The murders of 24-year-old Roanoke TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, were a racist atrocity, a hate crime. Were they not white, they would be alive today.
Their killer, Vester L. Flanagan II, said as much in his farewell screed. He ordered his murder weapon, he said, two days after the slaughter of nine congregants at the African-American AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.
"What sent me over the top was the church shooting," said Flanagan.
To be sure, racism does not fully explain why Flanagan, fired from that same WDBJ7 station, committed this act of pure evil.
Black and homosexual, he said he was the target of anti-gay slurs from black males and racial insults from white colleagues. He had gotten himself fired from other jobs in broadcasting. He carried a grab bag of grudges and resentments.
Yet, in the last analysis, The Washington Post headline got it right: "Gunman's letter frames attack as racial revenge."
Other news organizations downplayed the racial aspect. But had those murdered journalists been young and black, and their killer a 40-something "angry white male," the racial motivation would have been front and center in their stories.
Now, Black America is surely as sickened by this horror outside Roanoke as was White America by the Charleston massacre. But it is hard to see how and when we come together as a people. For racial crimes and race conflict have become "the story" that everyone seizes upon — since Ferguson in the summer of 2014.
On the first anniversary of Michael Brown's death, protesters blocked public buildings in St. Louis and St. Louis County, shut down I-70 at rush hour. In Ferguson, hoodlums rioted and looted for days.
What justification was there for such lawlessness?
Explained some in the press, it was to protest the failure to prosecute a white cop who had killed an "unarmed black teenager".
Left out of most stories was that Brown, 18, had knocked over a convenience store, throttled a clerk half his size, and was unarmed only because he failed to wrest a gun away from Officer Darren Wilson, whom a grand jury declared had acted in self-defense when he shot the charging 290-pound Brown.
Since then, we have had the Eric Garner incident on Staten Island, where a 345-pound black man, suffering from diabetes, asthma, obesity and heart disease, died of heart failure after being wrestled to the ground by five cops, none of whom was charged.
Came then the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, while in police custody. There, six officers have been charged. Then came the death of a 12-year-old black kid in Cleveland, who was waving a toy gun.
As the incidents pile up, with white cops shooting black suspects, and black criminals killing white cops, the news goes viral and America divides along the lines of race and color, and between black and blue.
Though, let it be said, the violence in Ferguson and Baltimore was child's play compared to Watts in '65, Detroit and Newark in '67, and D.C. and 100 other cities after Dr. King's assassination in 1968.
"Can we all get along?" pleaded Rodney King, when South Central exploded in rioting, arson and looting after the L.A. cops who had beaten King were exonerated.
Answer: Probably not.
For what seems certain, ensuring that our racial divide widens and deepens, is that more incidents like those involving Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Freddie Gray are inevitable.
First, violent crime, declining since the early 1990s, is rising again. And violent crime in black communities is many times higher than in the white communities of America.
Collisions between black suspects and criminals and white cops are going to increase, and some of these collisions are going to involve shootings. And such shootings trigger fixed, deep-seated beliefs about cops, criminals and injustice, they also cause an instantaneous taking of sides.
Moreover, this is the sort of "news" that instantly goes viral through the Internet, Facebook and 24-hour cable TV.
Liberals and Democrats take sides with the black community out of solidarity and to solidify their political base, while Republicans stand with the cops, law-and-order conservatives, and the Silent Majority in Middle America.
The race issue has even begun to split the Democrats.
When former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, a card-carrying liberal, attended a conference of Netroots Nation and responded to a chant of "Black Lives Matter!" with the more inclusive, "Black Lives Matter! White Lives Matter! All Lives Matter!" he was virtually booed off the stage.
O'Malley proceeded to apologize for including the white folks.
To many Americans, even many who did not vote for him, the election of Barack Obama seemed to hold out the promise that our racial divide could be healed by a black president.
Even Obama's supporters must concede it did not happen, though we would, again, argue angrily over why.
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 September 2015 06:25
With special interests like the Koch brothers pouring millions of dollars into our state to try to prolong the budget gridlock, outside forces seem bent on turning New Hampshire into Washington, D.C.
