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Froma Harrop - 2 GOP positions on immigration — both wrong

On immigration, the Republican Party is trapped in two trains of thought, each speeding along the wrong track. At the tea party end, there's absolute resistance to normalizing the status of illegal immigrants. On the cheap-labor side, there's this big push to admit as many unskilled immigrants as possible.

The first view, that putting millions of illegal immigrants on the path to citizenship rewards lawbreakers, is unhelpful. It is true that they broke the law by taking jobs in the United States. It is also true that their employers broke the law in hiring them. An honest gathering of all the lawbreakers would make for an interesting roundup.

The building of this 11-million-strong population of undocumented workers had another player — the federal government. Until Barack Obama assumed office, no president took enforcing the ban on hiring illegal workers very seriously. Also making the job difficult is the loophole letting employers accept any reasonably good-looking Social Security card as proof of right to work here. Social Security cards are often stolen, and plausible ones are easy to counterfeit.

The proposed reforms would end all that. Companies would have to send the information to a central database confirming a prospective hire's right to work here. Tougher sanctions, meanwhile, would motivate employers to follow the law.

Without passage of the immigration reforms, none of this will occur. The Swiss cheese system by which undocumented workers and their employers slip through the law will remain. If you really want to end illegal immigration, the reforms offer the only reliable route. And politically they won't happen if there's no path to citizenship.

This is pretty obvious, but in many cases, animus toward Latinos trumps even self-interest. Iowa Rep. Steve King has built quite a repertory of ethnic insults, most recently referring to border crossers' calves as "the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana."

The other Republican track wants lots and lots of legal, low-skilled workers to ensure that restaurants, hotels and other service businesses need never raise their wages.
Though the hourly pay of cooks and hotel maids is actually falling, there can never be "low-enough" for the cheap-labor rump of the Republican Party.

The bill that passed the Senate provides for a new class of visas for up to 200,000 low-skilled workers. That number was reached through a delicate compromise with labor, which understandably doesn't like the idea.

But Republican Reps. Ted Poe of Texas and Raul Labrador of Idaho want more, many more, low-skilled workers. They're proposing about 400,000 visas a year. This pleases the American Hotel and Lodging Association — to an extent.

"Ideally, there should be no cap," association official Shawn McBurney told The Wall Street Journal. "It should be driven by the market."

By market, McBurney presumably means not the United States labor market, but the Western Hemispheric labor market. Hey, throw in the other hemisphere, too.

Labrador plays an interesting double game — on one hand breathing fire against the path to citizenship; on the other, opening a wide highway for imported cheap labor. Perhaps there's some consistency here: Expanding the low-skilled visa program and keeping illegal immigrants vulnerable both depress wages.

Sympathy goes to that minority of Republicans who understand what it takes to get immigration reform passed and the stakes in not succeeding. They include Arizona Sen. John McCain and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Under assault by their party's radical wings, these lawmakers deserve an extra star for bravery.

Of course, demonizing Latinos while ignoring the economic interests of all blue-collar workers is also not great politics. A Republican Party unable to change these directions is chugging into oblivion.

(Syndicated columnist Froma Harrop writes from her base at the Providence Journal.)

Last Updated on Monday, 12 August 2013 07:42

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Pat Buchanan - Do we really want Cold War II?

"There have been times when they slip back into Cold War thinking," said President Obama in his tutorial with Jay Leno.

And to show the Russians that such Cold War thinking is antiquated, Obama canceled his September summit with Vladimir Putin. The reason: Putin's grant of asylum to Edward Snowden, who showed up at the Moscow airport, his computers full of secrets that our National Security Agency has been thieving from every country on earth, including Russia.

Yet there are many KGB defectors in the United States, and Russia has never used this as an excuse to cancel a summit.

The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal are delighted, hopeful that cancellation presages a more confrontational policy toward Putin. But is a second Cold War really a good idea? And if it is coming, who is more responsible for it?

