Michael Barone - Is America ready for a disruptive president?

Disruptive. That's a good word to describe Donald Trump's presidential candidacy, and to describe the sometimes-ramshackle Republican National Convention his campaign more or less superintended in Cleveland this past week.

Apple disrupted the music industry; Uber disrupted the taxi cartels; Amazon disrupted the mega-bookstores. Global competition has been disrupting American manufacturing for decades. The inundation of low-skill immigrants unintentionally produced by the 1965 immigration act has disrupted many communities and big metro areas.

Over history, America has mostly been built by disruption. Certainly the Loyalists in the American Revolution thought so. So did the farmers who cheered for William Jennings Bryan's free silver as industrialization was disrupting the farm economy.

The New Deal was disruptive. So was World War II. As Yuval Levin points out in his book "The Fractured Republic," both the political left and political right see the two post-WW2 decades as normal, with high family formation, low crime, strong faith in institutions and relatively smooth economic growth.

But that period was there exception, not the rule. Postwar America was massively disrupted by the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations, high crime, urban riots and antiwar protests.

That's the point in time when Donald Trump began using his father's political connections to move his Brooklyn/Queens real estate business to Manhattan and beyond. And to stamp his last name on casinos, hotels and eventually a reality TV show.

When Trump came down the escalator at Trump Tower 13 months ago and announced his candidacy, almost no commentator took his chances seriously — except the Dilbert cartoonist, Scott Adams.

The other 16 Republicans largely represented a party consensus: conservative on cultural issues; pro tax cuts, backing military interventions and free trade. Trump was different: perfunctory on cultural issues; against the Iraq War; corrosively critical of trade agreements and illegal immigration.

Trump's victory in the Republican race owes much to $2 billion or so of free media coverage and to his 16 rivals' unwillingness to risk attacks that might recoil against them. His dystopian picture of America and the world spinning out of control gained credibility after terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, Orlando and Nice, and even more so after recent mass murder of police officers. This was the centerpiece of his acceptance speech in Cleveland.

Trump didn't get a majority till he got home to New York April 19, but by May 4 all his rivals withdrew.

It's widely appreciated that Trump appealed especially to non-college-graduates and older voters. There's also an ethnic angle. Groups with high degrees of social connectedness and respect for order — Mormons, Dutch- and German-Americans — were largely immune from his appeal. People without such ties, whom he called Thursday night "people who work hard but no longer have a voice," were drawn to him.

Groups that respond positively to raucous disruptive appeals rallied to Trump: Scots-Irish along the Appalachian spine from western Pennsylvania to northern Alabama; and Italian-Americans, half of whom live with 100 miles of New York City. If you draw a map of counties where Trump topped 50 percent by May 4, the great bulk of them are along that diagonal and within that circle.

For 20 years American elections have been battles between two roughly equal-sized armies in a culture war, with results differing little year to year. It's easy to predict how 40 states will vote, much harder to predict who will win the election.

Donald Trump may well disrupt this pattern, too. Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes seem within his range, as well as Ohio's 16 and Florida's 29 — which together would have made Mitt Romney president. Trump seems less competitive in states with younger, more educated populations, such as Colorado (9) and Virginia (13). Heavily German-American Wisconsin (10) seems hostile; low-social-connectedness Nevada (6) quite friendly.

It's not clear that this disruptive convention will help him. Trump's managers have disrupted the traditions in place for 30 years. These rules had been: only supporters speak, sessions end promptly at 11 p.m., don't visibly crush dissent, vet speeches carefully. Monday saw a rules rebellion squashed. Tuesday it was controversy over a bit of anodyne plagiarism. Wednesday it was Ted Cruz's ringing non-endorsement, booed off the stage.

But there's another way of looking at a campaign that has not gone conventional wisdom's way. Disorder and disarray work against the party in power. Terrorist attacks and police shootings are not what America thought it'd get in the Obama years.

As tech billionaire Peter Thiel argued Thursday, disruption is a good thing when old ways — and especially government — aren't working well.

(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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Jim Hightower - What's next for the Sanders revolution?

As we approach the upcoming Democratic convention, let's look back at the race ... and forward to the future.

The mainstream media tried to reduce the two Democratic campaigns as a Hillary v. Bernie war. The reality, though, is that most Sanders backers were enthusiastic precisely because his campaign's purpose was far bigger than the usual personality politics. Supporters were signing up for a revolution against corporate rule.