Combine massive outside spending with hyper-partisan attacks on Governor Hassan's fiscally responsible leadership, and it's easy to grow disheartened with the level of discourse in Concord these days.
While it may be in the best political interest of some national organizations to keep us at a stalemate, we cannot let Concord be turned into Washington. We need to serve the people of New Hampshire. They sent us to Concord to solve problems — and that's exactly what we must do.
Last month, Governor Hassan presented a fiscally responsible compromise budget proposal that sought to address the concerns of both parties.
The governor's proposal represents a true compromise. It addresses Republicans' top concern — business tax cuts — while offsetting those tax cuts to preserve our ability to invest in critical economic priorities like combating the heroin crisis, holding down the cost of college tuition, maintaining our roads and bridges, and ensuring access to quality, affordable health coverage. Establishing and maintaining that delicate balance is imperative. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for a meaningful counter-offer, not just "No".
As my Democratic colleagues have made clear throughout the budget process, we believe that any business tax cuts must be paid for in order to protect the state's long-term fiscal outlook and ability to support critical economic priorities. Ironically, the unpaid tax cuts Republicans are demanding are by their own admission more symbolic than substantive.
I appreciate Republicans' offer to fund the state employee's contract and I believe it's an important step toward compromise, but this alone does not resolve our primary concern with the state budget.
We simply cannot support a shortsighted budget that would undermine our ability to invest in critical economic priorities both now and for years to come.
Granite Staters deserve better and future generations deserve better.
To pass a compromise budget plan that truly meets the needs of New Hampshire's people, businesses, and economy, both sides must not imitate the narrow minded political battles played out each day in Washington. True compromise requires both sides to negotiate in good faith and elevate the needs of our state above toxic partisan politics.
The Koch-funded budget stalemate has gone on long enough.
(Democrat Andrew Hosmer of Laconia represents District 7 in the N.H. Senate.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2015 10:23
There has been an outpouring of concern for the direction and future of Laconia Motorcycle Week since I spoke in opposition to new bike week vendor fees at a recent workshop of Meredith selectmen.
What has struck me is how much this dialogue, long simmering below the surface, has needed to come to the forefront and be discussed. The facts speak for themselves — attendance is down, traffic is down, and interest is down. We must make major changes to reverse the negative trend of Laconia Motorcycle Week. This will require broader state and regional discussion on the rally in order to determine how best to go forward. The approach of the past 25+ years is no longer working. The handwriting is on the wall — If we don't change, the rally will continue to decline and may disappear.
Laconia Mayor Engler provided some eye-opening data that unfortunately was not a surprise to those closest to the rally. The total average daily traffic volume during the nine days was only 117,208 vehicles, a 25 percent decrease from the previous year. It was a verification of what we have all felt in recent years. Let's use this new number as our baseline for going forward and planning.
Laconia Motorcycle Week is extremely important to my business as it is for so many others in the region. That's why we must take action in order to restore this once-fabled rally.
My suggestion is to implement a Five Point Plan to revive Motorcycle Week
1. Create a vision for the rally. Currently there is no coherent brand for Motorcycle Week. We need to determine if it should be broader welcoming all motorcyclists including sport bikes or if we should expand it even further into a regional festival with an adult flare. We need a sense of what the rally should be about.
2. Develop a plan for stabilizing the rally — and rebuilding it to whatever level we believe is realistic and achievable with the resources the state, region and business are prepared to commit. This plan could include but is not limited to the following:
— Agree on permanent date of the rally. The fluctuating dates are confusing and hurt attendance. The Americade Motorcycle Rally in Lake George, NY often conflicts with our dates and decimates attendance because it draws important New York and Connecticut riders who also attend Bike Week. We could consider working with Americade to eliminate the conflicting dates.
— Take a hard look at rally activities. Laconia Motorcycle Week has grown to be a statewide event with numerous activities in every corner of New Hampshire. While we want the entire state to benefit, a thorough evaluation of activities must occur. Let's examine the strengths and weaknesses of each event, determine which should be dropped and brainstorm new events that will support the community and business.
