Susan Estrich - Selling the soul

In the old days, Labor Day was the kickoff to the fall campaign — that is, the fall of the election. I'll never forget the Labor Day kickoff in 1984, when it rained on the picnic in Wisconsin, and the sound equipment didn't work in California, and when someone in the crowd collapsed. I had the awful sense that the campaign was doomed. It was.

We are over a year away from the fall campaign, and Labor Day will hardly be its kickoff. The first caucus is still months away, but the truth is that the first primary has been going on for months. It's the money primary, and unless you're a fan of Bernie Sanders, non-millionaires need not apply. Or non-billionaires.

It all makes sense in a perverted sort of way. The Supreme Court has struck down the overall limit on contributions to political parties, which means the 591 people who maxed out in 2012 won't have to worry about what would have been a $123,200 limit for this cycle.

Who gives $123,200 to a political candidate?

People with views that are as strong as their wallets are thick. Yes. As much as the ideologues get attacked for trying to dominate politics, I don't really worry so much about them. Both sides have their ideological stalwarts.

Like most people who have worked in politics, I used to have a love/hate relationship with the rich people we depended on. On the one hand, when you're running a campaign, you desperately want support from the people who can write a six-figure check, because it allows you to get your message across and win points with the press as a serious candidate. On the other hand, it always bugged me that we had to spend so much time pretending that what some rich developer thinks about the tax laws should inform a candidate's environmental policies.

That's the sore spot.
I don't mind if people who care about global warming want to spend millions to stop it. I don't mind if Emily's List, the pro-woman candidates' PAC, spends big; and if the anti-woman lobby wants to have their own PAC, that's only fair.
It's the developer I'm worried about. You see, most people who give money in politics aren't acting out of ideological fervor but out of practical business sense. What they give is worth it given what they get. If you're a government contractor who stands to make millions in contracts, a donation — often to both sides — ensures that your calls will be answered and your concerns will get a hearing (even if it is from a cynical staff member like I used to be). I remember attending Mike Dukakis' first million-dollar fundraiser, a big deal in those days. I looked around the room and said to a friend: "Do all these people really believe he'll be elected president?"

"Of course not," was the answer. The room was packed with Massachusetts developers, who thought that when the campaign was over the governor would still be the governor, which was why they were there.

Now Mike Dukakis was about the most ethical politician I've ever met, which some have said is one reason he's still a professor and not a former president. He wouldn't accept unlimited contributions, even though we'd found a very good loophole, much to my chagrin at the time.

It is certainly true that whatever the law is, smart lawyers will always be looking for loopholes. Short of a constitutional revolution, we will not get the money out of politics. But you simply can't raise a billion dollars without selling your soul, or at least mortgaging it, and most of us know that — whether we support public financing or not. That is one of the reasons that this Labor Day most of us will be trying to think about anything other than politics, which is a far worse sign of the times than rain, or even a broken sound system.

(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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Bob Meade - Equal justice & political correctness?

I just read the CNN report on the Jury verdict concerning the charge of rape made against a St. Paul's prep school senior. According to the report, it appears that the jury did not believe the young woman's testimony that the act was against her will, nor did they believe the young man's claim that there was no intercourse. He was acquitted of the rape charge and the most serious verdict rendered by the jury was that the defendant was guilty of a felony charge of ". . . using the internet to seduce, solicit or entice a child under age 16 in order to commit sexual assault."

The (now) nineteen year old defendant faces a possible eleven years in prison and must register as a sex offender . . . for the rest of his life. Whether or not the young man will have to forfeit his acceptance and scholarship to Harvard is not yet known, but likely.

There are only two people who know exactly what happened. The rest of us can only speculate on what is the truth. The jury seemed not to believe either one of them, but the jurors were able to arrive at some sort of "compromise" verdict. But, is it justice?

