GOP Only Has Itself to Blame for Electoral Defeats

The Republican Party squandered its 2016 majority and failed to make a compelling case to voters.

Results are in for local elections in Virginia, Kentucky, and Mississippi, and the trend is not looking good for Republicans. Democrats continue to make gains after the “blue wave” last year, and took control of the Virginia Senate and House for the first time in more than two decades. In one northern Virginia race, a candidate openly calling himself a Democratic Socialist won a seat in the Virginia Assembly.

Back in 2016 and 2017, Democrats were dismayed as it looked like they couldn’t win any important races. Republicans and conservatives controlled every branch of the Federal Government, but failed to accomplish even their most basic campaign promise of repealing Obamacare. We got one tax cut, which while nice, hardly makes up for squandering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, who blames everyone and everything but herself for losing to Donald Trump in 2016, Republicans should look inward and re-evaluate their messaging and electoral strategy. Politics is a game of addition, not subtraction. Republicans and conservatives are constantly harping on how radical and out of touch Democrats are–but then why are the Democrats winning?

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Sturges Park: A Lesson in Legend Formation

Pinpointing the exact origin of a legend is rare, so this example from Minnesota is invaluable to folklorists.

I once listed Sturges Park in Buffalo, Minnesota as the fifth most haunted park in the Midwest in a Top 10 list on my old website Mysterious Heartland (to be fair, there aren’t many haunted parks). In response, Mac Loomis of Hoofprint.net published an article revealing the true story behind the park’s legend.

Historically, Alfred E. Sturges and his wife Adelaide opened this five-acre plot of land to the public in 1903. The City of Buffalo purchased the park in 1958. According to legend, Mr. Sturgis’ ghost reportedly haunts the park, and visitors have also seen orbs of light dancing through the trees. It is also rumored that names written in blood appear on the bathroom mirrors.

According to Mac Loomis and Ryan McCallum, an English teacher at Buffalo High School, the source of this legend is none other than Ryan McCallum himself. He says:

“It was 1987, I was a bored and lonely kid because I had just moved here from Arizona. My class took a field trip and I didn’t have anyone to go with, so I went down to the lake and found a huge dead carp. I had an idea. I started cutting it open with a stick. I brought [the fish parts] to the girls’ bathroom and started smearing it all over. I wrote ‘help me’ and ‘you’re next’ and put the eyeballs on either side of the sink handles. When my classmates asked why I didn’t do anything I told them that I was going to the bathroom but I saw horrifying things, and I saw a ghost. I saw Old Man Sturges.”

The legend spread from there. You can read the rest of the article at this link.

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Pros and Cons of Paranormal Tourism

Despite positive news about allegedly haunted locations opening their doors for paranormal tours and events, the value of such tourism is still a hotly debated topic.

Over the years, there have been many stories of so-called “ghost hunters” trespassing and committing a variety of other crimes including vandalism, theft, arson, underage drinking, and even grave robbery. Because of the sensational nature of these incidents, local media loves to hype them up. It is undeniable that certain individuals have gone to allegedly haunted locations to commit mischief, and others use this fact to paint everyone interested in legend tripping with a wide brush. They argue the simple act of writing about an allegedly haunted location invites harm to it.

I believe that legends and lore can be a great way to create interest in Local history. Critics assume stories on the Internet draw negative attention to these places, when in fact, they are already well known in the local community. Many have already suffered vandalism long before the internet or personal computers became widely available. Many of these stories developed during the 1960s and ’70s when these locations were used as party spots for teenagers who went there to drink, take drugs, or hook up.

None of that, however, has anything to do with people who are interested in folklore and ghost stories. The individuals involved in these crimes use ghost stories as an excuse for delinquent behavior. Many allegedly haunted locations are remote and unsupervised, perfect locations for mischief, but they do not have to have anything to do with ghost stories to attract petty crime.

In 2009, three teenagers were arrested in South Side Cemetery in Pontiac, Illinois as they were seen trying to tip over a headstone. Days earlier, as many as 60 headstones had been damaged at the same location. This cemetery was not associated with any legends or ghost stories.

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What I Look For in a Book of Ghost Stories

Outstanding collections of folklore and ghost stories are rare, but doing these simple things will greatly improve future publications.

In the past several decades, interest in the paranormal has grown, and every year we see more books coming out on the subject. Sometimes it seems like nothing new could be written about it, especially in my home state of Illinois, where there are more than two dozen books on Illinois ghost stories (literally hundreds if you count everything Troy Taylor has written).

