A+ A A-

Jim Hightower - What we've paid for war in Afghanistan & Iraq

War is Hell.

Major General Harold Greene could certainly tell you all about that — but, sadly, he's dead. On Aug. 5, General Green became the highest-ranking American soldier to die in our unfathomable, 13-year war in Afghanistan, joining 2,339 other service members who've paid the ultimate price for being sent by warmongering politicians into that fight for ... well, for what?

No president or congressional leader has ever offered a coherent or credible answer, much less a compelling one, for why our troops have been made to sacrifice so much for so little. Indeed, how bitterly ironic that the general was not killed by the Taliban or al Qaeda, whom we're supposedly fighting, but by one of the Afghan government's own soldiers, whom we're supposedly helping.

Another blunt reminder of the hellish absurdity of our political leaders' quick-draw approach to war can be seen in a recent report by the Congressional Research Service. Military budget analysts in this non-partisan Congressional agency keep track of how much the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are costing us taxpayers. The tally has now topped a trillion dollars — and that amount doesn't count the cost of the the future health care bill for veterans or the enormous interest payments that'll be made on that debt, which will multiply the trillion-dollar outlay three-or-fourfold.

And the meter is still running. The Pentagon, White House and Congress intend to keep a contingent of soldiers and trainers in both countries for the foreseeable future, plus provide more billions of our tax dollars to both countries for building their infrastructure and education systems. Meanwhile, a trillion dollars and so many American lives later, Iraq is in chaos and falling apart, and Afghanistan is mired in corruption and facing a Taliban takeover.

And — ready or not — here we go again. Our military has been hurled back into the chaos of Iraq. Apparently, "Mission Accomplished" is "Mission Never-ending."

We're told that, for now, America will provide only jet fighters, drones, weaponry, humanitarian airdrops, military advice, training — and, of course, our money — to the cause of making this unworkable country work. At least President Obama has put his foot down and sensibly pledged that there will be no American "boots on the ground."

However, in the politics of Iraq, don't count on "sensible" surviving the chaos. The Shia-Sunni-Kurdish divide still rages on there, now exacerbated by the theocratic Islamic State's sudden sadistic invasion. Plus, Iraq's former prime minister (a corrupt autocrat who our foreign policy geniuses installed during the disastrous Bush-Cheney reign of errors) was so detested by practically everyone that the parliament dumped him. However, he added slapstick to Iraq's chaos by desperately trying to cling to power, finally having to be almost physically hauled away.

But the least sensible factor affecting Iraq is our own red-faced, militaristic, warmongering members of Congress, demanding that we must go to war. For example, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham is filled with bloodlust over the ferocious rise of the Islamic State in Iraq, so he says we have no choice but to return there to destroy the fanatics.

Of course, by "we," congressional warriors like Lindsey don't mean them, their loved ones or anyone else they actually know.

Since the end of World War II, practically every American president, backed by Congress, has sent our troops to die in wars of lies and political flimflam. From Vietnam to Grenada to Iraq, our soldiers have been in senseless wars nearly non-stop for 70 years. It's time to tell the perennial political sword-rattlers that they should wield the swords themselves. War is hell ... and this one is stupid.

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 10:39

Hits: 344

Susan Estrich - What went wrong in Ferguson

The short answer is: everything.

I'm not talking about the killing of Michael Brown. A tragedy, whatever the facts. But what the facts are is something we don't yet know. There are two conflicting stories: one of an unarmed teenager shot six times while his hands were in the air; the other of an aggressive man who, unbeknownst to police had just robbed a local store (of a box of cigars) and was shot after he attacked the police officer in the police car. Both cannot be true. However much some people might want to protect the officer, there are too many people watching, starting with the president of the United States, to do that if he is in the wrong. On the other hand, if the teenager attacked the police officer, then the officer must be protected from unfair punishment. Justice will have to be done.

Having a black president and a black attorney general should help. If Ferguson had similar representation in its own police force, we might not all be writing about this.

Twenty-two years ago, Los Angeles, where I lived, erupted in riots after the acquittal of white police officers that had been charged with beating a black man, Rodney King. We had looting and rioting and curfews. We had a police department that was overwhelming white, largely divorced from the community it was policing, a white police chief who didn't speak to the black mayor, a police department so mistrusted by the community that O.J. Simpson managed to get acquitted two years later.

