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Pat Buchanan - Talk to to the man from Iraq

In the fall of 1956, Nikita Khrushchev threatened to rain rockets down on London for the British invasion of Suez and sent his tanks into Budapest to drown the Hungarian Revolution in blood. He blew up the Paris summit in 1960, banged his shoe at the U.N., and warned Americans, "We will bury you!" He insulted John F. Kennedy in Vienna, built the Berlin Wall, and began secretly to place missiles in Cuba capable of annihilating every city in the Southeast, including Washington.

Those were sobering times and serious enemies. Yet in the Eisenhower-Kennedy years, living under a nuclear Sword of Damocles unlike any the world had ever known, we Americans were on balance a cool, calm and collected crowd.

How then explain the semi-hysteria and near panic in circles of this city over the possibility President Obama might meet with President Hassan Rouhani and hold negotiations over Iran's nuclear program? We hear talk of Hitler in the Rhineland, of a new Munich, of America failing to act as Britain failed to act, until, back to the wall, it had no choice but to fight. The old Churchill quotes are heard once again.

But is the Ayatollah Hitler? Is Rouhani von Ribbentrop? Is Iran the Fourth Reich? Should we be very very afraid?

Iran, we are told, is the most dangerous enemy America faces. But is this true?

Depending on one's source, Iran's economy is 2 to 4 percent of ours. After oil and gas, its big exports appear to be caviar, carpets and pistachio nuts. Inflation is unbridled and Iran's currency is plummeting.

Here is the New York Times last month: "Rouhani's aides describe Iran's economic situation as the worst in decades. ... The signs of woe abound. Lacking money, Iran's national soccer team scrapped a training trip to Portugal. Teachers in Tehran nervously awaited their wages, which were inexplicably delayed by more than a week. Officials warned recently that food and medicine imports have stalled for three weeks because of a lack of foreign currency."

Should Iran start a war, the sinking of its coastal navy would be a few days' work for the Fifth Fleet. Its air force of U.S. Phantoms dating to the Shah and few dozen MiGs dating to the early 1990s would provide a turkey shoot for Top Gun applicants. In 30 days, the United States could destroy its airfields, missile sites and nuclear facilities, and impose an air and naval blockade that would reduce Iran to destitution.
And Iran is not only isolated economically. She is a Shia nation in a Muslim world 90 percent Sunni, a Persian nation on the edge of a sea of 320 million Arabs. Kurds, Azeris, Arabs and Baluch make up close to half of Iran's population. War with America could tear Iran apart.

Why then would Tehran want a war — and with a superpower?

Answer: It doesn't. Since the 1979 revolution, Iran has attacked no nation and gone to war once — to defend herself against Saddam Hussein's aggression that had the backing of the United States.

In that war, the Iranians suffered the worst poison gas attacks since Gamal Abdel Nasser used gas in Yemen and Benito Mussolini used it in Abyssinia. Iran has thus condemned the use of gas in Syria and offered to help get rid of it.

Last year, Iran's departing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who frightened so many, made a simple logical point about Iran's supposed bomb program: "Let's even imagine that we have an atomic weapon, a nuclear weapon. What would we do with it? What intelligent person would fight 5,000 American bombs with one bomb?"

Yet, still, the beat goes on. "There is no more time to hold negotiations," says Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, Iran is only six months from developing an atom bomb. Yet the New York Times reports Monday, "American intelligence experts believe Iran is still many months if not years away from having such a weapon." Time to clear this up.

Congress should call James Clapper, head of national intelligence, and pin him down publicly on these questions:

Has Iran made the decision to build an atom bomb? Does Iran even have all the ingredients for a bomb? If Iran made a decision to build a bomb would we know about it? And how long would it take for Iran to build and test a nuclear device?

Americans were misled, deceived and lied into one war. Let's not follow the same crowd into another.

Obama is being urged not to meet with Rouhani, as the man has a checkered past. Yet U.S. presidents met three times with Stalin, three with the Butcher of Budapest, once with Chairman Mao. Compared to these fellows, Hussein Rouhani looks like Ramsey Clark.

Query: If Iran has the scientific and industrial capacity to build a bomb — and all agree it has — what could conceivably be the reason Iran has not yet done so?

Perhaps, just perhaps, Iran doesn't want the bomb.

Talk to the man, Mr. President.

