Michael Barone - The dog caught the car

Anyone contemplating this year's appalling presidential campaign may be tempted to explain what's happening by applying the third rule of bureaucratic organizations, enunciated by the late poet and definitive scholar of Soviet terrorism Robert Conquest.

"The behavior of any bureaucratic organization," Conquest explained, "can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies."

The Republican and Democratic parties aren't exactly bureaucratic organizations; they just aspire to be. But their behavior this year certainly looks like it might have been scripted by their fervent foes.

Is it known, for example, just who whispered in Donald Trump's ear that this was a good year to run for president? He's been mulling it before, and accumulating national fame as a reality TV star.

In the process, to be fair, he's had more genuine accomplishments than, say, Kim Kardashian. Moving the real estate family business from the outer boroughs, in a decade when they were losing a million people, and into Manhattan, just as prices there touched rock bottom, was a stroke of genius. Shrewd!

Shrewd also were Trump's bombastic phrasings of his departures from Republican orthodoxy on immigration and trade. Did a secret cabal of Republicans' enemies put into his head the notion that making one outrageous statement after another could give him more airtime than the other 16 Republican candidates put together? If so, it worked.

The fact is that there was no more compelling reason for Trump to run than there was in 2000 or 2008. The word around Palm Beach is that he expected his campaign to be a lark and to add value to the Trump brand. But to his surprise, the dog caught the car.

The vehicle could end up in the ditch. The Republican Party may face more problems if Trump wins than if he loses. In the latter case it adapts to its gains among the less educated and losses among the highly educated — a process ongoing for two decades.

If he wins he'd be called on to deliver on his promises on trade and immigration. A president can impose tariffs — and provoke a financial crisis. A president can build a border wall and Congress can require employers to use e-Verify. Experience with similar measures in Arizona suggests the effects will be real, but marginal. Frustrating!

One of the mysteries of the campaign, unexplored by the reliably anti-Republican but not reliably pro-Democratic mainstream media, is why Trump, who turned 70 in June, and Clinton, who turns 69 next month, decided to run at their ages. As Trump has noted, he could have had a comfortable life otherwise; so could Clinton.

The track record of presidents elected at about that age is mixed. Ronald Reagan showed that a septuagenarian, even after suffering a serious gunshot wound, could be an effective president. The example of William Henry Harrison, who took office at 68 and died a month later, is less encouraging.

Clinton's candidacy essentially squelched the chances of a generation of younger Democrats, who might have advanced more serious future-oriented policies than the unachievable promises of free health care and free college that she copied from the 74-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders. No other Democrat would be toting the barrage of a private email system and a pay-for-play operation with her or his family foundation.

If it's true, as many political observers think and as primary season polls suggested, that a Marco Rubio or a Ted Cruz would be leading Clinton in polls now by something like 50 to 43 percent, it's equally plausible that an Amy Klobuchar or a Sherrod Brown (to name two plausible Democrats) would be leading Rubio or Cruz and with significantly more than Clinton's current 42 percent. Clinton, like Trump, has her enthusiasts (most over 50 in both cases), but young women are clearly not enraptured by the notion of a female president.

And while Clinton must be haunted by the thought that she was almost elected president at age 60 and would have been in the White House the last eight years, that doesn't mean she had to run again. Al Gore has led a lucrative and comfortable life after coming closer than she did. So did Samuel J. Tilden after the 1876 election was stolen from him.

The real question about this campaign, which may not be resolved until years after the election, may be which secret cabal of a party's enemies has inflicted more damage on its target.

(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

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Family memories at Lake Winnipesaukee

By Frank Roche, President Roche Realty Group, Inc.
I was invited for dinner in Meredith last week and with a family from Darien, Connecticut. While I was visiting, they were sharing their childhood memories at an extended family reunion. It really brought to light how many families truly enjoy this wonderful paradise that we all call the Lakes Region. Then, I received an email from her recapping her childhood experiences relating it to how the Meredith area has evolved into such an attractive resort town. I felt I should send in their thoughts, because so many of us who have visited the Lakes Region over the years have similar thoughts, and where this summer is beginning to wind down, it is a great time to reflect on how wonderful this summer has been.