To achieve this, we have to keep mobilizing for a truly democratic movement, and this is much harder than one presidential run. Sanders and close advisors are strategizing to help grow the grassroots rebellion — from school boards to Congress. This new coordinating effort will build on the framework and momentum of the campaign.

Outside of Sanders' circle, a multitude of Bernie supporters are not waiting on a smoke signal from headquarters. With the primaries over and the convention starting, a mushrooming, percolate-up creativity has already burst into new organizing projects that are advancing this energized populist movement. Here are just two examples:

The People's Summit. In the world of politics-as-usual, a losing candidate's supporters just drift away, but All-Things-Sanders tend to be unusual. So, on June 17, just three days after the final Democratic primary, some 3,000 Berniecrats from all across America gathered in a Chicago convention center to "Keep the Bern Alive." Rather than being morose or cynical about Sanders not winning the nomination, attendees were exuberant about the future and the movement that he galvanized. This extraordinary, uplifting event was a combination of tent revival and workshops for serious strategizing and organizing, and was rightly labeled a "Festival of Joyous Rebellion." The two-day summit was convened by National Nurses United (a scrappy, aggressively progressive union) and co-sponsored by more than 50 diverse and effective democracy-building groups.

This meeting had a minimum of blah-blah and a maximum of planning on how to put experienced, locally-based organizers and volunteers directly into growing the movement — starting now. These ever-larger and broader local coalitions will: (1) be rooted in principled, anti-corporate politics; (2) launch direct grassroots initiatives and actions on a range of populist issues; (3) recruit, train, and elect thousands of movement candidates to school boards, city councils, state legislatures, and other offices; (4) deepen the relationships and sense of shared purpose in this revolutionary democratic movement. And (5) — Make it fun — putting the "party" back in politics. www.thepeoplessummit.org

Brand New Congress. What if progressive organizers and volunteers joined forces to run a nationwide campaign to replace today's corporate-owned congress — all at once? Yes, one sweeping campaign to oust all incumbents of either party who owe their jobs to the Big Money powers. Those congress critters, feeling snug in their gerrymandered rabbit holes, could be outed by hundreds of coordinated, Brand New Congress campaigns running simultaneously in every state. Each local campaign would back candidates publicly pledged to fight for an agenda of economic, social, environmental, and political justice.

Impossible? Not in the minds of Zach Exley, Becky Bond and other former Sanders staffers who conceived and implemented this campaign's successful grassroots model that Exley calls "distributed organizing." They trained and empowered tens of thousands of far-flung volunteers to be autonomous organizers, digitally linked into a nationwide network, eliminating the need and cost of a rigid hierarchy of "leaders" to boss volunteers, recognizing instead that volunteers themselves are leaders — in churches, clubs, workplaces, community groups, etc. Now they're applying this model to Brand New Congress that will carry the message of authentic populism and a shared agenda of populist policy proposals.

BNC is to be a true bi-partisan effort, running Dems in blue districts, Repubs in solid red ones, and independents whereever that makes sense. But wait — how can BNC get Republican candidates to run on progressive values? By recognizing that true populism is neither a right or left theory, but a top vs. bottom reality that even middle-class and lower-income Republicans can relate to. (Note: In Vermont, which often elects Republican governors, Sanders won 71 percent of the vote in his last Senate race). Indeed, outside of the right-wing Congress, many rank-and-file Republicans would support stopping global trade scams and crony-capitalism corruption, as well as assuring health care for all, recognizing climate change, and standing up to bigotry.

Bernie has urged his supporters to keep pushing for their democratic ideals. "Real change never takes place from the top down. It always occurs from the bottom on up — when tens of millions of people say 'enough is enough' and become engaged in the fight for justice. That's what the political revolution we helped start is all about. That's why the political revolution must continue."

(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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Buying 'ugly houses' and the Lakes Region sales report


There were 132 single-family residential homes sold in June in the 12 Lakes Region communities covered by this report. The average sale price came in at $303,761 and the median price point was $217,250. That compares to 112 sales last June at an average price of $325,548.
That brings the total number of residential transactions for the first half of 2016 to 542, at an average sales price of $311,342, with a total sales volume of $168.7 million. That is up from the 417 posted in the first half of last year and the average price is up a bit as well from last years $309,625. The six-month total sales volume last year was $129.2 million. Even more impressive is the increase over the first half of 2014 when we had just 408 transactions at an average of $299,623. So things are looking pretty strong so far this year!

