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Pat Buchanan - A deal with Iran? Or war with Iran?

If Bibi Netanyahu succeeds in closing down America's diplomatic path to detente with Iran, only the road to war will remain open.

Which is exactly what Bibi wants. For what terrifies Tel Aviv, and rattles Riyadh, is not a U.S. war with Iran, but the awful specter of American rapprochement with Iran, a detente.

Thus, when France's foreign minister torpedoed the deal John Kerry flew to Geneva to sign, France soared in neocon esteem. The "cheese-eating surrender monkeys " of 2003 who opposed the Iraq war suddenly became again the heroes of Verdun and the Marne. "Vive La France" blared the Wall Street Journal editorial declaiming, "Francois Hollande's Socialist Government has saved the West from a deal that would all but guarantee that Iran becomes a nuclear power."

Did Hollande really save the West? Or did he just rack up points with the Saudi princes for when the next big arms contract comes up for bid?

What is going on is a gravely serious matter. If the Netanyahu cabal succeeds in sabotaging U.S. negotiations with Iran, it is hard to see how we avoid another war that could set the Persian Gulf region ablaze and sink the global economy.

And just what is it that has Netanyahu apoplectic? A six-month deal under which Iran would freeze all enrichment of uranium, in return for a modest lifting of sanctions, while the final agreement is negotiated. The final deal would put permanent limits and controls on Iran's nuclear program to ensure it is not used to build bombs And there would be more and more intrusive inspections.

How would this imperil Israel? Iran today has no atom bomb. Has never tested a bomb. Has never exploded a nuclear device. Possesses not a single known ounce of 90 percent enriched uranium, which is essential for a uranium bomb. Nor does Iran have enough 20 percent uranium to make a bomb. And part of the stockpile it did have has been converted into fuel rods. There are inspectors in all of Iran's operating nuclear facilities.

The Ayatollah has declared a fatwa against nuclear weapons. The Hassan Rouhani regime says it has no nuclear weapons program. And U.S. intelligence agrees with Iran. All 16 U.S. intelligence agencies in 2007, and, again, two years ago, said, with high confidence, that Iran has made no decision to build a bomb and has no nuclear weapons program. How would new restrictions and reductions on an Iranian nuclear program that has never produced an ounce of weapons-grade uranium, let alone a bomb, threaten Israel, with its hundreds of atom bombs?

"You can't trust the Iranians. They're lying about their nuclear program," says Lindsey Graham.
Is U.S. intelligence also lying? Ten years ago, it turned out Saddam was telling the truth and it was Lindsey's friends doing the lying about Iraq's WMDs. Looks like the same old crowd up to the same old tricks.

To abort Obama's Iran initiative, Bibi is moving on four tracks. First, get Congress to accept Israel's nonnegotiable demand that "Iran must give up all enrichment, shut down all nuclear facilities and ship all enriched uranium abroad" before any sanctions are lifted. This is an ultimatum masquerading as a negotiating position. Acceptance would entail an Iranian surrender Rouhani could never take home. It is a deal killer. Everyone knows it, even the Republicans now embracing the Israeli position as their own.

Second, persuade Israel's collaborators in Congress to impose harsh new sanctions, rub Iran's nose in them, and scuttle the talks.

Third, arouse Jewish communities worldwide to pressure home governments to block any deal.

Sunday, Bibi told the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America that what Kerry was prepared to sign was a "bad and dangerous deal" that threatened Jewish survival, and, "on matters of Jewish survival, I will not be silenced." Bibi intends to use the explosive issue of imperiled Jewish survival to break Obama and Kerry and force them to abandon their Iranian initiative.

Finally, the Israeli lobby is behind the push by Lindsay Graham and Rep. Trent Franks to have Congress preemptively surrender its war powers, by authorizing Obama to launch a war on Iran at a time of his own choosing, without any further consultation with Congress.

Remarkable. Self-proclaimed constitutional Republicans are about to vote Barack Obama a blank check for war.

What the GOP fears is another episode like the one last summer where America rose as one and told Congress not to authorize any war on Syria. A panicked Congress capitulated, and there was no war.

Today, though Obama and Kerry insist "all options are on the table," Obama has no more authority to attack Iran today than he did Syria last summer. Hill Republicans seek to remedy that by a preemptive congressional surrender of their war power.

One wonders if Netanyahu and his amen corner in Congress have considered the backlash worldwide should they succeed in scuttling Geneva and putting this nation on the fast track to another Mideast war Israel and Saudi may want but America does not.

(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, 13 November 2013 08:44

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Steve Norton & Daniel Barrick - Redefining New Hampshire's Economic Advantage

What is New Hampshire's strategy for economic growth? Does it center on high-tech manufacturing? Tourism? The "green" economy? Is it focused on attracting young professionals and families to the state? Or cater to our growing retiree population? What role should the state's colleges and universities play in this?

