . . . 

John Edward “Kingtamer” D’Aura—with a designated Henderson, Nevada campaign committee called “Committee for Saner Government with John Kingtamer,” Mr. D’Aura affiliates himself with the “Making America Even Greater” party.

Jackson R. Sweet—this Texas native affiliating himself with the Republican Party may be jumping the gun, but deserves credit for his optimistic long-range planning. Supplementary to his filing, Mr. Sweet informed the commission that the filing is for the 2036 and 2040 presidential election years, as he will not reach the 35-year-old age of eligibility for the office until 2036.

Mr. Bub Squeal Bubbington Sr.—an “Independent,” Mr. Bubbington’s officially named campaign committee is “Bub 2020.”

Bub for Prez!—It’s got a nice ring to it.

Grapelton Monroe Feret—an early filer from Philadelphia, Mr. Feret affiliates himself with the Democratic Party and has designated “Deez Nutz” as his principal campaign committee.

It should be noted that at least one “Deez Nuts” filed for candidacy in the 2016 election. Little doubt that a candidate with that name will file during this election cycle. In fact, the elections committee is only just getting started with the filings, which will likely get up into the many thousands before election day . . . and likely include a much wider assortment of “nuts.”

Of course, only one will ultimately be elected into the highest office of the land.

 

—Originally published in Discernible Truth.

Dog Whistles Are Silent. So How Can Left-Leaning Pundits be So Good at Hearing Them?

Dog Whistles Are Silent. So How Can Left-Leaning Pundits be So Good at Hearing Them?

—November 5, 2018

As much as the Left-leaning mainstream media claims Pres. Trump uses it, I have yet to see it. I’ve been watching him on television during many of his recent rallies, and reviewed some old footage, but have yet to see the president blow on that dog whistle. Same with many of the various Republican Senate, House and Gubernatorial candidates accused of blowing the whistle. Given that Left-wing pundits tend to claim on a daily basis that Trump and other Republicans use the dog whistle to send coded messages to specific constituents, you’d think that we’d be able to see those whistles dangling from around their necks like government ID badges.

And this leads to another observation: because dog whistles are silent, how can these pundits be so good at interpreting all those alleged coded messages being sent out by Trump and other Republicans?

The short answer is that they can’t. The longer answer is that Left-wing pundits have had to resort to accusing Trump and other Republicans of using dog whistles because they have limited distinct proof to back up their accusations of racism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, misogyny, Islamophobia, Fascism, Nazism, or whatever else they want to accuse Republican politicians of fomenting.

By utilizing the dog whistle tool, pundits can shape the narrative in whatever manner they want through their interpretation of what song is being whistled. Because that dog whistle is silent, a pundit can say whatever he wants—the candidate’s words might be exactly what they mean at face value, but the pundit can claim it’s a dog whistle whistling “Dixie.”

How convenient . . . .

Trump: “There are likely criminal elements within the migrant horde; they have no legal basis to enter America; I am not going to let them enter our country; they represent another example of our broken immigration system.”

Left-wing pundits: “It’s a dog whistle to the racist, white supremacist component of his base.”

Not only can a pundit easily utilize the dog whistle analogy to smear a Republican politician, but to also cast dispersions on the politician’s supporters. And, it is such an intellectually lazy tool—the pundit doesn’t have to offer up any proof or supporting evidence to back up his interpretation of what the politician is “really saying”—nope, it’s a dog whistle and that candidate who just said “America First!” was really singing “Deutschland Uber Alles.”

According to Merriam-Webster, “dog whistle,” as utilized of late by political pundits, is “a coded message communicated through words or phrases commonly understood by a particular group of people, but not by others.” While the “dog whistle” in referencing a high-pitched whistle that humans cannot hear, but dogs can, has been around for at least 200 years, it’s use as a term to describe political speech only emerged to any real extent in the 1990s. The online dictionary cites a quote from the Ottawa Citizen in October 1995 as the earliest recorded figurative use: “It’s an all-purpose dog-whistle that those fed up with feminists, minorities, the undeserving poor hear loud and clear.”

That could be a pundit in 2018 talking about Trump or any number of Republican politicians. In fact, not a day goes by that some element of what a Republican says is not automatically referred to as a dog whistle. CNN’s Chris Cillizza today accused Trump of multiple racist dog whistles based on Trump’s use of former Pres. Barack Obama’s middle name (Hussein); calling Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum “not equipped to do the job;” and saying that Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is “not qualified,” for the office.

Maybe Cillizza is right, and all three of these examples represent coded messages sent out by Trump to his hard-core racist supporters. Or maybe Trump truly does believe that the two Democratic gubernatorial candidates are not qualified for the job. After all, he’d probably say the same thing if the candidates were white.

