Michael Barone - Dogs that aren't barking

Sherlock Holmes famously solved the mystery of the Silver Blaze by noting the dog that didn't bark in the night. It strikes me that in this wild and woolly campaign cycle there have been numerous dogs not barking in the night, or in the daytime either.

Start with the race for the Democratic nomination, which has not unrolled as predicted. Every observer knows Hillary Clinton's numbers have been falling and Bernie Sanders' numbers have been rising, leading her in Iowa and New Hampshire. Every observer is waiting to see if Joe Biden will run, perhaps in time for the Democrats' first debate two weeks from now.

But the other declared candidates have gone nowhere. It's perhaps not surprising in the cases of the maverick Jim Webb and the former Republican Lincoln Chafee. But Martin O'Malley, former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor, with a pleasant demeanor and a solid liberal record, is the sort of candidate who would have a serious Democratic contender in cycles past.

He's been out on the trail, but the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal, Quinnipiac and CBS/New York Times polls put him at 0 percent. The pollsters are having a hard time finding anyone who backs him.

Cynical conclusion: in a party consumed with identity politics, there are constituencies for a woman and a self-proclaimed socialist, but not for a cisgender white male, even one who increased spending and effectively supported same-sex marriage. Sympathetic explanation: Democratic voters are attracted to longtime champions of identity politics and uninterested in new faces.

In contrast, on the Republican side, even in a field of 15 candidates, almost all have some perceptible support. But past performance is not proving a guide to current results.

Rand Paul, for example, was expected to at least match the showing of his father Ron Paul, who got at least 10 percent (rounded off) in 29 primaries in 2012. But the younger Paul's domesticated libertarianism and non-interventionist foreign policy is attracting only 2 percent nationally and 4 percent in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Cynical conclusion: Ron Paul's tattooed and dope-smoking fans aren't interested in a domesticated version. Sympathetic explanation: Paul's anti-interventionism lost its appeal when ISIS started beheading Americans.

Iowa Republicans are also showing little enthusiasm for the candidates who finished first in their 2008 and 2012 caucuses. Mike Huckabee is polling at 4 percent there, Rick Santorum at 2 percent. They aren't duplicating their previous appeal to evangelical Protestants, who have been a bigger proportion of turnout in Iowa than any other non-Southern Republican contest.

Cynical conclusion: Religious conservatives don't stay bought. Sympathetic explanation: Religious conservatives look for candidates who share their values, but don't stick with those who proved incapable of winning nominations.

Of course, one might also say that these Republicans are just being overshadowed, maybe temporarily, by outsiders who haven't held political office — Donald Trump especially, and also Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. The race is far from over; maybe they'll do better later on. And maybe Martin O'Malley will catch on, too — although when pollsters take Joe Biden off their list of candidates, he currently rises from 0 to 1 percent.

The dogs that aren't barking tell two different stories about the parties. Democrats, who like to think of themselves as open to new ideas, are sticking with old ideas and causes. Republicans, who used to fall predictably in line, are off on a wild fling.

There's another dog that isn't barking as well, on the issues front. House Republican rebels may have pushed Speaker John Boehner out, but, as the Wall Street Journal editorial page notes, federal spending during — and because of — Boehner's leadership has been essentially flat for four years, the only time that's happened since World War II. It fell from 24 percent of gross domestic product in 2009 to 20 percent in 2014.

What's interesting here is that no one seems to care. Republican rebels don't, and Democrats who push for more spending behind the scenes aren't making a public fuss about it. It's reminiscent of Britain, where the Conservative-led government cut nearly 1 million public sector jobs in five years. But Labour never raised the issue in this year's campaign and Conservatives gained seats.

Cynical conclusion: No one really misses anything when government spending is cut. Sympathetic explanation: In any large organization there is always room for squeezing out unneeded blubber. That non-barking dog may be something to keep in mind as our campaign continues.

(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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Lakes Region Profiles — Lakes Region or Cape Cod?

The decision to buy in the Lakes Region or on the Cape is a question that repeatedly surfaces when working with buyers looking for a second home in the New England area. The answer to the question is easy for someone who has lived on the lakes all his or her life. But let us at least try to look at the question objectively.