(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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Froma Harrop - Obamacare will soon be part of American life - 638

Voices from right field are explaining why they're justified in threatening the United States with default if Congress does not defund Obamacare. The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel said on Sunday chat TV, "There isn't one poll that shows that Americans approve, as a majority, of this health care law."
That's an interesting concept: repeal by poll. Can't find it in the civics books. And seeing as the polls also show huge chunks of the public unaware of what's in the Affordable Care Act — or even of its existence — of what use are those numbers? Further note that a significant slice of the unhappy ones complain that the reforms don't go far enough.
Of course, Obamacare could be repealed the old-fashioned civics-book way. That's not going to happen as long as there's a Democratic majority in the Senate. But Republicans could ride the imagined discontent to victory, via an election, and then get rid of the law.
Perhaps the objective of the game is the game. For pure excitement, it's hard to beat threats of a government shutdown — and the attendant trauma to business, markets and the delicate economic recovery.
The game is not good for the American people, and as wiser Republicans say, it's not good for the Republican Party. Even a government shutdown, however, would not stop Obamacare, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The lapse in appropriations would hit only "discretionary" funding. Most of Obamacare is on the "mandatory" spending side of the budget. And the White House could move some mandatory spending around to fill discretionary cuts.
All this civics talk is giving the American people a headache. So let's look at the polls for Romneycare, the Massachusetts health care law and model for Obamacare. What do the Bay State polls say?
When it went into effect seven years ago, polls showed a skeptical, if not hostile, view of Romneycare. Now you couldn't pull the health plan out of the people's cold dead hands. The latest Massachusetts Medical Society poll has 84 percent of state residents happy with their health coverage, versus national polls showing only 67 percent of Americans so content.
Like Obamacare, the Massachusetts plan caused some confusion at first. Kinks needed to be ironed out and were.
Forgive this brief foray into policy. Warnings that Romneycare would lead Massachusetts businesses to drop their workers' coverage did not come to pass. On the contrary, employers offering insurance rose to 76 percent, from 70 percent before the reforms.
Obamacare is more fiscally conservative than was the original Romneycare. It does more to control costs.
For example, Obamacare proposes bundling payments for a medical condition. That basically means one check is written to cover soup-to-nuts treatment for an ailment, such as a broken foot. That removes incentives to order more X-rays, office visits or other care not needed. And it rewards providers who do a good job the first time around.
Massachusetts offers subsidies to those earning less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level. The federal government is less generous, starting subsidies at 400 percent of the poverty marker.
The fiscally conservative Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation praises Romneycare. The program's sharpest critics, the group says, are from out of state or single-payer advocates on the left.
Obamacare, like Romneycare, will soon earn the people's love. But between now and its full implementation, Americans will be dragged into the basement for another round of threats to their well-being.
There's no stopping the tea party folks from trying, but Obamacare will soon be part of the people's lives. The big neon sign will flash "Game Over," and the right-wingers will move on to their next adventure.

(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 Monday, 23 September 2013 09:29

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Pat Buchanan - Is sun peeking through the war clouds?

Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck is sometimes credited with the proverb, "God has a special providence for fools, drunks and the United States of America."

Observing the unfolding of the Syrian crisis, the Iron Chancellor was an insightful man. In August, we were hours away from missile strikes on Syria and involvement in its civil war with the possibility that Hezbollah, Iran and Russia would be drawn in. Seeking a way out of the box into which he gotten himself with his "Assad Must Go!" and "red line" bluster, President Obama announced he was going to Congress to get its backing, before bombing. This ignited a Middle American uprising against Obama's war. Then John Kerry said Syria could evade the terrible swift sword of Barack Obama only by surrendering all their chemical weapons within a week.

Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, watching the United States careening toward a war that Russia no more wanted than did most of Congress, seized upon Kerry's statement and said: Let us work together to rid Syria of chemical arms. Obama grabbed the life preserver.

To say the War Party is apoplectic at Obama for blowing this chance to get us into war with Syria, which held real promise of sucking us into a war with Iran, is an understatement. The worst peace scare in memory is sweeping through the think tanks of Washington.

Conceding the incompetence of how Obama and Kerry got us into this mess, are we not in a far better place than a month ago?

— A U.S. war on Syria has been averted. We are not killing Syrians.

— Assad has conceded he has chemical weapons and has shown a willingness to have inspectors come in and remove it.

