Pat Buchanan - Is America out of world causes?

"If the Cold War is over, what's the point of being an American?" said Rabbit Angstrom, the protagonist of the John Updike novels. A haunting remark, since, for 40 years, America was largely united on the proposition that our survival depended upon our victory over communism in the Cold War.

We had a cause then. By and large, we stood together through the crises in the first decades of that Cold War — the Berlin blockade, Stalin's atom bomb and the fall of China to Mao, the Korean War, the Hungarian revolution, the Cuban missile crisis, and on into Vietnam. We accepted the conscription of our young men. We accepted wars in Asia, and, if need be, in Europe, to check the Soviet Empire.

Vietnam sundered that unity.

By 1967, the Gene McCarthy-Robert Kennedy wing of the Democratic Party had broken with the Cold War consensus. "We have gotten over our inordinate fear of communism," said Jimmy Carter. The Reagan Republicans and George H. W. Bush would pick up the torch and lead the nation to victory in the last decade of that Cold War that had been a defining cause of the American nation. But when it was over in 1990, America was suddenly at a loss for a new cause to live for, fight for and, if need be, see its sons die for.

Bush 1, after leading a coalition that drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, declared that America's cause would be the building of a "New World Order." But few Americans bought in. Sixteen months after his victory parade up Constitution Avenue, after Bush had reached 90 percent approval, 62 percent of his country's electorate voted to replace him with Bill Clinton or Ross Perot.

Clinton pursued liberal interventionism in the Balkans, leading to 78 days of bombing Serbia, and he regretted not intervening in Rwanda to halt the genocide.

George W. Bush promised a "humble" foreign policy. But 9/11 put an end to that. After driving the Taliban from power and Osama Bin Laden out of Afghanistan, he declared that America's new goal was preventing an "axis of evil" — Iraq, Iran, North Korea — from acquiring nuclear weapons. Then, Bush marched us up to Baghdad. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq lasted years longer and cost far more in blood and treasure than Bush had anticipated. At the peak of his prestige, like Pope Urban II, Bush declared a global crusade for democracy. This ended like many of the crusades. Democratic elections were won by Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and, after the Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Barack Obama promised to end the Bush wars and bring the troops home. And he was rewarded with two terms by a country that has shown minimal enthusiasm for more wars in the Middle East.

Obama is now openly mocking the McCainiacs. "Right now, if I was taking the advice of some of the members of Congress who holler all the time, we'd be in, like, seven wars right now," he told a group of veterans and Gold Star mothers of slain U.S. soldiers.

This reluctance to begin wars or intervene in wars — be it in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Ukraine — seems to comport with the wishes of the country. And this new reality raises serious questions.

What is America's cause today? What is our mission in the world? For what end, other than defending our citizens, vital interests and crucial allies, would we be willing to send a great army to fight — as we did in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan?

Are all the global causes of Bush I, Clinton, Bush II over?

Where is the coherence, the consistency, of U.S. policy in the Middle East that should cause us to draw red lines, and fight if they are crossed?

If our belief in democracy demands the ouster of the dictator Assad in Damascus, how can we ally with the theocratic monarchy in Riyadh, the Sunni king sitting atop a Shiite majority in Bahrain, and the Egyptian general on his throne in Cairo, who took power in a military coup against a democratically elected Muslim government?

Other than supporting Israel, maintaining access to Gulf oil and resisting ISIS and al-Qaida, upon what do Americans agree?

Henry Kissinger seeks a restoration of the crumbling strategic architecture. Neocons and interventionist liberals want to confront Russia and Iran. Reluctant interventionists like Obama, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders think we should stay out of other wars there.

"When a people is divided within itself about the conduct of its foreign relations, it is unable to agree on the determination of its true interests," wrote Walter Lippmann at the climax of World War II: "Thus, its course in foreign policy depends, in Hamilton's words, not on reflection and choice but on accident and force."

America is a nation divided, not only upon the means we should use to attain our ends in the world, but upon the ends themselves.

