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Bob Meade - A gift from our founders

As this is being written, we are only a few days from July 4th, the day we celebrate our Declaration of Independence. While families and friends watch parades, displays of fireworks, have picnics and cook-outs, and enjoy various water activities, we recognize that those things resulted from the courage and brilliance of our founders. Those men challenged what at that time was the greatest power in the world . . . and we are grateful.

Some interesting things that followed the Revolution were the Constitution and, importantly, it's "Bill of Rights". In looking at those first 10 amendments, we find that the most important was the First, as it gave "rights" to the people to worship as they wished, to speak freely, to have a free press, to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government to address our grievances. In short, it bestowed power and was to become a government of, by, and for the people.

While all the amendments in the Bill of Rights were and are important, the Tenth Amendment may be the one that, in my opinion, has been the most abused. It reads, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The First Amendment bestowed the "rights" to the people, and the Tenth Amendment affirmed that the Federal government's "rights" were limited to what was delegated to it in the Constitution. Our founders did not want a government that mimicked the government that had been ruling them, and they challenged and fought the greatest power in the world to gain their freedom and independence.

As our country evolved, 17 more Amendments have been added; many of them useful, and some questionable. For example, on the positive side,

— In 1804, Amendment XII was ratified and established the rules for the Electoral College in determining the positions of president and vice president. It was modified by Amendment XX in 1933. The importance of the amendment is that it helps to prevent what is often referred to as the "tyranny of the majority", where a few, very populous states would have enough votes to negate the will of the people in a large number of smaller states. There have been four occasions where those who did not receive the popular vote, received the Senate or Electoral College vote. Those were John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, and George W. Bush. (In the case of President Bush, the initial vote count was challenged by his opponent, Albert A. Gore, but Florida's electors cast their ballots for Mr. Bush. However, the final tally of the votes in Florida showed that Bush had also won the popular vote.)
— In 1865, Amendment XIII was ratified. It abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. It should be noted that 630,000 people died in the Civil War, a war that was intended to save the union. President Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclamation" became effective in the beginning of 1863, and it expanded the aims of the war to include the freeing of slaves.
— The fifteenth Amendment, ratified in 1870 gave citizens the right to vote, regardless of their race, color, or previous servitude, and in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment prohibited denying a person the right to vote because of their gender.
— When George Washington was asked to run for a third term, he responded, "Two terms is enough for any man." That held true until Theodore Roosevelt sought a third term but was defeated and when Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for a third and fourth term and won. In 1951, Amendment XXII was ratified. It limits the president to two terms and essentially helps to avoid an "Imperial Presidency" from taking place. Perhaps similar type limits could be imposed on the House and Senate which would rid us of the tenure like positions that now exist.

In my view, there have been some amendments that have not served the people well, but have placed more power in the hands of the federal government. For example,

— Prior to Amendment XVI, which was ratified in 1913, the federal government could not "lay and collect taxes" on individual citizens, it could only tax the states who would then determine how to collect the money needed to pay the federal government. This amendment may have been well intended as a means of relieving the states of their duty as a tax collector, however, the unintended consequence of it has been that it imposes the awesome power of the federal government on individual citizens and has removed the power of the state to challenge the budgeting and spending of the federal government.
— Article. 1, Section .3, of the Constitution states there would be ". . . two Senators from each State, (chosen by the Legislature) thereof . . ." In 1913, Amendment XVII was passed changing that to read ". . . elected by the people thereof . . ." Perhaps more than anything else, this amendment ushered in the "professional politician" and took away what used to be . . . that people would leave their farms or factories and devote a term or two doing their public service and then return home. Virtually all of the longest serving Senators and Representatives came after this amendment was passed.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

Last Updated on Monday, 07 July 2014 09:43

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Pat Buchanan - Tell Obama: no more wars!

Barack Obama has asked Congress for $500 million to train and arm rebels of the Free Syrian Army who seek to overthrow the government.

Before Congress takes up his proposal, both houses should demand that Obama explain exactly where he gets the constitutional authority to plunge us into what the president himself calls "somebody else's civil war." Syria has not attacked us. Syria does not threaten us.

