Tag Archives: Bridgton News

Tom McLaughlin Rocks

Tom McLaughlin 10-24-09I happen to enjoy Tom McLaughlin’s weekly column in The Bridgton News.  Wow, that’s a novelty, or at least it seems so based on the regular letters-to-the-editor the BN lists.

When I read what his critics have to say I cannot help but wonder if these folks aren’t also the same ones regularly preaching “tolerance.”  Maybe their “tolerance” is only for those they agree with.

President Obama seems to have a similar problem.  He doesn’t like Fox News.  Why?  I think it’s because Fox News raises aggravating questions and presents information that puts the current administration in a bad light.

Tom doesn’t hesitate to do the same.  In the October 22nd edition, he belittled the Harvard educations of Al Gore and Barack Obama. That’s not what folks want to read if they’re convinced that a Harvard education exempts a person from scrutiny from the rest of us.  

Some call Tom’s writings, “right wing rants,” minus any explanation or knowledge of what that might mean.  They’re a bit like the elementary school student who hears a word on the bus, drops it into the family conversation at supper, and wonders why his mom returns with a bar of soap. 

Some of Tom’s critics in the BN readership do know what they’re writing about, so reasoned opinions differing from Tom’s are found very regularly among the letters-to-the-editor.  Thus to suggest that the BN is one-sided means that the critic either doesn’t read the letters-to-the-editor or else doesn’t know what a left wing point of view sounds like.

Tom McLaughlin is entitled to his opinion and thankfully the BN provides him with a weekly forum to do just that. 

On another note, I’m not at all surprised that the BN receives awards for their photos – they are excellent. 

I am also pleased to see that the BN is developing an online website that will enable folks from afar to keep up-to-date on Bridgton and its surrounding towns.  Keep up the good work!

( Sent as a letter-to-the-editor to The Bridgton News )

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Filed under Barack Obama, Bridgton News, President Barack Obama, Tom McLaughlin

Age Distrusted, Experience Underestimated

After reading the October 18th issue of The Bridgton News I’m thinking this if your last name starts with “T” and you’ve been on the job for a while it is clearly time to take note.

Out the door locally in recent days have gone Bridgton police officer Doug Taft and Harrison town manager Mike Thorne.  Expanding nationally we can add Yankee manager Joe Torre to the unemployed lot.  Let’s face it, if each of them were to take off their shirts we would still see the marks of the handprints on their backs providing visual evidence of how they were “helped” to find the exit.

It can happen to any of us I suppose.  Consider the senior citizen bumper sticker that states, “I was taught to respect my elders but there are none of them left.”  In this day, the chances of getting respect because of advanced age and/or extensive experience are vanishing.

I believe that it is important to remember that everything in life is terminal.  No question in my mind that each of these three men knew at the outset of employment that there would be an ending.  The unfortunate surprise for each of these men was that they weren’t able to choose the ending time – others forced the decision.

What makes me unhappy about what has happened is that those doing the forcing were younger than the victims are and certainly much less experienced. 

I read of the impact of the local twosome in The Bridgton News and I quickly sensed how important they were to their respective communities. 

I overheard someone in the Market Basket in Harrison say this week about Mike Thorne, “They ran him out of town.  Now they’ll find out what he did.” 

Sgt Taft’s contributions on and off duty in Bridgton have been well documented over the past few weeks.  No way that the, “let’s-bring-everything-up-to-the-21st-century,” crowd managing the Bridgton police department will be able to quickly replace a person of Sgt. Taft’s stature.

I look at Joe Torre’s exit with a lot less sympathy.  As a Red Sox fan I am pleased to see Joe Torre forced out because I’m quite sure that the resulting turmoil will keep the Yankees where I want them to be – behind Boston in the standings and struggling to make the playoffs.  No surprise that George Steinbrenner’s two sons, Hank (50) and Hal (38), who are now in charge of the Yankees, masterminded Joe’s exit.  It is just one more example of youth and inexperience messing things up.

I suspect that the forced exits of Doug Taft, Mike Thorne, and Joe Torre  will lead to lingering divisions, especially over the two local guys involved.  No question that the wounds won’t heal very quickly from any of these cases. 

I read somewhere that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we would listen twice as much as we speak.  Too bad the decision makers forcing the ousters of Doug Taft, Mike Thorne, and Joe Torre got it backwards.

