Whether we're watching television news, reading newspaper accounts of what's happening in our nation's capital, or just reading the letters to the editor section of our local paper, it's often all the same . . . political gamesmanship.
Gone is respect for our Constitution. Gone is respect for the rule of law. Gone is respect for our nation's sovereignty. Gone is respect for the opinion of others. Gone is the willingness to "selflessly" contribute to our political process. Gone is the free press impartiality. Gone is the strength to be accountable. All these things and more, seem to have been erased from our national character. Political and/or personal gain has taken precedent over what is the right thing to do.
The Constitution is ignored as the president takes actions beyond his prescribed authority. The courts point out he is violating the Constitution, and he petulantly seeks ways to circumvent their rulings. When the House of Representatives, the "people's" house, withholds funding from the budget process for those things the courts have said are not Constitutionally allowed, partisan politics intervene. The president's party filibusters the budget because they want those illegal functions to be funded. A game of politics is played, all designed to make the Republicans look responsible for a mythical government shutdown. The sycophantic press does its best to support the Democrat's strategy.
Somewhat lost in that on-going game of politics is that the president's action not only violates the Constitution, it removes the sovereignty of our nation by allowing non-citizens to freely enter our country. While the president and his party defend their position, little notice is taken by the press to show the strictness of Mexico's immigration policy and how that country treats illegal immigrants to that country as "felons".
It has become evident that too many of those in politics seek both power to control and "purse" enrichment. For example:
In spite of over six years of study by the State Department, which found that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would not harm the environment, the president vetoed the legislation that would have allowed the project to proceed. Could it be that the reason for the president doing so is to give a payback to influential donors?
— Tom Steyer, became a billionaire by starting his own "hedge fund", Farallon. According to an article in the 8-7-14 issue of Forbes magazine, as of that date, Steyer had already contributed over $20 million to Democrats for the 2014 off year elections, but that was only a start. The L.A. Times cited Steyer's enthusiasm for going green as evidenced by his incredible total 2014 political donations to the Democrats . . . $74 million dollars.
— Steyer built his fortune by investing in coal, particularly in Asia. It has been estimated that his former investments in coal contributed to a growth of 87.5 percent in coal production by those companies. Steyer claims to be divesting himself of those investments in favor of green energy. And, he vehemently protests the Keystone pipeline project. It is reasonable to assume that his desire to kill Keystone is to enhance his investments in green energy.
Another person of note, Warren Buffett, became the second richest person in this country by making exceedingly wise investments. In just about every case, he invests in companies he deems to have a solid market for their goods or services, are well focused, and have solid, in place management. One such investment has been in the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF). He purchased the company for $36 billion dollars in 2009, and has invested billions more in upgrading the track beds, and is currently investing billions more to upgrade the rail tank cars.
An article in the NY Times indicated that the cost to transport oil via railroad is two to three times more expensive than by pipeline. The estimate shown by the NYT is that pipeline transport per barrel is $5, while the railroad transport per barrel is between $10 and $15. Other estimates have shown the cost per barrel difference to be between $10 for pipeline and upwards of $30 for railroad. What ever the cost, it is subsequently passed on the the consumer
One significant point that needs to be made concerning the volume of barrels each transportation medium can deliver. In an article in the Christian Science Monitor, the Association of American Railroads claimed than in a four month period, railroads transported a total of 97,135 carloads of oil, or roughly 24,284 carloads per month. Each carload carries about 700 barrels of oil so that would equate to 17 million barrels per month. On the other hand, the Keystone pipeline has the capability of transporting 830,000 barrels of oil per day, or roughly 24.9 million barrels per month. Further, countless studies have shown that transport by pipeline is far safer to both the community and the environment than is rail transport. According to a report in McClatchy newspapers, in an analysis of federal data, more crude oil was spilled in 2013 in railroad incidents than in the previous four decades.
Keystone has been studied for over six years and found to be a benefit environmentally. It is a proven less costly and safer method of transport. The project would be a boon to a labor market that currently has the lowest employment rate since 1978. Its completion would ensure our energy independence . . . a goal set for the Department of Energy when it was first established in 1977.
Are the investments of Tom Steyer and Warren Buffet more important than the benefits of Keystone to our economy and our country?