The Lakes Region versus Cape Cod debate is not an age-old question in the same category as what the universe if made of or the biological basis of consciousness, but it is an old question. Both the Lakes Region and Cape Cod have long histories as resort areas. Wolfeboro on Lake Winnipesaukee claims to be the nation's oldest resort town. According to many accounts, Colonial Governor John Wentworth built the first summer country estate in the town in 1771. On the other hand, the English settled Cape Cod in the mid 1600s, primarily as small farms, fishing villages, and whaling centers. It wasn't until the late 1800s that the Cape had its beginning as a summer destination for city dwellers. If longevity as a resort was to be the deciding factor in our great debate, it would appear the Lakes Region would win by over a hundred years. But second homers and semi-retirees are not normally swayed by history.

If the rich and famous are good barometers of desirability, each area has attracted a host of celebrities through the years. Cape Cod is best known for the Kennedy family compound, but the list of famous homeowners and visitors is lengthy including actress Meg Ryan, film director James Cameron, TV host Phil Donahue, model Christie Brinkley, and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The Lakes Region has had it share of the rich and famous as well: French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, politician and former governor Mitt Romney, actress Drew Barrymore, and hotel magnate J. Willard Marriott, to name a few. A personal favorite, comedian Bill Murray, visited the Lakes Region during the filming of the movie What About Bob?. And of course, the movie On Golden Pond brought Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, and Katherine Hepburn to Squam Lake and Winnipesaukee. Compiling a list of celebrities at Cape Cod and the Lakes Region would most likely end in a draw.

Here are a few practical factors to consider in the debate. The Lakes Region is a four-season destination. This is a definite advantage for second homers. When summer boating and swimming ends, fall fairs, foliage tours, hiking, and biking kick into high gear. The White Mountains with forty-eight 4000-footers are an easy drive north. Even beautiful ocean beaches on N.H. and Maine's coastline are just over an hour away. The fall and winter seasons overlap with early skiing and skating. When winter finally settles in, it is dynamic, filled with numerous sports including alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, skating, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and sled dog racing. N.H. has many fine four-season recreation areas including Gunstock, Loon, Ragged, Waterville Valley, Cannon, Bretton Woods, Sunapee, Attitash, and Wildcat, all an easy drive from the centrally located Lakes Region. The winter months lead into spring skiing, hiking, biking, and early season boating before the transition into fun-filled summer months.

The Cape has a summer tourist season that begins on Memorial Day and runs to Labor Day. In recent years, businesses have expanded their operations to extend the season by 2 or 3 months with "off season" rates for those visitors without school-aged children and for the retired. But most of the businesses and activities are geared towards three months and the summer vacation experience. The point here is clear. Homeowners in the Lakes Region can maximize a second home for their own use (or as a rental) into the fall, winter, and spring months long after Cape Cod owners have closed their homes for the winter.

When comparing fresh and salt water, arguably swimming in a lake is more enjoyable. Lakes are generally safer, the water is warmer, there are no strong waves or currents, and there is no tide. An important factor for some people is that a swim in the ocean leaves you feeling salty and sticky, whereas a dip in the lake is cleansing and refreshing. Saltwater is more corrosive than freshwater. A boat and its engine used in saltwater will have a shorter life expectancy than one used in freshwater. Additional, boating regulation and navigation are much more complicated on the ocean.

Both the Lakes Region and Cape Cod appear to be convenient to Boston. But looks can be deceiving. The deception can be described in two words – Sagamore Bridge. The Lakes Region has had its share of traffic backups on one of more of the major commuting highways after a holiday weekend. But nothing can compare to the nightmare of driving off the Cape towards the Sagamore Bridge at the end of a summer weekend. Cape Cod is technically an island. Many agencies including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) treat the Cape as such for purposes of disaster preparedness and other issues. The Cape Cod Canal, dug over a hundred years ago runs across the base of the peninsula and cuts the Cape off from the mainland. Only two bridges allow commuter traffic on and off the island. The bridges over the canal close when winds reach 75 mph, as they did with Hurricane Bob. These events are infrequent but one thing that has become a regular saga is the mega-traffic jam to get off the Cape during the summer. After experiencing one of the super-jams that reportedly lasted two days with traffic backed up 25 miles from the bridge, Rabb, a 58-year-old woman who often traveled to the Cape told the Boston Globe, "I will not do that again." Another traveler's comment in the same Globe article goes to the heart of the matter. "It was a perfect trip in every way until the end." Even the most beautiful destination can be ruined by a grueling commute home. If you retire and can live permanently on the Cape, that's one matter. However, if your wish is to become a "weekend warrior" second home owner, you might take this into consideration.

