Pat Buchanan - The peace candidate

With Democrats howling that Vladimir Putin hacked into and leaked those 19,000 DNC emails to help Trump, the Donald had a brainstorm: maybe the Russians can retrieve Hillary Clinton's lost emails.

Not funny, and close to "treasonous," came the shocked cry.

Trump then told The New York Times that a Russian incursion into Estonia need not trigger a U.S. military response.

Even more shocking. By suggesting the U.S. might not honor its NATO commitment, under Article 5, to fight Russia for Estonia, our foreign policy elites declaimed, Trump has undermined the security architecture that has kept the peace for 65 years.

More interesting, however, was the reaction of Middle America. Or, to be more exact, the nonreaction. Americans seem neither shocked nor horrified. What does this suggest?

Behind the war guarantees America has issued to scores of nations in Europe, the Mideast and Asia since 1949, the bedrock of public support that existed during the Cold War has crumbled.

We got a hint of this in 2013. Barack Obama, claiming his "red line" against any use of poison gas in Syria had been crossed, found he had no public backing for air and missile strikes on the Assad regime.

The country rose up as one and told him to forget it. He did.

We have been at war since 2001. And as one looks on the ruins of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, and adds up the thousands dead and wounded and trillions sunk and lost, can anyone say our War Party has served us well?

On bringing Estonia into NATO, no Cold War president would have dreamed of issuing so insane a war guarantee.

Eisenhower refused to intervene to save the Hungarian rebels. JFK refused to halt the building of the Berlin Wall. LBJ did nothing to impede the Warsaw Pact's crushing of the Prague Spring. Reagan never considered moving militarily to halt the smashing of Solidarity.

Were all these presidents cringing isolationists?

Rather, they were realists who recognized that, though we prayed the captive nations would one day be free, we were not going to risk a world war, or a nuclear war, to achieve it. Period.

In 1991, President Bush told Ukrainians that any declaration of independence from Moscow would be an act of "suicidal nationalism."

Today, Beltway hawks want to bring Ukraine into NATO. This would mean that America would go to war with Russia, if necessary, to preserve an independence Bush I regarded as "suicidal."

Have we lost our minds?

The first NATO supreme commander, General Eisenhower, said that if U.S. troops were still in Europe in 10 years, NATO would be a failure. In 1961, he urged JFK to start pulling U.S. troops out, lest Europeans become military dependencies of the United States.

Was Ike not right? Even Barack Obama today riffs about the "free riders" on America's defense.

Is it really so outrageous for Trump to ask how long the U.S. is to be responsible for defending rich Europeans who refuse to conscript the soldiers or pay the cost of their own defense, when Eisenhower was asking that same question 55 years ago?

In 1997, geostrategist George Kennan warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe "would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post-Cold War era." He predicted a fierce nationalistic Russian response.

Was Kennan not right? NATO and Russia are today building up forces in the eastern Baltic where no vital U.S. interests exist, and where we have never fought before — for that very reason.

There is no evidence Russia intends to march into Estonia, and no reason for her to do so. But if she did, how would NATO expel Russian troops without air and missile strikes that would devastate that tiny country?

And if we killed Russians inside Russia, are we confident Moscow would not resort to tactical atomic weapons to prevail? After all, Russia cannot back up any further. We are right in her face.

On this issue Trump seems to be speaking for the silent majority and certainly raising issues that need to be debated.

How long are we to be committed to go to war to defend the tiny Baltic republics against a Russia that could overrun them in 72 hours?

When, if ever, does our obligation end? If it is eternal, is not a clash with a revanchist and anti-American Russia inevitable?

Are U.S. war guarantees in the Baltic republics even credible?

If the Cold War generations of Americans were unwilling to go to war with a nuclear-armed Soviet Union over Hungary and Czechoslovakia, are the millennials ready to fight a war with Russia over Estonia?

Needed now is diplomacy.

The trade-off: Russia ensures the independence of the Baltic republics that she let go. And NATO gets out of Russia's face.