(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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E. Scott Cracraft - Faith, philosophy & science

Unfortunately, 90 years after the Scopes "Monkey Trial," we are still having the same debate. Many sincere people do not get it: academics are not all a bunch of "liberal atheists" out to destroy faith. Some think that things which are matters of faith such as creationism or "intelligent design" should be taught in the "hard" sciences as legitimate "alternative theories" — which they are not. These do not seem to understand the differences between true science, faith and philosophy.
In the Middle Ages, there were universities in Europe. "Scientific" subjects like medicine and astronomy were part of the curriculum but were not studied using the modern "scientific method". The universities were controlled by the Church and the Church had its models already constructed. These models were based not only on the Bible but on the writings of other Christian thinkers as well as Greco-Roman philosophers who had been made "honorary" Christians! Therefore, your data had to fit the Church's model including the idea that the sun orbited the earth (as Galileo found out when visited by the Inquisition). In modern science, you collect data and then create the model.
The scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th Centuries was not "anti-faith". In fact, these breakthroughs in science were, in large part, due to changes in thinking brought about by the Protestant Reformation. If you teach people to read the Scriptures for themselves, the logical conclusion is that people should think for themselves and reach their own conclusions. It is ironic that today, it is most often Protestants who criticize science but this really only began in with the Fundamentalist revivals of the early 20th Century.
Isaac Newton was a man of faith but also of science. He believed God governed the universe through demonstrable physical laws like gravity. If Newton were here today, he might say: "God may love you but if you jump off a building, guess what's going to happen?"
Some writers to The Sun claim that to teach evolution is tantamount to preaching atheism. They say "if you do not believe in the Bible literally, you must be an atheist." That is ridiculous since there are many who believe in both God and evolution. This is the official position of many denominations.
"Intelligent design" only emerged as an attempted end run around court decisions that teaching creation "science" was an unconstitutional intrusion of religion into taxpayer-funded schools. Science can only talk about what is observable, demonstrable, a verifiable. While God may exist, there is no way using the scientifically to verify His (or Her) existence in a laboratory. Thus, such a belief is a matter of faith or philosophy. The origins of the universe and life can be explained without God back to the "Big Bang". Before that it is a matter of faith or philosophy. An Army chaplain once told this writer (when confused by his own "doubts") that even the most religious person is to some degree, an "agnostic" because we are dealing with questions which cannot be empirically proven.
Does religion, religious scriptures, creation myths, or "intelligent design" belong in public schools and colleges? Of course they do. One cannot study history without understanding the role religion has played. One cannot discuss Western Civilization without understanding its Judeo-Christian roots. But, these should be taught in philosophy, humanities, social studies, and literature classes, not as "alternative theories" in biology or geology courses.
As for "intelligent design" this writer may believe there is an overall "plan" but cannot prove it. To use a non-religious analogy: while this writer may think there are intelligent civilizations elsewhere in the universe, he does not know of any "hard" evidence that extraterrestrials regularly visit and abduct people!
Finally there is a common myth that "liberal secularists" (with the collaboration of the U.S Supreme Court) have "banned God" from our public schools. What the courts actually said is that a public school teacher cannot preach a religious viewpoint. But, students retain their Constitutional right to "free exercise". Students are allowed to wear religious symbols, read religious texts, or pray on their own time. Of course, a math teacher may ask a student to close the Bible during math class and to open the math textbook!
(Scott Crafcraft is a citizen, a taxpayer, a veteran, and a resident of Gilford. He is not a theologian or a clergyman.)

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Lakes Region Profiles — Living in a poem in the Lakes Region

By MARY O'NEILL

Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group

 

I propose that understanding poetry should be easy for those who live in the Lakes Region. Who would not be able to relate to the words of W. B. Yeats when he said, "I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore...I hear it in the deep heart's score" or Robert Frost as he watched the "woods fill up with snow" and heard "the sweep of easy wind and downy flake." These images are easily evoked for a person traveling around the Lakes Region's handsome forests and picturesque lakes. There are a thousand places in the Lakes Region to walk "between the woods and...lake."