Now comes a big consideration. What can your money buy? Let's do a little market comparison. Take for example, Meredith, N.H. For 2015 to date, the average home price was $393,284 and the median price was $283,509. In Gilford, N.H. the average price was $248,593 and the median was $227,083. Compare this to Osterville, Mass., where in 2015 the average selling price was $527,181 and the median $390,619, and Chatham, Mass. where the average was $779,934 and the median $612,500. Not to mention the more expensive areas on the Cape such as Nantucket, where the average price is $1,326,015 and the median is $1,088,017.

The significance of owning your shore frontage and docking system cannot be underestimated. There is nothing better than walking across your backyard to your boat for a day of watersports, dinner at one of the many lake-accessible restaurants, or a tour of a quaint New England village. This is a beautiful reality for many homes and condominiums in the Lakes Region, at many different price points. Only a limited number of homes on the ocean can have docks adjacent to the house because of the tides and other issues. These homes come with a high price tag. For most homeowners on the Cape, boating requires the additional expense of a slip at a marina and the inconvenience of having to travel to get to your boat. Another consideration when purchasing an oceanfront home is whether or not there will be sunbathers enjoying the beach in front of your beach home. Compare this to the lake where you own your shorefront exclusively.

In this obviously one-sided analysis, the decision of Lakes Region or Cape Cod may appear clear. But the reality is there will never be a winner declared in this debate. For the buyer, it comes down to one simple question. Which has the greater appeal: ocean or lake? For someone like me, who cringes when the movie Jaws is mentioned, the answer to that question is easy.

Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith & Laconia, N.H. and can be reached at (603) 366-6306. rocherealty.com

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Jim Hightower - A remorseless liar is running for president (FOR FRIDAY)

We've got a new darling in the GOP presidential race: Carly Fiorina!

Being the darling du jour, however, can be dicey — just ask Rick Perry and Scott Walker, two former darlings who are now out of the race, having turned into ugly ducklings by saying stupid things. But Fiorina is smart, sharp-witted, and successful. We know this because she and her PR agents constantly tell us it's so. Be careful about believing anything she says, though, for Darling Fiorina is not only a relentless self-promoter, but also a remorseless liar.

Take her widely hailed performance in the second debate among Republican wannabes, where she touched many viewers with her impassioned and vivid attack on Planned Parenthood. With barely contained outrage, Fiorina described a video that, she said, shows the women's health organization in a depraved act of peddling body parts of an aborted fetus. "Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking," said a stone-faced Fiorina, looking straight into the camera, "while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.'"

Oh, the horror, the monstrosity of Planned Parenthood! And how moving it was to see and feel the fury of this candidate for president!

Only ... it's not true. Although she dared the audience, President Obama and Hillary Clinton to go watch it, turns out that there is no such video — no fetus with kicking legs and no demonic Planned Parenthood official luridly preparing to harvest a brain.

So did Fiorina make up this big, nasty lie herself, or did her PR team concoct it as a bit of showbiz drama to burnish her right-wing credentials and advance her political ambition? Or maybe she's just spreading a malicious lie she was told by some vicious haters of Planned Parenthood. Either way, there's nothing darling about it, much less presidential.

I remember back in 1992 when the third-party candidate Ross Perot chose Admiral James Stockdale, a complete unknown, to be his presidential running mate. In his first debate, the vice presidential candidate began by asking a question: "Who am I? Why am I here?"

We should be asking the same about Carly, as she has recently surged in the polls of GOP primary voters. Her campaign is positioning her as a no-nonsense, successful corporate chieftain who can run government with business-like efficiency. During the debate, Fiorina rattled off a list of her accomplishments as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the high-tech conglomerate: "We doubled the size of the company, we quadrupled its topline growth rate, we quadrupled its cash flow, we tripled its rate of innovation," she declared in PowerPoint style.

