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Pat Buchanan - Republican cravenness & cowardice has lasted too long

"We told you you would lose!" wail the Beltway bundlers of the Republican establishment.

"We told you you would lose!" moan neoconservative columnists from their privileged perches on the op-ed pages of the Beltway press.

"Look at what Ted Cruz and this Tea Party people did to us," wails the GOP establishment. "Look what has happened to our brand." And 2014 was looking wonderful.

What a basket of wimps.

While the political and communications strategy of the fight to defund Obama seems not to have been thought through, can someone explain what else a moral and principled Republican party could have done in the continuing resolution, other than try to defund Obamacare? Have we lost sight of what a monstrosity this is? It is an immense new entitlement program being hoisted upon a nation whose back is now breaking from Great Society entitlements.

Obamacare forces Catholics to provide sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs that trample upon traditional teachings about how they are to live their lives. Recent days have exposed employers cutting back workers to 29 hours, insurance premiums surging, doctors rebelling. Obamacare moves America inexorably toward a national health care system such as they have in socialist Great Britain.

Finally, the rollout of Obamacare by Kathleen Sebelius' Department of Health and Human Services has made the rollouts of Edsel and New Coke look like marketing triumphs.

How could any principled Republican conservative vote to impose this moral, fiscal, social and technological disaster upon our country?

Here was the recommended Beltway GOP strategy: House Republicans should vote to fund Obamacare in a clean CR. Then exploit the disaster of the rollout to show what a horror it is. This will pump up our polls and improve our field position for 2014. Then we can pick up some seats!

Bottom line: Let's vote to impose Obamacare on America and make Democrats pay the price of the calamity we voted to impose. Now there may be a more cynical strategy than deliberately doing permanent damage to your country to help your party. Right now, I just can't think of it.

A party that would do such a thing would not only not deserve office; it would raise valid questions about the reasons for its continued existence. If this is how Republicans will behave when facing a decision on moral and political principle, why would conservatives want such a crowd representing them?

The Beltway GOP had best step back and take a hard look at the nation they are supposed to defend. A decades-long failure to address mass immigration has brought to our shores scores of millions now being moved wholesale to ballot boxes to vote the Party of Reagan out of power forever. With GOP collusion, the welfare state has grown so immense — with half the nation paying no income taxes and half now reaping benefits — Republicans who stand for fiscal sanity face increasingly insuperable numbers in many states.

With the Greatest Generation and Silent Generations passing on, Baby Boomers, the largest generation in history, are two years into Social Security and Medicare. Those programs are exploding, as the share of our working population is steadily sinking.

Real incomes of Americans are stagnant. Since George H. W. Bush, we have run $10 trillion in trade deficits no one mentions but can be seen in the gleaming cities of Asia and East China and the corroded and collapsing infrastructure of America. Though the debt is hitting $17 trillion and the Fed prints a trillion a year to buy up paper, T-bills and mortgage-backed securities, the U.S. growth rate remains anemic by historic standards.

Query: Did the Tea Party do all this to America, or was this caused by colossal Washington stupidity and legendary Wall Street greed?

Republican cravenness and cowardice before the commands of political correctness has gone on so long that the natural response to capitulate now appears a conditioned reflex of the Beltway Party. Yet, how, without standing and fighting against the inexorable drive to remake our republic into a socialist democracy, where tax consumers are endlessly milking tax producers in a steadily debilitating and dying economy, do Republicans think they are going to stop this? Or is their hidden agenda simply bipartisan comity and smiling acceptance of an endless series of retreats until the outcome is irreversible? Whatever one may say of the House Republican majority at least they fought.

When his troops were in a funk, FDR used to say, "Get me a bill down here I can veto!" What FDR meant was — Let's start a fight with the Republicans; that will get the boys' morale back up. That's what Republicans need now. They should tell the Democrats there will be no new taxes in any budget deal, and if there is no deal, the sequester rolls on. Then they should demand that the incompetent at HHS be fired and her entire entourage with her. Unless, of course, the party fears it might be charged with waging a "war on women."

(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

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Sanborn – September waterfront sales report

There were 18 waterfront home sales on Winnipesaukee in September at an average price of $1,114,292 and a median price point of $652,000. That's up 13 sales from last September but the average sales price is down from $1.37 million. So far this year there have been 103 sales on the big lake at an average price of $921,565. For the first nine months of 2012 there were just 94 transactions but at a higher average sales price of $1.004 million. So the total number of sales is up 9 percent but the average sales price is down 8 percent. The average time on the market for the sales in 2013 was 168 days which is a lot better than the 237 days on market reported for sales in the same period in 2012, but you must remember many of these properties were listed multiple times so those numbers are imprecise to begin with.