— The chilly, almost Cold War-like relations between Obama and Putin have given way to cooperation in getting these chemical weapons chronicled and removed.

— While this disarmament may take years, this is a powerful incentive for America and Russia to bring about a cease-fire, truce or end to this civil-sectarian war that has taken so many thousands of lives.

— There is a rising realization in the United States that the enemy in Syria is not Assad but the al-Qaida fighters and their allies. A victory for the rebels could mean mass martyrdom for Syria's Christians and the annihilation of the Alawites.

— Hassan Rouhani, the new prime minister of Iran, has gone on U.S. television to declare Iran is not only not building an atom bomb, it will never do so. And he has signaled a willingness to prove it in return for a lifting of sanctions and readmission to the world community.
— A U.S.-Iranian meeting appears possible next week at the U.N., which could lead to direct negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.

There is always a possibility an incident could turn the United States back toward the bellicosity of August and put the War Party back in the saddle. But there are reasons to be hopeful. And that hope is not based on some naive trust in the truth of what we are being told by our adversaries, but on what their own cold interests dictate.

Take Russia. A U.S. attack on Syria would surely lead to deeper U.S. involvement, the fall of Assad, the loss of her principal ally in the Arab world and her naval base at Latakia, and a loss of prestige at having been proven unable to protect her Syrian ally from the Americans.

A U.S. war on Assad's regime could also mean a victory for Islamists and their capture of some of Assad's chemical weapons, which could turn up in the Caucasus just in time for the Sochi Olympics.

Take Iran. She is suffering from the sanctions. Failure to do a deal on her nuclear program carries a rising risk the War Party will get its way and the United States will launch air and missile strikes, leading to a war in the Persian Gulf. No matter the damage this might do to America and the global economy, Iran could be set back decades. A breakup of Iran is possible, as Iraq is breaking up.

And what would an atom bomb do for Iran? The Saudis would acquire one, and the Israelis would put their hundreds on a hair trigger.

If America was not intimidated by thousands of nuclear weapons in Soviet silos and on Soviet submarines, does Tehran think an Iranian bomb is going to frighten the Americans out of the Gulf?

Take Syria. Assad wants to survive and emerge victorious from his civil war. That means no war with the United States. That means meeting the Americans at least halfway.

In short, the United States, Russia, Syria and even Iran have a cold interest in no wider war in Syria. Unfortunately, powerful forces across the Middle East, and right here in River City, believe they have a vital interest in bringing about just such a war.

(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, 20 September 2013 10:05

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Sanborn – Lakes Region Waterfront Sales Report August 2013

August was a great month for waterfront sales on Winnipesaukee with a whopping 23 transactions. There were six sales over the $1 million mark, but a large number of low end sales brought the average sales price down to $731,396. That brings the total sales for the year thus far to 84 at an average price of $884,570 compared to 81 sales at $945,453 for the same period last year.

The highest sale on Winni for the month was at 46 Veasey Shore Road in Meredith. This contemporary, Adirondack style home was built in 2009 and has 5,856 square feet of living space to get lost in. The great room features wood cathedral ceilings, a wall of stone encompassing the fireplace, and a wall of windows to take in the view which also leads out onto expansive decking. The custom kitchen, a four season porch, and a master suite round out the main living level. The second level has en-suite bedrooms and a loft while the lower level walk-out has a family room with a fireplace, game room, and an additional bedroom. The home sits on a 2.68 acre lot with 250' of frontage with great long range views, a u-shaped dock, and a bunkhouse at the water's edge. This home had been on the market for around three years with a starting price of $3.85 million and finally sold in "as is" condition for $1.8 million. The current assessed value is $1.91 million.

The home representing this month's median price point of $600,000 is located at 37 Indian Shore Road in Alton. This is a 1975 vintage, 1,872 square foot, three bed, two bath home with outstanding views. The house sits on a .46 acre lot with 100' of frontage and has a covered U-shaped dock. This was the first time this property was offered for sale and the $650,000 list price definitely caught someone's attention as it was only on the market for 28 days before selling at the $600,000 mark. It is currently assessed at $640,400.

