Jim Hightower - Amazing what 47 cents can buy

Although most of us take it for granted, America's postal service is an amazing bargain. For only 47 cents, you can purchase A "Forever" postage stamp.

Buy one 47-cent stamp, and postal workers will deliver your envelope to any address in the country by plane, train, bus, boat, truck, car, bike, pushcart, mule, on-foot or all of the above. Stick it on a letter, document or other missive, and our phenomenal network of postal workers and letter carriers will deliver it within a few days right to the specific mailbox of your addressee in any of the approximately 43,000 zip codes covering every nook and cranny of this vast country. For 47 cents! Also, that "Forever" stamp from our public postal service means it's good for first-class delivery next year, next decade or forever — protecting you from future increases in stamp prices. What a deal!

But to really get your money's worth, mail something to someone in this zip code: 48222.

That's the only floating zip code in the U.S. It's a 45-foot mail boat that has been a registered U.S. Post Office since 1948. Named the J.W. Westcott II, this postal boat is the mail box for crew members working aboard the giant freighters hauling grain, iron ore and other commodities across the five great lakes. Except for loading at one port, then unloading hundreds of miles away, these long-haul merchant ships never stop, with crews stuck on board for weeks.

So the Westcott, based near Detroit, chugs out to deliver letters and packages as each of the freighters passes by. The skilled pilots of the mail boat maneuver it right up against a steep steel side of the moving freight vessels, keeping perfect pace with the big ships' speed.

Then, in a very low-tech (but highly-efficient) delivery technique, someone on the freighter lowers a bucket tied to a rope down to the Westcott. The mail boat pilot puts a bag of letters and packages addressed to people on that ship into the bucket, which is pulled back up, and then the little boat peels away from the freighter. Now that's service!

The official motto of the 48222 zip code is "mail by the pail." It's all part of our public Post Office's amazing commitment to deliver service to all — not just to the rich and the easy-to-reach.

But look out, for a deal-breaker looms over your post office. A cabal of corporate predators and Koch-headed ideologues have been scheming for years to take "public" out of this public agency and strip "service" out of the U.S. Postal Service. The most effective ploy of these price-gouging privatizers has been a diabolical Big Lie — a massive PR hoax to depict this essential public service as a hopeless money loser, sucking billions from taxpayers every year.

Unfortunately, our lazy media establishment keeps spreading their lie. Here's an August New York Times article falsely asserting that "the Postal Service has sunk deeper underwater — net losses for the second quarter of 2016 were $2 billion."

Bovine excrement! In fact, our Post Offices earned $1.3 billion in profit so far this year, making this year the fourth straight that it has operated in the black. The discrepancy stems from phony paper losses manufactured by corporate lobbyists and right-wing lawmakers who've insisted since 2006 that the Postal Service must prefund retiree health benefits for 75 years in the future. No other agency and no corporation operates under this absurd and totally unnecessary burden, which adds billions of dollars in fictional costs to the agency's balance sheet.

Here's another reality the sloppy corporate media ignores: Our postal network costs taxpayers zero, for we consumers finance its operations by purchasing those stamps and other services. It's time to put a Forever stamp on this public jewel.

(Author and columnist Jim Hightower has been labeled America's most popular populist. He lives in Texas.)

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Susan Estrich - Donald Trump is in a winnable race!

This should be a 10-point race, minimum. If this were an election governed by any of the rules of politics that all of us have been practicing and teaching and writing books about, this should be the biggest snoozer since 1984, when Germond and Witcover penned their aptly named "Wake Us When It's Over."

He picked a fight with the family of a dead Muslim soldier. He didn't just start a fight; he kept the thing going.

I'm not going through the list. Everyone has their own favorites, and that one is mine. His own advisers spent the summer tanking him to the press, painting him as undisciplined, in the hopes that he would get the message. With the sort of widespread leaking and on-the-record criticism Trump has had, we are looking at a candidate who should be on the verge of collapse, a party that should be worried about House and Senate seats and disaster in November.

But here's the great irony. Yes, the Republican Party is definitely concerned about the campaign's being guided by a popular right-wing website like Breitbart News. (I'm not saying inspired; I mean guided — but there I go again.) You can find plenty of worried Republicans.

Not everybody, though. Trump should be toast, 10 points down, minimum. He isn't.

What else can you say? The conventional rules produce the wrong answer. They are only right most of the time. This time, they are not.

Donald Trump is in a winnable race.

Hillary Clinton is in a losable race.

