The good news is that Marine Sgt. Tahmooressi, a combat veteran suffering from PTSD, was released from a Mexican prison after being arrested for bringing illegal firearms into that country. Mexican jails are horrible places and the Mexican government is to be commended for releasing him on humanitarian grounds.
The bad news is that a lot of conservative "Obama Bashers" want to politicize this case by claiming that the Ppesident did not "do enough" to secure Sgt. Tahmooressi's release. This is a preposterous charge. Of course, for some people, Obama will never do anything right but in this case, there was actually little even the president could do. In reality, more was done in this case than is usually done by the U.S. government for Americans incarcerated abroad. Even when cases are resolved diplomatically, it often takes time.
This was not a unique case. Actually, Sgt Tahmooressi was very lucky. Dozens of Americans are arrested every year in Mexico-including members of the military-for disobeying Mexico's gun laws. It does not matter that Sgt. Tahmooressi's military-grade weapons were legally registered in the U.S. Mexico is not the U.S. Even if they are not enforced uniformly, Mexico has very strict gun laws and when they are enforced, they are enforced harshly.
Anyone who travels abroad should know that when an American citizen is arrested overseas, there is little the U.S. government can do to secure his or her release. Passports come with a clear warning that while in a foreign country, you are subject to that country's laws, not U.S. law. It does not matter that your actions were legal in the U.S. Other countries have different laws and often, different legal systems where a person may spend a long period of pre-trial confinement while the case is investigated.
If those who criticize Obama on this issue were to read U.S. State Department and consular notices and policies (available online) regarding the arrest of a U.S. national overseas, they would realize that Mexico has strict gun laws. Claiming you did not know the law or that you did not know you had the guns will not help you.
They would also know that U.S. consuls, under international and U.S. law, can do very little to help an imprisoned American. They can visit the prisoner, inform family and friends, forward money, provide a list of local English-speaking lawyers, explain the local legal process, and perhaps make diplomatic representations about inhumane treatment.
But, they cannot demand the release of a U.S. citizen. Even if the local system is slow or corrupt, a U.S. citizen must go through the legal process of that country. This has been U.S. consular policy for years, long before Obama took office.
State Department official policy is to respect the sovereignty of other countries. Many conservatives are obsessed about surrender of "U.S. sovereignty." How would they feel if another country demanded that we release their citizens charged with breaking our laws?
Nor is it appropriate to compare this case to the case of Army Sgt. Bergdahl. The Right is demanding to know why Sgt. Bergdahl was welcomed back by the president but Sgt. Tahmooressi was not. The two cases are not similar. Sgt. Bergdahl was a P.O.W. and, until a military court-martial rules otherwise, that is all he is. Those who want to politicize this case accuse him of desertion to the enemy, but have they forgotten that even under military law, an accused person is innocent until proven guilty?
Sgt. Tahmooressi was not a P.O.W. or a political prisoner. He was arrested, rightly or wrongly, for violating Mexican criminal law. Virtually no one released from custody for criminal offenses overseas gets a Presidential welcome. His supporters likely would not be upset about the numerous other Americans in jail overseas who have been charged with crimes. Do these conservatives really think we should have declared war on Mexico over this issue? It is disturbing that some wish to use this issue to further their own agendas.
(Scott Cracraft is an American citizen, taxpayer, veteran, and resident of Gilford)
Last Updated on Monday, 10 November 2014 09:02
It is just about here. The Christmas holiday buying season is, well, right around the corner. Gotta get through the turkey first. And when you open your mailbox this holiday season and you find your new Pottery Barn catalog has arrived, you may not realize it, but you are looking at scenes from the Lakes Region of NH!
You see, back in the first week of April with the grip of winter waning and days getting longer the production crew from Pottery Barn landed right here to do a photo shoot for their Christmas catalog! They were attracted to the area because of a property in Gilmanton owned by Doug Towle, a well known and renowned old home restoration expert.
Doug has created a true masterpiece collection of early American architecture on a 12 acre parcel of land with amazing views on top of Frisky Hill on Rt 107 south of the Gilmanton Corners. The property, known as the Farley House, is a 1665 Pilgrim era garrison home originally built in Billerica, Mass. It was carefully dismantled, stored, and painstakingly reconstructed on this site. An early 1800s "El" section from Deerfield was attached to create a kitchen area along with a wonderful three car carriage house. Other buildings include a late 1700s barn from Deerfield, a water tower from the late 1800s from Brentwood, a 1700s corn crib from Epsom, and a one room school house from Gilmanton. The real marvel of this property is that everything in this home is original and correct for its period and is seamlessly blended with all the desired modern conveniences making this a uniquely livable, comfortable, and completely manageable residence. The property is currently in the market for $1.495 million, which is a fraction of its cost.
