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Pat Buchanan - Let Obama play the Iran hand

When, after the massacres at Newtown and the Washington Navy Yard, Republicans refused to outlaw the AR-15 rifle or require background checks for gun purchasers, we were told the party had committed suicide by defying 90 percent of the nation.

When Republicans rejected amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, we were told the GOP had just forfeited its future.

When House Republicans refused to fund Obamacare, the government was shut down and the Tea Party was blamed, word went forth: The GOP has destroyed its brand. Republicans face a wipeout in 2014. It will take a generation to remove this mark of Cain.

Eight weeks later, Obama's approval is below 40 percent. Most Americans find him untrustworthy. And the GOP is favored to hold the seats it has in the House while making gains in the Senate.

For this reversal of fortunes, Republicans can thank the rollout of Obamacare — the website that does not work, the revelation that, contrary to Obama's promise, millions are losing health care plans that they liked, and the reports of soaring premiums and sinking benefits.

Democrats, however, might take comfort in the old maxim: If you don't like the weather here, just wait a while. For, egged on by Bibi Netanyahu and the Israeli Lobby AIPAC, the neocons are anticipating the return of Congress to start work on new sanctions on Iran. Should they succeed, they just might abort the Geneva talks or even torpedo the six-month deal with Iran.

While shaking a fist in the face of the Ayatollah will rally the Republican base, it does not appear to be a formula for winning the nation. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll from Tuesday, by 44-22 Americans approve of the deal NATO, Russia and China cut with Tehran to freeze its nuclear program. While two-thirds do not trust Iran when it says its program is not designed to build nuclear weapons, fully 65 percent believe "the United States should not become involved in any military action in the Middle East unless America is directly threatened." Only 21 percent disagree.

This is the nation that rose up last summer and told Obama it did not want to get involved in Syria's civil war, and told Congress to deny Obama the authority to order air strikes — red line or no red line.

Even if the Iran deal collapses, 80 percent of Americans would favor a return to the sanctions regime and negotiations. Only 20 percent would support military action against Iran.
In summary, while Americans do not trust Iran, they do not want war with Iran. They want to test Iran. On this issue, Obama is in sync with his countrymen.

Why, looking at these numbers, would Republicans return to Washington with a full-metal-jacket ,"axis-of-evil" attitude, with John McCain becoming again the face of the party?

Why would Republicans return to Washington and throw away the winning hand that is Obamacare? It is ravaging the president's reputation for competence and his credibility, and calling into question the core philosophy of the Democratic Party — that Big Government is America's salvation.

Why would Republicans return to the bellicosity that cost the party both Houses in 2006 and the White House in 2008?

That 20 percent of the nation which favors war with Iran, in the event of a deal collapse or breakdown in the talks, is already in the GOP corral. If Republicans seek to broaden their base, why abandon Obamacare, where a majority agrees with them, for an issue, renewed hostility to Iran, where a majority disagrees? Would it not be playing into Obama's hand to allow him to assume the role of statesman, who, with "all options on the table," is willing to negotiate with an enemy rather than take us to war with him? Did not Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan all go this same route?

If Bibi, AIPAC, the neocons and their congressional allies should sabotage the negotiations or scuttle the existing or future deal with Iran, maneuvering us into a another war in the Middle East that America does not want, how do they think this will sit with the voters in 2016? If Iran is deceiving us and is hell-bent on breaking out of this deal and making a dash to a bomb, we will know about it months if not years before Iran ever tests a device, let alone builds a bomb, miniaturizes it and marries it to a delivery system. We would have more than enough notice to abort any test and neutralize Iran's nuclear program. And the nation would unite behind action, were it seen that Iran had lied to us to buy time to build and test a bomb.

But if the Republican Party leads Congress in imposing new sanctions, and the Iranians walk out, and the NATO-Russia-China coalition breaks up, and a chance for peace in the Persian Gulf seems to have been thrown away, the GOP will pay the price. And rightly so.

(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, 28 November 2013 01:27

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Search for new Gilford police chief starts with call for volunteers to serve on committee

GILFORD — Selectmen are asking for volunteer residents to serve on a committee to help select the next town police chief.

The search committee will be tasked with reviewing applications, selecting candidates for interviews and making recommendations on finalists for a process that will commence in January of 2014.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn said yesterday that the vast majority of the decisions, discussions, and interviews made by panelists will be in non-public sessions under the provisions of RSA 91-A:3, or the N.H. Right-to-Know law.