I supported Al Gore over George W. Bush. But I wasn't afraid of Bush. Certainly no one ever stopped me in the supermarket parking lot to ask me whether the Constitution expressly provided for civilian control of the military (not a nut, a smart shopper).

I wasn't afraid of Mitt Romney or John McCain or the first George Bush or Ronald Reagan. I didn't try to reassure myself by thinking things like, "So long as the Senate stays Democrat, he'll get nothing done." Fabulous.

With all the problems we are facing, the monumental list of dangers we are leaving our children to deal with, why not spend the next four years accomplishing nothing but opening new golf courses and having the ultimate reality show to pick, say, a new VP? You know what I mean. It's a bit scary.

I understand why people don't trust Clinton. When facing a crisis, she embodies the worst qualities of my profession. You can call it paranoia. We call it being careful: not giving up anything until you know the full picture; not giving up materials that might be twisted against you unless there is a fight to limit the range and the scope of the request; and being extremely careful about when and how you allow your client to be questioned. To a lawyer like Clinton, that is a prudent response. Ask anyone else, and they'll tell you it's a sure sign they're guilty. Political suicide.

Clinton needed to run the most transparent campaign ever, and instead she ran one that sets the standard for fine law firms.

Clinton, sitting alone at a table with millions of pages of documents, will win (politically speaking) any press conference. She won every time she went to the Hill. She wins every time she opens up. So why does she do it so rarely?

According to what I read, the campaign was on the verge of a new, open Clinton when she collapsed after not telling the press she was walking around with pneumonia, which had been diagnosed two days earlier. Because they had told the press nothing, Clinton's "dramatic" exit from the 9/11 commemoration activities became the screaming headline of the day. Only later did things tone down when it was explained that she had a routine, treatable case of the illness, but that she had insisted on attending that event instead of resting.

In politics, there are many advantages to being open and transparent, or at least looking like you are. Or as we used to say, you need to seem authentic. Trump excels at that, and why wouldn't he? He's made billions doing nothing.

(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.)

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Pat Buchanan - Last chance for the deplorables

Speaking to 1,000 of the overprivileged at an LGBT fundraiser, where the chairs ponied up $250,000 each and Barbra Streisand sang, Hillary Clinton gave New York's social liberals what they came to hear.

"You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?" smirked Clinton to cheers and laughter. "The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it." They are "irredeemable," but they are "not America."

This was no verbal slip. Clinton had invited the press in to cover the LGBT gala at Cipriani Wall Street where the cheap seats went for $1,200. And she had tried out her new lines earlier on Israeli TV:

"You can take Trump supporters and put them in two baskets." First there are "the deplorables, the racists, and the haters, and the people who ... think somehow he's going to restore an America that no longer exists. So, just eliminate them from your thinking..."

And who might be in the other basket backing Donald Trump?

They are people, said Clinton, "who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them. ... These are people we have to understand and empathize with."

In short, Trump's support consists of one-half xenophobes, bigots and racists, and one-half losers we should pity.

And she is running on the slogan "Stronger Together."

Her remarks echo those of Barack Obama in 2008 to San Francisco fat cats puzzled about those strange Pennsylvanians.

They are "bitter," said Obama, they "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustration."

In short, Pennsylvania is a backwater of alienated Bible-banging gun nuts and bigots suspicious of outsiders and foreigners.

But who really are these folks our new class detests, sneers at and pities? As African-Americans are 90 percent behind Clinton, it is not black folks. Nor is it Hispanics, who are solidly in the Clinton camp.

Nor would Clinton tolerate such slurs directed at Third World immigrants who are making America better by making us more diverse than that old "America that no longer exists."

No, the folks Obama and Clinton detest, disparage, and pity are the white working- and middle-class folks Richard Nixon celebrated as Middle Americans and the Silent Majority.

They are the folks who brought America through the Depression, won World War II, and carried us through the Cold War from Truman in 1945 to victory with Ronald Reagan in 1989.

These are the Trump supporters. They reside mostly in red states like West Virginia, Kentucky and Middle Pennsylvania, and Southern, plains and mountain states that have provided a disproportionate share of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who fought and died to guarantee the freedom of plutocratic LGBT lovers to laugh at and mock them at $2,400-a-plate dinners.

Yet, there is truth in what Clinton said about eliminating "from your thinking" people who believe Trump can "restore an America that no longer exists."

For the last chance to restore America, as Trump himself told Christian Broadcasting's "Brody File" on Friday, Sept. 9, is slipping away: "I think this will be the last election if I don't win ... because you're going to have people flowing across the border, you're going to have illegal immigrants coming in and they're going to be legalized and they're going to be able to vote, and once that all happens, you can forget it."