The Winnipesaukee entry level award this past month goes to the property at 12 Farmington Road in Alton. This renovated, 1910 two bedroom cottage is fairly roomy with 1,848 square feet of living space and although it is across the street from the water it has a separate lot with its own waterfront, dock , and small boathouse/cabana. It really looks pretty nice in the pictures! This home was offered at $285,000 and sold for $275,000 after 95 days on the market. It has an assessed value of $177,400.

The home at 267 Dockham Shore Road in Gilford represents the median price point sale last month. This property consists of a 1912 vintage, three bedroom, one bath lake cottage on a .59 acre lot with 120' of sandy frontage and a 8'x40' crib dock. Now this property had been on the market for a little while. It was listed originally in July, 2008 for $1.25 million, and was subsequently re-listed five more times for a total of 1069 days before selling at $695,000. This kind of shows you how the data shown in the MLS for the number days on market might not tell the real story. Anyway, the property is assessed at $869,730 so the new owner must feel like he got a deal. He already has the property back on the market for $1.499 million with several design options for a brand new lake home.

The highest dollar sale on Winnipesaukee last month was at 47 Shore Road in Gilford. This 7,000 square foot contemporary home was built in 2009 by Skiffington Homes. It features all the requisite amenities and high quality finishes expected in a Skiffington Home. There's a custom gourmet kitchen, a two story great room with stone fireplace and views of the lake, a first floor master suite with separate sitting area and fireplace, three en-suites upstairs, a lower level family room, a huge post and beam porch, and of course a large deck for taking in the south west sun. This property was first listed in January 2007 for $2.995 million and has been on the market a total of 2,323 days before finding a buyer at $2.4 million. It is currently assessed at $1.69 million. Very, very nice...

There were three sales on Winnisquam in September ranging from $210,000 for a 1945 vintage, three bedroom cottage with 50' of frontage at 97 Tucker Shore Road in Belmont to $740,000 for a 4,460 square foot contemporary, six bedroom, four bath home built in 2002 at 23 Lakeside Drive in Sanbornton. This property had great broad views of Winnisquam and 100'of frontage. It also had some water damage that kept in on the market for 572 days before a buyer stepped up. It is currently assessed at $721,500.
Up on Squam, there was only one sale last month but it was a nice one! This property is located at 40 Bean Cove Road in Moultonborough and is a 5,000 square foot Adirondack built in 2003 on a 10.7 acre lot with 1,035 feet of frontage. This home is literally just a few steps to the water and situated on a peninsula that affords amazing views of Moultonborough Bay. This 5,000 square foot open concept home was designed by local architect Chris Williams and features three en-suite bedrooms, four baths, plus a bunkroom that sleeps six, a gourmet kitchen featuring soapstone countertops and sinks, hand hewn hemlock beams, a great room with floor to ceiling granite fieldstone fireplace, recreation room, wine cellar, and...you know, the list just goes on and on. The property was listed at $7.5 million and sold for a cool $7 million after five days on the market. The $41,263 tax bill equated to about a $4.8 million assessed value.

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 10/15/13. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 October 2013 07:40

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Froma Harrop - Tech's next big thing won't be found on fashion runway

I never cared much for the tarted-up Burberry. The upscale British clothier sells its wares at prices for which one might reasonably demand a classic style lasting through several monarchies. But that's just me talking. Burberry is said to have turned its traditionalist label around thanks to fashion innovation. So that's just me talking.

Apple Inc. has hired Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts to apply her fashion smarts to updating its 400 stores and online shopping experience. On this I feel better equipped to predict success or failure.

A number of tech businesses are now getting mixed up with fashion. That's a dangerous trend, for tech. It threatens to turn tech's minimalist cool — a user-centered simplicity mastered by Apple's founding genius, Steve Jobs — into something complicated, not to mention sexist.

Apple has enhanced the iPhone's innards several times, but set an early model on a bar next to the latest and they look fairly alike. Only jerks sniff at someone holding last year's iPhone.

A strange article in The New York Times portrayed the tech foray into fashion as good for tech and a means of empowering women in the male-dominated gadget business. At Google Glass, the reporter wrote, "women are leading hardware and business efforts for one of Google's biggest-ever product gambles." (Google Glass is a kind of computer on goggles.) The new female hires are advising Google on color and look.