Why are we joining a jihad to overthrow the Syrian government? President Bashar Assad is fighting against the al Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the even more extreme and vicious Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

In training and arming the FSA, we are enlisting in a cause where our foremost fighting allies are Islamists, like those who brought down the twin towers, and a Sunni terrorist army that seeks to bring down the government we left behind in Baghdad.

What are we doing?

Assad is no angel. But before this uprising, which has taken 150,000 lives and created millions of refugees, Congressmen and secretaries of state regularly visited him in Damascus. "There's a different leader in Syria now," cooed Hillary in 2011, "Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he's a reformer."

If we bring down Assad, what assurance to do have that the Free Syrian Army will prevail against the Islamists who have proved far more effective in the field? Will we not be compelled to plunge into the subsequent civil war to keep ISIS and al-Qaida from taking power?

If Assad falls there is also a high probability Syria's Christians will face beheadings and butchery at the hands of the fanatics. And should martyrdoms and massacres begin with the fall of Assad because of our intervention, the blood of Christians will be on the hands of Barack Hussein Obama and the Congress of the United States.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin says he wants no part of Obama's new wars. Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine rightly asserts that President Obama has no authority to take us into war in Syria or Iraq. But where are the Republicans?

Absent an attack on U.S. citizens or vital interests, or an imminent threat of attack, Obama has no authority to initiate war. The Constitution places the power to authorize wars of choice exclusively with Congress.

James Madison and his colleagues were seeking to ensure against a rogue presidency of the kind that Obama has lately begun to conduct.
It is astonishing that Republicans who threaten to impeach Obama for usurping authority at home remain silent as he prepares to usurp their war powers — to march us into Syria and back into Iraq.

Last August, Americans rose as one to tell Congress to deny Obama any authority to attack Syria. Are Republicans now prepared to sit mute as Obama takes us into two new Middle East wars, on his own authority?

A congressional debate on war is essential not only from a legal and constitutional standpoint but also a strategic one. For there is a question as to whether we are even on the right side in Syria.

Assad, no matter his sins, is the defender of the Christian and Shia minorities in Syria. He has been the most successful Arab ruler in waging war against the terrorist brigades of ISIS and al-Qaida.

Why, then, are we training Syrians to attack his army and arming people to topple his government? Have we not before us, in Libya, an example of what happens when we bring down an autocrat like Gadhafi, and even worse devils are unleashed?

While Assad has battled al-Qaida and ISIS for three years, our NATO ally Turkey has looked the other way as jihadists crossed over into Syria. Our Gulf allies have provided jihadists battling Assad with arms and money.

Query: Why are our putative allies aiding our worst enemies?

This weekend ISIS declared a caliphate, the Islamic State, over all lands in Syria and Iraq it now controls. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS war chief, has been declared the new caliph. "The Caliphate Rises," wails the Wall Street Journal. But who midwifed and breast-fed the ISIS movement that has now proclaimed the new caliphate? Was it not our Turkish and Arab friends?

And whose army is the major obstacle to consolidation of a caliphate from Aleppo to Anbar? Is it not the army of the autocrat Assad whom we seek to bring down? Does this make sense?

We are told that ISIS represents a security threat to the United States. But ISIS-controlled Syria and Iraq are on the border of Turkey, whose army could make short work of them. If the caliphate is not such a threat to the Turks as to warrant their intervention in Syria, how can it be a greater threat to us? It cannot.

Congress should block the $500 million for Obama's wars and tell him his days as imperial president are over.

(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 Tuesday, 01 July 2014 09:50

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Sanborn — July home deals in the Lakes Region

As we move full swing into the summer buying season I thought it would be a good time to take a look at some of the listings that have just come on the market since the first of the month and that appear to be pretty good values.

If you are looking for a waterfront cottage on a really nice small lake, check out the property at 98 Upper Suncook Lane in Barnstead. Yup, that is on Suncook Lake. This 1940s vintage, six room, two bedroom, one bath home is right at the water's edge and faces the conservation area across the lake so you'll always have unspoiled sunset views. The lot is only .19 acres but you do have 80' feet of frontage with a dock and mooring. The assessed value of the property is $311,800 and is being offered at $224,900 which seems like a pretty good deal.

I like the looks of the charming, move in ready, cape at 11 Opal Lane in Laconia. This home was built in 1999 and has 2,152 square feet of space. There are four bedrooms, two and a half baths, open concept kitchen dining area, an office, a living room with hardwood floors, a great back deck for grilling, and a two car attached garage all on a third acre well landscaped corner lot. What more do you need? This home is priced at $199,000 with an assessed value of $231,200. Looks like a decent deal to me.