Politically and demographically, America is at a tipping point.

Minorities are now 40 percent of the population and will be 30 percent of the electorate in November. If past trends hold, 4 of 5 will vote for Clinton.

Meanwhile, white folks, who normally vote 60 percent Republican, will fall to 70 percent of the electorate, the lowest ever, and will decline in every subsequent presidential year.

The passing of the greatest generation and silent generation, and, soon, the baby-boom generation, is turning former red states like Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada purple, and putting crucial states like Florida and Ohio in peril.

What has happened to America is astonishing. A country 90 percent Christian after World War II has been secularized by a dictatorial Supreme Court with only feeble protest and resistance.

A nation, 90 percent of whose population traced their roots to Europe, will have been changed by mass immigration and an invasion across its Southern border into a predominantly Third World country by 2042.

What will then be left of the old America to conserve?

No wonder Clinton was so giddy at the LGBT bash. They are taking America away from the "haters," as they look down in moral supremacy on the pitiable Middle Americans who are passing away.

But a question arises for 2017.

Why should Middle America, given what she thinks of us, render a President Hillary Clinton and her regime any more allegiance or loyalty than Colin Kaepernick renders to the America he so abhors?

(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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Lakes Region Profiles — The kings of the forest

By Mary O'Neill

Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group


During the era when great ships were powered by sail, Great Britain found herself urgently in need of masts for her navy and merchant fleets. The tall poles supporting the ships' sails had all but disappeared from England's forests, and so Britain looked to her new North American colonies to supply masts and bowsprits (Rodgers, It Happened in New Hampshire, 2004).

In 1691, the king decreed that all pine trees in New England and New York with diameters of 24 inches or greater belonged to him. Charters granted by Governor Benning Wentworth in the name of George III included a cautionary clause: "All white and other Pine Trees within the said Township, fit for masting our Royal Navy, be carefully preserved for that use, and none be cut or felled without our special license... upon the penalty of the forfeiture of the right of such grantee..." (Poole, The Great White Hills of New Hampshire, 1946). For every tree cut, a fine of fifty pounds was levied, a very large sum at the time. Today it would be roughly equivalent to $12,000 per tree (inflation.stephenmorley.org/). To enforce the decree, the crown appointed a Surveyor of the King's Woods, aided by four deputies. They were tasked with marking trees suitable for masts with three strikes of an ax – the "king's broad arrow" – and for making sure the trees were not cut (Rogers).

The decree was a constant source of conflict between the king's men and the colonists. New Hampshire's history is marked by stories of confrontations and strategies used by the colonists to outfox the surveyors. In 1736, "more than four decades before the battle at Lexington and Concord, the tension between settlers and the surveyor's men led to a violent clash in Freemont [NH]...known as the Mast Tree Riot" (Rogers). Akin to the famous Boston Tea Party of 1773, a band of "Indians" attacked and drove out the surveyor-general who was investigating the illegal cutting in what was "one of the earliest armed encounters between colonists and representatives of the crown" (Rogers).

The words of John Bridger, survey-general from 1706 to 1720, sum up the colonists' position succinctly: "These frontier people depend on the woods for their livelihood. They say the king has no woods here, hence they will cut what and where they please" (Rogers). Shrewd colonists devised many ways to circumvent the decree and outwit the surveyors. Since it was against the law to have boards 24 inches or greater, colonists cut them to 23 inches and discarded the rest. Others found that fire made the trees unusable as masts but did not prevent them from being used as lumber. So they set forest fires. One burned 50 square miles in two months. On the eve of the American Revolution, a load of masts in Portsmouth Harbor awaiting shipment to England was surreptitiously seized by Patriots, who towed them inland up tributary streams. Surveyor-general Bridger was said to have marked more than 3,000 pines during his term. Yet he recorded that out of 70 such pines he marked in Exeter, all but one disappeared. One deputy surveyor said that only 1 out of every 500 pines ever made it to England (Rogers).

These pines – hundreds of years old and soaring to more than 250 feet – were the best, the tallest, and the finest. There is a story of one giant pine, 200-feet-tall and 6 feet across at the base, being hauled to the river by 88 straining oxen. "Slowly the gigantic log, with its butt on a sledge behind and its top resting on an axle between two enormous wheels, was dragged up rough slopes through the woods and, on reaching the top [of the hill]...a score of oxen yoked to the rear...were yanked into the air as the long monster [log] tipped up at the back while the front descended over the brow" (Poole).