— Engage the experts. We should secure a respected advertising agency and a communications firm from New Hampshire with proven track records for driving tourism to our state that has competencies in today's effective marketing. We need a cohesive marketing and communications plan, budget and executional strategy to drive riders to our state. Keep in mind, Motorcycle week also drives motorcycle tourism for the entire summer season.
— Develop a master calendar of events. Currently there are so many events that our consumers or confused on where to go and when to go there. Rather than compete with each other, let's work collectively so visitors have signature events to participate in between rides.
Once we have a plan:
3. Engage the state and request a strong commitment. Even with shrinking attendance, an event drawing 117,000 tourists is one of the state's largest events by far. We all need to protect and grow this asset — and that includes the state, which should provide financial and in-kind support.
4. Communicate our vision to local town officials. With declining attendance, towns that rely on fees collected from Bike Week need to more accurately assess the needs and expenses they believe are associated to the rally and correctly forecast for annual budgeting purposes.
5. Give the Rally News magazine to Charlie St. Clair. Bike Week is woven into the fabric of our community and no one has been a bigger champion than Charlie. He has worked long and hard on that publication, and believes in it. However, state funding for marketing should not be put towards the publication — not when there are so many other new and effective marketing tactics at our disposal. Sales of ad space should support the publication. Sponsors for the magazine should not be given sponsorship to Motorcycle Week. That should be separate and be handled under the auspices of perhaps an advertising agency.
Laconia Motorcycle Week is at a crossroads. Will we sit idly by and watch this iconic event wither away before our eyes? Or will state and local officials hear the plea of local businesses and take action? Before you know it, Laconia Motorcycle Week will be here. There is time to make some changes to 2016 and we should, but 2017 should be our goal for a totally revamped rally. This should start with a new statewide Laconia Motorcycle Week council conveyed and appointed by state officials to address the points above. I'll be the first to join and I hope others will consider as well.
(Anne Deli is co-owner and president of Laconia Harley-Davidson)
Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2015 10:21
By Mary O'Neill
Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group
Gunstock Ski and Recreational Area is not your typical New Hampshire ski area. There is something special about it. Initially, you might not be able to put your finger on what makes it so while you are caught in the flurry of its exciting four-season activities. But if you will look past the state-of-art facility and great events, you will see how the old title for New Hampshire as the "Switzerland of America" suits Gunstock perfectly. That's what makes it special.
When you think of Switzerland, an idyllic picture of lakes and mountains fills your mind. One trip up Gunstock's summit chairlift, summer or winter, offers an exceptional alternate that is unbeatable. Everywhere you look, lakes and mountains surround you. Alton Bay sweeps into the broads of Lake Winnipesaukee. The bays at Meredith, Wolfeboro, Moultonborough, and Center Harbor jut into the Ossipee Mountains and the foothills of the White Mountains. Smaller lakes are scattered about the 360-degree panorama including Squam, Wicwas, and Waukewan. To the east, Winnipesaukee narrows to the Weirs and into Paugus Bay. Here Lake Opechee and Lake Winnisquam dominate the vista. To the north, Mount Washington and the White Mountains can be seen rising grandly. All and all, Gunstock's view is as Swiss-like as it gets.
But there is something more about Gunstock that gives you that lighthearted feeling that you have happened on a little bit of a European vacation. Two hours earlier you may have been in the center of Boston, but as you near Gunstock you begin to pass little chalets along the road including those that are part of the 1960's development called Chalet Village. When you reach the main parking of the ski area, you are confronted with a massive ski lodge built in the 1930's with a distinctive Swiss flair. The wood and stone structure houses a great room lit by wagon wheel chandeliers with vaulted ceilings, mammoth stone fireplace and hearth, and a perimeter wooden balcony. The sight alone will cause a relaxing feeling to flow over you. It's that feeling you get when you arrive at a resort in the middle of the Alps, knowing you are far removed from the stresses of work and life in general. Even if you must eventually make the trip back to the city, right now you are in an alpine paradise.
