Every country has its heroes, but something in America's cultural sauce makes for a unique and unusually effective variety. The ingredient would be improvisation — the ability to perform without preparation, using whatever is at hand to complete the task.
As most of the world knows, Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler — three pals on a European jaunt — were on a fancy train hurtling toward Paris, when a terrorist bristling with weaponry started attacking passengers.
The Americans were unarmed, but when Skarlatos said "Let's go" to Stone, the off-duty U.S. airman ran down the aisle, grabbed the man by the neck and wouldn't let go, even as the attacker slashed him. Skarlatos grabbed his gun. Sadler and a British passenger, Chris Norman, held down various limbs.
Improvisation requires letting gut instinct take the wheel from overthinking. As Skarlatos, a National Guardsman who spent time in Afghanistan, later told the media, his actions on the train weren't "a conscious decision".
Jazz, a truly American musical form, is all about improvisation, making it up as you go. "Do not fear mistakes," Miles Davis said. "There are none."
"Let's go" reminded many of "Let's roll", Todd Beamer's famous words on a doomed airliner hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Beamer and other passengers were trying to neutralize the terrorists and regain control of the airliner.
Before the Normandy D-Day invasion, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower instructed his field commanders to make quick decisions on their own rather than wait for instructions from above. They did, and their improvisation saved many American lives on the battlefield.
In 2009, pilot Chesley Sullenberger landed his disabled airliner on the Hudson River without a single loss of life in a classic example of on-the-spot improvising. Air controllers had suggested one of two nearby airports for an emergency landing, but instinct sharpened by experience told Sullenberger to take that unconventional — and successful — option.
Perhaps because Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler acted so simply, they did not fully comprehend the complex aftermath of what they had done — including the depth of their heroism.
Exercising calm control, they beat the terrorist unconscious but not to death. Stone attended to another wounded passenger in the car, though he himself was seriously hurt. He is a trained medic. That's what medics do.
Once the assailant was out cold, the Americans, with some help, tied him up like a package and handed him over to the French authorities. In their way of thinking, the drama was over.
"I thought they were going to let us go after questioning," Sadler later told assembled media.
Did they imagine that after saving a trainload of passengers, they'd just move on to their next European adventure, say, waiting in line to see the Le Corbusier exhibit at the Pompidou Center?
There was nothing false about these Americans' modesty. They seemed surprised to find themselves in the ornate Elysees Palace, being handed the Legion of Honor, France's highest award, along with Norman.
But there was French President Francois Hollande, tailored to the millimeter, handing medals to the three Americans, who, though clean and pressed, were suitless and tieless. (At least their shirts had collars.) Norman had packed a suit and tie.
Americans obviously don't have a monopoly on quick and courageous action. Do remember Jasper Schuringa, the Dutch national who may have saved Northwest Flight 253 in 2009. Upon seeing a terrorist trying to set off bombs sewn in his underwear, Schuringa jumped over seats to tackle him and started putting out the fire with his hands.
For the three Americans on the train, improvising saved the day, but because it came so naturally, they didn't see the big deal in it. By now, one hopes, they know 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.)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 August 2015 09:34
We are shooting ourselves in our proverbial foot. Politicians on the left and right are playing "gotcha" games with each other as they vie for their positions. And, while they touch on some critical issues, such as immigration and terrorism, not enough is being said about the lack of jobs. We've got a serious problem . . . in fact, a lot of them.
First, what we call the unemployment rate does not actually account for all those people who could work, but aren't employed. Each month the Census Bureau conducts what they call a Current Population Survey (CPS). That survey is designed to get a look at the employment conditions across the country. As part of a very large data base, households get called and go through a series of questions and answers about whether or not a person is working, or is not looking for work. The survey determines from the answers provided, whether or not to count the person as employed or unemployed. A person, who is not working but has not actively sought a job within the last four weeks, is not counted as unemployed. (For more detailed information you may check, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm#unemployed) As it stands now, we are told our unemployment rate is 5.3 percent.
If we take a look at the available labor force numbers, our unemployment perspective may change. When George W. Bush took office our population was 282.2 million people, our labor participation rate was 67.3 percent, and 96.28 million people were working. When he left office, our population had grown to 304.1 million people, the labor participation rate had lowered to 65.8 percent, and there were 100.9 million people employed. In President Obama's first year, the population was at 306.8 million, the labor participation rate was 65.4 percent, and 100.9 million people had jobs. As of July 2015, the population has grown to 321.2 million, the labor participation rate is at 62.6 percent, and there are 98.3 million people who are employed.