(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
In recent letters to The Sun, several writers have carried on an intense and fascinating debate over Jesus and whether or not he was God or even an historical figure at all. I think that Jesus was quite likely an historical character but most of our information comes from Christian writings, including quite a few with very different views about who Jesus was and which were left out of the official canon of the New Testament. And, there is at least one non-Christian reference to him by the Roman historian Tacitus.
But, while Jesus probably really existed, there has long been a debate in Christianity over "who Jesus was". There were different factions in the early Church. A major debate in the early Church was over Christology, or the nature of Jesus.
For three centuries the debate raged. Some of the original Jewish Christians saw him as prophet or perhaps the Jewish Messiah or perhaps just a great Rabbi. In Judaism, rabbis, prophets, and the Messiah are human, not divine figures. At the other extreme were the Gnostics who saw Jesus as totally divine and that he had only taken on a human appearance. The Gnostics were declared heretical and, especially after Rome became official Christian, were suppressed.
By the time of the Apostle's Creed in the Second Century, Christians were saying that Jesus was the "Son of God". But, what exactly did Son of God mean? Was it meant figuratively in the sense that anyone who loves and obeys God is in a way His child?
Or, did God actually father a son? This was similar to a lot of Greco-Roman mythology where Olympian gods fathered kids with humans. Or was Jesus simply "adopted" as the Son of God at the time of his Baptism in the Jordan River? This "adoptionist" view would have been in keeping with a Roman practice where if an emperor did not have a competent son to inherit his crown, he might legally adopt a more fitting heir.
By the early Fourth Century, when the Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity, the "Christological Controversy" had boiled down to two major factions. These were the Trinitarians who believed that Jesus was not only the son of God but "very God" himself and part of a Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. On the other side were the Arians who were followers of Arius, a presbyter or priest from Alexandria, Egypt, an early center of Christian and Jewish learning. Arius believed that Jesus was the Son of God but that he could not be God at the same time. To Arius, Jesus was a being created by the Father and could not be eternal.
The controversy had strong political overtones. The Trinitarians often came from the Roman middle and upper classes while the Germanic "barbarians" had converted to Arianism. In fact, Arian Christianity survived into the early Middle Ages. The Emperor Constantine who made Christianity a legal religion in the Roman Empire, probably did not care either way but for political reasons, he wanted the Christian Church to be unified.
So,in 325 C.E., Constantine invited bishops from all over the empire to meet, at the emperor's expense, in a council in Nicaea near Constantinople. They were to resolve the "Arian Controversy" and a few other matters. The council's decision was enshrined in the Nicene Creed, recited in many churches today. Even if they don't, most Christian denominations would have no problem with its Trinitarian doctrines. Even today, many Christians who do not recognize as "Christian" such modern-day "Arians" as the Jehovah's Witnesses, Unitarians, and Mormons.
Arius defended his position but was outvoted by the Trinitarians and declared a heretic. He was exiled to what is now Albania. There is a legend that at some point during the debate, Arius was either slapped or punched by Trinitarian Bishop Nicholas of Myra What historians cannot tell us is what Arius got for Christmas that year.
(Scott Cracraft is a resident of Gilford.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
Today's issue is whether the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the Boston Marathon bombing, delayed already, should be moved out of Boston.
How can a former president of the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (me) say such a thing? How could any decent liberal deny this young man, presumed innocent until proved guilty, after all, his constitutional claim to fairness in the courtroom?
Boston deserves a trial because it went through hell, and in our system, rather than resolving hellish disputes on the streets, they are supposed to be resolved in court.
Jury selection has been taking place over the past 17 days, with Judge George O'Toole giving broad way to the attorneys' rights to argue their points. So far, it is reported that only 61 jurors have qualified out of a pool of 1,373 people, with about two-thirds of potential jurors reporting that they were personally affected by the crime in question.
It is a hardship to serve on a jury. It can be inconvenient, boring, expensive and tedious. And yet we each do it because it is one of the most important things a citizen can do. Sitting on a capital case, you're not a chess piece on the board. The men and women, the players who ultimately will determine Tsarnaev's fate, may not be his peers in most senses, but they are his constitutional peers, and it is their judgment he must face and accept.
A defendant has a right to a trial by jury. He is being represented by federal public defender Judith Mizner. Because this case has taken on such notoriety, the federal government's team will be led by smart lawyers who play by the rules and have the press watching their every step.