As for Trump’s use of Obama’s middle name being a case of “playing on racial animus,” I’d say that Cillizza might be correct if he were reminded that Muslim is not a race, and was then to substitute “racial” for “Islamic.” And, unless Cillizza has some kind of secret political dog whistle de-coder, it’s anyone’s guess as to what kind of dog whistle, if any, Pres. Trump was blowing in reference to the former president.

And then we’ve got Trump and the Republican Party’s recent campaign ad featuring cop-killing, illegal immigrant Luis Bracamontes, and a message blaming Democrats for letting him into the country and then letting him stay. One big racist dog whistle advert according to the Left-leaning pundits—an “outrage” and the most racist advertisement since the notorious “Willie Horton” campaign ad used by the Republicans during the 1988 Bush-Dukakis battle for the White House.

While pundits may claim “racist dog whistle advert,” at least half the U.S. population probably sees it as a justified warning against unfettered illegal immigration. Unfettered illegal immigration that seems to receive significant support (sanctuary cities, open borders, etc.) from the Democrats.

So, call that one a dog whistle all you want, pundits—We’ll just call it a clarion call to secure the border and enact meaningful immigration reform.

—Originally published in Discernible Truth.

Substance or Fluff—What Are Beto O’Rourke’s Legislative Accomplishments?

Substance or Fluff—What Are Beto O’Rourke’s Legislative Accomplishments?

—November 2, 2018

Campus Reform, a Right-leaning news organization that focuses on college-related news, sent a reporter to Texas A&M University to determine student-body voter sentiment about what is perhaps the most talked-about Senate election race of the fast-approaching midterms—that is the Texas Senate election between incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz and his Democratic candidate counterpart, Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke. While the fact that most students interviewed expressed support for Beto over Cruz was not surprising, of interest was the fact that none of the students could name a single accomplishment achieved by the three-term congressman. One student, obviously lacking any sense of irony, suggested that Beto “resonates with young people because we are more aware.”

Hundreds of pundits have already weighed in on Beto, with commentary on the Right generally positing that the “remarkably unremarkable” Beto has never “offered any substantively impressive policy ideas,” nor “led on any notable issues in the House,” while commentary from the Left argues that Beto delivers “substance,” far beyond the “calculatingly cool” charisma that his detractors claim is all he offers.

So, substance or fluff, which is it? Perhaps we should turn to the historic record to determine what, exactly, Beto has accomplished as a legislator. If nothing else, Beto has proven to be an accomplished fundraiser, having raised the most money—more than $38 million—in one quarter of any Senate candidate in history, and on track to raising the most money ever in a Senate campaign.

All that money—more than $60 million and rising—has presumably been donated in support of Beto’s official platform and what he’s said on the campaign trail, because his official legislative record certainly does not lend itself to that level of support. Not that Beto doesn’t take his Congressional job seriously, but his legislative record just doesn’t seem all that impressive. During his almost three terms in office he has sponsored 75 bills and co-sponsored 1,034. Of these only one of his own bills has passed into law, while only 44 of the bills he co-sponsored are now law. Thus, if his own legislation serves as a barometer of success, the pinnacle of his Congressional career is marked by the 114th Congress’s H.R. 5873, which “designate[s] the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 511 East San Antonio Avenue in El Paso, Texas, as the ‘R.E. Thomason Federal Building and United States Courthouse.’”

As for co-sponsored legislation, perhaps the most impressive bills he supported that became law included one which prohibits the manufacturing or importing of multi-line telephone systems that aren’t preconfigured for direct 9-1-1- calls—H.R.582—and a provision which improves U.S. Veteran’s Administration mental health services for veterans—H.R.203. Speaking of veterans, Beto deserves credit for his legislative efforts on their behalf, given that two-thirds of the passed-into-law cosponsored legislation involves veteran’s issues, while more than one-third of his own legislation is designed to support veterans.

Perhaps Beto’s lack of legislative success can’t be held against him given that Republicans have held control of the House of Representatives during his terms of office. Nevertheless, it still calls into question why he receives so much support, financial and otherwise. Part of it is undoubtedly inspired by the Left’s desire to unseat Ted Cruz at all costs. Beto also has that charisma—“Kennedyesque,” as described by many in the media—that Democrats tend to revere in their candidates. Beto’s charisma is such that there is even speculation regarding a future run for the White House by Beto, including talk that he could play a role in the 2020 election if he loses in the midterms.

Beto’s lack of legislative accomplishment reminds us of another charismatic politician who rode into the White House despite a distinct lack of such. But at least three of the four pieces of successful legislation bearing then-Sen. Barak Obama’s name as primary sponsor were a bit more substantial than re-naming a federal building.

—Originally published in Discernible Truth