Friday, March 16, 2018

Left and Right Show Thursday, March 15, 2018

We examine yesterday's special election in Pennsylvania. Tillerson firing. Gino cranks up Trump hatred to overdrive. He asks me what the Deep State is, then doesn't like my answer and accuses me of McCarthyism. He really gets cranked at about 18:50 and I call him on it about 42:40. The gloves came off during this show.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Pineland to D-Day

Phillip Kupelian at his home in Falmouth 2018

Ninety-four-year-old Phillip Kupelian lives alone in the Falmouth, Maine house he built himself. Last Saturday I interviewed him there about two things: Growing up on the grounds of what was then called the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded in Gray, Maine, and his experience in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Pineland Farms today

Phillip was born at what’s now called Pineland Farms in1924 because his father was a doctor on staff there when it was renamed the Pownal State School. Phillip couldn’t attend local schools because roads were bad and horse-drawn sleighs were his only transportation. He and his older brother were sent to stay with their maternal grandparents in Randolph, Maine (near Augusta) to attend school until Gray constructed plowable roads.

Phillip’s father, Nessib, had fled Ottoman Turkey around 1915 to escape the Armenian genocide. Out of 2 million Armenian Christians in Turkey, 1.5 million were slaughtered by Muslim Turks. The rest, including Nessib, took flight. In Maine, Nessib attended medical school at Bowdoin College and practiced at the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded. He was made superintendent from 1938 to 1953. “Coming to Maine, to America, was the greatest gift a father could give his son,” said Phil.

Scene from Armenian genocide

When I asked about eugenic practices at Pineland, Phillip didn’t know what eugenics was. I explained it was sterilization of the “feeble-minded” which was done at Pineland and many other venues in early 20th century America. He said he remembered hearing it discussed, but that’s all. In 1912, eight mixed-race squatters forcibly evicted from Maine’s Malaga Island were sent to Pineland. There they were probably sterilized along with several hundred other Mainers. Eighteen bodies from Malaga’s cemetery were re-buried there as well.

From its inception in 1908, Pineland was designed to be self-sufficient, a town in itself almost. It had an operating farm, a coal-fired steam generator, its own water system, and laundry. Phillip became quite interested in all of that so after high school he went off to study steam and diesel engineering at the Wentworth Institute in Boston. Then World War II broke out and he was drafted. After boot camp in Newport, Rhode Island he went across the Atlantic to England on the crew of LCI 506 — one of over 900 LCIs, or “Landing Craft Infantry” built in the USA for amphibious invasions. They were flat-bottomed, 158 feet long, and 23 feet wide.

No one on the 26-man crew of the 506 had any experience beyond US territorial waters when it set out in January, 1944. At a 1996 reunion, Ensign Phil G. Goulding, described his first time aboard the 506 being greeted by its 31-year-old skipper, a Lieutenant J. G. named Albers:

“Goulding, do you know anything?”

“No sir,” I said. “I just got out of midshipman's school. I don't know anything at all.”

Al Albers smiled. He pounded the wardroom table with his open hand. “Thank god for that,” he said. “Nobody on this ship knows anything and I was afraid those idiots were going to send me someone to spoil it. Siddown and have a cup of coffee.”

He turned to the others. “By God that's great,” he said. “He doesn't know anything. By God that's great.”

The crew that didn’t know anything nonetheless made it to England across the stormy Atlantic, seasick much of the way. Then, assigned at the last minute to a British command, they crossed the English Channel six months later on D-Day and delivered two hundred British infantry to Rose Beach — right between Omaha Beach and Juno Beach. The 506 hit a German mine just as it hit the beach which blew off one of its two ramps and tore a big hole in the bow. Soldiers got off safely though, and the ship limped back to England for repairs carrying wounded Allied troops and German POWs with them.
LCI 506 circled

Fifteen million Americans fought in World War II but there aren’t many left today. Phillip, one of the few, was modest about his wartime service. Most of what I learned about LCI 506 and what it did came from my online research. My own father was aboard one of the other 5000 ships that crossed the channel on D-Day, so I have a personal interest in that largest invasion in history of the world.