Two weeks ago, an unarmed black man, some say seriously mentally ill, was killed by police officers. A few hundred people rallied peacefully on a weekend afternoon. If I weren't paying so much attention to the Brown story, I might have missed it.

And why not? The police commission will surely review the police investigation. This is a different city now. The police department, to a degree unimaginable back then, reflects the city. We have a white chief because we passed the point of "needing" a black chief as a symbol of a white department. Since the bad old days, we've had two black chiefs and two white ones.
How could Ferguson be so far behind the times, when, frankly, Los Angeles came late to the understanding that community policing by a police force that reflects and is part of the community is the most effective technique for restoring order, reducing crime and decreasing fear. Why is it — after years of "black flight" to suburbs like Ferguson as the "white flight" went to the exurbs — that some 3 of the 53 police officers in a town that is 67 percent black are black? Think about it. The town is 67 percent black and the police department, including the chief, is 94 percent white.

So when an unarmed black teenager is shot, you get thousands of people protesting in a small town (compared to only hundreds in the nation's second largest city). You get the police overreacting, which makes things worse. You get a community divided, and lots of good reasons, some having nothing in particular to do with Michael Brown, for people to be angry. You get a young man whose death may or may not be the product, in part, of that very atmosphere of distrust and resentment. You get a young police officer whose career is, rightly or wrongly, ruined, and whose life is also being threatened. And you get a stark reminder that the fact that the country has a black president and a black attorney general comes in handy in a time like this, not because of how far we've come, but precisely because we have not come far enough.

(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, 20 August 2014 08:57

Hits: 369

Bob Meade - Thou shalt not . . .

Sometime in the future, perhaps not too long from now, people are going to ask, what were those people thinking? and/or, why would anyone do that? Those questions will be asked as they apply a historical look-back at what has been happening in the world since the mid 1980s. Not just in the United States, but in the world. For example . . .

In the United States we have great concern about the murder rates in states and cities across the country. Nationally, since 1985, there has been a continuing decline in the murder rates per 100,000 populations, dropping from a high of 8.0 in 1985, down to 4.7 in 2012.

In the year 2000 the five worst were, the District of Columbia, which had a murder rate of 41.8, followed by Puerto Rico at 18.2, Louisiana at 12.5, Mississippi at 9.0, and Maryland at 8.1. Our state of New Hampshire was near the bottom, at 1.8. By 2012, D.C. had dropped its murder rate down to 13.9, Puerto Rico had increased its murder rate to 26.2, Louisiana dropped to 10.08, Mississippi to 7.4, and Maryland to 6.3. New Hampshire also showed a decline down to 1.1

While those trends are generally good, the real story is found in the larger, urban areas. A study by the Pew Research Center revealed horrifying statistics which showed that our nation's capital, and five other cities, New Orleans, Flint, Detroit, Birmingham, and Richmond, have "swapped with each other for worst murder rates in the past 27 years" . . . ranging from a low of 42.1 to a high of 94.7 murders per 100,000 population.

It appears, that in urban areas there are gangs. Gangs battle each other over territories to sell their drugs and their "protection" services . . . and many innocents get caught in the crossfire. Like any successful business, gangs continually try to expand their territory and their market base, so it is likely that expansion will be from cities, to suburbs, to rural areas.

In spite of what you may have heard and read about murder rates in this country being higher than anywhere else, consider that our neighbors to the south in Central America have a staggering murder rate of 31.1, the Caribbean rate is 15.8, and South America is 22.6. Europe ranges from a low of .9 to a high of 5.9. Northern Africa has a modest 3.8, but the rest of that continent ranges from 11.l to a high of 31.0. Asia's murder rates appear to be the lowest, ranging from a low of 1.0 to a high of 5.8.

Now, as the late Paul Harvey would say, "The rest of the story" . . . abortions. In this country, between 1.2 and 1.3 million unborn babies are aborted each year. This compares to . . .