From 1989 to 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to let Eastern Europe go free and withdraw his troops and tank armies back to the Urals. The Soviet Union was allowed to dissolve into 15 nations. In three years, the USSR gave up an empire, a third of its territory, and half its people.

And it extended to us a hand of friendship.

How did we respond? We pushed NATO right up to Russia's borders, bringing in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, even former Soviet republics Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

European objections alone prevented us from handing out NATO war guarantees to Ukraine and Georgia. Was this a friendly act? Would we have regarded post-Cold War Russian alliances with Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Mexico as friendly acts?

To cut Moscow out of the Caspian Sea oil, we helped build a pipeline through two former Soviet republics, Azerbaijan and Georgia, and, thence, under the Black Sea to our NATO ally Turkey.

In the Boris Yeltsin decade, the 1990s, U.S. hustlers colluded with local oligarchs in looting Russia of her natural resources.

In the past decade, the National Endowment for Democracy and its Republican and Democratic subsidiaries helped dump over governments in Serbia, Ukraine and Georgia, and replace them with regimes friendlier to us and more distant from Moscow.

George W. Bush sought to put an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Neither country had requested it. We said it was aimed at Iran.

When my late friend, columnist Tony Blankley, visited Russia in the Bush II era, he was astounded at the hostility he encountered from Russians who felt we had responded to their offer of friendship at the end of the Cold War by taking advantage of them.

Putin is a former intelligence officer, a patriot, a nationalist.

How did we think he would react to U.S. encirclement of his country by NATO and U.S. meddling in his internal affairs?

How did American patriots in the Truman-McCarthy era react to the discovery that Hollywood, the U.S. government and our atom bomb project were riddled with communists loyal to Josef Stalin?

Why cannot we Americans see ourselves as others see us?

Why is Russia still supporting the brutal regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, the Post and Journal demand to know. Well, Russia has a long relationship with the Assad family, selling it arms and maintaining a naval base on Syria's coast. Did we expect Russia to behave as we did when our autocratic ally of 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, was challenged by crowds in Tahrir Square?

We ditched Mubarak and washed our hands of him in weeks. Russia stood by its man. And does not Putin have a point when he asks why we are backing Syrian rebels among whom are elements of that same al-Qaida that killed thousands of us in the twin towers? Is the Syrian war so clear-cut a case of good and evil that the Russians should dump their friends and support ours?

If the Assad family is irredeemably wicked, why did George H.W. Bush enlist Hafez Assad in his war to liberate Kuwait in 1991, a war to which Damascus contributed 4,000 troops?

There is another reason Russia is recoiling from America. With the death of its Marxist-Leninist ideology, Russia is moving back toward its religious and Orthodox roots. Secretly baptized at birth by his mother, Putin has embraced this.

Increasingly, religious Russians look on America, with our Hollywood values and celebrations of homosexuality, as a sick society, a focus of cultural and moral evil in the world. Much of the Islamic world that once admired America has reached the same conclusion. Yet the Post is demanding that our government stand with "the persecuted rock band" of young women who desecrated with obscene acts the high altar of Moscow's most sacred cathedral.

Upon what ground do we Americans, 53 million abortions behind us since Roe v. Wade, stand to lecture other nations on morality?

Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, trade, arms reduction — we have fish to fry with Putin. As for our lectures on democracy and morality, how 'bout we put a sock in it?

(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 Friday, 09 August 2013 08:57

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Sanborn – Ye Olde Home Tour

As of August 1, 2013 there were 1,241 residential homes on the market in the twelve towns covered by this report. The average asking price was $485,423 and the median price point was $259,900. The inventory is down from the 1,351 homes available as last August 1. The average asking price last year was $491,503 and the median price point stood exactly the same at $259,900. The current inventory level represents a 15 month supply of homes on the market. A six month inventory would be considered healthy.

If you have ever driven through the historic four corners area of Gilmanton (at the intersection of Route 107 and 140) and were amazed by the beautiful, well maintained homes that make up this quintessential New England community you are probably not alone. This past Saturday I attended a Tour of Historic Homes in Gilmanton that was held to benefit the Gilmanton Year Round Library and got to visit some of them. As a real estate agent, I see a lot of homes, but never enough really nice antique ones so this was a lot of fun for me.