Not so for many who have committed, or have been alleged to have committed, heinous crimes. The system is overloaded. Judges are too busy; courts are full; clerks are overwhelmed. You can't dump all of society's problems on the courts to solve. Defendants are bounced around the system, assigned inadequate counsel and never given the opportunity to force the government to make its case. Tsarnaev will have that opportunity.
But no defendant has a right to a perfect trial, much less in a perfect locale. I'm not sure anyone could find a capable juror who had never heard of the Boston Marathon bomber, but it doesn't matter. He came here, he stayed here, he went to school here, and he allegedly murdered people here. He has no right to leave.
Communities need rituals to bind them together. There is much more that binds us together as Bostonians than the Red Sox. But at its core, the people of Boston shared in their grief and are entitled to have their say in the place where it happened. Watching it on TV is not the same. The bombing was covered heavily everywhere, and so, I hope, will be the trial. For if the trial gives a window into how a civilized society deals with those who cannot and will not act in a civilized fashion, then at least we will have one lesson out of the rubble.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
We are off to a slow start in 2015 with just 50 single family residential home sales in January in the twelve communities covered in this Lakes Region real estate market report. The average sales price came in at $311,220 and the median price point was $220,000. In January 2014 there were 56 transactions at an average price of $347,736 and a median price point of $215,000. I don't expect February to be a banner sales month, either, given the amount of snow and cold we have had to contend with.
Drive by just about any house this winter and you'll see huge icicles hanging from the eaves. And while some folks welcome the ice on the lakes to enable winter sports like ice fishing and snowmobiling, ice on your roof isn't greeted with the same enthusiasm. You obviously run the risk of a big chuck of ice falling on your head, but you are also likely to have water dripping inside your home from the formation of ice dams along the edge of your roof.
Ice dams are formed when snow melts up higher on your roof and the water runs down toward the colder eave area and freezes. This constant melt and freeze action eventually will build up something akin to the Hoover Dam on your eaves. If your roof was any flatter you could probably float a small paddle boat up there when the snow melts. Obviously, your shingles are layered and prevent water from leaking in when it rains as the water just runs off. But when this flow is blocked by ice, the water seeps back up underneath the shingles causing that sinking feeling you get when you see water dripping on your flat screen TV in the living room.
The cause of the uneven melting of snow is generally caused by heat loss from the home above warmer areas in the center. Obviously, the unheated eaves are much colder. So the idea is to make your attic space the same temperature as the eaves. There are a bunch of steps you can take to keep your attic cooler and prevent heat loss from your home. Obviously, this will help save you getting ice dam headaches but also saves you money on heating your home!
The first step is to see if you need just a little more insulation in the attic. More is always better, but check with a local insulation contractor to see what they recommend. It may be as simple as rolling out another layer of insulation or blowing some more in. You may also need better ventilation in the attic to get rid of the little bit of heat that is in there. There needs to be a good flow of cold air in through your soffit vents and out through the ridge vent. There should be baffles in between your rafters at your eaves to insure insulation is not pushed down blocking this air flow.
You should also install an insulated hatch cover over the top of your attic access stairway or opening. Even old style recessed lighting cans can cause plumes of heat that warm areas of the roof enough to cause uneven melting. There are newer recessed lights on the market now that can be insulated in order to prevent that. If you have HVAC ducts running through your attic those need to be well insulated and any bathroom exhaust fans should be ventilated through the wall or roof rather than out through the eaves. You'd be surprised how many times we see a bathroom exhaust fan just vented into the attic space instead of to the outside. This can also cause a serious mold issue.
Some home owners that just can't correct the problem install heat tape along the areas that are prone to problems. That generally will work well but you have to have it installed before it freezes. Once there is a dam, you'd say "Damn, it's too late."
You can stop a leak by taking a box fan into the attic and blowing cold air in the area of the leak. They say it works like a charm and will stop the dripping within minutes, but you have to be able to get to the area that's the culprit and sometimes you just can't. Roof raking the edge of your roof can help, but as I found out it can also cause dams a little further up on the roof. Kind of like shooting yourself in the foot, dam it. Often times, we rednecks tend to want to go out there and start chopping away at the ice with an ax or other heavy instrument of destruction. That seems like the appropriate thing to do when water is dripping through your ceiling onto your pool table, but this often can lead to roof damage and shingle repairs. You have got to be careful and a man on a ladder with an ax might not fall into that category.