Gunstock's history is distinct from all the other ski facilities in New Hampshire. It is the only county owned ski area in New Hampshire. Built in the 1930s, it was a post-Depression WPA project. Hundreds of unemployed men were hired to construct the main lodge and auxiliary buildings, as well as the first single chairlift in the East, rope tows, cross country trails, camping facilities, and hiking trails. A 60-meter ski jump was finished in the mid-1930s and put the ski area (called Belknap Ski Area at the time) on the map with championship meets attracting national and international ski jumping stars. In 1960, a local skier propelled the ski area into greater national attention. Penny Pitou, who trained at Gunstock, won 2 silver medals at the 1960 Winter Olympics. After the Olympics, Penny returned to Gilford and married fellow Olympian Egon Zimmermann, gold medalist at the 1964 Olympics in the downhill. Penny and Egon started the Penny Pitou Ski School at Gunstock during the 1960s and brought in a number of Austrians as ski instructors, adding to the European atmosphere at Gunstock.
Gunstock's long skiing history means it also has a host of local characters that still grace its slopes. If you are lucky, you might meet one. These are not Swiss folks, but hardy old Yankees who are just as independent and colorful. Many are still skiing or hiking in their 70s and 80s. These locals may clue you in as to where the best patch of wild blueberries can be found in the summer or maybe direct you to the slope with the most favorable afternoon snow in the winter. They'll have stories to share as to the old-timer reputed to hold the record for consecutive ski days and other important matters in the world of Gunstock. Just like in Switzerland, for many growing up in the Lakes Region, skiing and hiking at Gunstock is a way of life.
The present day Gunstock hosts the old but also the best of the new. Their ZipTour Zip Line was awarded Best Of New Hampshire 2015. There are over 1.6 miles of lines, making Gunstock's one of the longest in the continental U.S. You can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour as you zip along from the summit. Gunstock's Arial Treetop Adventure is New England's largest aerial obstacle course. There are 91 different challenges within 8 distinct courses. Gunstock has just received approval to add a $2.6 million dollar Alpine Coaster ride. Other activities include Segway tours on the cross-country trails, stand-up-paddle boarding on the resort pond, walking along the wetlands boardwalk, hiking the numerous trails, fishing, mountain biking, camping, and, of course, premier skiing and snowboarding. Gunstock has also recently expanded its Nordic center.
Gunstock hosts many special events such as the annual Soulfest (which draws more than 13,000 people a day), the Timberman Triathlon Festival, horse drawn wagon rides, craft fairs, wine and beer tasting, Halloween-themed events, car shows, and the upcoming Public Safety Day. The Landing Zone restaurant is situated on a new 3,000 square foot patio at the end of the main lodge and offers something for everyone. The area is a popular venue for weddings. It also hosts proms and the Miss Winnipesaukee and Miss Weirs Beach pageant.
Today Gunstock is the 3rd largest by skier visits in New Hampshire. Its summit elevation is 2,300 feet. There are 227 skiable acres and 90 percent of the mountain is covered by state-of-the-art snowmaking. The eight lifts offer an uphill capacity of 12,400 skiers per hour. Greg Goddard has performed an outstanding job as general manager. He has tremendous respect from all his employees, and he and his team have exceeded expectations in expanding Gunstock into a true four-season vacation mecca.
Come take advantage of all the activities at Gunstock. While you're there, let your mind peacefully slip into that "I'm away-from-it-all" attitude that an extended trip to the Swiss Alps would provide. One thing is for sure. New Hampshire may not have received its well-deserved title as the Switzerland of America because of Gunstock. But for almost eighty years Gunstock surely has contributed to making the title true.
1937: first season at newly-constructed Gunstock
1941: Torger Tokle set the hill record on Gunstock's 60-meter jump
1954: Belknap's first T-Bar installed
1960: Gunstock skier Penny Pitou wins 2 silver metals at the Winter Olympics
1970s-2000s: constant improvement in infrastructure and snowmaking technology
2011: Aerial TreeTop Adventures, ZipTour, and off-road Segway tours open
2015: Gunstock receives approval to add $2.6 million dollar Alpine coaster
Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith & Laconia, and can be reached at (603) 366-6306. rocherealty.com
Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2015 07:28
While perhaps too early for Democratic elites to panic and begin bailing out on Hillary Clinton's campaign as a doomed vessel, they would be well advised not to miss any of the lifeboat drills. For Hillary's campaign is taking on water at a rate that will sink her, if the leakage does not stop, and soon.