China, a country four times the size of the United States, aborts more than 13 million babies each year. While normally there are 1.3 females born for every one male, because of their one child policy, and the fact that sons are supposed to take care of their parents, many Chinese choose to get pregnant and carry the baby until its gender can be determined. If it is female, it is more likely to be aborted than if it were male. An NBC News report stated that Chinese people now birth 120 males for every 100 females. There are already over 19 million Chinese males under the age of 15 than there are females, and, within eight to 10 years, it is expected that there will be about 60 million males in China, for whom there are no women. The looming gender crisis has China re-thinking its one-child policy, as it has created an unbalanced population sex structure. The problem looms large on the horizon.

India, with a population of 1.25 billion people, has also been heavily involved in sex selection abortions . . . and, it's getting worse. Instead of the 1.3 females for every male child, sex selection abortions have resulted in there being only 914 girls being born for every 1,000 boys. Another untenable crisis on the horizon.

According to a Reuters report, Russia, a country with less than half of our population, now aborts about 1.3 million babies a year . . . and that is significantly less than in past years. However, in the total scheme of things, Russians abort 73 babies for every 100 that are birthed. That is the highest percentage abortion rate in the world. Their shrinking population has caused Russia to institute a policy of paying women to get pregnant and bear children. Another serious crisis nearing.

In this country, there are almost 1.3 million abortions a year. According to Randy O'Bannon, PhD, in Life News, two thirds of those abortions are performed on minorities. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, in 1939, initiated what was called her Negro Project. The National Black Pro-Life Union stated: "The objective of the "project" was to infiltrate the black community by presenting birth control as a health option for women to kill off the black race. Kill them off by limiting the growth of the population by abortion and sterilization." (http://www.nationalblackprolifeunion.com/Margaret-Sanger-and-The-Negro-Project.html)

As we watch the horrors of war on our televisions, do we lose sight of all these other ending of life's? Thou shalt not kill.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

Hits: 443

Roy Sanborn - The Winni Sales Report - July 2014

July was a pretty good month for waterfront sales on Lake Winnipesaukee. There were 15 transactions at an average sales price of $922,050 and a median price point of $715,000. That compares to 16 sales in July of 2013 with an average price of $812,125. There were five sales exceeding that sacred one million dollar mark.

The entry level sale of the month on the lake was at 21 Farmington Rd in Alton which was represented by Bob Buchanan of Maxfield Real Estate. This property consisted of two lots of record with a 1900's vintage cottage that was in need of a total rehab. Undoubtedly, the main selling feature was the waterfront lot which has 42.5-feet of frontage and a small boathouse which was converted into a cabana and dock space. Priced at only $189,900 and selling for just $180,000 after 16 days in the market, someone saw the potential and value here. It is currently assessed for $161,900 by the great city of Alton. I bet there is some calypso music playing down there this month...

The median price sale for the month was at 28 Patrician Shores Circle in Meredith which was represented by Ellen Mulligan of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage of Center Harbor. This 1975 vintage, 2,598-square-foot, three plus bedroom, three bath single level contemporary has a great open floor plan and views from just about every room. It features a living room with cathedral ceilings, a fieldstone fireplace, and a wall of windows to take in the views, a master suite with its own fireplace, sun room, and a family room in the lower level walkout. The home sits on a .39 acre level yard with a u-shaped dock on 140 feet of frontage. This property was listed at $990,000 and sold for $870,000 after 145 days on the market. It is assessed for $880,900. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

Another nice property listed by Dennis Schauer of Prudential Spencer Hughes down at 42 Campfire Circle in Alton also found a new owner. This 5,177-square-foot contemporary has some great southwesterly facing views and is situated on a cul-de-sac in desirable Cedar Cove. This high quality home was built in 1992 and has five bedrooms, three and a half baths, a well appointed kitchen, a wood paneled living room with fireplace, wonderful sun room/office, and an exercise and family room with bar area in the walkout basement. The house sits on a .9 acre beautifully landscaped lot with a 125-feet of frontage, a perched beach, and protected dock. This property was first listed in June of 2011 at $2,589,000 but was relisted this year at $2,249,000 and sold for $2,050,000 after just 60 days on the market. It is currently assessed at $1,992,300. I'd be safe to guess that someone is having a fantastic summer over there!