For a long time, the state enjoyed relative prosperity without needing a clearly defined economic strategy. With high rates of in-migration, a clean environment, a comparative advantage in tax structure, and proximity to the Boston metropolitan area, New Hampshire benefited from decades of strong economic growth. But with fewer people moving into the state in recent years, New Hampshire's decision-makers realize they need to craft a conscious strategy to maintain our many economic and quality of life advantages.

For the past six months, the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies has been sifting through dozens of measurements of New Hampshire's economy and business climate. Our goal: To devise a more data-based method of understanding the state's strengths and challenges, and how those stack up to the rest of the country. We tried to cover a wide range of measures: college-going rates, real estate prices prices, bridge and road conditions, business taxes, energy prices, volunteering rates, health care costs, and dozens more. And we compared New Hampshire to our New England neighbors, as well as a handful of competitor states that are faring well in post-recession world.

What does the data tell us? As a snapshot of current conditions, our numbers indicate that New Hampshire is doing quite well in many measures of economic health. But many of the areas where New Hampshire excels — high levels of home ownership, high levels educational attainment and high rates of health insurance coverage, among others — point to past or current conditions. In other words, they are the result of policies and trends that have been in place for some time but don't necessarily guarantee much about the economy of coming years.

By contrast, in many of the more "future-oriented" measures — average student debt loads, growth in the 35-to-44-year-old share of the population, housing costs, and the rate of college-going among high school graduates — New Hampshire rates much less favorably. Why is this worrisome? Many of these measures are directly linked to the state's ability to attract and retain young people and arm them with the skills needed to compete for good jobs in coming years.
In addition, and perhaps more troubling for short-term economic planning, New Hampshire ranks poorly on several measures of business costs, including energy and health care expenses.

Any economy is a complicated system of shifting, inter-related factors, and reducing it to a handful of data points over-simplifies matters. But this data should help provoke discussion around the question of what New Hampshire's economic goals and priorities should be. The answer to that, in turn, will be determined by figuring out how and against whom New Hampshire is competing for economic growth and human capital. Do we want to emphasize luring businesses with our highly-educated, flexible workforce, despite high business costs? Do we want to cast a wider net, and compete against states like Colorado, Utah and Virginia, which are attracting skilled young professionals looking for places that offer high wages and a high quality of life? And what specific industries might offer us the best competitive advantage?

At the same time, policymakers will want to focus on indicators specific to the state's local economies, as some measurements may tell a more useful story when measured at the regional level. For instance, the statewide data about college attainment levels obscures vast differences across New Hampshire, with much higher rates of college attainment in the state's southern tier and lower levels in the North Country and rural areas. If policymakers want to attract employers to particular regions of the state, they must acknowledge the specific challenges posed by these varying levels of education, among other factors.

There are several existing initiatives across the state grappling with these very issues, including attempts at developing stronger partnerships between community colleges and local employers, incentives to develop "green" start-up companies, and efforts to increase New Hampshire's homegrown science, technology and engineering workforce.

Of course, no one approach will meet all of New Hampshire's economic needs. But identifying policies that address real needs as reflected in objective data is a place where any conversion about the state's future needs to start.

(Steve Norton is executive director and Dan Barrick is deputy director of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies. The Center is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization that pursues data-driven research on public policy. Established in 1996, the Center's mission is to raise new ideas and improve policy debates through quality information and analysis on issues shaping New Hampshire's future. Its work includes research on the state budget, public school funding and health care finance. More information at nhpolicy.org.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Sanborn – Always look for a good foundation

There were 1,103 residential homes for sale on November 1, 2013 in the 12 Lakes Region communities covered by this report. That total is down from 1,200 last month and about the same as the 1,103 last November. Due to the increased sales activity over the past few months the inventory has dropped to a 13 month supply of homes on the market compared to 14.6 months last November and that's pretty good if it the trend continues!

So you have decided to buy a home and you've gone through the pre-approval process, you know how much you want to spend on a house, you have found an experienced realtor to work with, and you are ready to go out looking at property. What should you be concerned about when you are looking at property? Well, there's an awful lot to consider especially if you are a first time buyer. Your realtor should be able to guide you, but just remember realtors are not home inspectors. However, most of us have seen a lot of homes, have gone through many home inspections, and worked through many issues and repairs on properties as a result.

Having a home inspection performed on the property you are purchasing is pretty much mandatory in my book and it is money wisely spent. At the very least, an inspection will reveal minor defects in the property so that you can ask for them to be corrected before you purchase it or be compensated to do it later. An inspection will also educate you about the home that you're purchasing. On the other end of the spectrum, it can save you from buying a money pit. But there are basic, common sense things that any home buyer can look for before making an offer and spending money on a home inspection.

