President Obama can do himself a big political favor this month by saying simply this: "I will not privatize the VA hospitals."
That's the bottom line for the current right-wing crusade mixing patriotic posturing with loathing of government in general and Obama specifically. We speak of allegations that a Phoenix hospital (and perhaps others) run by the Department of Veterans Affairs hid deadly delays for treatment by using secret waiting lists.
The theme is government can't do anything right. And if you're Rush Limbaugh, it's also running death panels for veterans. "There's nobody that has any real-world, private-sector experience running anything to do with health care or medical treatment or medical care," El Rushbo declared from happy orbit.
Actual veterans could not disagree more.
"We're against privatizing the VA system," Joe Davis, national spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars, told me in no uncertain terms. "To privatize the VA puts us on a waiting list with everyone else out in the United States."
You see, getting medical care can be rougher outside government-run programs than inside them, as contented veterans and Medicare beneficiaries repeatedly tell pollsters.
A 2004 RAND study determined that the VA system delivered higher-quality care than private hospitals on all measures except acute care. (They were even on acute care.) And the American Customer Satisfaction Index, run by the University of Michigan, found 85 percent of patients in VA hospitals satisfied with their care, versus 77 percent in private hospitals.
"The people who receive VA care by and large rave about it," the VFW's Davis said.
But that's no reason not to mess with it, right? In 2010, Ken Buck, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Colorado, said privatization would make the hospitals "better run." Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wanted to give veterans vouchers to shop for care in the private sector.
(Both later backed away from their proposals when veterans loudly objected.)
Now, the latest allegations — that the Phoenix VA Health Care System covered up long wait times by manipulating the waiting list — are serious. But they're still allegations. And so are reports that 40 or more veterans died as a result.
"The story has taken on its own truth," Davis said with exasperation in his voice.
Many in the media are taking the death toll number as gospel truth, but at least one probing reporter, Brian Skoloff of The Associated Press, probed into the sources of it. One was Dr. Samuel Foote, who, before retiring from the Phoenix hospital, was repeatedly reprimanded for taking Fridays off. Another employee raising the concerns had been fired last year and has a pending wrongful termination suit against the hospital.
"What we want is the (VA Office of Inspector General) report, and we know it won't come out until August," said Davis. "Do you want it good, or do you want it now?"
The hospital's administrators vehemently deny the allegations. Director Sharon Helman is now under police protection after receiving numerous death threats.
No surprise, given such hysterical and uncorroborated headlines as this one by CNN: "Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list."
Here's a sturdy spark to send the fringe right's manic hatred of government into high boil once again. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, summed up the situation nicely when he said: "What I don't want to see is this issue politicized by these same folks who don't like Social Security, they don't like Medicare, they don't like Medicaid, they don't like the Postal Service."
Too late, Bernie. Too late.
(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, 31 December 1969 07:00
There were seven Winnipesaukee waterfront sales in April at an average price of $2.05 million, compared to 10 last April at an average sales price of $805,588. The big news is that a record was set for the highest residential sale ever in New Hampshire and it was right here on Lake Winnipesaukee at 144 Springfield Point in Wolfeboro! Think about that for a moment, the most expensive properties in the state are right here on Winnipesaukee. That's pretty impressive, but so was this property!
This Arts and Crafts style home was built in 2006 and has won numerous architectural awards. The home encompasses 37 rooms equaling 17,300-square-feet of exquisitely done, but not over done, space to create a very livable lake front home.
The home features beautiful wood flooring, fine wood details including rich wood paneling, massive columns, and curved wood moldings on the ceiling that echo the curved tower staircase that leads up two more levels. The center of the home is the two story, open concept great room featuring a thirty foot stone fireplace, cathedral ceilings, beautiful moose motif light fixtures, multiple sitting areas, and a wall of glass facing the lake. The gourmet kitchen features every imaginable high end appliance known to man, a pantry, a dining service room, a breakfast bar as well as an informal dining area with views of the lake.