She writes:
Lake Winnipesaukee is a very special place for me. Nearly 50 years ago, I began coming to the Lakes Region with my family. I spent my childhood on Spindle Point, staying at my uncle's house. We spent our days swimming, water skiing, boating in the lake, and hiking on the trails in the woods around it. I worked as a lifeguard in Center Harbor and waitressed at the Chase House in Meredith over the summers while in high school and college. My siblings worked at the Dairy Bar and Brickyard Mountain Inn in Meredith. These were great years. We had lots of friends and relationships that have lasted through the years.
After my parents sold their place in the late '90s, the visits to the lake were fewer and farther between. Nearly 15 years later, my siblings and I returned this summer with our families for a reunion on Lake Winnipesaukee to introduce the next generation to this special place. We rented a classic lakeside home on Meredith Bay, just a short trip to town. It was perfect. We had 18 of us come together from Massachusetts, Maine, Florida, Kentucky, Connecticut, Maryland and North Carolina to revisit childhood haunts, to reminisce and initiate new members of the family to the aura of the Lake.
Meredith has changed over the past 50 years. It's no longer an industrial mill town you pass through with a gas station on the corner and the Dairy Bar across the street. The town has been transformed, with the spectacular Inn at Mills Falls with its shops and restaurants, and then the Church Landing! Center Harbor is now a destination. I first visited Longview Farm with my grandparents as a child, now it's the popular Canoe restaurant. Home Comfort is a family favorite. I still go online to shop after spending weekends shopping for special items. Can't wait to visit again soon.
I plan to retire here. I love the seasons, the tranquil lifestyle, the beauty of the Lakes Region, the mountains, and the "live free or die" attitude.
– Suzanne Dawson (cousin of Nancy Clark of Roche Realty Group, Inc.)

09-03 Sunset on the lake

Relaxing at the lake. (Courtesy photo)

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Froma Harrop - Do 'white guys' really want problems fixed?

Some harsh truths: Years ago, blue-collar America suffered mightily in the loss of manufacturing jobs. Everyone knows that. Many new, high-paying factory jobs are today going unfilled because workers aren't being trained for them. Some know that. Donald Trump has done about zero to offer these Americans a better tomorrow. Not nearly enough working white men seem to know that.

Or perhaps they'd rather see their anger applauded than their hard times ended. How else could anyone following Hillary Clinton's proposals for improving ordinary Americans' economic security prefer Trump? (We're making the dangerous assumption that much of the general electorate has even bothered looking at the real-world fixes she's prescribing.)

Let's start with the struggling white folk of the Appalachian coal country. Polls indicate that the white men there especially prefer Trump. Because? Because? You tell me why. Politicos explain that they are an ornery population — proud, courageous and patriotic — but also susceptible to the sort of racist appeals that Trump uses to get them on the cheap.

Trump's vow to "bring back coal" would be one of his easiest promises to break. The problem for coal isn't just that it's dirty energy. It's that natural gas is cheaper. Trashing every environmental law on the books would not change the fact of free market life that consumers are going to buy the less expensive product.

Clinton, by contrast, has a plan to create a new economy for Appalachia. She would spend $30 billion upgrading the region's roads and sewer lines, installing broadband and improving other communications. That's good employment for local workers. Money would go toward education to prepare people for the high-paying jobs that don't require a college degree. And she'd offer tax incentives for the companies that need such skills to move there. Her running mate, Tim Kaine of Virginia, has close family ties to Appalachia. He would, in all likelihood, be heading the project.

Trump's plan is to favor himself and other 1 percenters with steep tax cuts that would drain the treasury of money needed to make a Clinton-type plan a reality. (That might not matter much because he doesn't have such a plan, or any plan.) The tax cuts would also put pressure on social programs — food stamps, Medicaid — that keep struggling workers above water.

Contrary to Trump's hollering that American manufacturing is dead, U.S. factories are making more stuff than ever. They're just doing it with robots and computers and fewer people than before.

The so-called Rust Belt state of Indiana is doing rather well in this new manufacturing economy. This is the state with the highest proportion of factory jobs, yet its unemployment is now only 4.4 percent. Meanwhile, personal income rose nearly 4 percent last year.

Most of the people who work in these modern plants don't need a college education. They just need extra training to fix and operate the machines.

Some years back, European companies building ultramodern factories in South Carolina, Tennessee and elsewhere in the South complained that they couldn't find people with the proper skills. Some set up their own apprenticeship programs to provide employees the education they need — the kind of vocational training that has nurtured Germany's famously prosperous blue-collar workforce.

It's good that some companies take it upon themselves to offer even low levels of training. But it's our educational system's duty to impart these basic skills before the workers submit their job applications. Neither Trump's heart nor his brain is into setting up such a nuts-and-bolts program.

Blue-collar Americans have every right to vote their emotions over their economic self-interest. But let's just not pretend they're doing otherwise.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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DuBois — Ahern State Park, a jewel in the Lakes Region


Winnisquam Shoreline looking south

By Gordon DuBois

Walking along the shore of Winnisquam Lake in Ahern State Park, I reflected on my past work at Laconia State School. When I worked at the institution from 1977 to 1991, I would often jog to the lake on my lunch breaks and take a dip in the beautiful, clean water. As I meandered along, memories of this past rushed through my head: the wonderful people who lived there, the dedicated, committed staff who gave of themselves to make life better for people who were rejected by society. Now most of the buildings and grounds lie abandoned, being swallowed up by time. It's an ugly scar within the city of Laconia. The state has neglected the property for years. What the future holds is anybody's guess. But for the moment I live in the present, thankful that Ahern Park belongs to the people of New Hampshire and is located in Laconia.