Home sales numbers increased in all price ranges except for properties below $100,000 where sales dropped from 61 for the first six months of 2015 to 52 transactions so far this year. The number of sales in the $100,000 to $199,999 range rose 52 percent from 129 transactions to 196. In the $200,000 to $299,999 bracket, sales increased 30 percent from 115 to 149 and in the $300,000 to $399,999 bracket they increased 59 percent from 37 to 59 sales. In the over $400,000 category, sales were up 15 percent from 75 to 86 year over year for the same period (85 percent of the sales over $400,000 were waterfront homes.)

I stumbled across a website called "We Buy Ugly Houses" somehow the other day. The site has a cute little cartoon caveman character on it who I guess represents an ugly person (I think) who might buy an ugly house? Apparently this company, which has franchises all across the country, buys ugly houses for cash. When they say ugly, they really mean a property that is distressed or that perhaps the owner is more distressed and wants to sell it quickly.

This company graciously offers to come in and buy your property at a reduced price, maybe at 60 percent of the real value (not likely the list price), and then turns around to sell it for a profit after perhaps sprucing it up. I suppose this might be a viable option for some sellers who don't want or don't have the money to fix their place up. But, the seller has got to have some pretty good equity in the property to be able to do this kind of thing and most don't.

You often will see little paper signs tacked to telephone poles that say "We Buy Houses for Cash" along with a number to call. It may not be the "We Buy Ugly Houses" people but the idea is the same. When you want to sell your house fast that means you are going to sell it at a reduced price.

Another website touted: "If you have had your house listed with a Realtor for months without any results, or if you are having a hard time selling the house yourself and are starting to get frustrated, let one of our investors make an offer that you can't refuse. We are always ready to buy houses quickly." The translation here is "We are always ready to buy houses cheaply."

There are even some real estate agents that tout that they will buy your house if they can't sell it in 30 days. I think that is pretty big conflict of interest, if you stop and think about it!

The long and the short of it is that time equals money. If you price any home too high, then it will take longer to sell than pricing the same home at a lower number. Underprice it and it will likely sell very quickly. It's so simple even a caveman can do it. It is finding that perfect number between the high and low point that can be a little harder.


Pl​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 7/19/16. ​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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Blueberries and The Silent People of Finland

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The Silent People of Finland outside of Suomussalmi, Finland

What do wild blueberries and The Silent People of Finland have in common?
A hike in the Belknap Range
By Gordon DuBois

Anyone for blueberry pie, blueberry jam, blueberry cobbler? The wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) season is upon us and picking is in full swing. If you are a wild blueberry aficionado better head to the barrens before the fruits have vanished from the bushes. This week, with my friends Karen and Tom Barker, along with Reuben, I headed to the Belknap Range where the wild blueberries grow in abundance. On the side of South Straightback Mountain we found an incredible field of blueberries just dripping off their slender stems. In an hour we filled our pails and mouths with hundreds of the beautiful, blue, iconic fruit of Northern New England.

Earlier in the summer (see the article "Hiking Into the Eastern Belknap Range," 7/8/16) I had hiked to the summit of South Straightback mountain via the Jesus Valley Road and the Straightback Mountain Trail. There I encountered field upon field of blueberry blossoms. I knew that in a few weeks the mountainside would be covered with the gorgeous blue fruit. So this week I put out a notice to friends who would be interested in harvesting a crop of berries along with hiking some of the best terrain in the Lakes Region. Tom and Karen jumped at the proposition of hiking a section of trails and picking blueberries along the way.