Should Russia dishonor its commitment, economic sanctions are the answer, not another European 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.)

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The Hog and the Loaf

By Gordon DuBois

This article has nothing to do with eating pulled pork on a loaf of bread. It has everything to do with a bushwhack hike to the summits of two little known mountains (at least for some). Last summer when I hiked the Chippewa trail to the summit of Black Mountain in Benton, New Hampshire, I spied another mountain just to the south of Black Mountain with a long ridge running toward Mount Moosilauke. After looking at my map, I deduced that the mountain was Sugarloaf and the ridge was Hogback. There are three other mountains in New Hampshire that are named Sugarloaf, one near Groveton in the Nash Stream State Forest and the other two in the Twin Mountain area. I have climbed all three peaks, so why not a fourth, Sugarloaf in Benton. However, according to the map, this Sugarloaf is trailless, no trails to the summit. That would mean doing some research and planning to do a bushwhack to reach my goal. I put the plan on hold for a year, until a few weeks ago, when I invited my friend Steve Zimmer to join me in my quest and complete the Sugarloaf four-decker, climbing all four Sugarloaf mountains in New Hampshire.

In researching the hike, I found that at one time there was a trail to the summit as described in an earlier edition of the White Mountain Guide. However, this trail, starting in close proximity to Lime Kiln Road, has been closed for many years and according to trip reports, it is difficult to find. Steve Smith, co-author of the AMC White Mountain Guide and owner of the Mountain Wanderer Book Store in Lincoln cites the classic 1876 guidebook by Moses Sweetser, "The White Mountains: A Handbook for Travelers." "Sugar Loaf ... is a sharp and conspicuous peak of light colored rock, alpine in appearance, and easily recognized from a great distance. Although its height is but 2,565 ft., it will probably be a favorite point of attack when alpine exercise becomes popular in New England, on account of the fascination of its defiant cliffs, the exciting perils of the ascent, and the beautiful view from the summit." Upon reading this post on Steve Smith's trip report, I became even more intrigued with this rather unknown and obscure peak, because of its bold cliffs and outstanding views from the summit.

In discussing my plans with Steve Zimmer, he suggested throwing in another mountain, Jeffers, which is part of this long ridge. I said, "Why not!" On a beautiful warm and clear day, we headed out to western New Hampshire on Route 25. When we arrive in Glencliff we turned onto High St. (Formally Sanatorium Road) and then onto Long Pond Road, a Forest Service road that is sometimes gated. The gate was, fortunately, open and we made our way to a point almost directly east of Mt. Jeffers, where we began our bushwhack, setting the compass at 266 degrees. Steve and I, along with our dogs Skipper and Reuben, who have been hiking buddies for years, set off into the thick forested mountainside.

On our way through the woods, we found beautiful wildflowers as well as a numerous ramps. Ramps, Allium Tricoccum, also known as wild leeks, are native to the eastern North American mountains. They can be found growing in patches in rich, moist, deciduous forests. They are in the Allium family, related to garlic and onions. They have a smooth, pleasant taste of young spring onions with an aroma similar to garlic. They are sought after by many natural food gurus and make a wonderful addition to a salad. In the south, especially in Tennessee and North Carolina, ramps festivals are quite popular.

After pausing to contemplate pulling some ramps to take home for a salad, we moved on, leaving these delicious woodland plants to grow and multiply. Within two hours, we reached the summit of Jeffers Mountain (2,994 ft.) marked by a canister mounted on a tree. We sat for a while and watched several spruce grouse fledglings and their mother hen scurrying around in the brush. The youngsters were learning to fly by fluttering from tree branches above our heads.

After signing our names in the register, we set out for Hogback ridge. We found several old trail markers, which were no more than slash marks on a tree, but these markers disappeared well along the ridge. Our track took us along the ridgeline to several view points, and we could see the long rocky ridge summit of Hogback just ahead. When we climbed to the pinnacle of Hogback, the views were unexpectedly remarkable. We could see well into Vermont across the Connecticut Valley to the west and over to Mt. Moosiluake and Cluff Mountain to the east. Since few people climb Hogback we may have been the first people on the mountain this year.