In looking at some information on teen age sex, it appears that much of underage sex that results in a pregnancy never gets reported to authorities. There are "activist" websites that promote abortion, including for underage teenagers, and provide information about the fourteen states in which parental consent or notification is not required. (http://www.positive.org/Resources/consent.html) Such sites also provide information on how to bypass parental notification or consent requirements in those states that do have some notification requirements. And, there are numerous references that show that Planned Parenthood provides abortions to teenagers and, in some cases, do their best to avoid determining the age of the person who impregnated the young woman. Why? Because, if they knew the age, they would have to report that, at the minimum, statutory rape may have been committed. Apparently, they consider performing the abortion more important than notifying the teenager's parents that a "medical procedure" is going to be performed, or notifying the police that a rape has been committed. Has what passes for "political correctness" evolved to the point where parents have to cede their parental rights to some unknown person? Or responsible "health care" providers can avoid reporting likely felonies to the police? But, that same "political correctness" prevents a school nurse from giving a teenaged student an aspirin to relieve a headache?

In the case of the St. Paul's students, the young woman's name cannot be divulged. And, even though the jury evidently believed the sex was consensual, the young man may serve a long term jail sentence, lose his ability to study at one of the country's most prestigious universities, and will forever have to carry the label and be publicly identified as a sex offender; an unforgiving "life sentence". Equal justice?

A former classmate sent me an article on the latest creation in the world of Political Correctness . . . this time it's, "gender neutrality". Now the PC mavens at the University of Tennessee have determined that to use the terms, he-she-male-female-boy-girl-masculine-feminine is not nice. In fact, those erudite keepers and definers of what is politically correct speech have determined that to use any of those descriptors is biased and/or prejudicial. They suggest the person does not have to use their given name nor do they have to use any word that would identify their gender; a term such as "Ze" may be used as a substitute.

Can it be that some have determined it is better not to provide an education that would provide the student with marketable skills so that they could achieve a reasonable level of independence and, perhaps, some level of wealth? Rather, do they feel that espousing some theoretical; feel good measure of equality of outcome is more important? Or, are they simply obsessed with denying that the sexes are in fact, different, and are purposely so?

We have seen a number of academia's finest espouse "humanism" — a code word meaning atheism. They seem to not want to believe that some Almighty power may have actually caused what is now called the "Big Bang theory". That big bang is what caused everything known to man and beyond, to be created . . . the stars, the planets, the meteors, the gaseous clouds, the land and seas, and time and space, plants and animals, and thoughts and reason . . . everything.

And, as we look around, we see the bees that sting and the birds that sing, the fish in the seas and the leaves on the trees, Trees that abound and grass on the ground, the apes and the grapes, iron and copper and the Burger King Whopper, and Adam and Eve, for all who believe. You see, every living thing was made to live and to sustain life. The oak sheds its acorn to feed the squirrels and begin the growth of another oak. The seeds of the grapes will produce another vine. The bees move from tree to tree or plant to plant to make it possible for the fruits to grow. And men and women make children. You see, in nature, the natural thing for plant or animal (including humans) is to pro-create.

Let's see if "Ze" can do that without any help.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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Jim Hightower - Of course, there's a catch

Peter Georgescu has a message he wants America's corporate and political elites to hear: "I'm scared," he said in a recent New York Times opinion piece.

He adds that Paul Tudor Jones is scared, too, as is Ken Langone. And they are trying to get the Powers That Be to pay attention to their urgent concerns. But wait — these three are Powers That Be. Georgescu is former head of Young & Rubicam, one of the world's largest PR and advertising firms; Jones is a quadruple-billionaire and hedge fund operator; and Langone is a founder of Home Depot.

What is scaring the pants off these powerful peers of the corporate plutocracy? Inequality. Yes, amazingly, these actual occupiers of Wall Street say they share Occupy Wall Street's critical analysis of America's widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us. "We are creating a caste system from which it's almost impossible to escape," Georgescu wrote, not only trapping the poor, but also "those on the higher end of the middle class." He issued a clarion call for his corporate peers to reverse the dangerous and ever-widening gulf of income inequality in our country by increasing the paychecks of America's workaday majority. "We business leaders know what to do. But do we have the will to do it? Are we willing to control the excessive greed so prevalent in our culture today and divert resources to better education and the creation of more opportunity?"