( Appeared in the Bridgton News – October 25, 2007 )

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Filed under Bridgton, Bridgton News, Harrison, Joe Torre

Academic Challenges Overwhelm Laker Athletes

Wow, things are tough at Lake Regional High School. 

If you read the article, “Eligibility stings LR sports” – October 19, 2006 Bridgton News) you have to wonder what in the name of academics is going on at LR.

The article was on the sports page but in my opinion it belonged on the front page.  Because of the article’s location you are led to think that LR’s serious problem is athletes underperforming in the classroom.  That’s only part of it. 

LR issued progress reports a little while ago and students found out if they were passing or failing in each subject.  For many the news was anything but good.  For the underachieving athlete the news was especially tough because they became ineligible immediately after the progress reports were issued.

So one day the football coach has 48 players and the next day over half were gone.  Other sports lost significant numbers as well.  My math has 24% of the athletes being kicked off their teams. That’s incredible and you can’t help but think that they should have been spending their time studying instead of in sports. 

But consider this, in another piece of bad academic news, 51% (340 students) at LR would have been ineligible for sports after the progress reports came out if they had chosen to participate.  Those are front page numbers!

LR has set a high standard (no failures) for athletic eligibility. Their high standard has claimed a sizable number of victims.  What’s causing this?  Is it the addition of chemistry, physics, and 3rd year math as required subjects the problem? Is the availability of extra help the problem?  Who knows?
Suggesting that athletes miss practice so that they can get extra help must be an idea coming from someone who has never participated in a sport.  Naturally, coaches want their players to do well in the classroom but missing practices is a sure way for a player to find himself/herself on the sidelines when the games are played.  So the borderline academic athlete will usually choose to take his chances in the classroom.  This time around a whole bunch of Lakers got caught.

I am highly in favor of the promised online communication tracking student performance.  With it in place a student/parent will know what grades the student has in a class and his current average plus what assignments are ahead.  He/She will also know the percent value of each assignment.  In other words, everyone will be up-to-date and on the same page.  This will surely help if the LR teachers do their part (keep information up to date) and the parents/students (prepare for class).

Fifty-two Laker athletes are no longer eligible to participate in sports. The story that should be getting the attention of Bridgton/Naples residents, however, is that 51% of the LR student body is underachieving in at least one subject.  

It might be informative if LR released the number of students failing at least one subject at the end of the marking period.  Maybe the 340 students in current academic difficulty will be lowered significantly.  If not, it may become time to hone in on the subjects and teachers who are connected to the enormous number of failures.

( Appeared in the Bridgton News – October 26, 2006 )

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Henry Precht Strikes (out?) Again

Thank you, Bridgton News, for continuing to run Henry Precht’s articles.  He’s entitled to his opinions and since your paper provides plenty of room for responses it’s a nice venue for give-and-take.

His latest (“Selective Numbering – August 10th) was one in which he looked around and realized that most folks do not agree with him on Israel.  He couldn’t seem to even find Democrats to join him in his anti-Israel position.

Cheer up Henry in time the Democrats may shift to your point-of-view.  If the leader of the Democrat Party (John Fibs Kerry) can switch from supporting the Iraq War to not supporting it, then maybe the same thing will happen with Israel.

You must have been joking when you suggested that the Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hamas and Hezbollah to protest Israeli occupation.  Israel didn’t occupy the land when the kidnapping happened.  It was just another case of terrorists being terrorists.

That business that you mentioned about women and children being killed doesn’t fool anyone that knows how the terrorists operate.  They use women and children as shields.  The terrorists store equipment in private homes.  They also launch rockets into Israeli civilian areas all the time.

I agree with you that Hezbollah has a right to live in Lebanon.  What they don’t have a right to is having an organized militia in southern Lebanon.  Even the United Nations agrees with that.  The Lebanese government did not prevent Hezbollah from getting control of southern Lebanon.  Maybe next time around they’ll do a better job.

Your complaint about Israel over-responding to the terrorist threat hints that you don’t care if Israel gets wiped out.  When Israel goes to war it’s never a first quarter/second quarter/third quarter/fourth quarter event.  It’s sudden death overtime!  If they lose it’s time to test the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

This is not the time, Henry, to be an appeaser of the forces of evil.  It didn’t work in the 1930’s with the Germans and it won’t work now with the Islamic terrorists. Israel is a democracy and should not be living in fear from terrorists.  We must support them whether we’re Democrats or Republicans

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Filed under Bridgton News, Israel, Senator John Kerry

Harrison – The Friendly Village???