The sumptuous first floor master has a gas fireplace, hardwood floors, access to the outside deck, a luxurious bath, and a master laundry room. This is one of five luxury suites that make up a total of eight bedrooms, two of which are in a separate guest wing complete with its own kitchen, dining, and living room. There is also an eight bed bunk room up on the third floor with built in bunks, storage closets and drawers. Of course you have an office, four season room, indoor spa room, exercise room, a wine cellar, sauna, indoor and outdoor grilling areas, and not one but three elevators. It even has a dedicated X-box room (?) and a huge movie theater with tiered floors, plush seating that reclines electronically, a massive 110-inch theater screen, and a custom speaker system.
Down on the lower level is the World's Ultimate Mancave with a full bar plus dedicated areas for poker, darts, game tables, and of course a pool table. And if that isn't enough for the man of the house, there is a six bay heated garage and workshop area complete with an automobile lift, custom cabinetry, and heated floors. And, there's plenty of room for watercraft in the 3,800-square-foot three bay boat house. The home sits on a 7.1 acre exquisitely landscaped lot with 841-feet of frontage.
This home was listed at $9,999,998 and sold for $8,975,000 after 342 days on the market. My hat goes off to Jodi Hughes at Prudential Spencer Hughes in Wolfeboro who marketed and sold this tremendous property. The bar has been raised on the big lake!
There were no sales on Winnisquam last month, but Squam posted one at 59 Squam Lake Road in Holderness. This year round, circa 1923 lake cottage is the quintessential lakeside retreat. It has a grand living room with high ceilings, exposed beams, knotty pine walls, and a brick fireplace. Just off the living room is a classic enclosed front porch overlooking the lake. There are four bedrooms and four baths in the main home plus a two bedroom apartment for your chauffeur over the three car garage (we all have a chauffeur, right?) The house sits on a private 2.2 acre lot with 280 ft of frontage. This home was listed at $1.125 million and sold for $945,000 after 45 days on the market. It has an assessed value of $826,630.
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 5/13/14. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
Last summer, in this capital of gridlock, a miracle occurred. The American people rose as one and told the government of the United States not to drag us into another Middle East war in Syria.
Barack Obama was ready to launch air and missile strikes when a national uproar forced him to go to Congress for authorization. Congress seemed receptive until some Hill offices were swarmed by phone calls and emails coming in at a rate of 100-1 against war.
Middle America stopped the government from taking us into what even the president now concedes is "somebody else's civil war."
This triumphal coming together of left and right was a rarity in national politics. But Ralph Nader, in "Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State," believes that ad hoc alliances of left and right to achieve common goals can, should, and, indeed, shall be our political future.
To call this an optimistic book is serious understatement.
Certainly, left and right have come together before.
In "Those Angry Days," Lynne Olson writes of how future presidents from opposing parties, Gerald Ford and John F. Kennedy, backed the America First Committee to keep us out of war in 1941, and how they were supported by the far-left Nation magazine as well as Colonel Robert McCormick's right-wing Chicago Tribune.
Two decades ago, Ross Perot and this writer joined Ralph and the head of the AFL-CIO to stop NAFTA, a trade deal backed by America's corporate elite and its army of mercenaries on Capitol Hill.
Congress voted with corporate America — against the country. Result: 20 years of the largest trade deficits in U.S. history. Transnational corporations have prospered beyond the dreams of avarice, as Middle America has seen its wages frozen for a generation.
In 2002, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry joined John McCain and George W. Bush in backing war on Iraq. Teddy Kennedy and Bernie Sanders stood with Ron Paul and the populist and libertarian right in opposing the war. The Mises Institute and The American Conservative were as one with The Nation in opposing this unprovoked and unnecessary war.
The left-right coalition failed to stop the war, and we are living with the consequences in the Middle East, and in our veterans hospitals.
As America's most indefatigable political activist since he wrote "Unsafe at Any Speed" in 1965, Ralph is calling for "convergences" of populist and libertarian conservatives and the left — for 25 goals. Among these are many with an appeal to the traditionalist and libertarian right:
— Break up "Too Big to Fail" banks. Further direct democracy through use of the initiative, referendum and recall.