This landmark property has received national exposure on real estate related blogs on Yahoo, Houzz, and HGTV's Front Door and it caught the attention of the powers to be at Pottery Barn. They were completely enthralled and captivated by its beauty. After a preliminary location scout of the Lakes Region in February, a green light was given for the product shoot. A crew of fifteen photographers, set designers, stagers, and even special effects snow makers arrived along with Pottery Barn's art director Christopher Winn. With them they brought two truckloads of new exterior Christmas decorations and product to be featured in the catalog. They also brought a fair dose of Hollywood magic.
With a holiday twinkle in his eye, Christopher directed what seemed to be a chaotic flurry of activity similar to St Nick's preparation for his evening sleigh ride. It quickly became apparent, that, just like Santa's yearly production, the folks at Pottery Barn had done this many, many times before. Product was unloaded, sorted, and organized. Christmas trees were set up, expertly decorated, un-decorated, moved and re-decorated, wreaths were hung, lights were strung, and reindeer pranced on the snow covered lawn. And where there wasn't snow, snow was relocated to produce mid-winter scenes. A crane was on site for three days to decorate high atop the barn...you need snow up there, too!
What quickly became very clear was the photographic expertise and work done to achieve that perfect shot. This was definitely not just an amateur point and click deal. Expert care went into the composition, lighting, angle, and exposure of every single photo. It was not uncommon to wait for hours for just the right light. The right tone. Subtle differences could be huge. Photos were critically reviewed, tweaked, and approved on their computer (there's no re-shooting when they get back to California.) After four days at the Farley House, the crew moved to the Canterbury Shaker Village for some additional exterior photos of product on their amazing buildings.
You can see a behind the scenes video of this photo shoot at Pottery Barn's Facebook Page or at www.lakesregionhome.com.
As of November 1, 2014 there were 1,137 residential homes on the market in the communities covered by this real estate market report. The average asking price was $601,877 with a median price point of $269,000. That means there were 568 homes available below $269,000. That's a lot of affordable housing! The current inventory level represents a 13.5 month supply of homes on the market.
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 11/1/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.
Last Updated on Friday, 07 November 2014 10:20
Nov. 4 was a national vote of no confidence in Barack Obama.
Had a British prime minister received a vote like this, he would have resigned by now.
The one issue on which all Republicans agreed, and all ran, was the rejection of Obama. And by fleeing from him, some even refusing to admit they voted for him, Democrats, too, were conceding that this election was about Obama, and that they were not to blame for his failures.
Yet, though this was a referendum on Obama and his policies, and though both were repudiated, some pundits are claiming that America voted for an "end to gridlock" and a new era of compromise and conciliation.
How so? If the American people were truly saying that, why did they vote to turn the Senate over to Mitch McConnell? Why did they vote to send more Republicans to strengthen the hand of John Boehner and those in the House who had "shut down" the government?
Did America vote for the GOP to go back to Washington and work with Obama? Or did America reward the GOP for promising to return and continue to oppose Obama's policies?
Is the answer not obvious?
What Republicans are hearing now is the siren song of a Beltway elite that just got its clock cleaned, an elite that revels in Republican defeats, but is ever at hand to give guidance and counsel to Republicans when they win.
And that counsel is always the same: Time to put the acrimony behind us. Time to reach out and take the extended hand of the defeated. Time come together to end gridlock and move forward. And invariably this means move in the same old direction, if a bit more slowly.
Consider several areas where the kumbaya temptation is strongest.
The first is the rising clamor from corporate America for the newly empowered Republicans to grant Obama fast track authority and support his Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
Fast track would be a unilateral surrender of Congressional authority, yielding all power to amend trade treaties to Obama, and leaving Congress with a yes or no vote on whatever treaty he brings home.
This would be a Republican ratification of the policies of Bush I and II that produced $10 trillion in trade deficits, hollowed out our manufacturing base, and sent abroad the jobs of millions of Reagan Democrats.
Globalization carpet-bombed Middle America and killed the Nixon-Reagan coalition that used to give the GOP 49-state landslides.
Why would Republicans return to that Bush-Clinton-Obama policy that ended the economic independence of Eisenhower's America?