Wow!  I wonder when that October 18th selectmen’s meeting in Harrison is going to be on cable.  Talk about reality TV!

Mark Chag (“Harrison fights to live up to its nickname after teen terrorism” – October 27th) wrote the summary of a very lively meeting in Harrison for the Advertiser Democrat.

I love Harrison and am in that town almost every day.  I have enjoyed the folks that I have met there.  This meeting, however, made me realize that the Harrison I was familiar with was very different from the one that some people are experiencing.

I am reading a book called, “The ABC’s of Real Estate Investing” by Ken McElroy.  One of the things he says is that you can learn a lot about a place of possible investment by what’s said about it in the news.  Try selling your year-round property to anyone who saw Mark Chag’s article!

Are any of these assumptions that I picked up from this story true?
(1) a group of leaders, children, and parents spent a miserable summer because of a group of ill-mannered kids,
(2) the group being bothered were unable to make the problem go away,
(3) some of those causing the problem now realize they were wrong and want to correct it,
(4) some parents do not know if their kids were involved. 

Like the water around here an unsupervised child will usually find its lowest point.  That’s the beauty of a summer-long rec program – children get supervised.  If those supervised kids are being bothered by some unsupervised kids then the solution seems real obvious.  Supervise your children or be prepared to deal with the consequences of their behavior.  However, it’s not real nice for a parent to find out that his/her child is a problem long after the problem takes place. 

I keep thinking that the sequence at Crystal Lake Park should be that:
(1) the kid causes a problem at the park,
(2) the rec director contacts the sheriff’s department,
(3) the sheriff’s department comes to Harrison and takes down the complaint,
(4) the sheriff’s department goes to the home of the kid and informs the parent,
(5) the parent instructs the kid as to what they’re not going to be doing in the future.

Is my list missing anything?

Being a grandparent I wasn’t surprised to hear that people were sticking up for their children.  My own grandchildren (4 and 7) can be amazingly impish at times.  However, when they climb onto my lap or call me “grandpa” they are assured of a future of being completely in the clear!  If someone accused them of doing something wrong I’d do what the relatives in this article did – “no relative of mine could do such a thing.”  It’s a “blood” thing!

Might solutions to this problem include?
(1) the rec department director reports future problems to the sheriff’s department the first time they happen,
(2) the sheriff’s department patrols the Crystal Lake Park area and actually get out of their vehicles and go to where the harassing kids generally congregate,
(3) teens in this area get supervised and any apartments given for them to use be closely monitored,
(4) parents of children at the park check in with Town Manager Thorne to hear what he’s doing about the problem.

As I said at the beginning, I love Harrison.  May they quickly find a solution to the problem and return to being the “friendly” village.

( Appeared in the Bridgton News – November 3, 2005 )

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Filed under Bridgton News, Harrison

Shame on the Blame Game

It seemed obvious to me that it was the article that didn’t belong.

What article?  “Lots of blame for delay to go around” written by Henry Precht in the September 8th Bridgton News.

That edition’s front page carried articles about Arden Stitzell and Dr. Monique Kramer.  We learned that Arden is a displaced Tulane University student who is eager to go back to New Orleans and help any way she can. Dr. Kramer, on the other hand, was part of an effort to empty animal shelters in Georgia so that animals from the Katrina-effected areas would have a place to be.  Bravo to the two of them!  And I’m sure that there are others in this area that also made significant contributions immediately and others who will before long.

That’s why I suggest that Mr. Precht’s article is out of place.  His first response to the disaster is to blame someone for it.  He finds no room for any expression of compassion. His entire intent is to pin the blame for Katrina on someone and, as we have come to expect from Mr. Precht, the culprit has to be George Bush.  A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that 13% of the people polled share Mr. Precht’s opinion.  Obviously his slant is an unpopular one to just about everyone!

You’d think that the President would have better things to do than to send hurricanes into the Gulf Coast!  Just kidding, even Mr. Precht won’t go quite that far! 

But no question, according to Mr. Precht, most of what happened to the Gulf Coast is the President’s fault.  After all, the President knew that global warming is the cause of all the hurricanes and has done nothing about it.  Wrong.  The impact of global warming is highly debatable.

Maybe the President is listening to Roger Pielke Jr (Director of the University of Colorado’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research).  Mr. Pielke has done extensive research on the damage caused by hurricanes that have affected the US since 1900.  He recently told the Rocky Mountain News: “I don’t think you could find any hurricane scientist that would be willing to make the statement that the hurricanes of last year or Katrina are caused by global warming.” 