Since Bush 41 took office, our population has grown from 282.2 to 321.2 million people; an increase of 39 million, or 13.8 percent. And, the number of people who are working has grown from 96.28 to 98.3 million people . . . only 2.1 percent. The looming crisis is that we can't have our working population only increase at a rate of 15 percent of our population growth. That condition presents a building and unsustainable tax burden on those who are working.
A large contributor to the jobs problems is our ever growing government structure. It has overburdened the citizens and companies with incredibly sweeping new laws, and regulations that have the force of law. Those have created huge tax burdens on employers and created an enormous level of uncertainty. Just think for a moment about the term, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse".
CNS new reported that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has a total of 381,517 words in it. That's a piece of cake when compared to the 11,588,500 words of the laws "regulations" that have the force of law. Do you think every business, big or small, can deal with that? Can you? CNS also reported that since President Obama was elected, the EPA has issued 24,915,000 words in new regulations. Did I hear an "oy vey" out there?
Also related to Obamacare is that when the Congress and the president were ramming the law through, without a single Republican vote, they demonized the health insurance companies on a daily basis, claiming that they were making excess profits and providing terrible service. Well folks, the government wasn't telling the truth. You see, the Associated Press and other organizations actually studied the profits of those companies and found that, on average, health insurance companies were averaging about a 2 percent annual profit.
And we remember that the president stiff-armed religious leaders about abortion provisions, and the law included provisions that directly attacked the First Amendment. Talk about schoolyard bullying . . . the Obamacare folks are continuing to make the Little Sisters of the Poor for the Aged fight for the right to do their good works and still retain their religious beliefs. But I guess the president is a "my way or the highway" kind of guy.
If the government can do what they doing to the Sister of the Poor, and if the government can write millions of words of regulations that have the force of law without those regulations having the approval of Congress, and if the politicians can continue to expand a dependent class by promising more and more, how can any company or individual deal with that kind of uncertainty.
Tell the government to get out of the way and let businesses go about creating jobs-jobs-jobs.
(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)
Last Updated on Monday, 24 August 2015 09:35
"Oh no," Kasich supporters must be thinking. "Just what we need. A liberal endorsement."
Worry not. I do not like John Kasich because I agree with him. Heavens, no. I disagree with him about almost everything.
I do not think he is a liberal. He is hardly my definition of moderate. He only looks moderate compared to some folks who make their fellow conservatives shudder. You know whom I mean.
The reason I like John Kasich is because, in our 10 years or so as political talk show contributors and often cross-talkers, he showed a level of intelligence, honesty and decency that you don't find very often in that world. It is, I think, what is attracting attention on the campaign trail.
He is not pro-abortion rights. Ohio has been a hotbed of anti-abortion activity, and abortions are harder to get — more restricted, with fewer clinics — since Kasich took office. But unlike many of his rivals, he doesn't stumble when asked if he'd support a law that included exceptions for rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother. He just says yes and moves on.
Seriously: are these guys really saying that the government should decide that a mother's life is worth less than that of her unborn child? What in the world gives a bunch of (mostly) guys in a state legislature the right to make that decision? And how in the world can that be such a difficult question to answer for men who would stake out a claim to the most powerful and difficult job in the world?
John Kasich is not pro-gay rights. But when asked what he would do if his daughter were gay, he said he would love her unconditionally. Yes, dare I say, of course.
How can that possibly be a hard question? Yet in these circles, it is. In these circles, going to a gay wedding — as Kasich said he'd done — is a distinguishing characteristic. Maybe at the next debate someone should go down the line and ask the candidates if they would, or have, attended a gay wedding. I bet there would be some stumbling on that one, even though it's a question anyone running today should anticipate. And I bet there would be some very proud "no's" from those who still want to take the fight to a public that knows better.
People always laugh when I tell them my first campaign was for a Republican, Ed Brooke of Massachusetts, my father's classmate and friend, in his first run (I think it was for attorney general). I will always remember how proud I was of my Brooke sash that I put on over my shirt. Ed Brooke was a moderate Republican, a species nearing extinction in the Republican Party.