The party should re-embrace economic patriotism, stand up to Japanese protectionists and Chinese currency manipulators, and put American workers first, ahead of corporate outsourcers.
Immigration reform is a second area where the GOP is being urged, even by some of its own, to compromise.
In return for Obama agreeing to improve border security, Republicans will be asked to go along with amnesty for millions here illegally.
But did any Republican run on amnesty? Is the nation demanding amnesty? If not, then who is?
Answer: corporate America, Obama, La Raza and the editorial pages of newspapers that routinely brand Republicans as xenophobic bigots.
Republicans should pass a stand-alone border-security bill, and then dare Senate Democrats to filibuster it and dare the president to veto it.
If Obama declares an executive amnesty for five million illegals, as he threatens, he can credibly be charged will defying the manifest will of the nation and usurping Congressional power. The GOP would then be within its rights to declare all-out political warfare.
Let voters decide in 2016 whether invaders should be rewarded with paths to citizenship or whether presidents should be duty-bound to defend the border.
A third temptation will be Obama's request for Congress to formally authorize the war he has begun in Syria and Iraq. If the GOP signs on, the party will own that war going into 2016, as it owned the Iraq war going into 2006, when it lost both houses of Congress.
That the Islamic State is brutal, barbaric and anti-American is undeniable. But its occupation of northern Syria and western Iraq is the problem primarily of Syria and Iraq, and their neighbors in Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Kurdistan, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
This is, first and foremost, their war, not ours.
As Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno said last week, "The long-term war against (the Islamic State) needs to be fought by the indigenous capability there. It needs to be fought by Iraqis. It needs to be fought by Syrians. It needs to be fought by other Arabs, because it's their country and they need to win that back."
Before succumbing to the kumbaya temptation, Republicans should ask themselves not how to find common ground with Barack, but how to get America out of this Slough of Despond.
And anyone who thinks last Tuesday was a call to compromise with Obama has either an ax to grind or a serious hearing problem.
(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
The Republican takeover of the Senate majority really shouldn't matter much to progressives. Even when Democrats have the majority, precious little gets done in a body that lets a minority of members obstruct.
But never mind. A modern, future-oriented agenda has been advancing on the state level — as progressive governors rush into the vacuum of inaction left by Washington. And its supporters are not just Democrats but also independents and Republicans who respect mainstream science and regard the working poor as something more than cheap labor.
Thus, we see victories for universal health coverage, higher minimum wages, the fight against global warming, slowing the war on drugs, and gay marriage. And with little thanks to Capitol Hill.
Massachusetts has run a universal health care system for about eight years. Its plan was based on a conservative blueprint pushed through by a Republican governor, but when it surfaced as the model for the Affordable Care Act, the right disowned it.
Two important points: Massachusetts showed it could guarantee coverage while maintaining one of the nation's strongest economies. And even without Obamacare, other states would have followed its example.
Obamacare's biggest flaw is its complexity, largely the result of expensive giveaways to the medical industry. But now another progressive state, Vermont, is seeking a waiver to address that flaw with a modified single-payer plan. If Vermont's approach cuts the state's medical spending by 25 percent without hurting quality of care as a Harvard study predicts, other states will do likewise.
Cap and trade reduces emissions of planet-warming gases by creating a market for them. It was another conservative idea, but when Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency proposed such a system, the Republican Congress turned on it.
California shrugged and created its own. At least 10 states have since adopted their own cap-and-trade programs.
Sacramento has long been the capital of American environmental policy. In 2004, California set fuel economy standards higher than Washington's. Soon other states embraced them, and before you knew it, 40 percent of the U.S. car market was under the California rules.
That left automakers with two choices: Build all cars to the tighter specifications or challenge California's right to set them. They decided to challenge, running to the George W. Bush administration for relief, which they got.
But in 2008, California and 14 other states successfully sued the EPA for turning down California's request to set stricter emissions. Now when Washington talks about changing the fuel economy standards, the automakers want California at the table.
Hostility toward modern science and unwillingness to pay for it have slowed funding for U.S. research, but not in future-minded states. When Bush sharply restricted federal support of embryonic stem cell research on religious grounds, Californians voted to spend $3 billion of their own money on it. Connecticut and others responded with their programs, serving humankind and also building up cutting-edge industries employing thousands of their residents.
As Washington state and Colorado allow the sale of recreational marijuana, other states are sure to follow, as Oregon just did. The tax money will be welcome, of course, and so will be the savings from not having to arrest and imprison millions of nonviolent drug users.