Though history focuses on the British colonial tea tax as being instrumental in bringing about the Revolutionary War, some historians consider the battle over ownership of the white pines to be just as significant. In fact, "the Eastern White Pine was the emblem emblazoned on the first colonial flag, including one bearing a white pine purportedly flown at the Battle of Bunker Hill" (Northeastern Lumber Association, nelma.org). There are a number of namesakes in the Lakes Region that still pay tribute to these ancient giants, such as King's Pine Lodges and Kingswood Regional High School, situated in the resort town of Wolfeboro on Winnipesaukee. Even a ski resort, King Pine Ski Area, in Madison, bears their name.

And where are these King Pines today? Look around you. The Lakes Region is still a fertile glade for them. But if you see one marked with three hashes of an ax, stay clear or risk "getting flogged and fined" by the king's men (lowertrentconservation.com/white-pine).

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 and Laconia, and can be reached at 603-366-6306. rocherealty.com



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Sanborn — Winni Waterfront Sales Report – Aug. 2016

By Roy Sanborn

There were 15 Winnipesaukee waterfronts that changed hands in August at an average sales price of $827,833 and a median price point of $850,000. That brings the total number of sales to 107 for the year thus far at an average of $972,830. Last year for the first eight months of the year there were 100 sales at an average of $1,133,602. So total sales are up a bit and the average sales price is down a little.

The entry level sale of the month was at 1 Windswept Island in Tuftonboro which was actually an entire island encompassing a whole .26 acres. Talk about privacy! This island retreat was actually owned once by Bob Montana who created and wrote the "Archie" comic books. This one room, 340 square foot cottage has rustic tongue and grove pine interior, wood floors, stone fireplace, cathedral ceilings, and large widows to bring in the amazing views of the Broads. This is a pretty special place and a unique offering for that special buyer. It did take a while to find him though. This property was originally listed back in June of 2011 at $349,000. It has been on the market every summer since and this year it was offered at $299,000 and quickly found a buyer at $255,000. The total time on the market was 976 days and the current assessed value is $219,500. I wonder if someone is drawing cartoons out there right now?

The median price point sale was at 18 First Point in Moultonborough. This spacious 3,399 square foot, three bedroom, three and a half bath home was built in 1982. It has an open concept floor plan, an updated kitchen with cherry cabinetry, stainless appliances, and granite counter tops. The living room has a brick wood burning fireplace and the year round sun room has walls of windows to take in the spectacular views of the lake, Red Hill and the Sandwich Mountains. A secluded second floor master suite has its own den, a kitchenette, and access to a deck with a hot tub. The .66 acre lot provides great privacy, 165 feet of frontage, and a U-shaped dock on a quiet cove. This property was first listed in July of 2014 at $1.25 million, June of 2015 at $929,500, then re-listed in August of 2015 at $890,000, reduced to $869,000 and sold for $850,000. Total time on market was 691 days and the current assessed value is $634,000.

The highest sale of the month was at 177 Kingswood Road in Wolfeboro. This 3,500 square-foot contemporary was built in 1980 and has three bedrooms, three full, one three-quarter, and two half baths. The tasteful gourmet kitchen has white cabinetry, granite counter tops, stainless appliances and hardwood floors. There is a formal dining room, den, and the living room with a gas fireplace to round out the first floor. There is a master suite, a guest suite, plus a recreation room on the second floor and in the lower level there is a family room and a second guest suite. The home sits on a level .86 acre, newly-landscaped lot which has 119 feet of frontage, a sandy beach, new dock and great southern exposure. This home was listed at $2.35 million in July, reduced to $2.25 million, and sold for an even $2 million after 81 days on the market. It is currently assessed at $1.415 million.

Over on Winnisquam, there were six sales in August bringing the total for the year so far to 18 transactions at an average price of $527,656. There were 14 sales at an average of $550,457 for the same period last year.

Sales in August ranged from $279,900 for a three bedroom, two and three quarter bath, 1,127 square-foot home with 45 feet of frontage at 78 Mallards Landing in Belmont to $1.075 million for a 4,295 square-foot five bedroom home with an expansive detached garage with living space above at 55 Cogswell Road in Sanbornton. What made the Cogswell Road property truly special was the amazing 1.72 acre, beautifully landscaped lot with 265 feet of frontage. This is one of the best lots I have ever seen on Winnisquam and the buyers thought so as well. This property was originally listed in 2009 at $1.995 million which was kind of stretching the limits on little Winni. It was re-listed at $1.695 million in 2012, $1.495 in 2015, and $1.195 in 2016. The property was on the market a total of 623 days. It is currently assessed at $758,100.

P​lease 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 Sept. 13, 2016. ​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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