The Republican Party of today is a long way from the socially moderate and economically conservative party of Ed Brooke and even the early Richard Nixon, as is evident when you see some of these guys doing somersaults to try to prove their absolutist credentials. But there's at least some evidence in the early polls, and in the reactions to candidates such as Kasich and Fiorina, that the orthodoxy of the 1992 Republican Party, which was ready to declare holy war, may be weakening, even if just a bit.
Which is not to say that John Kasich is bringing back the old, moderate Republican Party. Kasich is a conservative. No question about it. He's just a better version.
(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 Friday, 21 August 2015 10:00
Winnipesaukee waterfront sales soared in July! There were 28 properties that found happy new owners who undoubtedly are now out on the lake enjoying the fantastic weather we have been having. I wonder how many bought new boats to go along with the new digs? The average sales price came in at $1.312 million with a median price point of $950,000. This brings our total sales for the year thus far to an even 80 at an average price of $1.128 million compared to 62 sales for the same period last year at an average of $1.07 million.
The entry level sale of the month was at 14 Bear Island in Meredith. This property consists of a 1978 vintage, six room, three bedroom, one and a half bath cottage on a 1.33 acre lot with 110' of frontage with a deep water dock and breakwater. The cottage has an open concept living-dining area with new laminate flooring, an updated kitchen with tile floor, new countertops, and cabinetry, a screened porch, and two decks. The interior walls and ceilings are finished in knotty pine for that lake feel. There is also a one bedroom guest cottage for that unexpected cousin that comes without fair warning. The views are spectacular. Now, it did take a while to sell this one. It was first listed back in 2008 at $499,900 and subsequently listed a number of times with or without a mainland dock included. It was relisted this year at $349,900 and sold for $275,000. The tax assessed value is $337,100 and total time on market was over 1,400 days.
The median price sale representative for the month was at 46 Minge Cove in Alton. This contemporary style, twelve room, four bedroom high quality home was built in 2003 and has all the features you'd want for elegant lakeside living. There's a grand foyer with a balcony above and floor to ceiling windows that leads to the great room featuring Brazilian cherry floors, soaring cathedral ceilings, and walls of windows to bring in the views. The kitchen has tile floors, maple cabinetry, and granite (of course.) There is a first floor media room and a large family room in the walk out lower level. The master suite and three additional guest rooms are on the second level. There's a heated two car garage attached and a three car detached to hold all the requisite toys. The 1.6 acre lot provides privacy and 234' of frontage with a 40' dock. This home was first listed in May of 2009 for $1,669,000 and was relisted five more times coming back on the market this year at $1,095,000. It sold for $975,000 after a total of 1,337 days on the market. The current tax assessed value is $996,100.
The highest price sale for the month was at 24 Tranquility Lane in Alton and it is a special waterfront indeed. This 8,600 square foot classic lake home was built at the turn of the century, and that would be the last century in 1905, but has been tastefully modernized for today's lifestyle. There is a chef's kitchen, living room with cathedral ceilings, extensive built-ins, and walls of glass to bring in the truly amazing views, a formal dining room and office on the main level. An elegant master suite on the second level takes full advantage of the westerly views along with four more en-suite guest rooms. The lower level, which can be reached using an oak paneled elevator, has a 700 square foot Adirondack style family room with wood burning fireplace and broad lake views plus an additional guest room. A covered breezeway takes you to a cottage style guest house with two additional en-suite bedrooms. There are garage spaces for six vehicles so the Bentley and the Jag will always be under cover and there's a 1600 square foot, two bay boat house that will hold up to a 30' craft. The house sits on 3.1 acres with two lots of record giving it 342' of amazing westerly facing frontage providing long range views and gorgeous sunsets. Fantastic! This home was first offered in 2012 for $6.38 million and was re-listed this year at $6.289 million and sold for $5.85 million after a total of 613 days on the market. It is assessed at $3,199,400.
There were two sales on Winnisquam in July which brings us to ten sales so far this year which is exactly the same pace as last year. One was at 100 Sunset Drive in Belmont which is a 1970s vintage contemporary ranch with 2,038 square feet of space, three bedrooms and two baths. The house is located on a level .25 acre lot with 85 feet of frontage and two 50' docks. This property was first listed in 2013 at $429,000, re-listed in February of 2014 for $395,000, was reduced to $295,000 and then sold for $282,000 after 601 days on the market. The assessed value currently is $420,600.