Statistics, however, can be a sophisticated way of lying. In fact, the growth she bragged about was mostly the result of her buying Compaq, another computer giant in a merger that proved to be disastrous — in fact, Hewlett-Packard's profits declined 40 percent in her six years, its stock prices plummeted and she fired 30,000 workers, even saying publicly that their jobs should be shipped overseas. Finally, she was fired.

Before we accept her claim that "running government like a business" would be a positive, note that the narcissistic corporate culture richly rewarded Fiorina for failure. Yes, she was fired, but unlike the thousands of HP employees she dumped, a golden parachute was provided to let her land in luxury — counting severance pay, stock options, and pension, she was given $42 million to go away.

But here she comes again, lacking even one iota of humility. Fiorina is throwing out a blizzard of lies, not only about Planned Parenthood, but also about who she is. She's the personification of corporate greed and economic inequality, and she's trying to bamboozle Republicans into thinking she belongs in the White House.

(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".)

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Sanborn — Fall real estate sales tips

So, it is officially fall and with that should come a little bit of urgency if you are thinking about selling your house. You know you want to get it sold before the dead of winter sets in, but when the leaves come off the trees and the lawn turns brown it is not the most eye appealing time of year. There are some little things you can do to add some color and make your property more appealing. But you'll want to act quick as time is short before the weather turns nasty... you do remember last winter, right?

First things first. Get the exterior of your house looking good and do any paint touch ups before the paint freezes in the can. A coat of paint on the front door is always a great idea if it has become a little dull or faded. Spice things up and add a bit more color to an ordinary entry. First impressions are everything and they start at the front door. Some colorful mums on the porch or even some carved pumpkins would be in order given the inaugural Pumpkin Festival this year in Laconia.

Make sure you get the leaves raked up in the yard, the flower beds are cut back, gutters are cleaned, and everything is tidy in the yard. Buyers shouldn't have to walk through piles of leaves to view the property and if things are ship shape on the outside it shows you care about your property.

We've good some great holidays coming up and you can capitalize on them to create a great feeling for the buyers that visit your home. Tasteful decorations, both outside and inside, celebrating Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas create warmth, add color, and add a bit of a excitement to a viewing. It can help buyers visualize themselves living in the home. So for Halloween you can start with the pumpkins and maybe a charming scarecrow in the yard and do some colorful accents and decorations inside the house. Just don't overdo it. Displaying bloody ghouls, goblins, and zombies might not work to your favor. The old baking brownies trick applies here as well but go for pumpkin pie or muffins to create the right aroma for the season.

The same holds true for Thanksgiving and Christmas (yes, it's coming!). Celebrate the holiday season and show people how well your home looks. Scented candles, a colorful cornucopia, a holiday table cloth with an appropriate centerpiece, and seasonal table settings are great to set the Thanksgiving mood. Dragging out a hundred piece Anna Lee collection of holiday characters might be a little too much. Remember, less is more.

For Christmas stay away from going over the top with the tacky blow up vinyl Santa Claus or the wire animated reindeers in the yard and opt for more traditional and simple decorations. A colorful wreath on the door, some garland, and a nicely decorated tree will be enough. Your house does not need to look like Clark Griswold's home in order to get attention and you certainly don't want something like Eddie's camper in the front yard.

This time of year it starts getting dark earlier so make sure you or your agent turns on all the lights. It is also getting colder so turn up the heat a bit prior to the showing and if you've got a fireplace or stove make sure there's a fire going. A little holiday background music might get them in the buying mood. Create some ambiance, create some interest, and just maybe you'll create a deal.

As of October 1, 2015 there were 1,211 residential homes for sale in the twelve communities covered by this lakes Region Real Estate Market Report. The average asking price came in at $568,894 while the much more meaningful median price point stood at $269,900. That means that half of the properties available were below that $269,900 mark. At the current sales pace this inventory level represents a 13.5 month supply of homes on the market.

P​ease 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 10/1/15. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.