Ahern Park, a 128 acre state park in Laconia, is one of these places. It is a favorite of locals and considered their "secret." With an easy walk from many of the Laconia neighborhoods, a person is instantly transported back to old New Hampshire. Lush open fields give way to a tall pine forest. Deep in the forest, wooded paths lead you to the edge of Lake Winnisquam. A wide gravel trail piled deep in fallen pine needles follows 3,500 feet of jagged shoreline and offers breathtaking views of the lake and mountains. It is truly a walk back in time. Robert Frost would certainly have approved of this unspoiled spot "between the woods and...lake," only one of many such spots to be discovered in the Lakes Region. In addition to State parks and forests, the Lakes Region Conservation Trust properties offer many hikes and walks on old carriage and logging roads.

William Campbell wrote of experiencing dawn on an island with "stretches of water flamed-bathed by the incoming light...as God sends the manifold mystery of the morning and lake round to me." How well this describes the feelings of one who wakes and looks over the waters of Winnipesaukee, Squam, Newfound, Kanasatka, Wicwas, Waukewan or one of many other lakes or ponds. Anyone who is blessed to have a house or camp on one of the hundreds of islands or near the shores of the lakes can relate to this description – a beautiful expanse of water reflecting the colors of the day to come. "God's mirrors underneath the sky." They can join Campbell as he cries out, "O magic region of blue waters throbbing."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described a village in celebration, conjuring an image of many a festival in any one of the towns in the Lakes Region. "Group after group appeared... thronged were the streets with people; and noisy groups at the house-doors sat in the cheerful sun, and rejoiced and gossiped together." In all four seasons, communities like Wolfeboro, Meredith, Center Harbor, Gilford, Belmont, Sanbornton, Alton, and Laconia are bustling with local activities and events: fairs, multicultural days, races, carnivals, sports gatherings, holiday celebrations, and this year's inaugural pumpkin festival. There is a sense of community, friendship, and common purpose in the Lakes Region towns, a truth that would lead many to agree with Mark Twain when he said, "Human nature cannot be studied in cities except at a disadvantage – a village is the place. There you can know your man inside and out – in a city you but know his crust; and his crust is usually a lie."

And when the festivals are over and the populace returns to their house or farm, an enjoyable peace settles over the Lakes Region. Now to take the lines of Alexander Pope: "How happy he, who free from care, the rage of courts, and noise of towns, contented breathes his native air in his own grounds."

"Ours is a great wild country: if you climb to our castle's top, I don't see where your eye can stop." What better expression is there to describe Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough than these words of Robert Browning? This unique treasure of the Lakes Region is a mountain top mansion with an unusual history. It was built in the early 1900s and rests on 5,500 acres of the Ossipee Mountain Range. Its many hiking trails afford spectacular views of the lakes to the south and the White Mountains to the north. Other mountains surrounding the lakes offer an amazing array of hikes where you "don't see where your eye can stop." From the top of Mt. Major in Alton, the entire blueprint of the Lakes Region expands north and merges with the distant White Mountains. A short distance to the west in Gilford, Belknap and Gunstock Mountains present equally remarkable views. Rattlesnake, Fayal, and Red Hill to the north give a different perspective looking southerly as the lakes sprawl out and meet the Belknap Range and hills beyond. Each culminates in breathtaking views that require one to borrow the words of Anne Bradstreet: "The more I look'd, the more I grew amaz'ed and softly said, what glory's like to thee?"

Everywhere you go in the Lakes Region you are confronted with history – the names of lakes and rivers that reflect the Indian heritage going back hundreds of years; the old settlements with roots to colonial days; a monument here, a old building there, that reveals a glimpse of the past. The lakes, as a drawing card for Indians and settlers alike, made this region a treasure trove of the mysteries of history. Each road has a story to tell, each town a secret to disclose. "Through all time I hear the approaching feet along the flinty pathway beat of him that cometh, and shall come...and all town-sprinkled lands that be, sailing through stars with all their history." These words of Ralph Waldo Emerson could have easily been written in the Lakes Region.

"Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy." Could it be this poetic verse by the psalmist was composed while experiencing a vision of a color-filled fall day in the Lakes Region? When Robert Frost penned the words, "There were ten thousand fruit to touch, cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall," could he have been sitting on a rock at Smith Orchard in Belmont, Stonybrook Farm in Gilford, DeVylder Farm in Wolfeboro, or one of many other Lakes Region apple orchards? Probably not, but one can only guess what works of art have been inspired by the beauty of the Lakes Region. It has and always will be a source of inspiration.

Citizens of the Lakes Region, dust off your poetry books. Yours is the place of which poems are written. It is time to rediscover the Lakes Region in a thousand poems. But why stop there? The Lakes Region can be found in a gallery of paintings, a library of novels, a museum of fine art. Yours is the substance from which these are made. Yours is a place worth painting, a wellspring for novelists, and a muse for poets.

Wallace Stevens wrote, "Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake." These mysterious words surely have many meanings, but perhaps they are telling those who live in the Lakes Region, "Continue to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful place where you live because it is the closest thing to true living in this chaotic world." And for those who don't live here, the words are telling them, "Don't just read a poem. Come live a poem."
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 & Laconia, NH and can be reached at (603) 366-6306. rocherealty.com

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Michell Malkin - Obamacare making a mess of medical records 'reform'

Hey, who's up for a stiff dose of "See, I told you so?"

For the past several years, medical professionals have warned that the federal electronic medical records mandate — buried in the trillion-dollar Obama stimulus of 2009 — would do more harm than good. Their diagnosis, unfortunately, is on the nose.

The Quack-in-Chief peddled his tech-centric elixir as a cost-saving miracle. "This will cut waste, eliminate red tape, and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests," he crowed at the time. In theory, of course, modernizing record-collection is a good idea, which many private health care providers had already adopted before the Healer of All Things took office.

But in the clumsy, power-grabbing hands of Washington bureaucrats, Obama's one-size-fits-all EMR regulations have morphed into what one expert called "healthcare information technology's version of cash-for-clunkers."

I reported in 2012 how my own primary care physician quit her regular practice and converted to "concierge care" because of the meddlesome EMR burden. Untold numbers of docs across the country have done the same.

In 2013, health care analysts at the RAND Corporation admitted that their cost-savings predictions of $81 billion a year were vastly inflated.

In 2014, RAND researchers interviewed doctors who spotlighted "important negative effects" of the EMR mandate on "their professional lives and, in some troubling ways, on patient care. They described poor EHR usability that did not match clinical workflows, time-consuming data entry, interference with face-to-face patient care, and overwhelming numbers of electronic messages and alerts."

And the hits keep coming.

Robert Wachter, author of the recently published "The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine's Computer Age," chronicled the damage he's witnessed: "Physicians retiring early. Small practices bankrupted by up-front expenses or locked into ineffective systems by the prohibitive cost of switching. Hours consumed by onerous data entry unrelated to patient care. Workflow disruptions. And above all, massive intrusions on our patient relationships."

The American Medical Association, which foolishly backed Obamacare, is now balking at top-down government intrusion into their profession. Better late than never. The group launched a campaign called "Break the Red Tape" this summer to pressure D.C. to pause the new medical-record rules as an estimated 250,000 physicians face fines totaling $200 million a year for failing to comply with "meaningful use" EMR requirements.
In Massachusetts last month, physicians decried the failure to achieve true "interoperability" between EMR systems despite a $30 billion federal investment through the Obama stimulus. Dr. Dennis Dimitri, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, noted at a rancor-filled town hall that the mandate has "added significant time to the daily life of most physicians in their practices," WBUR reported. "It has not necessarily lived up to expectations in terms of its ability to provide cues to physicians to make sure that necessary treatments are not being missed. It has certainly not been able to swiftly disseminate information from one clinical setting to another."

That's in no small part due to the cronyism embedded in the federal stimulus "incentives" — a massive chunk of which the White House doled out to behemoth EMR company Epic Systems, headed by Obama crony Judith Faulkner. As I've noted repeatedly in this column the past three years, Epic continues to be plagued by both industry and provider complaints about its creaky, closed-end system and exorbitant fee structure to enable the very kind of interoperability the Obama EMR mandate was supposed to ensure.