Let's start at ground level. As with most anything in life, if you don't have a good foundation you don't have much to build on. You know, it's kinda like learning your multiplication tables or how to do simple math equations. It's the basics. You can't have a good house on a bad foundation or a successful career in accounting or finance if you can't do basic math.

Some older homes have good solid foundations whether they are stone, granite, or brick while others may be leaning or crumbling due to the forces of nature. It is also not uncommon to have shrinkage cracks in concrete walls of floors, but substantial cracks, especially horizontal ones in walls should be a concern to any buyer. Shrinkage cracks in concrete floors are pretty common, but large cracks and floors that have heaved or settled indicate problems with the site preparation or the materials used below the floor.

If you dig a hole in the ground it usually tends to fill with water and this is true for the hole that you dig for a house foundation as well. While having an indoor pool is a desirable amenity, having it in the basement is not. While modern construction techniques for newer homes obviate most wet basements through the use of perimeter drains and/or sump pumps, always be on the lookout for signs of past water infiltration damage. You know, like stains on the basement walls, discolored sheetrock walls, or lally columns that are rusted up an inch or two from the floor. If you want to use your basement as a man cave you don't want to have to play darts or cards while wearing waders; it's just not as much fun. Water in the basement can also cause mold which another whole subject. It's a good thing to avoid.

Many older homes with stone or brick foundations and dirt floors will get some water seepage in the spring. These houses were built without any perimeter drain system so groundwater takes the path of least resistance: right into the basement. That's New England, but probably not ideal. Your basement will be relegated to always being just a storage area as you won't be putting your pool table down there.

In some older homes that have concrete floors, you'll see a channel cut into the floor all the way around the inside perimeter of the foundation to collect and channel any seepage to a sump pump. Homes with a sump pump generally, but not always, mean that there could be a water issue in the basement. I've seen homes with a sump which always appears to be bone dry and others that run constantly in the spring. Some foundations were built with a sump as a precaution because the lot the house was built on was a little wet. Better safe than sorry.

Today, even a wet basement can be made to be bone dry. There are companies that specialize in correcting and preventing water from seeping through the foundation or up from the basement floor. They will even guarantee it in writing. It does work. But, they also specialize in seeping money out of your wallet which could have been used to buy that flat screen for the man cave if you had bought a house with a dry basement to begin with. My vote is for the flat screen...

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 11/1/13. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Friday, 08 November 2013 08:21

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Michelle Malkin - The Obamacare Fable Factory

Now that true horror stories of Obamacare's wrecking ball are finally reaching the public, the White House doesn't like "anecdotes." Live by tale-telling; die by tale-telling.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney huffed that stage-four gallbladder cancer survivor Edie Littlefield Sundby's personal account in The Wall Street Journal of seeing her health insurance plan canceled and her access to doctors cut off was "sensational." Not a shred of compassion for her predicament. No sorrow for her loss. Must. Attack. Messenger.

There are millions out there like Sundby who are using Facebook, Twitter, Twitchy.com and a new website called MyCancellation.com to share their plights. White House flacks and hacks are working overtime to "debunk" their experiences, bash insurance companies and deride individual market consumers losing their plans as stupid dupes whose stories don't add up.

Here's the thing. This Alinsky-steeped administration has relied on an endless stream of sensationalized, phony personal dramas to sell Obamacare. Last month, Organizing for Action (previously Obama for America) promoted the "success story" of Chad Henderson, a supposedly random young person who miraculously enrolled in Obamacare while everyone else in America experienced major tech meltdowns and sticker shock.

Turned out Lying Chad was actually an OFA volunteer who hadn't really enrolled in Obamacare yet because he was "joking." No matter. Yesterday, Obama appeared before OFA to solicit even more stories from the group to help propagandize Obamacare. A refresher course on the White House Fable Factory's greatest hits:

— Stanley Ann Dunham. Obama cited his mom's deathbed fight with her insurer several times over the years to support the Obamacare ban on pre-existing condition exclusions by insurers. During a 2008 debate, he shared her plight: "For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they're saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don't have to pay her treatment, there's something fundamentally wrong about that." But New York Times reporter Janny Scott discovered that Dunham's health insurer had in fact reimbursed her medical expenses with nary an objection. The actual coverage dispute centered on a separate disability insurance policy.

— Otto Raddatz. In 2009, Obama publicized the plight of this Illinois cancer patient, who supposedly died after he was dropped from his Fortis/Assurant Health insurance plan when his insurer discovered an unreported gallstone the patient hadn't known about. The truth? He got the treatment he needed in 2005 and lived for nearly four more years.
— Robin Beaton. Also in 2009, Obama claimed Beaton, a breast cancer patient, lost her insurance after "she forgot to declare a case of acne." In fact, she failed to disclose a previous heart condition and did not list her weight accurately, but had her insurance restored anyway after intense public lobbying.