Washington state has also led the charge for raising the minimum wage. That campaign is now spreading to other states. Lawmakers in D.C., meanwhile, remain dedicated to defending the depressed federal minimum.
Gay marriage. In the beginning, there was Massachusetts. Massachusetts proved to the rest of the country that the sky did not fall as a result of legal same-sex marriage. Now it's widespread.
Progressives, ask yourselves, "What good is flowing from Washington these days?" Almost nothing at all is flowing from Washington, so go around it and do your thing.
(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, 05 November 2014 08:23
When the president of this country tells us that the individual or individuals "did not build that business", we initially wonder who would have recommended that he make such an inane statement. We then hear Massachusetts Senator Warren repeatedly using similar words in an attempt to diminish the achievements of our nation's businesses as she attempts to convince people that more government control is the answer to our nation's problems. All we can do is shudder at the prospect that such a person is actually being touted as a presidential candidate. And, a few days ago, we watched and listened as the woman who would be queen, Hillary Clinton, blurted out the same words in a somewhat stumbling fashion. Three prominent leaders of the Democrat party all mouthing words that would bring a smile to Vladimir Lenin's face as he lay in his glass enclosed tomb in the Kremlin.
"You didn't build that" can no longer be considered as just left wing prattle from those who are simply unwilling to honestly acknowledge business's contribution in making ours the most developed, wealthy, innovative, charitable, and powerful nation in the world. You didn't build that becomes the front line strategy of the Democrat party . . . demonizing businesses and blaming them for all the ills that have been created by a government run amok. Divide and conquer appears to be the new Democrat party theme.
Capitalism rewards creativity and inventiveness and productivity. It is built on free and open competition in filling the many "market needs" of the general public. Those who have been able to successfully fill a market need have been rewarded with a demand for their products. Those demands have allowed individuals/companies to become profitable, to grow, and to provide more and more jobs. In large part, it is that free enterprise capitalism that has allowed this country to flourish. For any politician to try to demean or diminish business's contributions to this country is not only foul, it is a lie.
Henry Ford became successful because he filled a market need, and he found a way through his assembly line process to deliver his product better and cheaper than could his competition. He also created the eight hour work day and he initiated the concept of "let the worker buy what he can produce", and paid a daily wage that would allow that to happen. His concepts and his inventiveness changed our country for the better . . . for both the owners and the employees.
Thomas Edison filled a market need as he took us from gas lamps to electric lights. He changed the world. Bell Labs scientists John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley created the transistor which eliminated the need for vacuum tubes and ushered in the computer and cell phone revolutions by doing so. They changed the world. Two college drop-outs, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, founded the Microsoft Corporation and created MS-DOS, the operating system that computer giant IBM corporation purchased the right-to-use. Their inventiveness and creativity ushered in the personal computer industry . . . they changed the world. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, started with but a single store in rural Arkansas, but with a desire to fill a market need for the masses by providing quality products and reasonable prices. He was able to expand in highly competitive environments because he understood the desires of the customers . . . and he delivered. From that single store, Sam Walton's company is now the largest corporation in the world, serving people across the globe. He changed the world.
Think for a moment of not only the contributions of those cited above to our way of life, think of the jobs-jobs-jobs that now exist because of their contributions. Then take a moment and think about the cost of your local government . . . the maintenance of all public property, buildings, roads, parks, etc. Add to that the cost of education, salaries and wages for teachers, books and supplies, audio visual equipment, staff, custodial services, busing cafeteria, etc. Add, too, the cost of maintaining a judicial system, police and fire services, municipal staff, etc. As you think about those costs, ask yourself who pays for them. Of course the answer is you. And where did you get the money to pay those taxes? From your job or from the retirement you built while you were on the job. You see, every penny that the government spends, at the city/town, state, and federal level, has its origins in some business enterprise.
Then take a moment and consider the money spent at the state level. The state didn't "make" that money . . . you did! And that money you paid had its origins in some business enterprise.
Take another moment (actually it may take a very, very long moment) and think about the Federal government and all that it spends. Every dollar spent on our military, our Federal prison system, every bloated and unaccountable bureaucratic department that has never met the goals for which they were established, the costs of maintaining all Federal lands and properties, the cost of our Judicial, Executive, and Legislative departments and all their support staffs, all those cost that exceed three trillion dollars a year were paid for by you. And that money you paid had its origins in some business enterprise.
Please, reject the strategy that's built on a lie.
(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00