On a very hot and humid day, we set out for the Jesus Valley Road trail, just off Route 11 to begin our trek up Straightback Mountain via the Blueberry Meadow Trail. As we approached the ridge running over to Mt. Major, we beheld a beautiful sight: an Elysian Field of blueberries. It was like magic when we spotted the endless meadow of low bush berries full of ripened fruit. It seemed as though a magnet just sucked us into this meadow. Within an hour we had filled our buckets and our stomachs with this delicious fruit. Reuben laid beside me in this beautiful meadow filled with wildflowers and berries. A slight breeze was blowing that provided a welcome relief from the heat and humidity of the day. I felt as though I was laying in Elysium, the beautiful meadow referred to in Homer's Odyssey, the ultimate paradise where men lead an easier life than anywhere else in the world. I found my own Elysium where the berries hung like grapes from the vine, just waiting to be picked. If you have never tasted a wild low bush blueberry, then you have never lived. Forget those propagated high bush barriers or better yet, throw out those frozen berries from the grocery store and head to the hills with your bucket in hand to begin picking.

As we filled our canisters with berries, the wind began to pick up and the skies turned cloudy. The weather report for the day predicted severe storms that would be moving in by the afternoon. We decided to pull stakes and continue on our hike along the Belknap Range Trail, hoping to be off the mountain before the storm hit. As we hiked the trail at a brisk pace we couldn't resist the temptation to stop and scoop up a handful of berries as they dangled from bushes along the trail. We even had a contest to see who could grab the most berries in one swipe. I think Karen won with nine! As we neared Mt. Anna we decided to head down the Precipice Trail into the valley below.

We wound our way along the ridge of Straightback, traversing sheer cliffs that provided exceptional views to Piper and Hill Pond below. Upon reaching the Cascade Brook waterfalls we descended carefully. Reuben took advantage of the small pools of crystal clear, ice-cold water that were dammed up behind blocks of granite. I'm sure it was a welcome relief for him in the sweltering heat of the day. Karen, Tom and Reuben zipped down the rock strewn cliff as I stumbled downward on my two metal replacement knees. When we arrived at the base of the cascades, with little water flowing due to the recent drought, we followed the trail out to the Old Stage Road, or at least we thought.

We followed this woods road, which also serves as a snowmobile trail, for about a mile until we came to a housing development on a lake. We were confused. We thought this path would take us back to the Jesus Valley Road. Instead, we were wandering aimlessly around looking for a clear way back to where we started our trek. Tom took out his trusty compass and Karen her outdated map. They came to the conclusion that we were headed in the wrong direction. However, Reuben being the smart dog that he is, began leading us along a trail that led to an open field filled with what we thought were scarecrows. There were 20 to 30 of these fixtures planted in an open area in the middle of nowhere – at least this is what we thought. It was surrealistic. It was as though we had entered the twilight zone, with these stick creatures eyeing us. After my initial shock I noticed a sign on a post that read, "The Silent People of Finland." Apparently this strange outcrop of stick figures is a replica of an artwork located in the small town of Suomussalmi, Finland, and created by the Finnish artist Reijo Kela. This particular reproduction must have been created by a Finn who lives in the area.

According to the sign, "No one knows the artist's idea behind the Silent People. He feels the viewer should come to their own conclusion. Some (people) view it as a state of psychological withdrawal, some as forgotten people." Others reflect that it could be a symbolic gesture of the thousands of Finnish soldiers who died in the Finnish-Russian war of 1939-40. Whatever the meaning, it is a very eerie, yet powerful work of art.

After spending a few moments contemplating the display, we continued on our journey, hoping to find the Old Stage Road and the way back to our waiting vehicles. After walking for some time on a snowmobile trail, we finally found, to our surprise, that we were on the Old Stage Road and would soon be back at the Jesus Valley Road trail head. When we did reach the parking area, we were relieved to know we didn't have to spend the night in the woods or have to call the Alton Fire Department for a rescue. We could drive home to the comfort and safety of our own homes. What a day it was, beginning with the Idyllic Elysian Fields of blueberries and ending with the Silent People of Finland, representing the tragedy of war. Hiking the Belknap Range never lets me down.

If anyone knows the story behind the Silent People of Finland that stands in the Gilmanton, Alton, area please contact Gordon DuBois at the email address below.

Gordon has hiked extensively in Northern New England and the Adirondacks of New York State. In 2011 he completed the Appalachian Trail (2,285 miles). He has also hiked the Long Trail in Vermont, The International AT in Quebec, Canada, Cohos Trail in northern New Hampshire and the John Muir Trail in California. Gordon has summited the New Hampshire Hundred Highest peaks, and the New England Hundred Highest in winter. He spends much of his time hiking locally and in the White Mountains with his dog Reuben and especially enjoys hiking in the Lakes Region due to the proximity to his home in New Hampton. He is also a trail maintainer for the BRATTS (Belknap Range Trail Tenders) and can be found often exploring the many hiking trails in the area. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Karen picking blueberries

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Pat Buchanan - Is party over for Bushism?