— John Brodniak. A 23-year-old unemployed Oregon sawmill worker, Brodniak's health woes were spotlighted by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof as a textbook argument for Obamacare. Brodniak reportedly was diagnosed with cavernous hemangioma, a neurological condition, and was allegedly turned away by emergency room doctors. Kristof called the case "monstrous" and decried opponents of the Democrats' health care proposals as heartless murderers. The truth? Brodniak not only had coverage through Oregon's Medicaid program, but was also a neurology patient at the prestigious Oregon Health and Science University in Portland (a safety-net institution that accepts all Medicaid patients). Kristof never retracted the legend.

— Marcelas Owens. An 11-year-old boy from Seattle, Owens took a coveted spot next to the president in March 2010 when Obamacare was signed into law. Marcelas' 27-year-old mother, Tiffany Owens, died of pulmonary hypertension. The family said the single mother of three lost her job as a fast-food manager and lost her insurance. She died in 2007 after receiving emergency care and treatment throughout her illness. Progressive groups (for whom Marcelas' relatives worked) dubbed Marcelas an "insurance abuse survivor." But there wasn't a shred of evidence that any insurer had "abused" the boy or his mom. Further, Washington State already offered a plethora of existing government assistance programs to laid-off and unemployed workers like Marcelas' mom. The family and its public relations agents never explained why she didn't enroll.

— Natoma Canfield. The White House made the Ohio cancer patient a poster child for Obamacare in 2010 after she wrote a letter complaining about skyrocketing premiums and the prospect of losing her home. After Obama gave Canfield a shout-out at a health care rally in Strongsville, Ohio, and promised to control costs, officials at the renowned Cleveland Clinic, which is treating her, made clear that they would "not put a lien on her home" and that she was eligible for a wide variety of state aid and private charity care.

Phony manufactured tales built Obamacare. Real stories of Obamacare wreckage will bring it down.

(Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the daughter of Filipino Immigrants. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in southern New Jersey and now lives with her husband and daughter in Colorado. Her weekly column is carried by more than 100 newspapers.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

Hits: 355

Susan Estrich - Stop vilifying TSA workers

After last week's tragedy at LAX, can we all agree to stop beating up on the men and women of the TSA who are just trying to do their job, which is to protect you and me from being killed?

Can we stop behaving like spoiled children, thinking we have a God-given right to show up late for airplanes, forgetting to unpack the penknife in the bottom of the suitcase, and wearing shoes and boots that take forever to get on and off?

Sure, I know what it's like to get in the wrong line — and worse. I've had the ridiculous experience of being detained for a secondary check by TSA agents who know exactly who I am (big fans of Fox News in that case). But I was traveling on a series of one-way tickets, and that's how it works.

According to Amie Stepanovich of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the TSA "is seen as another administrative step. We used to be able to walk through metal detectors and get on an airplane; now we have to go through long search lines before we can leave."

True enough. We used to race through metal detectors and get right on the plane, but that was before four planes were hijacked, before we caught a would-be bomber with an explosive device in his shoe, before we became so painfully aware of the extent of terrorism and hate and our own vulnerability. Sure, there may be better ways to protect us; that is a legitimate debate. But the public discourse about the TSA has gone way beyond the confines of legitimate and productive debate.

Wrongly, the TSA has become the butt not simply of humor but of ridicule and vilification, portrayed as petty voyeurs who have no business looking us up and down. Such vilification isn't just unfair; it's dangerous.
Those who have studied hate crimes know this to be true. "When people or institutions are vilified on national television and in the public square, you often see people latch on to them as enemies to be destroyed," Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center told reporters.

There is no good reason for Paul Ciancia to have so hated the TSA. But there were a lot of bad reasons, and those who have crossed the line in their attacks on the TSA should, quite simply, stop. I'm talking about folks like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has raged against the TSA for "groping toddlers and grandmothers," and Matt Hawes of the Campaign for Liberty, who raged that "the government literally has its hands in our pants."

No, no one told Ciancia that the answer was to start shooting, and no one is arguing that the loudmouths are responsible for the death of a husband and father who went to work every day to protect the rest of us. But enough is enough. Words have power. Vilify public servants, and the crazy people out there — and there are too many of them — will turn those words into weapons.

So enough. Paul and his pals aren't responsible for the death of TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez, but they should be on notice that their rhetoric is dangerous. They need to grow up and shut up before more people die.

Put your laptop in the bin. Take out your liquids. Put your hands up. No one is interested in groping grandmothers and toddlers. They're looking for weapons. They're trying to save lives. They deserve to be protected. They deserve to be thanked. And this week, sadly, one must be mourned.

(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.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

Hits: 225

 
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