A short distance from the abandoned grounds of Laconia State School lies Ahern State Park, an oasis of beautiful woods, sandy beaches, biking/hiking trails, and remarkable views of Lake Winnisquam. I return often to my former stomping grounds. I love to hike the numerous trails that wind along the hillside of the lake, take in the views and watch Reuben prance along the shore, sticking his nose in the crevices of rocks. When he gets the urge, he'll jump in the water to cool off and chase the sunbeams as they sparkle in the water. Ahern provides a place for solitude and reflection. I wonder why so few people visit this state park. Every time I'm here I see only a handful of visitors: people walking their dogs or sitting on the beaches. This is a gem in the city of Laconia. Nothing exists like this park in the entire Lakes Region. Yet it appears to me that it's similar to the abandoned institution on the hill above, desolate and forgotten.

The sign, "Ahern Park" is like other state park signs, but the feeling driving into the park is one of abandonment. I parked my truck at the upper gate and began my hike on the Alcatraz Trail. The trail system was built primarily for single track mountain biking. The trails take many twists and turns and I needed to study the trail map on the kiosk carefully to plan my hike. It was then I then noticed that the plaque stating "Ahern Park" was missing. It was once anchored to a large rock and had been removed. The plaque listed members of the Governor and Council from the 1920s. I believe William Ahern was a prominent member of New Hampshire's state government, but there was no recognition of him at the gate. The plaque was gone, perhaps stolen by a souvenir seeker.

The park is comprised of 128 acres and has 3,500 feet of shorefront on Winnisquam Lake. When the Laconia State School closed in 1991, the state was left with a decision: what to do with the land and buildings? What we know today is that Ahern Park was once part of the Laconia State School property. Fortunately in 1994 the state determined the parcel of 128 acres should be set aside and it was christened as Governors' State Park. In 1998 the park's name reverted to its original title as Ahern Park in memory of William Ahern.

As Reuben scampered ahead of me along the Alcatraz Trail, I was amazed at the immense white pine, beech and oak trees rising above the trail. Perhaps this forest never heard the sawyer's ax or the buzzing of a chain saw. John Muir came to mind, "Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world." Continuing on this trail, I came to an intersection and I recognized the old tote road that led to the grounds of the State School. I followed this road until I came to a clearing near the Spear Building. The building was named after Eva Spear, a prominent citizen in New Hampshire politics and social services. I stood overlooking the other large brick buildings that housed hundreds of people labeled disabled: Baker, Blood, Keyes, Felker and Powell in the distance. My mind suddenly brought me back to the 1980s, when I worked in the Blood Building. Memories shot through me, most good, others not so good. After pausing for several minutes to reflect on my work in the structures below, I resumed my journey. I wandered over to what remained of the upper farm: old storage sheds and chicken coops.

The State School property once belonged to William Crocket. He and his family settled here in 1770. They built their first home, a log cabin, close to what is now the corner of Old North Main and Parade roads. The log cabin was replaced later by a framed farm house, built by William's son Joshua. Over the years the Crocket family lost interest in farming and moved away. In 1901 the state was looking for land to build The New Hampshire Home for Feebleminded. They found the perfect spot, 250 beautiful acres of farmland. In 1901 the legislature allocated $60,000 to purchase the property, construct a residential hall, MacLane, and a school house. The institution opened its doors in 1903 and until 1991 it served to house thousands of children and adults with disabilities.

I left the farm buildings behind and made my way down the old tote road to the water front, arriving at Cottage Beach. The cottage is gone and the beach is growing in with weeds. The cottage was once used as a rest camp for employees, later for residents of the State School to enjoy a swim, picnic and a day away from the crowded conditions of institutional life. It was alleged that the restless ghosts of two nurses, murdered by a lunatic employee of the institution, haunted the cabin at night. (This story is true and a full account of the incident can be found in the records of the Laconia Democrat located at the Laconia Public Library). No wonder the cabin was taken down.

I continued my ramble along the shore road leading to the much larger Sandy Beach. I thought the beach would be crowded on this hot and humid day, but there was no one in sight. I continued my journey along the perimeter road, running along the shore and then headed into the woods on the Backbone Trail. This trail along, with the Lower James Trail, would eventually lead me back to my truck. This short jaunt of two hours was as enjoyable as ever. As John Muir stated, "In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." I hope that others will take the opportunity to explore the trails of Ahern, whether it's on bike or on foot. It's a gem waiting to be discovered.