Neither George W. Bush, the Republican Party nominee in 2000 and 2004, nor Jeb, the dethroned Prince of Wales, will be in Cleveland. Nor will John McCain or Mitt Romney, the last two nominees.

These former leaders would like it thought that high principle keeps them away from a GOP convention that would nominate Donald Trump. Petulance, however, must surely play a part. Bush Republicans feel unappreciated, and understandably so. For Trump's nomination represents not only a rejection of their legacy but a repudiation of much of post-Cold War party dogma.

America crossed a historic divide and entered a new era. Even should Trump lose, there is likely no going back.

Trump has attacked NAFTA, MFN for China and the South Korea trade deal as badly negotiated. But the problem lies not just in the treaties but in the economic philosophy upon which they were based. Free-trade globalism was a crucial component of the New World Order, whose creation George H. W. Bush called the new great goal of U.S. foreign policy at the United Nations in October of 1991.

Bush II and Jeb are also free-trade zealots.

But when the American people discovered that the export of their factories and jobs to low-wage countries, and sinking salaries, were the going price of globalism, they rebelled, turned to Trump, and voted for him to put America first again.

Does anyone think that if Trump loses, we are going back to Davos-Dubai ideology, and Barack Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership is our future? Even Hillary Clinton has gotten the message and dumped TPP.

Economic nationalism is the future. The only remaining question is how many trade deficits shall America endure, and how many defeats shall the Republican Party suffer, before it formally renounces the free-trade fanaticism that has held it in thrall.

The Bush idea of remaking America into a more ethnically, culturally, diverse nation through mass immigration, rooted in an egalitarian ideology, also appears to be yesterday's enthusiasm. With Republicans backing Trump's call, after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, for a moratorium on Muslim immigration, and the massacres in Paris, Nice and the Pulse Club in Orlando, Florida, diversity seems to be less celebrated.

Here, the Europeans are ahead of us. Border posts are being re-established across the continent. Behind the British decision to quit the EU, was resistance to more immigration from the Islamic world and Eastern Europe.

On Sunday, French President Francois Hollande was booed at memorial services in Nice for the hundreds massacred and maimed by a madman whose family roots were in the old French colony of Tunisia. Marine Le Pen of the National Front, who wants to halt immigration and quit the EU, is running far ahead of Hollande in the polls for next year's elections.

As for the foreign policies associated with the Bushes, the New World Order of Bush I and the crusade for global democracy of Bush II "to end tyranny in our world" are seen as utopian.

Most Republicans ask: How have all these interventions and wars improved our lives or our world?

With 6,000 U.S. dead, 40,000 wounded, and trillions of dollars sunk, the Taliban is not defeated in Afghanistan. Al-Qaida and ISIS have outposts in a dozen countries. Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen are bleeding and disintegrating. Turkey appears headed for an Islamist and dictatorial future. The Middle East appears consumed in flames.

Yet, despite Trump's renunciation of Bush war policies, and broad support to talk to Russia's Vladimir Putin, the neocons, who engineered many of the disasters in the Middle East, and their hawkish allies, seem to be getting their way for a new Cold War. They are cheering the deployment of four battalions of NATO troops to the Baltic states and Poland, calling for bringing Sweden and Finland into NATO, pushing for sending weapons to Ukraine, and urging a buildup on the Black Sea as well as the Baltic Sea. They want to scuttle the Iranian nuclear deal and have the U.S. Navy confront China to support the rival claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia to rocks and reefs in the South China Sea, some of which are under water at high tide.

Who represents the future of the GOP?

On trade and immigration, the returns are in. Should the GOP go back to globalism, amnesty or open borders, it will sunder itself and have no future. And if the party is perceived as offering America endless wars in the Middle East and constant confrontations with the great nuclear powers, Russia and China, over specks of land or islets having nothing to do with the vital interests of the United States, then it will see its anti-interventionist wing sheared off.

At issue in the battle between the Party of Bush and Party of Trump: Will we make America safe again, and great again? Or are globalism, amnesty, and endless interventions our future?

Do we put the world first, or America First?

(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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