One sexy remedy would be to fill your wife's (or your girl friend's) old panty hose with calcium chloride ice melter (not rock salt) and form a long tube that you lay perpendicular to the edge of your roof . It eventually will create a channel through your miniature Hoover Dam and drain any water that backs up on your roof. I am proud to say that this year I have a very sexy roof! We'll see how it works...
Pease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others.
Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 2/14/15. Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.
Last Updated on Friday, 20 February 2015 07:33
Recently I filed a late bill to stop an attempt by Governor Hassan to raid funds appropriated for nursing homes. I, along with many of my constituents and colleagues, are adamantly opposed to this theft of Medicaid dollars.
As you may have heard, the N.H. Department of Health & Human Services faces a deficit of $58 million and there is an appropriate effort to fix this over-spending problem. However, I believe the governor made a grave error in attempting to correct this deficit on the backs of our private and county nursing homes.
During a meeting of the Fiscal Committee, the commissioner of Health & Human Services (HHS) set forth a plan to balance the end of Fiscal Year 2015 that included taking $7 million from the nursing homes. The commissioner confirmed that the governor knew and approved of this cut. This plan leaves no doubt as to where Medicaid nursing home residents fit in the governor's list of priorities.
In District 2, that means nearly a $700,000 reduction in funding in one private and three county nursing homes. For the Grafton County Nursing Home alone, the cut will mean nearly $277,000 in funds. In Coos County (Coos Berlin, Coos West Stewartstown, St. Vincent De Paul, and Morrison) the cut amounts to $272,000.
When we passed the state budget in 2013, we made some difficult choices. We budgeted funds that we thought reasonably could be designated for Medicaid payments to nursing homes. We also included a budget footnote that required all funds assigned for nursing homes actually be spent on nursing homes.
Now the governor is saying that she has the authority to change the law and spend those funds dedicated to Medicaid nursing home residents. She is trying to do exactly what the footnote says she cannot. When we asked during the Fiscal Committee meeting by what authority did the governor believe she could ignore budget law, we were advised that the Attorney General believes she has the authority. We requested that opinion in writing and, to date, regardless of repeated requests, have not been provided with the opinion.
The most fundamental principle of our government is that the legislature's job is to make the laws and the governor's job is to faithfully execute the laws. With a legislature made up of 424 members, New Hampshire has the most highly representative state government in the country. It would be a bitter irony if New Hampshire, of all places, were to allow one person the power to decide what legislative decisions will be executed and what legislative decisions will be ignored.
I am also disturbed by the manner in which this plan was revealed to the Legislature. Although the letter detailing the commissioner's plan was dated January 15, it was not hand-delivered to the legislative Fiscal Committee until the night of January 20, just three days before the committee met. Another irony, when you consider that in the same week, the governor applauded the final report of her own Commission on "Innovation, Efficiency, and Transparency in State Government."
The impact of this raid on the nursing homes could mean a reduction in jobs and/or a downshift to the taxpayers as these homes try to make up for the loss of funds—and the nursing home folks are speaking out.
To express their outrage, the Sisters of the Holly Cross Nursing Home and residents from other nursing homes (some wheelchair bound) made a trip to Concord to talk with the press and the governor. While the press did spend time hearing from nursing home staff, residents, family members, and administrators, the governor would not. Just another indication of where our frailest senior citizens fit in the governor's priorities.
Among some of the letters I received, one nursing home staff member wrote, "I do this, along with my coworkers because our seniors are essential. Because I, along with every other long term care health care worker recognize the value and worth of those that we have been entrusted to care for, apparently more so than Governor Hassan. She should be ashamed of herself. I'm baffled that our governor feels that she is above the law and that she can steal $7 million from our seniors."
The Legislature has been calling on the governor to get DHHS spending under control for nearly a year. Instead of doing that, the governor now wants to unilaterally override the decisions made by the Legislature and pass the problem down to nursing home residents and employees. They are not the ones who caused the budget problems at DHHS, and they should not be the ones forced to suffer the consequences of the governor's failure to control spending.
I encourage you to call your county commissioners, legislators, and the governor, and ask them to support my bill that will assure funding to the nursing homes is maintained.
(Meredith Republican Jeanie Forrester represents District 2 in the N.H. Senate.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 February 2015 11:37