Next we learn that insufficient funds were sent to New Orleans to protect them from a possible hurricane.  But the levees were in place.  They weren’t underfunded.  They were designed to withstand a Category Three storm.  Are you suggesting, Mr. Precht, that President Bush knew that a Category Five storm was coming and wouldn’t send the money to build better levees?  In this country the local and state governments have a say in what’s done in their neighborhoods.  If we can have the Big Dig in Boston they certainly had a chance at the Big Levee in New Orleans if they wanted it.

And then as expected Mr. Precht wanders into familiar territory connecting the Katrina situation to our efforts to bring freedom to the Iraqi people.  This time he informs us that our Iraq efforts slowed down our military’s response in the Gulf Coast.  Sorry, that just isn’t so. The head of the National Guard (Lt. General Steve Blum) said he had 40,000 guardsmen ready to go to the Gulf Coast immediately and could get another 40,000 if needed.  We also had several large naval ships in the area that could have desalinized water and provided beds for the needy. 

The most appalling part of Mr. Precht’s attempt to place blame was his use of the race card.  To suggest that because the blacks and poor don’t traditionally vote Republican caused the President to let them suffer is preposterous.  Please, Mr. Precht, you should be ashamed to even suggest such a thing!

I think that the days ahead will show that the majority of the people in this country are good-hearted and will rally to help where they can.  Instead of waiting for the government to take care of things people have stepped up and met needs where they could.  Someone’s homeless?  Curt Schilling of the Red Sox takes people into his home.  People need to be evacuated?  Al Gore sent a bus down to bring some out.  Short of supplies?  Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers sent a plane load.  The list of these types of grassroots actions is enormous and continues to grow.

Mr. Precht, it’s way too early to be even thinking about placing blame.  Now is the time to encourage the relief effort and help where you can.

Let me close with a quote from Tony Snow: “In the manner of New Yorkers after Sept. 11, the folks who form our national heart and soul will bury the dead, care for the living and build upon ruined soil the foundations of a revived civilization – chastened by the big storm, educated by the failures of a culture that spawned looters and cheats, and inspired by the opportunity to say to the large and deadly storm, “Nice try, but you picked on the wrong country.”

( Appeared in the Bridgton News – September 15, 2005 )

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Filed under Bridgton News, Katrina, President George Bush

Exit Strategies: What War Has He Been Watching?

In “Exit Strategies” in the Bridgton News (July 28th) Mr. Henry Precht continues on with his faulty premise that things are not going well in Iraq and that it’s time to get out of there as fast as possible to avoid defeat.  What war has he been watching?

Let’s look at a couple of examples that would hint at how things are really going;
1. Seen much of Osama bin Laden lately?  In 2001 he went to any number of places.  Now he’s stuck in some cave in who-knows-where.
2. In 2001 the horrible Taliban controlled Afghanistan.  Now reports have them hiding out hoping to just survive somewhere.
3. Then there’s Saddam.  Back in 2001 he’s tossing UN inspectors out and firing missiles at NATO aircraft.  Now he makes news washing his underwear in a prison cell.
4. Then there’s Libya.  Back in 2001 they have no use for gatherings to limit nuclear weapons.  Now they are limiting the weapons and offering to go to North Korea and suggest the same thing to them.
5. In 2001 Syria has troops in Lebanon and is treating that country as if it belongs to them.  Now the Syrian troops have departed and Lebanon, like Afghanistan and Iraq are having elections.

The US leadership decided that Moslem terrorism was a serious challenge to our security.  The only way to put an end to it was to go to where it was coming from and root it out. I think it’s fair to say, based on the evidence that we have made great strides in that regard.  I am not sure where Mr. Precht discovers “losing” in all this.

I’m not too thrilled with the current high oil prices.  I am pleased though that our government decided that we should no longer be held hostage to Arab dictators over oil.  We wanted their help in getting rid of the terrorists in their countries and we had less concern about the oil price consequences.  You have to decide which you would prefer: Low oil prices and high terrorist risk or high oil prices and lower terrorist risk.

I think that Mr. Precht might also want to take another look at the Vietnam War.  There are experts now saying that we could have won that war if we hadn’t lost our nerve.  President Kennedy in his oft-quoted inaugural address promised that Americans would pay any price for the survival and success of liberty.  Sadly, the leadership that followed him didn’t have that kind of commitment.