Cafeteria at Pineland School
Phillip returned to Pineland after the war and met his wife, Margaret, who lived nearby. They were married from 1947 until she died in 2012. They had one daughter who lives in Colorado now, and three grandchildren. Phillip is still quite active and goes back to Pineland every couple of weeks to take part in a veterans program housed there. “It’s quite different now,” he said, and invited me for a guided tour after all this snow melts.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Fickle Flirt

Portland Harbor 2017
Spring has teased for weeks now, but New England knows she’s a flirt and not always a pretty one. Snowbanks melt back along streets in Portland to show us accumulated trash the careless have dropped or thrown from car windows all winter. With it are thawing remains of pigeons and seagulls. Little is picked up because we know more snow will bury it again and soon.

My granddaughters in Lovell

Along country roads the melt exposes empty beer cans but thankfully not many. Other detritus is mostly leaves and branches — the benign debris of Nature. Turkey buzzards back from southern climes appear overhead scouting remains of forest animals too old and weak to have survived winter. During seasonal transitions we look forward and back. New England poet Robert Frost reflected on this in A Patch of Old Snow:

There’s a patch of old snow in a corner
That I should have guessed
Was a blow-away paper
The rain had brought to rest.

It is speckled with grime as if
Small print overspread it,
The news of a day I’ve forgotten — 
If I ever read it.

Few poets appeal to me but Frost always has, and he knew the tease of March and April. Reading him I see it, smell it, feel it.

Frost in New Hampshire

Warm breezes over Portland Harbor carry a stronger scent of salt water. The sea was whipped up last weekend by a strong storm to our south and helped a full moon, making high tide very high indeed. Wind whipped the white salt spray from tops of waves, but Boston and Cape Cod absorbed most of the fury.

Next to Portland Harbor a mountain of snow melts slowly. Front-end loaders on city streets filled trucks that dumped load after load beside it as bulldozers pushed snow up ever higher up its side. Like the dirty snowbanks that comprise it, no white is visible. It’s a pile of frozen liquid covered with sand that doesn’t melt completely until the end of May sometime.

My back yard

After the flirt of our fickle New England spring comes the snub. By the time you’re reading this another storm will have blanketed everything once again. Then spring will resume her flirting only to spurn us again before April arrives. But our April spring isn’t steadfast either. Frost tells of that in the third stanza of Two Tramps in Mudtime:

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.

It’s not just ominous buzzards. Other, more agreeable birds appear too. Near the sea in South Portland I’ll see cardinals, but rarely do I see them in the mountains near Lovell.

Out my office window to NH

Frost the poet spent decades in New Hampshire, the mountains of which I see out my office window in western Maine. He describes another spring songbird in the fourth stanza:

A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight
And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume,
His song so pitched as not to excite
A single flower as yet to bloom.
It is snowing a flake; and he half knew
Winter was only playing possum.
Except in color he isn't blue,
But he wouldn't advise a thing to blossom.

March brings New Englanders together in town meetings as sap buckets appear on old maple trees. Mud forms atop frozen ground after the sun is high but freezes again at night — over and over before finally drying firm again. Mud doesn’t impede life in paved-over cities but it brings many things to a halt in the countryside. Roads are posted against heavy trucks. Loggers and builders wait for mud to dry, but most of us savor warm spring breezes. Frost wrote about those in To the Thawing Wind:

Come with rain, O loud Southwester! 
Bring the singer, bring the nester; 
Give the buried flower a dream; 
Make the settled snow-bank steam; 
Find the brown beneath the white; 
But whate’er you do to-night, 
Bathe my window, make it flow, 
Melt it as the ice will go; 
Melt the glass and leave the sticks 
Like a hermit’s crucifix; 
Burst into my narrow stall; 
Swing the picture on the wall; 
Run the rattling pages o’er; 
Scatter poems on the floor; 
Turn the poet out of door.