— End unconstitutional wars by enforcing Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which gives Congress alone the power to declare war.
— Revise trade agreements to protect U.S. sovereignty. End "fast track," those congressional surrenders of constitutional authority to amend trade treaties negotiated by the executive.
From the subtitle, as well as text, of his most recent book, one may instantly identify whom it is Ralph sees as the main enemy. It is megabanks and transnational corporations without consciences whose highest loyalty is the bottom line, the kind of men Jefferson had in mind when he wrote: "Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains."
Where such men see a $17 trillion economy, we see a country.
Undeniably, there has been a growing gap and a deepening alienation between traditional conservatives and those Ralph calls the "corporate conservatives." And it is not only inside the conservative movement and the GOP that the rift is growing, but also Middle America.
For America never voted for NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, mass immigration, amnesty, or more H-1Bs to come take the jobs of our workers. These votes have been forced upon members of Congress by leaders carrying out their assignments from corporate America and its PACs, which reward the compliant with campaign checks.
Both parties now feed at the same K Street and Wall Street troughs. Both have oligarchs contributing tens of millions to parties and politicians who do their bidding.
In 1964, a grassroots conservative movement captured the Republican Party and nominated Barry Goldwater. In 1972, a grassroots movement of leftist Democrats nominated George McGovern.
Neither movement would today survive the carpet-bombing of big money that would be called in if either came close to capturing a national party, let alone winning a national election.
Because they have principles and visions in conflict, left-right alliances inevitably fall out and fall apart. Because they are almost always on opposite sides of disputed barricades, it is difficult for both to set aside old wounds and grievances and come together.
A social, moral, and cultural divide that did not exist half a century ago makes it all the more difficult. But if the issue is keeping America out of unnecessary wars and restoring American sovereignty, surely common ground is not impossible to find.
(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
If you are looking for a great deal on a home in the Lakes Region of N.H., what is your main criteria? Is it just price or is it condition, location, features, value or... all of them combined. If the house is a steal and it doesn't meet your needs then it might not be a great deal for you, but it could be for someone else. Let's take a look at a few properties that have recently come on the market that I think could be a great deal for someone...
If you would like a home with country charm and character at what I think is a great price, check out the property at 449 NH Rt 140 in the Four Corners in Gilmanton. This home was built in 1915 and has 1,584-square-feet of living space, four bedrooms, one bath, hardwood floors, wainscoting, two fireplaces, and hand stenciled walls by renowned artist and owner David Wiggins. All the major systems have been updated including roof, septic, heating, & hot water heater. There is also a separate art studio for painting your own masterpiece. The home sits on a picturesque 3 acre lot surrounded by stone walls and conservation area. This home is priced at an even $200,000 with a tax assessment of $251,100. If you like charm, you'll like this one...
I really like the home at 40 Whipple Ave in Laconia because it is a nice neighborhood of great older homes, but it also has a one bedroom rental cottage that brings in $550 per month making this a really great deal! This charming, circa 1943, five bedroom, two bath cape style home has nice curb appeal, hardwood floors, living room with brick fireplace, a sun room, and a formal dining room that leads out to a large private deck and fenced yard. This home has an updated heating system, roof, energy efficient hot water tank, and replacement windows. This home is reasonably priced at $256,000 which is just under the assessed value of $259,800.
The home at 16 Robin Way in Meredith could be a great deal just because it is a really appealing, immaculate home with tons of features and is in a great Meredith location! This contemporary cape style home was built in 2003 and has 3,267-square-feet of living space, three bedrooms, and two and a half baths. It has a great room with cathedral ceilings, hardwood floors, brick hearth and wood stove, an eat-in kitchen with stainless appliances, a master suite, and sunroom. The walk out lower level has a family room with bar and an office. You may never leave there except to go out back where you'll find an above ground pool with a deck. There's a detached three car garage with a heated workshop. Out front is a fantastic farmer's porch that adds to the curb appeal. This house sits on a 3.6 acre lot with beach rights to Waukewan. What else do you really need? It is being offered at $379,000 and has an assessed value of $315,100.