Many of these books fall short of satisfying, let alone come close to what I would consider to be a decent book on the subject. There are some gems to be sure, but they are rare. I don’t feel that my standards are too high–what I think is going on is that authors are rushing to meet the demand for these books and they are not putting very much thought into them.

Some authors, under pressure to produce, have taken the low road and plagiarized much of their content. Some authors (like one mentioned above) cannibalize their own work in order to produce book after book with basically the same content rearranged in a different way.

So what would I consider to be a “Class A” book on folklore and ghost stories? In an ideal world, what standards would a book have to meet to be truly excellent? Here they are in no particular order. Keep in mind, I don’t consider this list to be unachievable. Every author out there can produce a book to these standards, it just requires time and effort. These are the standards, by the way, to which I try to hold my own work.

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The Importance of Citing Sources in Folklore

In a properly cited book, the reader is able to check source material if he or she suspects the author is coming to false conclusions, using sloppy research, or simply inventing things.

Over the course of my lifetime, I have read dozens, if not hundreds, of books on folklore and ghost stories from all over the United States and the world. One problem that comes up again and again is the failure of many authors in this genre to properly cite their sources. Otherwise excellent books are tarnished by this simple oversight.

It is an oversight that not only does a disservice to the individual authors and hinders research, but also prevents the study of folklore and ghost stories from being taken seriously. Simply learning to cite sources would go a long way to solving a lot of the problems that plague books and articles in this genre.

Citing sources helps keep authors honest and promotes accuracy. Without naming names, one author in particular comes to mind that perfectly illustrates why this is so important. He has written dozens of books on haunted places in Illinois. While some of his books include a bibliography, his research is sloppy and difficult to verify. I have been frustrated by discovering numerous inaccuracies, errors, and instances of plagiarism in his work.

The only reason I was able to discover these things is because I have read so many other books and articles, and happened to speak with individuals who had firsthand knowledge of the mistakes. Because this author fails to cite his sources, however, the casual reader is forced to simply take his word at face value. There is no way for them to independently verify any of the information in his books. Consequently, no academic or serious researcher will ever use his books as source material. There is just too high of a chance the information will be inaccurate.

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Trump Support Led to Show’s Cancellation: Roseanne

ABC execs fired Roseanne and canceled her comeback because they were afraid she would humanize Trump voters, she recently told Joe Rogan.

A few days ago, actress and comedian Roseanne Barr appeared on episode #1359 of The Joe Rogan Experience. Amidst an often incoherent and meandering interview, Roseanne and Rogan had an insightful exchange regarding the canceling of the popular continuation of her sitcom Roseanne in March of last year.

Roseanne, in which she played the titular character, Roseanne Conner, originally aired on ABC from 1988 to 1997. Roseanne was a sharp, take-no-prisoners working class mother who appealed to a wide audience in Middle America. The show’s realistic portrayal of blue collar life won a legion of fans, and when it returned to TV in 2018, its two-part premier drew over 25 million viewers. There was only one problem, Roseanne Barr was an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, and so was her character on the show.

Roseanne, who has publicly struggled with mental illness and substance abuse her entire adult life, is no conservative. She grew up with gay siblings, and was one of the first television personalities to feature openly gay characters on her show. She was a member of the Green Party, and in 2012 ran for President as the Peace and Freedom Party candidate. Founded in 1967, the Peace and Freedom Party is dedicated to “feminism, socialism, democracy, ecology, and racial equality.”

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Positive Interests Stem from Folklore and Ghost Stories

An interest in folklore and ghost stories encourages reading, travel, interest in history and historical preservation, and tourism.

We often hear of negativity surrounding places associated with legends and lore: vandalism, trespassing, breaking and entering, drug use and underage drinking. The media loves to associate criminal activity with amateur ghost hunting, such as the break in at Ness Church in Litchfield, Minnesota.

Interest in folklore, ghost stories, and legend tripping, however, can have many positive effects. Those subjects can be (and usually are) a gateway to developing interests in other areas. These areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Reading
  • Travel
  • History
  • Preservation
  • Tourism

Reading: Reading was my first introduction to ghost stories. When I was a kid, I devoured every book I could find on the subject and spent countless hours at the library as a result. While there are plenty of reality TV shows devoted to the paranormal these days, literature is still the primary means of preserving and transmitting ghost stories. A child should be encouraged to pursue his or her interest in legends and lore through reading.

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