Most horrifying is the headline, "Women at Google Looking Past the Glass Ceiling" over a photo of Google founder Sergey Brin slouching in old jeans and rubber sole shoes — surrounded by Diane von Furstenberg and models in metatarsal-killing spikes, chains wrapped around their ankles. Was gender equity ever such?

We appreciate that much of tech has a fashion-accessory angle. The cutting-edge tablet and video camera have become the hipster's conspicuous consumption. And yes, Google sells computer glasses, and Samsung, computer watches. But true tech elegance rides on complex capabilities under a cover of effortless simplicity. Me talking.
Consider the Apple Stores, which Burberry's ex-CEO is supposed to save from their allegedly outdated look. Most I visit are mob scenes. One is reminded of the Yogi Berra line about an old Italian restaurant: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

Two things make the Apple Stores beautiful. One is they are a place of tech fantasy. Go there and leave convinced that with a few clicks of the keys you can make an entry for the next Sundance Film Festival.

Secondly — and this is even more important — they serve as clinics offering outpatient care for those in the midst of technical meltdown. If you're an Apple customer with a software problem, hardware problem or don't-know-which problem, you can limp into an Apple Store knowing that you will skip away with some kind of answer, if not a fix.

Apple's most loyal customers are we who have spent hours on the phone being sent to three continents for help getting a gadget to work. We know that the greatest luxury isn't fashion. It is service.

The Apple Stores have that hip minimalist vibe with a layout as predictable as a Sam's Club. Also predictable are the employees in colorful tees, there to listen patiently to your tale of confusion and carefully trained never to make the customer feel stupid.

Fantasy married to utility was Steve Jobs' brilliant formula. Don't mess with that.

Computerized glasses in tangerine are not exactly the next tech must-have. They illustrate consumer tech's problem. It needs to find the next big new thing. The place to look for that is not on a fashion runway but in a geek's garage.

(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 Thursday, 17 October 2013 09:11

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Jim Hightower - J.P. Morgan gone wild

J.P Morgan was recently socked in the wallet by financial regulators, who levied a fine of nearly a billion bucks against the Wall Street baron for massive illegalities.

Well, not a fine against John Pierpont Morgan, the man. This 19th century robber baron was born to a great banking fortune and, by hook and crook, leveraged it to become the "King of American Finance." During the Gilded Age, Morgan cornered U.S. financial markets, gained monopoly ownership of railroads, amassed a vast supply of the nation's gold and used his investment power to create U.S. Steel and take control of that market.

From his earliest days in high finance, Morgan was a hustler who often traded on the shady side. In the Civil War, for example, his family bought his way out of military duty, but he saw another way to serve. Himself, that is. Morgan bought defective rifles for $3.50 each and sold them to a general in the Union Army for $22 each. The rifles blew off soldiers' thumbs, but Morgan pleaded ignorance, and government investigators graciously absolved the young, wealthy, well-connected financier of any fault.

That seems to have set a pattern for his lifetime of antitrust violations, union busting and other over-the-edge profiteering practices. He drew numerous official charges — but of course, he never did any jail time.

Moving the clock forward, we come to JPMorgan Chase, today's financial powerhouse bearing J.P.'s name. The bank also inherited his pattern of committing multiple illegalities — and walking away scot-free. Oh sure, the bank was hit with that billion-dollar fine, but that's hardly devastating to a behemoth that hauled in $6.5 billion in just the previous three months. Besides, note that not a single one of the top bankers who committed gross wrongdoing were charged or even fired — much less sent to jail.

Fining banks is not a crime-stopper, for banks don't commit crimes. Bankers do. And they won't ever stop if they don't have to pay for their crimes.
In fact, someone should make a movie about JPM's honchos and title it: "Bankers Gone Wild!" Not long ago, America's biggest Wall Street empire was hailed as a paragon of financial integrity. But today it's a house of crime, currently under investigation for management illegalities by seven federal agencies, several states and two foreign nations.

But there's an additional "crime" taking place, hidden within that billion-dollar fine that regulators levied on the bank for top-level mismanagement, which caused shareholders to lose a whopping $6 billion in a trade scandal last year. Media reports say the bank agreed to pay the fine to settle those charges, but when it's reported that "the bank" will pony up a billion dollars, who exactly is that?