Thankfully this time around we have leadership that insists that others deserve the same liberties we enjoy and will commit to accomplishing that end.  The road there has not always been smooth and there are certain to be bumps ahead but persistence will win the day.

So when should the US pull its troops out?  Let me quote Amir Taheri of the Gulf News: “The answer (to when we should withdraw) has been there all along: when the current political process in Iraq produces a new elected government based on a new democratic constitution ratified in a popular referendum.”  You’d have there a government that speaks for all of the Iraqi people.  When they then demand that we should pull out we should do so immediately.

( Appeared in the Bridgton News – August 4, 2005 )

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Filed under Bridgton News, Iraq

Iraq Talking Points or Walking Points?

Iraq Talking Points?  Probably ought to retitle it, “Iraq Walking Points.”  The Nike’s are laced up and as Jackie Gleason used to say, “Let’s hear a little traveling music!”

I sensed from Mr. Henry Precht’s article in the Bridgton News (July 21, 2005) that he apparently is not one to be counted on for support for his country and its troops when the going gets tough.

Made me think about the young folks in the water around here who can’t swim.  They’re in the water thrashing about in an uncoordinated fashion.  I could hear Mr. Precht on the shore assuring one and all that we never should have come to the beach and the child in the water is in danger and its time to get them out of the water and home on the porch.  Fortunately, there are other parents who offer encouragement to the young splashers and ultimately things get much smoother in the water.  It might not happen in one visit but with support things usually get better.

Let me quote writer Dennis Prager on what I think folks like Mr. Precht would say to our troops: “You troops may think you are winning; you may think you are doing good and moral things in Iraq; you may believe you are fighting the worst human beings of our age and protecting us against the scourge of Islamic terror.  But we on the Left believe none of that.  We believe this war is being fought for oil and for Halliburton and other corporations; we believe you are waging a war that is both illegal and immoral; we believe you have invaded a country for no good reason and have killed a hundred thousand Iraqis for no good reason; but, hey, we sure do support you.”

Mr. Precht could you live with the following as motivation for invading Iraq?  “It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.  Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.”  Before you say, “There goes that rascal George Bush making up stuff,” understand that this quote was from your candidate in 2008, Hillary Rodham Clinton on October 8, 2002.

There are people in this world, Mr. Precht, who are intent on doing us harm.  They can’t be reasoned with.  If you show weakness they will take advantage of you.  They have to be engaged.  The stakes are high and there is no time-table.  Do you want them dealt with in Bridgton or Baghdad? 

It would help if you stayed away from the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post.  Use the clicker and get away from CNN as well.  Trust me, Mr. Precht, our troops are doing great things in Iraq and support from home will make their stay in harm’s way a lot easier to take.  Don’t turn your back on them now.

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Filed under Bridgton News, Iraq

John Bolton Belongs at the UN

I wish that Mr. Precht had thrown that, “John Kerry, for all his fine qualities,” partial line into the beginning of his, “Blunt? Try dishonest,” article in last week’s Bridgton News.  If he’d done that then the readers would have known that the author dislikes the President and so naturally has no use for any Presidential appointee.

“John Bolton is questioned by several of the most important intelligence services of the United States for venting his fury on some honest officials who had the decency to oppose his depraved and untenable lies.”   Sounds a bit like what Mr. Precht had to say in his article about John Bolton, doesn’t it?  But it wasn’t.  It was ranted by that wonderful human being Fidel Castro on April 29th.  Being on the same side as the guy running “Paradise Island” would make me contemplate reconsideration!

I was reading about that “tirade” Mr. Bolton was accused of having.  Apparently Mr. Bolton has a low voice and was not even accused of raising his voice.  What he did was stand up and put his hands on his hips.  Wow, that’s real threatening!

John Bolton has some strong opinions about countries like; Cuba, North Korea, Syria, and Iran.  Like a lot of us he doesn’t trust them.  He wants to keep a close eye on them.  And what better place to do that than in the UN where their representatives would be on hand with him?  So he confronts them on occasion.  Where’s the problem?

The Democrats lost the 2004 presidential election because millions of people didn’t trust them with our national security and for their irrational obstructing.  Mr. Precht’s attitude concerning Mr. Bolton would appear to indicate that like a lot of other Democrats he apparently hasn’t learned from John Kerry’s embarrassing defeat.

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Filed under Bridgton News, Senator John Kerry