The owners of nine wonderful antique properties were gracious enough to open their homes so that visitors could step back in time and view the architecture, construction, and style of the different historical periods. Starting in the corners, I visited the Federal style home of Jim and Laura Lynn Morrissey that was constructed in 1820. This home blends the look and feel of a vintage home with a modern contemporary style making it very bright, open, and livable. I am sure the original owners would be amazed at the recent kitchen remodel but surely would feel at home with the hand painted checkerboard patterns on the wide pine flooring and the beautiful hand painted mural on the stairway wall.

Next door, is another Federal style home that dates back to the early 1800's and has been owned by the Bartholomew family for five generations. This home retains the look and feel of a period home and is furnished with appropriate furniture and décor. It was like stepping back in time.

The well-known Temperance Tavern across from the Academy Building was also open for viewing. This historic home was built in 1793 and over the years has served Gilmanton as a public house, court house, post office, tavern, and bed and breakfast. This local landmark has been wonderfully restored and currently serves as the private residence of Robert and Rebecca Rhonstadt. It has six working fireplaces, six bedrooms and baths, large gathering rooms, and a nicely updated kitchen. If you are looking to open your own historic venture, whether it be an inn or antique store, this fine home is currently on the market.

A 1790's cape which originally was located in Alton was moved to 858 Province Road by its current owners Albert and Lucille Phillips in 1989. It was reconstructed board by board and retains the original charm of this period with its exposed beams, wide pine floors, wavy window glass, bricks, and granite. This home has wonderful curb appeal and while it appears small from the road it has over 3,000 square feet of living space with a large ell providing additional space off the back for a modern kitchen.

Down the road a bit further at 1218 Province Road just past Loon Pond is a 1760's center chimney cape that was also reconstructed here in 1982. This home sits on a full foundation and has all the modern amenities of a new home, but all the materials are from several buildings dating from the mid 18th century. It is correct in every other detail right down to the antique nails used to hold it all together. Its current owners, Barbara Morris and Bob Eastman, have been busy adding their own personal touches to this authentic property.

The earliest home on the tour was the museum quality restoration of a 1665 Pilgrim era garrison style saltbox at 1246 Province Road. This home was moved from Billerica, Mass and was painstakingly reconstructed by Doug Towle, Henry Page, and Justin Caldon on a 12 acre parcel of land on Frisky Hill that provides broad panoramic views. This home artfully blends pristine historic architecture with modern conveniences making this a uniquely livable and comfortable residence. There is also a carriage house, barn, water tower, and even a one room school house dating back to the 1760's on the property. This is a simply stunning property and is also currently on the market. It would make a magnificent horse property or gentleman farm. Messieurs Towle and Page are well known for the restorations of many of Gilmanton's older homes including the Morris property just down the road.

Other properties on the tour included a wonderful example of Greek Revival architecture built in 1836 by a local doctor and which later became a summer boarding house known as the Elms, a center chimney cape built in 1774, and a 1790's colonial which was also restored by Doug Towle back in the 1970's. The tour ended with a preview of a 1800's colonial home currently being restored by Doug at 493 Province Road next to the Academy in the Corners which provided insight into what goes into restoring one of these fine old properties. It was a great day filled with truly great homes...and great people!
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 8/1/13. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335

Last Updated on Friday, 09 August 2013 08:09

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Jim Hightower - Forget student loans, college should be free

Well, finally! Hard-right congressional leaders and the Obama White House have agreed that interest rates on student loans should not double to nearly 7 percent, as they let happen early in July. Instead, college students will be billed at a rate that will steadily rise higher than 8 percent.

This is progress?

Temporarily, yes, because the new law drops this year's rate to 3.8 percent. But, for the longer run, obviously not. Even capping the interest rate at 8.25 percent, as the White House demanded, is too high, for it still saddles students with a crushing debt of some $20,000 to $40,000 for a four-year degree, just as they're getting started on their economic path.