The other sale was on the opposite side of the lake and pricing spectrum at 19 Lower Waldron Road in Meredith. This home was built in 1997 and has 3,423 square feet of space, three bedrooms including a first floor master, two and a half baths, living room with wood cathedral ceilings and wood burning fireplace, and gourmet galley style kitchen. The house sits on a very private one acre lot with extensive stonework, a sandy beach, and dock. The house was offered in 2014 at $1.175 million, relisted for $1.199 million, reduced to $1.025 million, and sold for $950,000 after a total of 282 days on the market. It is assessed at $859,400.
Pease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 9/15/15. Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
"Trump's immigration proposals are as dangerous as they are stunning," railed amnesty activist Frank Sharry. "Trump ... promises to rescind protections for 'Dreamers' and deport them. He wants to redefine the constitutional definition of U.S. citizenship as codified by the 14th Amendment. He plans to impose a moratorium on legal immigration."
While Sharry is a bit hysterical, he is not entirely wrong.
For the six-page policy paper, to secure America's border and send back aliens here illegally, released by Trump last weekend, is the toughest, most comprehensive, stunning immigration proposal of the election cycle.
The Trump folks were aided by people around Sen. Jeff Sessions who says Trump's plan "reestablishes the principle that America's immigration laws should serve the interests of its own citizens."
The issue is joined, the battle lines are drawn, and the GOP will debate and may decide which way America shall go. And the basic issues — how to secure our borders, whether to repatriate the millions here illegally, whether to declare a moratorium on immigration into the USA — are part of a greater question.
Will the West endure, or disappear by the century's end as another lost civilization? Mass immigration, if it continues, will be more decisive in deciding the fate of the West than Islamist terrorism. For the world is invading the West.
A wild exaggeration? Consider.
Monday's Washington Post had a front-page story on an "escalating rash of violent attacks against refugees," in Germany, including arson attacks on refugee centers and physical assaults. Burled in the story was an astonishing statistic. Germany, which took in 174,000 asylum seekers last year, is on schedule to take in 500,000 this year. Yet Germany is smaller than Montana.
How long can a geographically limited and crowded German nation, already experiencing ugly racial conflict, take in half a million Third World people every year without tearing itself apart, and changing the character of the nation forever? Do we think the riots and racial wars will stop if more come?
And these refugees, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants are not going to stop coming to Europe. For they are being driven across the Med by wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen, by the horrific conditions in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, by the Islamist terrorism of the Mideast and the abject poverty of the sub-Sahara. According to the U.N., Africa had 1.1 billion people by 2013, will double that to 2.4 billion by 2050, and double that to 4.2 billion by 2100.
How many of these billions dream of coming to Europe? When and why will they stop coming? How many can Europe absorb without going bankrupt and changing the continent forever?
Does Europe have the toughness to seal its borders and send back the intruders? Or is Europe so morally paralyzed it has become what Jean Raspail mocked in "The Camp of the Saints"?
The blazing issue in Britain and France is the thousands of Arab and African asylum seekers clustered about Calais to traverse the Eurotunnel to Dover. The Brits are on fire. Millions want out of the EU. They want to remain who they are.
Each week we read of boats sinking in the Med with hundreds of refugees drowning. Yet many, many more make it to the Greek and Italian islands, and thence north to Germany and Scandinavia and the welfare states of Western Europe. Once they step onto EU soil, they are in.
This unending invasion has called into existence anti-immigrant and anti-EU parties in almost every country in Europe. Few of these parties existed at the turn of the century. How does this all end?
"Humankind cannot bear very much reality," wrote T. S. Eliot.
Is the West still blind to reality, to the inevitable future that awaits if the West does not secure its frontiers and close its borders to mass immigration?
Peoples of European descent, everywhere they live, have birth rates below replacement levels. Yet, most live in the world's most desirable neighborhoods.
The great and growing populations of mankind are in the Third World. Countless millions are determined to come to the West, legally if they can, illegally if they must. And the more who succeed, the more who come.
Either Western nations take tough measures to secure their borders, or the Western nations will be swamped. The character of their countries will be altered forever, and smaller countries will become unrecognizable. And as this is happening, ethnic and racial clashes will become more common, as they are now becoming across Europe.
"The principle that America's immigration laws should serve the interests of its own citizens" is paramount, said Sen. Sessions.
Sessions is right. America is our home. We decide who comes in and who does not, how large the American family becomes, whom we adopt and whence they come. It has become the issue of 2016.
Indeed, it is the issue of the 21st century.
(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, 20 August 2015 06:49