There's another cape over in Belmont at 79 Church Street in Belmont which has got great curb appeal. Built in 1995 on a 1.1 acre lot, this home has 3,130 square feet of living space, four bedrooms, and two baths. The home features a beautiful kitchen with ample cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, granite, a large island, and pantry. Hardwood floors extend through the formal dining room and living room with cathedral ceilings. There are three bedrooms on the first floor but the master suite is located upstairs along with a family room. There's another family room down in the basement just for good measure. Out back you'll find a cabana next to the in-ground Gunite pool surrounded by a fence and great landscaping. This home is priced at $259,900 which seems like a good price at 82 percent of the current tax assessment of $313,600!

If you really want a pool, there's also one at the house at 680 Union Road also in Belmont. This 3,167 square foot ranch has ten rooms including a spacious gourmet kitchen with all the bells and whistles, a dining room, a master suite with cathedral ceilings, sitting area, and its own private four season porch, and a great living room that opens to a three season porch. On the lower level there's a guest bedroom suite with its own kitchen, living area, bath, office, and exercise area. Outside, you'll find a fenced in pool with lots of space to sunbathe. There are attached and detached two car garages plus a barn for all your toys. A winding drive across rolling lawns makes this eight acre lot feel like a true estate. This home is offered at $289,000 which is 89 percent of the tax assessed value of $343,300.
It looks like there are some nice properties out there so contact a realtor and go take a look. Maybe you can be swimming in one of these pools before the end of summer!

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. Listings were compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Pat Buchanan - Is Hillary inevitable?

Looking back over the last century there were two great coalition builders in presidential politics: FDR and Richard Nixon.

Franklin Roosevelt broke the Lincoln lock on the presidency that had given Republicans the White House in 56 of the previous 72 years. From 1932 to 1964, FDR's party would win seven of nine elections.

Nixon broke through in '68 and built the New Majority that gave the GOP the White House for 20 of the next 24 years.

The Nixon-Reagan coalition, however, has aged and atrophied. In five of the last six presidential elections, the Democratic nominee won the popular vote. And no fewer than 18 states, including four of the most populous — California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York — have gone Democratic in all six of those elections. Also, four states crucial to victory and once regarded as reliably Republican — Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Colorado — have turned purple.

The GOP is also facing a demographic crisis. White folks, who provide almost 90 percent of Republican votes in presidential years, are steadily shrinking as a share of the electorate.

Is Hillary thus inevitable?

With the cash she can raise and the support of the sisterhood, she may be able to clear the field in the run for the nomination. And in a general election it is hard to see which Republican today could take 270 electoral votes from her.

Yet the lady has vulnerabilities. If elected, Hillary would be, at 69, the oldest Democratic president ever. Husband Bill was nearly a quarter of a century younger when inaugurated, as was Barack Obama.

Her book tour for "Hard Choices," with her tale of woe about having been "flat broke" in 2001, revealed a queen of privilege wildly out of touch with the hard realities of life in Middle America in 2014.

Moreover, there is Clinton fatigue in the country and this capital. Americans under 30 never knew a time when she was not around.

Her memoir looks likely to be remaindered long before it earns her publisher anything near the $14 million advance she is rumored to have received. Somebody at Simon & Schuster is going to the wall. And the Democratic left is pawing the turf.

Is her record in office impressive?

The most critical vote she cast in eight years in the Senate — to take America into war with Iraq — she now admits was a mistake. And it's not an insignificant one, considering the disaster that is Iraq today.

Her record as secretary of state? The most memorable moment was announcing the "reset" with Russia. How's that working out?
Not only must Hillary answer for the failures that brought about the Benghazi massacre, and her absenteeism in its aftermath, but she must also defend a foreign policy that has left her country less respected on every continent.

While most Americans support President Obama's decisions to end the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is something about his leadership on the world stage that calls to mind the Carter era.

And while there is no end to the chatter in this city of the clash within the GOP between the establishment and the Tea Party, there are fissures and fractures visible as well in the Obama-Clinton party. As a wag once observed, the Democratic Party is a conclave of warring tribes that have come together in the anticipation of common plunder. But the old formula dating to FDR days, of "tax and tax, spend and spend, and elect and elect," may have run its course.