When our New England spring finally exposes the brown earth beneath, my wife is turned out with her boots on to scratch it and coax her buried flowers upward.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Left and Right Show February 28, 2018

We start by discussing the voluntary arming of teachers to make schools safer from school shooters; "Gun-free school zones"; Again, the Florida high school shooting; those who reside within the Mainstream Media bubble demonstrate their ignorance of firearms; Google and DNC won't hire "cisgender white men" which would describe both Gino and me -- heterosexual white guys; are students juvenile delinquents or "disabled"?; Jails and prisons full of addicts and mentally ill as well as criminals; Curling competition in recent Olympics; Janus vs AFSCME in Supreme Court; Parkland Florida police ineptitude; numbers of illegals coming over the southern border.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Delinquent Disability

How was Nikolas Cruz able to buy a gun after so many reports to both school officials and law enforcement that he was “dangerous” and “about to blow”? The short answer is that even though Cruz had likely broken the law, he had no record. Why? Because schools and law enforcement cover up crimes by kids like Cruz in Florida and elsewhere. Why? Because it keeps budgets down and they get awards for doing it.

Juvenile delinquents aged 14-18 were my first students in 1975, but weren’t called that. Under the Massachusetts’ first-in-the-nation special ed law “juvenile delinquents" were re-labeled “emotionally disturbed.” They had a “disability.” That didn’t make them any less delinquent, but it signaled a new approach with lots of tax dollars to implement it. The special ed bureaucracy was born and eventually grew into the national behemoth it is now.

My “disabled” students were habitually absent Mondays because they were being arraigned after getting arrested over the weekend for shoplifting, drug possession, breaking and entering, purse-snatching, and other crimes. When I asked if they were afraid of going to jail they said, “They can’t do anything to me until I’m eighteen. I’ll stop then.” Massachusetts had closed all its county reform schools as part of its new approach. 

Special ed law gave my students a legal right to a free, appropriate education to “meet their needs” in the “least restrictive environment” no matter what the cost. Mine was a private day school with 100 students and 36 professional staff. Tuition was expensive, but not as costly as a residential school which would be the next step on the restrictive environment continuum. Those could cost $80,000 per year in 1980 dollars — much more now I’m sure.

At such prices, school systems kept residential placements to a minimum. My day school clearly wasn’t “meeting their needs” if students were arrested so often, but “evaluation team” meetings were confidential, inclined to smooth things over with little or no oversight. Only rapists and murderers went to residential placement. The rest avoided punishment because they attended our special school, but unlike in today’s Florida, their crimes were on record at least. 

In spite of all the money spent during my two years there, I saw little evidence of rehabilitation. After obtaining a graduate degree I became a special ed director for a Maine school district for another two years before going back to the classroom to teach history.

Years later a “disabled” boy came into my history class mid-year with a full-time aide assigned just to him. I knew his family and suspected the district was babysitting him to avoid the cost of residential placement. He reminded me of the worst delinquents I taught in Massachusetts and he didn’t stay long. I wasn’t told where he went or why. Later, he was the prime suspect in the murder of his father, was arrested with someone who slit the throat of a cab driver, and was jailed for assaulting a local woman in a home invasion. I don’t know what he’s doing now.

The “new approach” I saw forty years ago has “progressed” in Florida and probably explains why Nikolas Cruz could buy a gun., reported that schools and cops in Dade County and Broward County began covering up their crimes, including those by Trayvon Martin, allegedly to circumvent the “school-to-prison pipeline” for minority male students, It was supposed to remain confidential, but word leaked out. An Internal Affairs investigation didn’t look into the cover-ups, only the leaks. Mainstream media gave that story a good leaving alone.

Then came federally-imposed quotas on how many minority students could be suspended during the Obama Administration which accelerated coverups of juvenile crime. According to “Initially the police were excusing misdemeanor behaviors. However, it didn't take long until felonies, even violent felonies (armed robberies, assaults and worse) were being excused.” 

The Miami Herald reports that Nikolas Cruz was transferred six times in three years because of his extremely disruptive behavior. If my experience is any guide, it’s likely the district was trying to cut costs. “Under federal [special ed] law, Nikolas Cruz had a right to a ‘free and appropriate’ education at a public school near him. His classmates had a right to an education free of fear. Their rights often collided,” said the Herald.

No kidding.

Some media erroneously reported Cruz was expelled. He wasn’t. That is illegal for someone with a “disability.” Cruz was sent back at Douglas High School and whatever he might have done remained confidential under federal law. Without a criminal record, he could pass an FBI background check and buy a gun because whatever crimes he may have committed would have been covered up by school resource officers — like the one who cowered outside as Cruz murdered his classmates.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Train Teachers To Shoot Intruders

Five years ago I wrote a column titled: “Time to Arm Teachers.” That wasn’t a popular notion in 2013 but perhaps its time has come after the Florida shootings last week.