Right on, Peter! However, their concern is not driven by moral outrage at the injustice of it all, but by self-interest: "We are concerned where income inequality will lead," he said. Specifically, he warned that one of two horrors awaits the elites if they stick to the present path: social unrest (conjuring up images of the guillotine) or (horror of horrors) "oppressive taxes" on the superrich.

Motivation aside, Georgescu does comprehend the remedy that our society must have: "Invest in the actual value creators — the employees," he writes. "Start compensating fairly (with) a wage that enables employees to share amply in productivity increases and creative innovations." They have talked with other corporate chieftains and found "almost unanimous agreement" on the need to compensate employees better.
Great! So they'll just do it, right? Uh ... no. But he says he knows just the thing that'll jar the CEOs into action: "Government can provide tax incentives to business to pay more to employees." That's his big idea. Yes, corporate wage-hike subsidies. He actually wants us taxpayers to give money to bloated, uber-rich corporations so they can pay a dab more to their employees!

As Lily Tomlin said, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

First of all, Georgescu proposes this tax giveaway to the corporate elite could "exist for three to five years and then be evaluated for effectiveness." Much like the Bush tax cuts that helped drive the economic divide, once the corporate chieftains get a taste for a government handout, they will send their lawyers and lobbyists to Washington to schmooze congress critters into making the tax subsidy permanent.

Secondly, paying to get "good behavior" would reward bad behavior, completely absolving those very CEOs and wealthy shareholders of their guilt in creating today's gross inequality. After all, they are the ones who have pushed relentlessly for 30 years to disempower labor unions, downsize and privatize the workforce, send jobs offshore, defund education and social programs and otherwise dismantle the framework that once sustained America's healthy middle class. These guys put the "sin" in cynical.

If we want to fix income inequality, Larry Hanley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, has a solution. In response to Gerogescu's offer of charity to corporations Hanley wrote: "Strengthen labor laws, and we can have democracy and equality again."

(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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Lakes Region Profiles – Entrepreneurial spirit at Beans and Greens Farm

I walked into Beans and Greens the other day and saw a Zestar apple displayed at the pinnacle of a mountain of apples in an antique wagon. It was shinning red and gold. I could almost see a halo over it. The taste did not disappoint. Nothing at Beans and Greens disappoints. The quality of this apple represents the care taken by the Howe family to grow, harvest, wash, and prep their produce to offer the best to their customers.

Let me paint a picture for you. The road to Beans and Greens meanders through beautiful open meadows. It is idyllic farmland. This working farm has preserved the pastoral setting that is typical of the lovely Town of Gilford. The store is housed in an authentic New England barn with rough-hewn beams, classic board-and-batten siding and green metal roof. You can feel the earthy goodness.

Beans and Greens of Timber Hill Farms is one of the Lakes Region farms on the cutting edge of the "buy local, buy organic" movement. The NH Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food named it a New Hampshire Farm of Distinction. Andy and Martina Howe took over full operation of the farm in 1998. Martina and Andy's sons, Isaac and Alexander, and daughter, Katrina, are also active in the family business. According to Beans and Greens webpage, it is one of only three remaining active farms in Gilford. The farm store offers fresh produce and other New Hampshire products in abundance. Over the years Beans and Greens has grown in size and activities. Every time you visit, there seems to be something novel and innovative to enjoy.

Apart from providing farm products of exceptional quality, the farm store has a state-of-the-art bakery with a vast array of fresh baked pies, cookies, and specialty items. A section is allocated to egg free, dairy free, sugarless, and wheat free items. Have you dreamed of that unusual pie your grandmother used to bake? The staff in the bakery will do their best to recreate the pie and those memories for you. Adjacent to the bakery is the deli, which features many gourmet items on a clever menu. What hungry person wouldn't be enticed by a sandwich or wrap named 'The Tractor" or 'The Pig Pen?" Just so you're not wondering, 'The Pig Pen" ingredients include all natural ham, cheese, and fresh veggies.