Gordon has hiked extensively in Northern New England and the Adirondacks of New York State. In 2011 he completed the Appalachian Trail (2,285 miles). He has also hiked the Long Trail in Vermont, The International AT in Quebec, Canada, Cohos Trail in northern New Hampshire and the John Muir Trail in California. Gordon has summited the New Hampshire Hundred Highest peaks, and the New England Hundred Highest in winter. He spends much of his time hiking locally and in the White Mountains with his dog Reuben, and especially enjoys hiking in the Lakes Region due to the proximity to his home in New Hampton. He is also a trail maintainer for the Belknap Range Trail Tenders and can often be found exploring the many hiking trails in the area. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Small beach on Ahern Point, just off the trail

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Patrick Buchanan - Their war, not ours

The debacle that is U.S. Syria policy is today on naked display.

NATO ally Turkey and U.S.-backed Arab rebels this weekend attacked our most effective allies against ISIS, the Syrian Kurds. Earlier in August, U.S. planes threatened to shoot down Syrian planes over Hasakeh, and our Iraq-Syria war commander, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, issued a warning to Syria and Russia against any further air strikes around the city.

Who authorized Gen. Townsend to threaten to shoot down Syrian or Russian planes — in Syria?

When did Congress authorize an American war in Syria? Is the Constitution now inoperative?

That we are sinking into a civil war where we sometimes seem to be fighting both sides is a tribute to the fecklessness of the Barack Obama-John Kerry foreign policy and the abdication of a Congress that refuses to either name our real enemy or authorize our deepening involvement. Our Congress appears again to have abdicated its war powers.

Consider the forces that have turned Syria into a charnel house with 400,000 dead and millions injured, maimed and uprooted.

On the one side there is the regime of Bashar Assad and its allies — Hezbollah, Iran and Russia. Damascus buys its weapons from Moscow and has granted Russia its sole naval base in the Mediterranean. And Vladimir Putin protects his interests and stands by his friends.

To Iran, the Alawite regime of Assad is a strategic link in the Shia crescent that runs from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to South Beirut and Lebanon's border with Israel.

If Syria falls to Sunni rebels, Islamist or democratic, that would mean a strategic loss for Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, which is why all have invested so much time, blood and treasure in this war.

If they are going to lose Syria, Assad, Iran, Hezbollah and the Russians are probably going to go down fighting. And should we decide to fight a war to take them down, we would find ourselves with such de facto allies as ISIS and the al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaida.

Have the hawks who want us to target Assad considered this?

The American people would never sustain such a war in the company of such allies, with its risks of escalation, to remove Assad, who, whatever we think of him, never terrorized Americans or threatened U.S. vital interests.

Years ago, Assad dismissed Obama's demand that he surrender power, then defied Obama's "red line" against the use of chemical weapons. He is not going to depart because some U.S. president tells him he must go.

As for the Syrian Kurds, the YPG, they have sealed much of the border with Turkey and fought their way ever closer to Raqqa, the capital of the ISIS caliphate. But what has elated the Americans has alarmed the Turks. For the YPG not only drove ISIS out of the border towns all the way to the Euphrates; this summer, with U.S. backing, they crossed the river and seized Manbij.

Turkey's fear is that the Syrian Kurds will link their cantons east of the Euphrates with their canton west of the river and create a statelet that could give Turkey's Kurds a privileged sanctuary from which to pursue their 30-year struggle for independence.

If, when the war ends in Syria, the YPG is occupying all the borderlands, Ankara faces a long-term existential threat of dismemberment. After recent terrorist attacks on his country, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recognizes that ISIS is a monster with which he cannot live. Thus, this weekend, he sent tanks and Arab troops to drive ISIS out of the Syrian border town of Jarablus.

Now Turkish troops and their Arab allies are moving further south into Syria to expel the Kurds from Manbij. Joe Biden, visiting Turkey, told the Kurds to get out of Manbij and back across the river.

How does the U.S. protect its interests while avoiding a deeper involvement in this war?

First, recognize that ISIS and the al-Nusra Front are our primary enemies in Syria, not Assad or Russia. Geostrategists may be appalled, but the Donald may have gotten it right. If the Russians are willing to fight to crush ISIS, to save Assad, be our guest.

Second, oppose any removal of Assad unless and until we are certain he will not be replaced by an Islamist regime.

Third, we should assure the Turks we will keep the Kurds east of the Euphrates and not support any Kurdish nation-state that involves any secession from Turkey.

America's best and wisest course is to stop this slaughter that is killing a thousand Syrians a week, use our forces in concert with any and all allies to annihilate the Nusra Front and ISIS, keep the Kurds and Turks apart, effect a truce if we can, and then get out. It's not our war.

(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.)

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