The U.S. government is deep in debt and moving deeper. State capitals have hit the wall, forcing painful decisions to cut spending on education or pensions, or to raise taxes. Even in the bluest states, governors like Jerry Brown in California and Andrew Cuomo in New York have gotten the message. The halcyon days are over. Frugality is in.

While the nation has been pulled back from the abyss of 2008 and 2009, the five-year Obama record since, with its massive deficits, soaring debt, anemic growth, and diminished share of the labor force working, is nothing to write home about.

Add in the NSA, IRS and VA scandals, and this is the kind of record candidates usually run away from, rather than run on.

While African-Americans and Asians are among the most loyal Democratic blocs, in California, Asians arose in angry protest to kill a proposed law to reinstate affirmative action in state schools. For Asians are now among the major victims of reverse discrimination.

Ms. Clinton says she has "evolved" on same-sex marriage. Have the conservative black pastors and preachers of the most churched community in America also evolved? How comfortable are black Christians in a party half of whose convention delegates booed when it was suggested that God be mentioned in the 2012 platform?

No. The presidency in 2016 is not beyond the reach of the GOP.

(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, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Froma Harrop - Do we really want to be saved from Amazon?

It's the darnedest thing. Only a select few sites grace the bookmark bar topping my Web browser. Amazon.com is one. And Amazon is the only retailer to make the cut.

That it lets me buy ant traps online in 40 seconds, gets them to my house in two days and charges a good price for it all is kind of miraculous, don't you think?

Funny. When Amazon hiked the annual cost of Amazon Prime — its "free" two-day shipping service, with some digital content added — to $99, many customers complained. Not I.

I love Amazon. I do, I do. Yet the company gives me the creeps in several ways.

Start with books. Amazon has sent most of the bookshops in which I happily lingered into oblivion. As it branched out into selling everything else, it impoverished the lovely little downtown stores selling shoes, printers, bug lights and dog collars — at least the ones Wal-Mart hadn't already obliterated.

The question is: When Amazon crushes what's left of the competition, will it then raise prices to gouging levels? That's what monopolies do.

But let's be positive again. Amazon commands so much of the market because it gives consumers like me low prices and good service. This is done at the expense of profit margins, which is why, despite Amazon's enormous revenue growth ($75 billion last year), its famously patient investors have yet to enjoy a gusher of reward.

I used to enjoy righteous indignation over Amazon's opposition to collecting the same sales taxes that retailers with a store, a warehouse or another physical presence in a state had to. That gave the Internet giant an unfair price advantage over local merchants.

Then what does Amazon go out and do? It turns around and supports an organized system for collecting online sales taxes.

It happens that this fit with the plan to place warehouses — Amazon calls them "fulfillment centers"! — all over the country to allow for fast delivery of stuff.

Thus, Amazon would have had to collect a lot of sales taxes anyway.
Amazon has entered the smartphone business. Its new Fire Phone has this neat feature: You point the phone at an object of desire. The phone will see it or hear it and then may help you buy it.

(My nightmare is directing the phone toward the sound of Schubert's 9th Symphony and finding I bought not the album but the Cleveland Orchestra.)

Yes, Amazon is into music streaming, and did I mention filmmaking?

It's also into taking over Seattle. The company just tossed another half-million square feet of Seattle office space into the cart. That's in addition to the 5 million-plus square feet it already owns or leases.

The company has come under considerable criticism for its behavior in a pricing dispute with Hachette Book Group, slowing the sales of the publisher's works. With Amazon so dominant in bookselling, this raises cultural concerns.

Some argue that Amazon is not the only mammoth stomping through the online jungle. Its advance may be checked by the likes of Wal-Mart and Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce titan.

But that wouldn't leave a lot of room for the indie booksellers still on Main Street, would it? And bless them for holding out.

Am I overthinking this? Perhaps my faith in the creative-destructive powers of capitalism is so weak that I can't conceive of other business models saving us from Amazon's dominion.

The other question is: Do we want to be saved? If the answer is no, then perhaps the time has come to just dump ourselves in the cart, click "Proceed to checkout" and be done with it.

(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.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 08:43

Hits: 242

 
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