The need for a full-time permanent police chief was triggered by last week's resignation of former Chief Kevin Keenan.

Keenan was placed on a paid administrative leave on August 29 and in the weeks immediately following his leave, Lt. James Leach has been acting chief. Lt. Kris Kelley has been acting deputy chief.

The Police Department employs 17 full-time sworn officers and two part-time officers. Both the selectmen and the Budget Committee have given tacit approval for an 18th uniformed officer to be added to the ranks.

As well as sworn officers there about of six full-time civilian staff and dispatchers. The department does all of its own dispatching.

Selectmen have also given the nod to a $1.2 million addition to the existing police station at Town Hall, although the Budget Committee has yet to vote on it. There is an presentation to the Budget Committee by the architect on January 9 at 6 p.m.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 02:14

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Belmont chief will wait a year to ask for new fire truck

BELMONT — Fire Chief Dave Parenti said Monday the department won't be asking selectmen for the money to buy a fire truck at the 2014 Town Meeting.

He also said, and Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin confirmed, that selectmen agreed with Parenti at their meeting on November 18 that the town wouldn't refurbish Engine 2 — the oldest attack engine in the department's fleet.

Selectmen made their recommendations after two separate viability assessments done within the past month on the 1997 Pierce ES460 is that it is not in the best financial interests of the town to refurbish it.

The work would have have cost the town as much as $200,000.

Parenti said the Fire Department will be able to keep Engine 2 — which is its third response engine as well as the one that moves up to second when one of the other two is out of service or at a call — on the road and working using money from the regular annual maintenance budget.

He said some issues like spots of rust that have eaten through the body as well as some critical exhaust problems will be repaired. He said the brakes are "okay" for right now.

Parenti said the critical repairs will be done in part this year but mainly from the maintenance line for 2014.

He said when the capital improvement budget talks begin in late summer of 2014, he will recommend purchasing a new fire engine at that time.

The earliest he said a warrant article could go to voters is 2015 and there is about nine months of time needed to build a fire engine should voters approve it, meaning the earliest the department could have a new engine in service would be late 2015 or early 2016.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 02:08

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Kevin Halligan picked to be grand marshall of annual Laconia Holiday Parade on Saturday

LACONIA — Husband, father, athlete, coach, farmer and entrepreneur, Kevin Haligan will join the ranks of those honored to lead the Laconia Downtown Holiday Parade this Saturday, Nov. 30 beginning at 11 a.m.
Halligan is a friendly bear of a man who seems like he could throw a great party and then be the life of it. He is well known to many in Laconia ("I think I know everybody — well, 80 percent of the town") as the owner-operator of Local Eatery in Veterans Square and the Laconia Village Bakery on Main St., and also for coaching Laconia Youth Basketball.
Halligan is still unsure of his mode of parade transport. "I might walk, use an antique car, ride a sleigh — but I'd love to drive a beefed-up go-kart, since I want to get one anyway." Whatever way he goes, he will be accompanied by his wife Gillian and their four children: daughters Sierra (age 9), Devyn (8), Savanah (3), and son Jamison (1).
"They don't exactly know what grand marshal means. But I told them we'd be up at the front of it, and they're excited. My girls were in the parade with Lakes Region Gymnastics two years ago, and they were supposed to be in it again this year with the Girl Scouts. But now they have to ride with dad!" Kevin himself has often watched the parade but never before been in it. "I' m just not a public figure. But it's exciting, cool. It'll be fun."
Halligan played football at Laconia High School — linebacker and tight end — and the team he captained at LHS won the 1999 championship. He also coached football at Gilford High.
The Local Eatery will be part of the Holiday Parade happenings. From eight to noon on Parade Day, he'll be serving a Farm Breakfast. It's also a fundraiser to provide vouchers to the disadvantaged to buy local.
''They need more funding for the program. And I want to do that each month so people can have a good breakfast" says Halligan.
The parade will feature high school bands, floats and marchers. It starts out at Wyatt Park in the South End and will head up through the city's downtown area to Veterans Square. All downtown businesses will be open throughout the day.

The traditional lighting of the city's tree in Veterans Park will follow the parade.
The parade is sponsored by the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, the Laconia Main Street Initiative, the Bank of New Hampshire, Franklin Savings Bank, the Soda Shoppe and The Laconia Daily Sun.

Kevin Halligan serves up food at the New Hampshire Coffee Festival which was held in downtown Laconia in October. He will be grand marshal of this year's holiday parade. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 02:02

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