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Pat Buchanan - War Party targets Putin

Having established a base on the Syrian coast, Vladimir Putin last week began air strikes on ISIS and other rebel forces seeking to overthrow Bashar Assad. A longtime ally of Syria, Russia wants to preserve its toehold on the Mediterranean, help Assad repel the threat, and keep the Islamic terrorists out of Damascus.

Russia is also fearful that the fall of Assad would free up the Chechen terrorists in Syria to return to Russia.

In intervening to save Assad, Putin is doing exactly what we are doing to save our imperiled allies in Baghdad and Kabul. Yet Putin's intervention has ignited an almost berserk reaction. John McCain has called for sending the Free Syrian Army surface-to-air missiles to bring down Russian planes. Not only could this lead to a U.S.-Russia clash, but U.S.-backed Syrian rebels have a record of transferring weapons to the al-Qaida affiliate. The end result of McCain's initiative, sending Stingers to Syria, could be airliners blown out of the sky across the Middle East.

Hillary Clinton wants the U.S. to create a no-fly zone. And Friday's Wall Street Journal endorsed the idea: "Mr. Obama could make Mr. Putin pay a price. ... In Syria the U.S. could set up a no-fly zone to create a safe haven for refugees against ... Mr. Assad's barrel bombs. He could say U.S. planes will fly wherever they want, and if one is attacked the U.S. will respond in kind." U.S.-Russian dogfights over Syria are just fine with the Journal.

Saturday's Washington Post seconded the motion, admonishing Obama: "Carve out safe zones. Destroy the helicopter fleet Mr. Assad uses for his war crimes."

Has the War Party thought this through?

Establishing a no-fly zone over Syria, which means shooting down Syrian fighter-bombers and helicopters, is an act of war. But when did Congress authorize the president to go to war with Syria? When last Obama requested such authority — in 2013, when chemical weapons were used — the American people arose as one to say no to U.S. intervention. Congress backed away without even voting.

Unprovoked air strikes on Syrian government forces would represent an unauthorized and unconstitutional American war. Does the Party of the Constitution no longer care about the Constitution? Is a Republican Congress really willing to give Barack Obama a blank check to take us to war with Syria, should he choose to do so? Is this what America voted for in 2014?

A no-fly zone means U.S. warplanes downing Syrian planes and helicopters and bombing antiaircraft defenses at Syrian airfields. To Damascus this would mean the Americans have committed to the defeat of their armed forces and downfall of their regime. The Syrians would fight — and not only the Syrian army. For Russia, Hezbollah and Iran are all allied to the Damascus regime, as all believe they have a vital interest in its survival.

How would Russia, Iran and Hezbollah respond to U.S. air strikes on their ally? Would they pack it in and leave? Is that our experience with these folks?

Today, the U.S. is conducting strikes on ISIS, and the al-Qaida affiliate. But if we begin to attack the Syrian army or air force, we will be in a new war where the entire Shiite Crescent of Iran, Baghdad, Damascus and Hezbollah, backed by Russia, will be on the other side. We will have taken the Sunni side in the Sunni-Shiite sectarian long war. How long such a war would last, and how it would end, no one knows.

Whatever one thinks of Putin's policy in Syria, at least it makes sense. He is supporting an ally, the Assad regime, against its enemies, who seek to overthrow that regime.

It is U.S. policy in Syria that makes no sense. We train rebels at immense cost to fight Assad, who cannot or will not fight. We attack ISIS, which also seeks to bring down the Assad regime. And we, too, want to bring down Assad. Who do we think will rise if Assad falls?

Do we have a "government in a box" that we think we can fly to Damascus and put into power if the Syrian army collapses, the regime falls and ISIS approaches the capital? Have we forgotten the lesson of "Animal Farm"? When the animals revolt and take over the farm, the pigs wind up in charge.

For months, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia has called on Congress to debate and decide before we launch any new war in the Middle East. One wishes him well. For it is obvious that the same blockheads who told us that if the Taliban and Saddam and Gadhafi fell, liberal democracy would arise and flourish, are now clamoring for another American war in Syria to bring down Assad.

And who says stay out? Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, both of whom also opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

There is something to be said for outsiders.

(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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