A walk through the store is like a walk through a farm museum. The rafters are filled with farm antiques – wagons, plows, a horse drawn carriage, a sleigh, barrows, baskets, and farm implements. You are walking through a bit of the history of the farm, a history that spans over two hundred years from when the Honorable Ebenezer Smith first bought the land in the late 1770s. The land has been active farmland since that time. The barn store itself is one of the original Smith family barns. Built in 1838, it was beautifully restored by the Howe family. Apart from the history, the displays of produce and products in the store are works of art. The colorful fruits, veggies, and candies are arranged with great care. Everywhere you turn, you encounter a photo moment. One thing is abundantly clear as you move through the building and the surrounding displays of plants and flowers: the Howe family has gone out of their way to provide the quintessential farm store experience for their customers.

Outside the store are numerous greenhouses, which allow Beans and Greens to provide a large variety of annual and perennial plants and great activities. They have been gearing up for the grand opening of this year's corn maze. Other fall events beginning later in September include hayrides around the fields and a veggie sling shot. The farm also offers fun and educational fieldtrips for schools. Some of the activities available include petting and feeding animals, exploring a section of the corn maze with an opportunity for Q&A's, observation of the beehive, feeding the fish in the water garden, exploring the green house hay maze, picnicking, and pumpkin picking. Beans and Greens also hosts creative birthday parties and seasonal PYO flowers, strawberries, and pumpkins. Check the Beans and Greens website for more details on all these activities and more.

Near the store is the Beans and Greens Pavilion. This impressive timber frame structure is available for parties and other get-togethers. It also hosts seasonal farm dinners with intriguing names such as the Thunder Moon Pig Roast & Dance or the Blue Moon BBQ Dinner. Recently, a lot of the young princesses in the Lakes Region immersed themselves in the construction of fairy houses under the Pavilion. Beans and Greens provided all the necessary supplies, tools, and supervision. During the event, country music played in the background and created a perfect atmosphere for the young princesses to twirl around in their fairy costumes.

The Howe family also owns Timber Hill Farm, which has been in the family since the 1940s and is a short distance from Beans and Greens. The farm now consists of numerous plots around the Timber Hill location. The current operations include the Beans and Greens farm store, the greenhouses, timber framing, logging and forestry, haying, and other activities. There are no words to describe the expansive hilltop meadow with the backdrop of lakes and mountains, including Mount Washington on a clear day. Check out the Timber Hill Farm website for more information.

The Howes' farm is also a New Hampshire Community Supported Agricultural Farm. CSAs allow the community to support their local farmers by purchasing subscriptions for products at the start of the season. This provides money in advance to begin the arduous process of planting, caring for the crops, and other expenses. Membership subscriptions are available for Beans and Greens summer and winter programs called their Healthy Harvest Subscriptions. The subscribers share in the bounty of meats and produce grown at the farm throughout the season. Beans and Greens' program allows the subscribers to choose their own products, including those from their selection of all natural meats. This and other CSA programs are a perfect way to support your local farmers and reap the benefits of the best foods the Lakes Region farms have to offer. Other CSAs in the Lake Winnipesaukee area include Picnic Hill Farm in Meredith, Winnipesaukee Woods Farm in Alton Bay, Surowiec Farm in Sanbornton, and Still Seeking Farm in Gilmanton.

Beans and Greens, Timber Hill Farm and the Howe family reflect the old saying that necessity is the mother of all invention. Farming is a challenging proposition in New Hampshire even when the weather and economy are cooperating. It takes perseverance and hard work. It takes a great love for the land you're working. The Howe family has all these qualities and something more. They have a great sense of innovation that has allowed them to survive and adapt to the challenges. Ebenezer Smith, the original owner, would be surprised and pleased to see his beloved farm in such capable hands. Next time, when you walk amidst the beautiful displays in the farm store, listen carefully. You may be able to hear old Ebenezer say "Well done, Howe family."

Lake Winnipesaukee is surrounded by numerous farms and orchards open to the public. If you are in Meredith, check out Moulton Farm. Heritage Farm in Sanbornton offers a pancake breakfast. These and others are treasures waiting to be explored.