But worse, lawmakers are playing small ball again, avoiding the big issue they should be addressing. Bickering over interest-rate percentages shrivels the public debate to its most picayune and meanest point, which our so-called leaders seem to specialize in these days. They focus on the price of everything, without grasping the value of anything. And the value of a college education — not only to America's youth, but most significantly to our whole society's economic and democratic future — is clearly established.

So the big question to be asking is this: Why isn't higher education free? Les Leopold, director of the Labor Institute, notes in a July 2 Alternet piece, "For over 150 years, our nation has recognized that tuition-free primary and secondary schools were absolutely vital to the growth and functioning of our commonwealth."

Providing free education, from kindergarten through high school, paid off big for us. Today, though, that's not enough, for open access to a college degree or other advanced training is as vital to America as a high school diploma has been in our past.

Forget interest rates, young people should not be blocked by a massive debt-load from getting the education that they need to succeed — but also that all of America needs them to have for our mutual prosperity and democratic strength.

Let me frame the question in terms of a real-life choice: Is making higher education available to every American more important to our national interest than letting Wall Street profiteers make a few more billions of dollars each year?

Answer: Of course.

Yet, our political leaders — pushed by Wall Street lobbyists — have been making the opposite choice for years. As a result, banksters have loaded students down with a mountain of high-interest loans, rising from just over $2 billion in total debt a decade ago to nearly a trillion last year.
Worse, this has made the financiers — either banks or government lenders — the de facto gatekeepers of advanced education and training, shutting out thousands of young people each year who want to get ahead, but are not able to hurdle the price barrier.

This is enormously costly to America. And it's completely unnecessary. The smart choice would be to make college and professional training free — as we learned from the GI Bill after World War II. Under this 1944 law, about 7.8 million veterans were trained, including some 2.2 million who went to college; 3.5 million who went to trade, technical or other schools; 1.4 million who got on-the-job training; and 700,000 who got farm training. The total cost of the program was $14.5 billion — $1,860 per vet. A 1988 congressional study found that every public dollar invested in the GI Bill produced a $7 increase in our nation's economic output.

Likewise, a similar investment today in universal access — i.e., free access — to higher learning and training would not only more than pay for itself, but it would also produce a widely shared prosperity and deliver the priceless return of a broadly educated citizenry.

Of course, an upfront investment in a smarter, more productive, more democratic civilization is pricey. So where do we get the money to do what America needs? Get it from where it went.

Wall Street's super-rich speculators are now making millions of super-fast, robotic financial transactions per second, generating trillions of dollars a year for them — but producing nothing of real value for us, while distorting and endangering markets. Put a tiny tax on each of those transactions, affecting only the automated gambles made by speculators, and more than enough money will come into the public coffers to free up higher-ed for all.

(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 Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Gretchen Gandini - WOW Trail 101

Guess how many people used the WOW Trail last year? 41,000! Are you one of them? Whether you are a frequent user or have never been on the WOW Trail before, chances are you may be interested in learning more about it. To follow, please find a few frequently asked questions about the Trail.
What is a rail trail? A rail trail is a multi-use, recreational path that runs parallel to an active railroad line or, a path created on a former railroad corridor where trains no longer travel. In the WOW Trail's case, it is alongside an active railroad line operated by the Hobo & Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad. The trail is located in the railroad right of way owned by the State of New Hampshire and managed by the N.H. Department of Transportation.