From Hogback we began our climb to Sugarloaf to our west. As we made our approach we could see Black Mountain with its rock cliffs. We scanned the area around the mountain for any sign of the old limestone quarries that were used to feed the lime kilns, located at the base of Black Mountain. Limestone has been used thousands of years for building construction, sculptures, mortar, glass making, fertilizer, and even in toothpaste. The kilns were part of a very important industry in New Hampshire during the 19th century. The mined limestone was heated in the kilns, and turned into a powdered form. This was then packed into barrels and shipped throughout New England. The two Haverhill kilns were built in 1838 and 1842 and operated profitably until 1888. The woodland surrounding the kilns provided the wood needed to fire the kilns at high temperatures.

Steve and I explored the open rock face summit of Sugarloaf, finding a trail that led down the mountain toward Black Mountain and another that seemed to be the remnants of the old abandoned trail leading out to Lime Kiln Road. After eating our lunch, we packed up and began the bushwhack back to our car. Our route took us through open woods, log clearings and overgrown logging roads. It was clear that this side of the ridge was heavily logged over the past several years. We eventually found a more recent forest road that led us directly back to our cars.

The bushwhack took us about seven hours, walking a total of 6.5 miles, a long slow slog, but well worth the effort. The entire hike was relatively easy as bushwhacks go, and I would encourage anyone who has good map and compass skills and/or is competent in using a GPS to take on the Sugarloaf-Hogback-Jeffers challenge. Sugarloaf can also be approached from the Chippewa Trail that leads to Black Mountain. As Moses Sweetser stated, "Sugarloaf (should be climbed) on account of the fascination of its defiant cliffs, the exciting perils of the ascent, and the beautiful view from the summit."

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Michael Barone - What's 'Make Amerian One Again' about?

"Make America One Again." That was the stated theme of the last night of the Republican National Convention. In the welter of analysis of Donald Trump's acceptance speech, few have commented on it, but it's worth taking it seriously.

Liberal commentators have dwelled repeatedly on Trump's "dark" and "dystopian" view of America. Apparently, you're not supposed to think badly of our nation when we have a black Democratic president.

This is mostly just partisan spin. The candidate of the out party invariably takes a dim view of the way things are going. Yes, they usually add more uplift than Trump provided.

But when two-thirds of voters think the nation is not moving in the right direction, pessimism does not go against the grain. You heard similar pessimism, although about different things, in the campaign for the Democratic nomination. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders depicted the nation as if we were in the seventh and eighth years of a Bush presidency.

Unlike other recent acceptance speeches, Trump's made almost no mention of history, except for a reference to a Lyndon Johnson IRS regulation, and made no attempt to put his candidacy in historical context. There was no mention of Ronald Reagan.

Nevertheless, the theme of "making America one again" is in line with the historical character of the Republican Party, which has always had a central core of people seen as typical Americans but are never by themselves a majority. They must attract others to their cause.

In contrast, the Democratic Party has been a coalition — sometimes fractured, sometimes a majority — of disparate minority groups: white Southerners and big city immigrants in the 19th century, black churchgoers and gentry liberals today.

Hillary Clinton is trying to reassemble the 2012 Obama 51 percent majority by offering something to blacks, something else to Hispanics, another thing to millennials and LGBTQs.

Trump is doing something different. He seeks to appeal to different kinds of people as all being Americans. On Thursday night, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Mississippi native, quoted an 1861 Abraham Lincoln speech in Cleveland: "If all do not join now to save the good old ship of Union this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage."

Thursday night speakers included the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who proclaimed himself proudly gay, proudly Republican and, most of all, proudly American.

In his acceptance speech Trump promised to protect LGBTQs (he charmed the audience by stumbling over the acronym) from a "hateful foreign ideology" and thanked evangelicals (while admitting that he is far from being one himself) for their support.