The idea was pitched to me by men uniquely qualified to train those teachers willing to carry concealed weapons and confront armed intruders in schools. One was father to a former student who’d done several tours in the Middle East as a Green Beret. He was still doing three-month hitches in Afghanistan with his team of other highly-trained, contracted soldiers who would deploy for ninety days over there, then serve another ninety here in New England protecting courthouses, then back to Afghanistan, and so on.

When asked my opinion of their proposed enterprise I said it was a great concept, but public schools would never allow it, being almost completely staffed by anti-gun leftists who believe only stricter gun laws will prevent school shootings. Maybe school officials have since taken a lesson observing Chicago over the interim five years where even with the strictest gun laws, almost as many young people are shot every weekend as were shot last week in Florida.

Our schools have been “gun-free zones” for twenty-eight years now since Senator Joe Biden introduced the bill that became federal law in 1990, and how has that worked out? We could argue that “Gun-Free Zone” signs posted at schools attract whackos like Nikolas Cruz who can be assured that nobody in the school will be able to shoot back.

Gun-free zones parody

People like guns where I live in rural Maine because when seconds count, the police are minutes away — and my town doesn’t have a police department. We rely on the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department and the Maine State Police. They do as good a job as they can, but it’s not enough. Armed criminals tried to break my neighbor’s house across the street and were repelled after discovering the old man who lived there with his elderly wife had a gun of his own. Police arrested the men later based on my neighbors’s descriptions.

“When you see something, say something” we’re told by the FBI, but people have said something several times lately to no effect. The FBI was warned about the Tsarnaev brothers who blew up the Boston Marathon. They were warned about Omar Mateen before he shot over a hundred people in the Orlando night club massacre. And, they were also warned about Nikolas Cruz before he killed students and teachers last week.

When I started teaching here in rural Maine forty years ago, young men came to school with high-powered, semi-automatic rifles on racks across the back windows of their pickup trucks during hunting season. Those guns could have been used to shoot up the school but they weren’t. Guns haven’t changed since then but people have — and that’s clearly the problem.

Mainstream media don’t report stories like that, or incidents like my elderly neighbors scaring off intruders with their gun. They don’t fit the progressive, Democrat, gun-control narrative. Media did print warnings about what would happen if Maine and New Hampshire allowed citizens to carry concealed weapons without permits, but those states went ahead anyway.

Concealed carry permits were never required in Vermont and sensible people knew it wouldn’t be a problem in Maine or NH either. It’ll be three years this summer here in Maine and there’s been no increase in gun violence. It’s been a year in New Hampshire. Vermont never had a problem.

There’s a squad car parked outside Whole Foods in Portland every day. Inside stands an armed cop who I asked one day why he was always there. There’s usually a cop in Portland supermarkets he said, often in plain clothes. We see them in airports and court houses. The student council at my last school had to pay a cop to guard school dances. During my last few years I could only use the main entrance because other doors were locked on the outside. Why not post an armed guard there and arm teachers in every wing of the school? That’s what Israel does — a country in a constant state of war. They’ve had only two school shootings in over forty years.

Ever since Columbine twenty years ago, brave teachers have died shielding students with their bodies at nearly every school in which shootings have occurred. Imagine if those teachers had been armed. How many students could they have protected if they shot back at the intruder instead of just absorbing his bullets? Had they been armed, we would likely be seeing stories of how Nikolas Cruz was killed attempting to enter the school instead of the national keening we’re undergoing now.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Left and Right February 14, 2018

Ash Wednesday, Valentine's Day coincide, State of the Union, FBI guy Bill Priestap, Russia/Trump alleged collusion, voter ID, winners and losers, good news/bad news, Iran/Israeli sable-rattling, GDP nears 5%, national debt rising under Trump as a national security issue, House intelligence committee memo, Democrat memo, Susan Rice email to self. Lame duck President Obama withholding information from incoming President Trump? Russia/Trump "collusion" case disintegrating.