Where is the WOW Trail? The WOW Trail is a paved, rail trail in the City of Laconia. Presently 1.3 miles long; the trail spans from Elm Street in Lakeport to North Main Street near Downtown Laconia. Design and fundraising is currently underway to extend the trail another 1.1 miles from North Main Street to the Belmont town line. After this second section of trail is completed, we will work to expand the trail in the other direction, from Elm Street in Lakeport to Weirs Beach, and then beyond to Meredith — connecting Meredith, Weirs Beach and Lakeport with Downtown Laconia via a convenient passageway.
Is it safe? Yes. Our current section of Trail has proven to be a safe, alternative route for runners, bikers and walkers between the Downtown area and Lakeport. Even more, the trail is a fun, flat place for families with little ones to practice their bike riding or take a walk. If you'd like to take a walk or run on the WOW Trail, but don't want to go alone, please consider joining us for one of our new walking and running groups. All ages and abilities are welcome. We meet on Wednesdays at 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. at the Lakeport entrance to the Trail behind the Lake Opechee Inn & Spa and at Noon and 5:30 p.m. at the North Main Street entrance to the trail just across from the Laconia Clinic.

I've never heard of a rail trail? Is the WOW Trail the first one? No. For lack of a better term, we are sort of late to the party. Nationwide, there are over 20,000 miles of rail trails, including New Hampshire's own Northern Rail Trail which spans 52 miles from Lebanon all the way to Franklin.

In addition, Franklin and Tilton-Northfield are home to the Winnipesaukee River Trail and the Town of Belmont is poised to build a rail trail beginning at the Belmont-Laconia Town line soon.
What is the long-term plan for the trail? The WOW Trail's mission is to promote, design, build and maintain a nine mile recreational path through the City of Laconia as a part of the regional trail network that will connect Meredith to Franklin. In other words, a completed WOW Trail will be the Laconia section of this regional trail effort.
Why build rail trails? Quite simply, rail trails are a good investment. Nationwide, rail trails are proven to provide safe and accessible recreation opportunities, promote active lifestyles for all ages, and stimulate local economies by increasing tourism and promoting access to local business. In fact, according to a recent Belknap Economic Development Council study, a completed WOW Trail will bring an estimated 152,000 users annually, with 38,000 coming from outside of the Lakes Region — generating a minimum of $1.8 million in new visitor spending every year. That's a good return on investment, don't you think?

Why now? A completed WOW Trail will be a game-changer for this community. Not only will it enhance the quality of life for residents, but it will attract new visitors to the area and help current and future businesses attract and retain a quality workforce by making the city a more desirable place to live, work and play. We can look at case studies of communities around the country who have seen transformative change by implementing comprehensive, regional trail systems. But, ultimately, it's up to our community to say yes to the idea around here, advocate for a more walkable City and, most importantly, help usher the project along by investing in its construction.

Walking, running and biking are recreational uses popular with and available to all ages, skills and socioeconomic levels. These activities encourage and reinforce healthy lifestyles for all people. Why wait to usher this sort of change into our community?

How will the Trail be paid for? The WOW Trail is fortunate to have a committed group of volunteers dedicated to raising funds for the continued expansion of the trail. We conduct two main fundraising events annually: the WOW Sweepstakes Ball and WOW Fest. In addition, we actively apply for grant funding and, for the first time this fall, we will introduce an end of year fundraising appeal to the community.
When will the next section of the Trail be built? If design and fundraising go as planned, another 1.1 miles of trail will be built (from North Main Street in Laconia to the Belmont Town line) by the Fall of 2014.
How can I help? Please share your enthusiasm for the trail with local and state representatives. Volunteer your time. Make a donation. Use the trail. Participate in an upcoming fundraising event. WOW Fest 2013 will be held on September 14th at Laconia Athletic and Swim Club. It's a fun-filled event for the whole family featuring two bicycle challenges, 5K and 10K road races, fun walk, BBQ lunch, live music and kids activities. For more information, please visit www.wowtrail.org.
How can I learn more? The WOW Trail's Annual Meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 14th at 4:30 p.m. at Pitman's Freight Room in Laconia. We are working hard to expand the Trail for you, our friends in the community who have the opportunity to use the Trail every day, and the countless visitors who will one day visit the Lakes Region for a ride, walk, run, or snowshoe on our scenic rail trail. Please join us on August 14th as we review the past year's accomplishments and look ahead at our goals for the coming year. Hope to see you there!
(Gretchen Gandini is the Executive Director of the WOW Trail. She welcomes your comments, questions and ideas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 09:48

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