The message is that the culture wars are over. As for "who uses which bathroom," the latest cultural brouhaha, Thiel's answer was: "Who cares?"

Other arguments have become stale. Abortion won't be criminalized, but abortions have been rarer and the number of abortion clinics is declining, and not just because of restrictive state laws.

Same-sex marriage has been legalized everywhere by the Supreme Court, saving Republicans from the task of opposing majority opinion. But you don't have to participate (I haven't seen any recent cases of bakers sued for refusing to making wedding cakes for gay couples). This is in line with basic etiquette, which says you can decline a wedding invitation without giving a reason.

The debate over these issues seems stale, and it's not clear that Democrats' efforts to pump up their constituencies' enthusiasm or arouse their fears will work; we'll get some idea in Philadelphia. But it may prove hard to provoke alarm in those who have been mostly winning on these issues.

Democrats have a more target-rich environment in attacking Trump as volatile and unreliable, as presumptive vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine did Saturday. More difficult will be attempts to present a sunnier alternative to Trump's "dark" narrative.

It's true that, as Barack Obama said Friday, crime is down compared to 30 years ago, and increases in urban homicides may just be, as he said, an "uptick." But Trump's numbers are accurate also. A president who people thought would be something like Martin Luther King has sounded more like Al Sharpton.

It's hard to make the case that things are not really as bad as you think they are, and that sophisticated people realize that terrorist incidents are less common than bathtub accidents, that murders of police are less of a problem than bathroom issues. We'll see how the Democrats do.

(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

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Bob Meade - What Happened?

Thomas Jefferson said: People get the government they deserve. When he said that, he was telling his fellow citizens that it was up to them to demand the best from their government . . . they, the people, were to be in charge. If they were not, then the government would not be the servant of the people, the people would be the servants of the government.

Jefferson and the founders developed our Constitution, including the Bill of Rights. It requires the people to pay attention, to ensure the government acts in accordance with the duties that are spelled out in it. The powers are divided into Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches. Laws are to be developed in the Legislative Branch; the House of Representatives and the Senate. Laws that are passed in those bodies are given to the Executive Branch, the president, to either be approved or vetoed. Those that are signed by the president are duly enacted laws and are to be followed. If an affected party believes a law does not comply with the Constitution, that party may challenge the law in the Courts, the Judicial Branch. In some cases those challenges may make their way all the way to the Supreme Judicial Court of the United States for a determination of the law's constitutionality. If the law is found to be unconstitutional, it cannot be enforced. Over time, we have seen erosion in the separation of powers and in the spirit of the Constitution which gave the power to the people. Some examples:

The Legislative Branch responsibilities are covered in Article 1 of the Constitution. In its original form, Section 2 of that Article specified that members of the House of Representatives were to be ". . . chosen every second year by the people of the several states . . .", and Section 3 called for the Senate to be ". . . composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof . . . ".

A significant change was made to Article 1, Section 3, in 1913, when the 17th Amendment was ratified. That Amendment changed from the appointment of senators by their state legislatures to ". . . elected by the people thereof . . ." That simple change literally upset the proverbial apple cart. No longer did men come forth and volunteer to serve a term or two as a matter of civic duty and then return to their farms or factories. The change ushered in the "professional politician" that we know today. Every one of our longest serving senators came after that amendment was ratified. Twenty five senators have served six terms (36 years) and eight were in office over forty years; Robert Byrd, Daniel Inouye, Strom Thurmond, Ted Kennedy, Carl Hayden, John Stennis, Patrick Leahy (still serving), and Ted Stevens, with Byrd serving more than 50 years.

During that time the Senate became somewhat of a powerful and elite "club" that has avoided and sidestepped many of its duties. For example, although our country has been at war numerous times since World War II, the Congress has not issued a single declaration of war since 1942; they have provided the president with funding necessary to carry out wars but have not shown a willingness to stand and be counted. It is a matter of record that the Congress has also avoided the rigor of hammering out legislation on difficult issues, preferring to let the people bring such issues before the Judicial Branch for resolution, where one swing vote could decide an issue, such as abortion. It is hard to believe that our founders would have envisioned the people accepting such an arrangement. Further, our legislators have allowed departmental "regulations" to have the force of law. In 2013 alone, there were over 80,000 pages of regulations written by unelected federal bureaucrats, most of which were implemented without the Congress even viewing them. That is being ruled by the non-elected!