Initially, the issue of Hillary and the e-mails she sent and received as secretary of state seemed too wonkish, too complex, too trivial a matter to sink a candidacy as strong as hers.
Her nomination was considered as assured as any since Vice President Richard Nixon ran unopposed in 1960.
But since it was revealed that as secretary of state she used a private server for her e-mails, located in her home in Chappaqua, the bleeding of public trust has been unabated.
Her tortured explanation as to why she installed her own server only raised suspicions. Her erasure of 30,000 "personal e-mails," her initial refusal to turn her server over to State, her denials she ever received confidential information, her wiping of the server clean, her stonewalling, have all ravaged her reputation for truthfulness. And truthfulness was never Bill or Hillary's long suit.
And the issue of Clintonian entitlement and privilege has arisen again.
For Hillary showed a casualness in handling the nation's secrets that would have cost a civil servant at State, Defense or CIA his or her security clearance and job. And they would be facing charges and potentially jail time.
Indeed, now that Justice and the FBI have been called in to look at Hillary's handling of state secrets, it is not impossible that at the end of this road lies a federal indictment. Should that happen, her campaign and career would be over. And should that indictment come later rather than sooner, the Democratic Party could be headed into the election of 2016 led by a Brooklyn-born septuagenarian socialist.
Every day that new revelations come about Hillary and her e-mails, and every week that passes between now and when the filing deadlines for the primaries begin to fall, this becomes a real possibility.
Again, the problem here for Hillary and the Democratic Party is that the investigators at Justice, the FBI, and in a hostile Congress and the media, are far from wrapping this up. They all have their teeth in it, and they are not going away. And there is nothing Hillary can do to halt the investigations, or plug the leaks, or, it seems, to change the subject.
What, really, is the relevance of her $350 billion plan to get the super-rich to pay off student loans, if Hillary is being lawyered up?
The Democratic Party is approaching the fail-safe point. If it appears that Hillary is headed for the knacker's yard, then to whom do the Democratic elites turn, and, equally important, when do they move? For they cannot wait too long.
Hence, a "Draft Biden" movement has begun, and veterans of President Obama's campaigns are signing on.
Yet the vice president should think long and hard about whether and when he plunges into the Democratic race. For his announcement of availability would be a signal that Joe Biden thinks Hillary is politically dead, or close to it, and he is coming in to drop the hammer.
This would be seen as act of crass political opportunism, seizing upon Hillary's travails, shouldering her aside, and seizing a nomination millions of Democrats have long believed was hers by right. How would the millions of Democratic women who have looked forward to the first woman president respond to Biden's barreling in and finishing her off? How enthusiastic would those women and feminists be for a Candidate Biden who had delivered the deathblow to Hillary and blocked for another decade any chance of a woman as president?
Joe would certainly be up for Chauvinist of the Year 2015.
And other problems would arise for a Biden candidacy. Would Bill and Hillary Clinton be out there stumping to help Joe win the presidency, when both had dreamed of her having it?
Joe would have to beat Bernie Sanders and rout the Elizabeth Warren liberals. He would have to woo back the big contributors in the Jewish community who believe Barack Obama and John Kerry threw Israel and Bibi under the bus to cut a deal that empowers the world's leading "state sponsor of terrorism".
If Joe is having second thoughts about getting in, who can blame him? As the old saw goes, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."
But for Democrats, such counsel comes too late. Hillary is carrying their basket of eggs, and slipping all over the sidewalk. If they procrastinate in designating someone else to catch the basket if it falls, they get Bernie. But if they move too soon, they will be charged with sabotaging the last best chance for America to elect a woman president.
A nice problem for those ubiquitous cable TV talking heads who identify themselves as "Democratic strategists".
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 August 2015 10:02