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Pat Buchanan - Dis-integrating America

The murders of 24-year-old Roanoke TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, were a racist atrocity, a hate crime. Were they not white, they would be alive today.

Their killer, Vester L. Flanagan II, said as much in his farewell screed. He ordered his murder weapon, he said, two days after the slaughter of nine congregants at the African-American AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.

"What sent me over the top was the church shooting," said Flanagan.

To be sure, racism does not fully explain why Flanagan, fired from that same WDBJ7 station, committed this act of pure evil.

Black and homosexual, he said he was the target of anti-gay slurs from black males and racial insults from white colleagues. He had gotten himself fired from other jobs in broadcasting. He carried a grab bag of grudges and resentments.

Yet, in the last analysis, The Washington Post headline got it right: "Gunman's letter frames attack as racial revenge."

Other news organizations downplayed the racial aspect. But had those murdered journalists been young and black, and their killer a 40-something "angry white male," the racial motivation would have been front and center in their stories.

Now, Black America is surely as sickened by this horror outside Roanoke as was White America by the Charleston massacre. But it is hard to see how and when we come together as a people. For racial crimes and race conflict have become "the story" that everyone seizes upon — since Ferguson in the summer of 2014.

On the first anniversary of Michael Brown's death, protesters blocked public buildings in St. Louis and St. Louis County, shut down I-70 at rush hour. In Ferguson, hoodlums rioted and looted for days.

What justification was there for such lawlessness?

Explained some in the press, it was to protest the failure to prosecute a white cop who had killed an "unarmed black teenager".

Left out of most stories was that Brown, 18, had knocked over a convenience store, throttled a clerk half his size, and was unarmed only because he failed to wrest a gun away from Officer Darren Wilson, whom a grand jury declared had acted in self-defense when he shot the charging 290-pound Brown.

Since then, we have had the Eric Garner incident on Staten Island, where a 345-pound black man, suffering from diabetes, asthma, obesity and heart disease, died of heart failure after being wrestled to the ground by five cops, none of whom was charged.

Came then the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, while in police custody. There, six officers have been charged. Then came the death of a 12-year-old black kid in Cleveland, who was waving a toy gun.
As the incidents pile up, with white cops shooting black suspects, and black criminals killing white cops, the news goes viral and America divides along the lines of race and color, and between black and blue.

Though, let it be said, the violence in Ferguson and Baltimore was child's play compared to Watts in '65, Detroit and Newark in '67, and D.C. and 100 other cities after Dr. King's assassination in 1968.

"Can we all get along?" pleaded Rodney King, when South Central exploded in rioting, arson and looting after the L.A. cops who had beaten King were exonerated.

Answer: Probably not.

For what seems certain, ensuring that our racial divide widens and deepens, is that more incidents like those involving Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Freddie Gray are inevitable.

Why so?

First, violent crime, declining since the early 1990s, is rising again. And violent crime in black communities is many times higher than in the white communities of America.

Collisions between black suspects and criminals and white cops are going to increase, and some of these collisions are going to involve shootings. And such shootings trigger fixed, deep-seated beliefs about cops, criminals and injustice, they also cause an instantaneous taking of sides.

Moreover, this is the sort of "news" that instantly goes viral through the Internet, Facebook and 24-hour cable TV.

Liberals and Democrats take sides with the black community out of solidarity and to solidify their political base, while Republicans stand with the cops, law-and-order conservatives, and the Silent Majority in Middle America.

The race issue has even begun to split the Democrats.

When former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, a card-carrying liberal, attended a conference of Netroots Nation and responded to a chant of "Black Lives Matter!" with the more inclusive, "Black Lives Matter! White Lives Matter! All Lives Matter!" he was virtually booed off the stage.

O'Malley proceeded to apologize for including the white folks.

To many Americans, even many who did not vote for him, the election of Barack Obama seemed to hold out the promise that our racial divide could be healed by a black president.

Even Obama's supporters must concede it did not happen, though we would, again, argue angrily over why.

(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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