Another significant change to the Constitution concerned taxes. Article 1, Section 8 provided Congress with the power to lay and collect taxes. Taxes needed to cover the federal budget were levied on the states, in proportion to the state's census. That was changed by the 16th Amendment ,which was also ratified in 1913. It gave Congress the power to " . . . lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or remuneration." Perhaps more than any other change, this amendment neutered the states and the citizens. With the passage of the 16th Amendment, the states lost their muscle and the people became essentially subservient to the federal government.

Because of these and some other issues, we no longer have the government envisioned by our founders. We have allowed the federal government to usurp our states' rights, and those of the citizenry. Sadly, we now have people running for president who will only make things worse.

Jefferson was right!

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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Froma Harrop — No Bernie revolution without Bernie

One hesitates to discuss the small group of Bernie Sanders followers throwing tantrums at the Democratic convention. Some 90 percent of Sanders backers say they've already moved their support to Hillary Clinton.

But when a tiny number — some with duct tape on their mouths saying "silenced" — marched out of the hall and straight into the media tent, the "journalists" pounded prose on "sharp divisions" in the party.

The unhappy few had already booed at Sanders himself. They heckled the progressive warrior Elizabeth Warren. Sanders' other supporters rolled their eyes at the histrionics, but what could they do?

When Sanders finally offered total support for Clinton, he showed himself to be a giant political leader. That he did so after an email leak confirming that the Democratic National Committee had tilted against his candidacy made him taller still.

Sanders had already pushed the Democratic Party to adopt much of his program, demonstrating a skill at negotiating many of us doubted he had. In sum, Sanders deserved the adulation that friends and former rivals poured on him at the convention.

So this was a heck of a time for a handful of acolytes to grab at his spotlight, some parroting the imbecilities of the Trump campaign. To borrow from Dante's "Inferno," one should not reflect on such people but take a look and pass them by.

A good restaurant knows that there are certain customers it has to throw out. They're too disruptive. They give the place a bad reputation and scare off others.

Sanders himself gets some blame for having fed his following a constant diet of grievance and belief that the electoral process had been "rigged" against them. The nominating race was lumpy all around. The DNC may have put a thumb on the scale for Clinton, but she was subject to unfairness, as well, in the coverage of the campaigns and the undemocratic nature of the caucuses that Sanders won.

I wasn't a great fan of Sanders'. He had a reputation for not working well with others, and I distrust populist campaigns centered on a charismatic figure. But I always admired Sanders for his consistency, his obvious love for country and many of his ideas.

So it was painful to watch Sanders being treated so disrespectfully by people he had led to the portals of power. And at his finest hour, too.

A few fancied out loud that they could run the Bernie revolution without Bernie, which is kind of laughable. With Sanders would go the cameras and the attention, leaving behind a skeleton crew of exhibitionists.

That said, a lasting Sanders revolution may be in the making by others. Sophisticated backers are now recruiting like-minded candidates for lower office, building a progressive power base and expanded leadership. (A slip in the suggestion box reads, call this a "movement" rather than a "revolution.")

As Sanders faced hostile members of his California delegation, he laid down the stakes in no uncertain terms. "It is easy to boo, but it is harder to look your kids in the face who would be living under a Donald Trump presidency," he said. "Trump is the worst candidate for president in the modern history of this country."

A California Democratic Party official wisely advised against self-pity. "You fought and you won a seat at the table," Daraka Larimore-Hall said. "We have to act like we have that seat ... and stop acting like we've been shut out."

Just a gentle reminder here: Clinton won the California primary by over 400,000 votes, and Sanders got these followers excellent seats at the table. The revolution, for the time being, is still his.

(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.)

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