Now, even left-wing Mother Jones magazine reports this week that "instead of ushering in a new age of secure and easily accessible medical files, Epic has helped create a fragmented system that leaves doctors unable to trade information across practices or hospitals. That hurts patients who can't be assured that their records — drug allergies, test results, X-rays — will be available to the doctors who need to see them. This is especially important for patients with lengthy and complicated health histories."

The Obama White House has responded by doubling down on its destructive EMR rules that punish both patients and providers. Congress must intervene. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, introduced a bill Thursday to repeal the draconian penalties "so that providers can get back to the business they are uniquely trained to do — utilizing their skills and knowledge to heal the sick and support the continued vitality of the healthy."

Prescription: Butt out, Washington. Primum non nocere.

(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.)

 

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Jim Hightower - My pick for Speaker of the House

If it were under the big top, it would be a hilarious clown show — with pratfalls, wild posturing, tumbling, juggling and a cacophony of comic chaos.

But alas, it's under the Capitol dome, so it's just the Republican congressional caucus — bumbling, stumbling, and crashing into each other in clownish acts of ideological zaniness, political incoherence and pathetic ineptitude. The present bedlam on the Hill was prompted by House Speaker John Boehner abruptly deciding to zip-a-dee-doo-dah out of office, having finally given up on corralling his caucus of clowns.

Sadly, his withdrawal has only intensified the buffoonery, generating a slapstick intramural contest over which group of far-out right-wingers gets their pick to replace him. Boehner's contingent of anti-government, corporate-hugging extremists want one of their own, while assorted groupings of even fringier, farther-out packs of mad-dog tea party Republicans want someone who'll howl at the moon and literally shut down the government.

When Speaker Boehner gave up his position because he couldn't stand running the show anymore, next in line was Rep. Kevin McCarthy. He started campaigning for the job, but quickly backed off after he let it slip that the House Benghazi hearings were held just to damage Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and really had nothing to do with national security.

For the moment, Rep. Paul Ryan appears to be the most likely pick, except for two problems: One, he doesn't really want the thankless task of clown-herding, unless he can get all factions of Republicans to a level of consensus (good luck with that!); and two, even though he is an Ayn Rand-worshipping, Koch-hugging, laissez-fairyland ideologue dedicated to killing everything from Social Security to Obamacare, Ryan is just not right-wing enough for the howlers. He's considering whether to run for the job, but even if he does — and wins — the spectacle will continue.

The amusing irony in Ryan's predicament is he helped create his own mess! He was chief architect of the 2010 Republican scheme to take over Congress by recruiting and electing the mad dogs who are now biting him on the butt — and turning the U.S. House of Representatives into the House of Ridiculousness. As Rep. Peter King put it: "We look absolutely crazy."
And Rep. King is right. What's at work here is the Crazy Caucus. At one level or another, nearly all Republican House members belong, but the caucus is driven by about 40 hyper-crazies who believe that the greatest problems facing our country are Hillary Clinton's e-mails, Planned Parenthood, the existence of public services and the "hordes" of Mexicans who sneak into our country so they can vote for Democrats. It's the job of the House speaker to try "leading" these mad dogs to an occasional bit of sanity. Who really wants to do that — or even thinks it's possible?

Well, several of the mad dogs themselves say they should be put in charge. Daniel Webster says he's available (not the smart guy who compiled the dictionary, but a tea party bozo from Florida). Bill Flores, a little-known tea party know-nothing from Texas, says he would unite the House by getting all the members to "spend enough time on our knees praying for each other." That's silly, but the idea of keeping lawmakers on their knees is appealing. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, a prince of right-wing pomposity who was elected by the billionaire Koch brothers to be their personal representative in Washington, says he's ready to lead the House toward a Koch-headed plutocracy.

That's pathetic. But wait — we have another surprising choice. It's a little-known fact, but the speaker of our House of Representatives does not actually have to be a member of Congress. So why don't we choose someone like a kindergarten teacher, a minimum-wage worker, an organic farmer or a circus ringmaster to run the show? Or maybe a group psychologist is what the place really needs.

(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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