Once again, an island property takes the entry level lowest price award. A "cute, cute" one room cabin that is said to contain all the necessities one could want or need at 286 Sleeper Island in Alton gets the honors. I'll have to take the agent's word that it is cute as there were no pictures on-line. This is truly a place to become one with yourself. You may have no choice as it has 192 square feet of living space, but there is a deck that provides additional space to spread out when necessary. There is a separate shed for an incinolet toilet (that's electric, folks) and, as one would expect, the water source is the lake. But hey, it sits on a half acre lot with 100' of frontage. It was listed at $198,500 and sold after only 20 days on the market for $190,000! Its current assessment is $153,100. I think it was the incinolet that really sealed the deal...

There were three waterfront sales on Winnisquam in August bringing the total so far this year to 10 sales at an average price of $498,750. That equals the 10 sales last year at an average of $499,100. That's pretty coincidental! The largest sale for the month was at 35 Lakeside Drive in Sanbornton. This home was being offered for the first time by the original owner and was in pristine condition. Built in 2003, it has 3,260 square feet of living space, four bedrooms, three and a half baths, hardwood floors with radiant heat, granite, tile, beautiful woodwork, a finished walk out basement, and fantastic views across the broadest part of the lake. The house sits on a quarter acre, nicely landscaped lot with 100' of frontage and dock. This home was offered originally at $889,000, was reduced to $830,000, and sold for $793,000 after 194 days on the market. It is currently assessed at $657,600.

There was one sale on Squam in August which occurred at 471 High Haith Road in Center Harbor. This 2,892 square foot residence was built in 1983 and sits on a 13.4 acre lot with 850' of frontage. Not a lot of other info and no internal pictures were provided in the MLS. I guess we'll have to guess about how nice this place is but as it sold for $3.65 million I assume it was probably more than OK...what do you think?
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 9/13/13. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 September 2013 08:03

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Susan Estrich - A bar set too low

While details are still emerging about Aaron Alexis, the man responsible for killing 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard, this much is already clear. This man never should have had a security clearance that allowed him to enter the Yard. And he never should have been permitted to buy a gun.

This is a man with a history of repeated infractions as a Navy reservist and troubling run-ins with authorities. In one such episode, just last month, Alexis called police in Newport, R.I., to tell them he was being followed by three people whom he alleged had been sent to follow him by an individual he had argued with at a Virginia airport. According to the police report, Alexis complained that his followers were using a "microwave machine" to communicate with him through the walls, floor and ceiling.

A sure sign of mental illness? Yes. Alexis also told police he was a Navy contractor.

To their credit, the Newport police recognized that the Navy needed to know that one of its contractors was seriously unstable, and so they sent over a copy of his comments to the base police at the Navy facility in Newport.

It is not clear what, if anything, happened next. Twice in August Alexis sought treatment at VA hospitals, complaining that he could not sleep. Did doctors at that facility have access to the information provided to the base police in Newport? It seems they did not. He kept his security clearance. He continued to service Navy computers.

"The system didn't pick up the red flags because the red flags in this case had not been fed into the system," a Pentagon official told reporters. "Perhaps we need to look at the 'filters'" that should be part of the files, the official said.

How does a man who had been investigated by police departments in Seattle and Fort Worth for shooting a gun in anger, who was hearing voices in Rhode Island, who twice sought treatment from the VA, who had told his neighbors that he suffered from PTSD and had gone as long as three days without sleep manage to get and hold onto a security clearance that allowed him access to Navy computers?

To what extent did budget issues — which have led to the outsourcing of security checks to for-profit firms — play a role?

And equally important, how is it that such a man could go into a gun store in Virginia and buy a shotgun?

Yes, we all know the official answers. He hadn't been committed or arrested. If that is the bar, as it appears to be, then the bar is plainly too low.

Ironically, the Alexis case also teaches that gun control laws can work. Alexis reportedly tried to buy an assault weapon, but under Virginia law, he was not allowed to purchase one because he was not a Virginia resident.

As horrific as the violence was at the Navy Yard, it could have been so much worse. Twelve people are dead at the hands of a man who never should have been allowed on the base. But many more are alive today because even the most limited forms of gun control save lives.

The NRA likes to say that guns don't kill; people kill. True enough. And all the more reason to ensure that mentally disturbed, angry and troubled people like Alexis are not able to walk into a gun store and purchase firearms. We may not have the facilities to treat every Aaron Alexis out there, but at the very least, we should do everything possible to prevent them from buying guns.

(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 Thursday, 19 September 2013 10:03

Hits: 271

 
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