As of May 1, 2014 there were 973 single family residential homes for sale in the twelve communities covered by this Lakes Region Real Estate Report. The median price point stood at $254,800. The inventory is up from the 845 homes available as of April 1. This represents an increase from a 9.8 month supply to an 11.5 month supply of homes on the market. There were 338 homes under the $200,000 mark ensuring that if you are looking for a great deal on a home in the Lakes Region of NH you will find one!
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 5/1/14. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-033
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
The Daily Sun has come under some criticism for its reporting of the April 28 meeting of the Belknap County Convention, at which the lawmakers in attendance, by a vote of 9-7, declined to fund a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the county administration with a union representing nursing home workers. Specifically, our report of that meeting included words like "yelled", "screamed" and "shouted" to describe an exchange between Convention Chair Rep. Colette Worseman (R-Meredith) and Belknap County Commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia).
I was not at the meeting but I have gone back and watched a video tape of the proceedings that was recorded for broadcast on Lakes Region Public Access television. This is what I observed:
Near the end of the meeting, a motion was made and seconded to approve a $366,000 appropriation to fund the union contract and members of the convention were taking turns making statements as to why they were in favor of, or against, the agreement. Except for some occasional cheering from the audience in response to comments made, all was calm.
When Chair Worseman recognized Rep. Mike Sylvia (R-Belmont), he stated that if even the convention agreed to fund the contract there was no guarantee that the Board of Commissioners would in fact use the money for that purpose. That statement was an apparent reference to the situation where the convention appropriated money in the county's 2014 operating budget to fund two additional positions at the House of Corrections but the commission chose instead to use the money to fund benefits for existing employees, arguing that the convention had deliberately shorted the county of funds to meet its contractual health insurance obligations.
Rep. Sylvia concluded his remarks by suggesting the convention could not trust the commission to spend the money appropriately and that the November elections would provide an "assessment of who is right and who is wrong."
Those words provoked an immediate reaction from Commissioner Philpot and chaos reigned for the next 38 seconds.
The convention members sit along tables arranged in a square-off "U" shape. At the open end of the "U" is another series of tables and the three county commissioners are seated behind those tables. At the conclusion of Rep. Sylvia's speech the LRPA camera is looking over his shoulder, with the commissioners in the background. Chair Worseman is not in the picture.
As soon as Rep. Syliva stops speaking one can hear eight or nine quick bangs of a gavel and it becomes obvious that Commissioner Philpot has begun speaking directly to Rep. Sylvia, who is perhaps 20 feet away from him. Philpot is angry about the accusations just made by the lawmaker and intends to offer a rebuttal. The commissioner is out of order because the conservation, at that point, is limited to members of the convention, which he is not, and Chair Worseman immediately tries to get him to stop talking. She says "commissioner" three times, each attempt louder than the last, then bangs her gavel hard, two more times.
Commissioner Phlipot keeps talking as the camera focuses in on him. His voice is getting louder as he strives to be heard over the gavel and Worseman's repeated calls for him to be silent. Other voices can also be heard. The chair can be heard saying "out of order" a few times and then she says, "Commissioner Philpot, you are out of order". At that point, the commissioner turns his attention from Sylvia to the chair and says, "No madam, you are out of order. . . this whole process is out of order." Another male voice yells, "You're out of order".
Commissioner Philpot stops speaking. LRPA switches to another camera that is focused on Worseman and she seems calm and is smiling. She quickly recognizes another representative who wants to speak and the meeting goes on.
I heard nothing that I would characterize as a "scream". I heard a lot of "loud talking" that at points could probably fairly be described as "yelling". The entire scene reminded me of one of the those cable TV talk shows where they invite several people with contrasting views to be on air at the same time and they wind up just trying to talk over one another. Everyone is talking loudly (yelling?), no one is listening.
The video tape of the meeting is still being broadcast at times on LRPA. Judge for yourself.
— The editor
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 May 2014 10:56