Not the bankers who committed the illegalities, but Chase's shareholders. Wow, how's that for a raw deal? The money the bankers lost belonged to shareholders, yet they're being socked for another billion to cover the bankers' fine. Imagine if you got burglarized, then were fined for being burglarized! As one law professor said, "It's not just adding insult to injury, it's adding injury to injury."

Federal regulators say it's easier to get bankers to settle a case if they can hand the fine to shareholders, who don't even get a say in the decision. But going after the bankers, they claim, would require a jury trial — and jurors might not convict.

Huh? What kind of bassackwards justice is that? Besides, it's ridiculous to think that jurors wouldn't jump at the chance to convict Wall Street banksters. That's a jury I'd like to serve on. Wouldn't you? Nail a couple of them, and that'd chill all of their wild finagling.

(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".)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 October 2013 08:31

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Bob Meade - Private enterprise versus government

Isn't it odd that if a business gets "too big", and essentially has the potential to control its market and stifle competition, the government can declare it a monopoly and work towards getting a court ruling to have the business divested; broken into smaller, independent companies that would no longer be tied to the corporation deemed to be a monopoly. Breaking up of the monopoly is intended to promote competition and give the public more choice in a free enterprise system.

In some cases, mainly in the provision of utilities such as electricity, telephone, and natural gas, state or federal government "regulation" serves as a substitute for free market competition.

Utilities are often referred to as natural monopolies. In other cases, such as the provision of various types of insurance, states also provide some regulation to ensure the insurer's ability to meet the obligations of their insurance policies. Although they're regulated, these are not considered monopolies, as there are multiple insurance companies available to compete in the marketplace.

Generally, the government decides to breakup a monopoly based on its potential to control the market and make it difficult for competition to succeed in that market. Way back when, John D. Rockefeller built such a monopoly by owning over one hundred oil refineries which provided the gasoline to his gas stations around the country. Rockefeller would open a gas station and then price his gasoline under what other gas stations in the area were charging. The other stations couldn't afford to sell at a loss and a great many of them were forced to close. Rockefeller's strategy worked and he built the Standard Oil Company "Trust" (a conglomeration of all the companies he owned, refineries, oil companies, gas stations, etc.).

President Teddy Roosevelt became known as a "Trust Buster" when he successfully dissolved 44 monopolistic companies. However, President William Howard Taft, Roosevelt's successor, was the president when Standard Oil's Trust was dissolved into 33 separate companies. It must be noted that dissolution of a trust does not mean that the shareholders are financially punished. In most cases, when the trust is dissolved into smaller independent companies, the value of the parts is worth far more than the whole. The breakup of Standard Oil essentially made Rockefeller the wealthiest person in the world.

Some notable trusts that were dissolved include the original United Technologies, which owned airplane maker Boeing Aircraft, airplane engine maker Pratt and Whitney, and airline company, United Airlines. Those companies were divested into separate entities and continue to this day as highly successful and dominant leaders in their respective fields.

Another trust that was dissolved more recently was AT&T, a "natural monopoly" known as the Bell System. Twenty two regional telephone companies, Bell Telephone Labs, Western Electric, (the Bell Systems manufacturing arm), and At&T Communications (the company's long distance division) were all restructured into seven independent operating companies. Since that breakup in 1984, the seven companies went through a series of mergers and acquisitions and are now only three companies — Verizon, Century Link, and AT&T. (One of the divested regional companies, Southwestern Bell became SBC, and acquired two of the regional companies, and independent Southern New England Telephone Company, and then it bought AT&T. SBC then adopted the AT&T name.)

What these three examples show is that the government, in what they deem to be is their responsibility to promote free enterprise and stimulate competition, can break up a company simply because of its size. In the case of Standard Oil, it was because they did, in fact, stifle competition. In the case of United Technologies, it wasn't that they were stifling competition in a fledgling industry, it was because someone in government didn't think it was a good idea that one trust should be able to build the airframe and the engines, and sell the seats on the airplane. The Bell System, a natural monopoly, had built the finest telephone system in the world and had contributed many technological innovations into the public domain, the transistor, lasers, and cellular technology, to name a few. But the government deemed it was too big and decided that the now defunct MCI corporation should be able to use the distribution resources of the Bell System.

If we accept that the government has the right, the duty, to ensure that companies be allowed to compete in free and open markets, how then can we accept that the government, which is already a huge, bloated bureaucracy that many believe is already too big, should be allowed to take over the entire health care industry? Such an act not only stifles innovation and competition, it eliminates it, as it becomes the world's largest monopoly.

If you need to replace a few spark plugs in your automobile, you don't replace the entire engine.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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