The only sale on Winnisquam in July was at 204 Shore Drive in Laconia where a 1955 vintage colonial style home found a buyer after just 6 days on the market. This property was listed by my partner Ashley Davis and myself and I'd have to say it was one of the most tastefully updated, pristine, and well cared for properties I have been in. This 3,126-square-foot home features a beautiful open kitchen/dining/family room area with built-ins, hardwood floors, hearth with a gas stove, and great views of the lake. There is also a more formal living room with a gas fireplace and a knotty pine three season sun room with cathedral ceilings which is perfect for that sunny (or rainy) day. A sumptuous master suite with even better lake views is found on the second level along with three guest rooms. A family room and three quarter bath provides additional sleep over quarters down in the basement. A large deck overlooks the backyard where there is a nice lawn area that leads down to your very own quiet cove with 164' of frontage, a sandy beach, and dock. This place is pretty close to perfect all the way around. This property was listed last year for $786,000 for just a short period and then relisted this year at $789,000 with a new roof and exterior paint job and sold to the first buyer at $780,000. It is assessed at $674,900. I wish I had more like this to sell...

Please 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 was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 8/14/14. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 07:50

Hits: 235

Susan Estrich - Even winners get sick

When the news rippled out on Monday that Robin Williams had committed suicide, even I thought — for a moment — "but he had everything." As if suicide is a "choice."

I say "even I" because I know better. My mother was seriously depressed for much of her life. A close friend's husband committed suicide years ago, and he had everything, too. Then there was our neighbor's son, whom I babysat for — I heard it was a psychotic break.

When it comes to illness, what you have doesn't matter very much. At a certain age, it sometimes seems like everyone's running over the hill, and some people won't make it, and who those people will be — who will be felled by an aggressive cancer, a sudden aneurysm, a rare infection — seems almost random. Sure, there's genetics, preventive care and exercise, and sometimes we can comfort ourselves by finding out that a lost friend never got colonoscopies or that a lost relative still smoked. But often there is no reason at all. My friend Kath used to laugh about how much I worried that a stray lump or an ambiguous test result was a sure sign of aggressive cancer. She never worried about rare aggressive cancers, until she was diagnosed with one; she died months later.

News of my friend Dotty Lynch's death also hit the wires on Monday. The longtime political director of CBS News, Dotty belongs in heaven if anyone does. In her decades in politics and journalism, she managed to handle some of the biggest egos in the business, always with sheer brilliance and amazing grace. The melanoma just wouldn't quit. And while you might be comforted to know that Dotty was a fair-skinned redhead, there are plenty of fair-skinned folks — John McCain comes to mind — who have not been slowed down by repeated bouts with melanoma.

Why Dotty? Not for a second would anyone suggest that Dotty had a choice in the matter.

So why do even those of us who know better spend even a second when we hear of a suicide saying things like "He had everything" or "How could he do this to his family?"

Suicide isn't something you "do" to your family. It is the terminal stage of what is often a lifelong illness. Why some people end up at this stage of despair and others, like my mother, are crippled by depression for decades but cling to life, no one knows. Some people respond to treatment; some are able to live with deep depression, as some people live with illnesses that kill others. I inherited my mother's blue genes. I have fought depression and have been helped by wonderful doctors. My depression, at least, has never been coupled with suicidal thoughts.

But even the best doctors can't help some people who are ill. Indeed, even the best doctors don't necessarily know when their own patients are in danger. I remember, so many years ago, when my friend's husband became deeply depressed. She consulted his psychiatrist, who advised her that he was not suicidal. It turned out he was mistaken. So, I imagine, was whoever didn't tell Robin Williams' wife that he needed to be hospitalized, that his illness was beyond his control or tolerance.

Robin Williams brought joy and laughter to so many of us. And my friend Dotty... Well, Dotty was ahead of her time, a brilliant pollster, an amazing analyst, a wonderful person. I might say they both lost their fights with illness, but terminal illness is not an opponent you can vanquish. It's not a fair fight. And to suggest that either of these people "lost" a contest misses the point. They were winners. But even winners get sick.

(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 Thursday, 14 August 2014 10:46

Hits: 267

 
The Laconia Daily Sun - All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy
Powered by BENN a division of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Login or Register

LOG IN