Jim Hightower - We? Who's we?

The negotiations and the sales push behind Washington's latest (and biggest) "free trade" agreement amounts to Kabuki theater.

What theater? Kabuki. It's a 17th-century form of Japanese drama, featuring elaborate sets and costuming, rhythmic dialogue and stylized acting and dancing. That does, indeed, nicely sum up the White House's production of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Its negotiations have been set in luxury resorts around the world, covered by elaborate secrecy; insiders wear the costumes of global corporate power; trade officials parrot rhythmic dialogue about high standards and incredible benefits for all. And the president himself is the main actor, dramatically proclaiming that TPP is "the most progressive" trade deal ever, and now he's doing a stylized political dance in hopes of winning congressional approval.

What a phenomenal show!

But it doesn't seem to be selling. Recent polls show broad public opposition to any more of these same old trade schemes, not only among Democrats, but independents and Republicans, too. Ten of the 2016 presidential candidates are against the deal. The counter movement is led by Democratic contender Bernie Sanders, who calls it flat-out "disastrous," and by GOP frontrunner Donnie Trump who dubs it "a horrible deal". Even corporate darling Carly Fiorina is "very uncomfortable with this deal". Congressional opposition is strong, and even Ford Motor Company — which was one of the corporate giants allowed inside the negotiations — has blasted it, calling on Congress to vote no.

Inexplicably, Obama views passage of this democracy-strangling corporate boondoggle as his "legacy-making" achievement, even though the only real support he has for it are Republican congressional leaders and the global corporate establishment. That's not just Kabuki; it's kooky. As the old aphorism puts it: "Tell me with whom you walk, and I'll tell you who you are."

In Obama's pitch to get the public and Congress to swallow the glob of global corporate greed known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the president has resorted to a tacky bit of China bashing. He recently crowed that, "Under this agreement we, rather than countries like China, are writing the rules for the global economy." This bizarre backhanded slap at a major trading partner is meant to tell us that Big Bad China would've written global trade rules to hurt the American people.
Gosh, Americans don't need enemies like China when we've got "protectors" like Obama. Aside from the fact that we and our allies would never agree to such biased rules, even if the Chinese were stupid enough to propose them, Obama's deceitful assertion contains two self-destructive bombshells, both tucked inside the word "we".

First, if okayed by Congress, this TPP scam would offshore a whole new round of America's middle-class jobs, hold down or even lower U.S. wages, flood our market with unsafe imported food, free Wall Street banksters from oversight and empower global corporations to use private "trade tribunals" of corporate lawyers to usurp our people's sovereignty. In fact, only six of the 30 chapters of this so-called trade agreement even deal with trade. How embarrassing that our own president would claim credit for doing such explosive damage to the American people! I'm guessing that even China would not have done worse.

Secondly, Obama's entire TPP theater is blown to bits by his assertion that "we ... are writing the rules." Who's "we"? Were you consulted? Did you even know that a tiny group of unelected people have been meeting in secret for seven years to write "rules" for you, me and 330 million other Americans? In fact, only about 600 corporate executives and lobbyists were allowed to be at the table, writing rules to benefit themselves at our expense.

It's a disgrace that Obama is acting and even lying for these self-serving kleptocratic corporate powers. To keep track of the TPP and get involved, go to www.citizen.org/trade/.

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

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Michael Barone - Can either party actually govern?

Important parts of our two great political parties seem bent on demonstrating that their parties are incapable of governing coherently.

House Republican rebels have pushed Speaker John Boehner out the door without advancing a plausible successor and have risked leaving the speaker's chair vacant. Hillary Clinton has backpedaled and flip-flopped to fortify her flagging campaign so much that she risks making herself a figure of fun.

The House rebels are understandably frustrated after five years in the House majority without as many accomplishments as they'd like. They overlook the four-year flat-lining of federal spending obtained by their acceptance of the clumsy sequester limits.

They overlook as well the public response to the impasse over the budget — invariably dubbed a "government shutdown" — in October 2013. Republicans, as the party of less government and one despised by mainstream media, are invariably blamed for shutdowns. Polling showed the Republicans losing their House majority until they ended the shutdown and the woes of healthcare.gov became apparent.

Nonetheless frustration grew. The rebels have not only voted against the leadership on key measures (a common occurrence in history) but sought to oust the speaker in mid-term (very uncommon).

Kevin McCarthy's surprise withdrawal from the speaker's race seems to have left no one who wants the job capable of winning majority support. It's possible that Boehner will stay until January 2017, after which the House will no longer face a Democratic president lacking the inclination and ability to compromise and an unusually obdurate Senate Democratic leader.

It's also possible that the House Republicans might settle on a new leader acceptable enough to the rebels that their majority — their largest since the 1920s — may hold together on key issues.

In that case the current disarray may be as forgotten as the October 2013 shutdown turned out to be in November 2014. But the combination of an unruly field of presidential candidates — with the three who have never held elective office outpolling the 12 who have — and internal turmoil in the House may discredit the party as a governing force.

Unless Democrats discredit themselves even more in the interim. Which may be happening.

Hillary Clinton was expected to enjoy a stately progress back to the White House where she worked as First Lady or conferred as Secretary of State for a dozen years. But the leftward lurch of Democratic voters — at least as pronounced and arguably more politically perilous than the rightward lurch among Republicans — has made the march much less stately.
Behind in polls in New Hampshire, beleaguered in Iowa, effectively matched in fundraising in the last quarter, Clinton has obviously concluded that she must respond to what initially seemed the quixotic challenge of the 73-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders.

And as her poll numbers fall, the chances increase of a threat from the 72-year-old Vice President Joe Biden. Her response has been to skitter as rapidly as possible to the left on multiple issues from her previous positions and from those of her husband. The problem is that there is no entirely dignified way to change your clothes in public. Democratic primary voters may not be fazed by her leftward lurches on gun control, illegal immigrants and the Keystone XL pipeline, though each might hurt her in November.

More startling is her switch on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement just negotiated by the Obama administration. Clinton praised TPP, then being seriously negotiated, 45 times when she was secretary of state, as CNN's Jake Tapper has documented.

Just last year she praised TPP as the "gold standard" of trade agreements. In your probably-not-dog-eared copy of her 2014 memoir "Hard Choices" you can read her describing it as "the signature economic pillar of our strategy in Asia".

Her flip-flop on the issue now comes even as she admits to not knowing the details. "As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it," she told PBS. This is so intellectually threadbare that even the liberal analyst Ezra Klein says she "is again looking like the kind of candidate who puts polls in front of policy."

The political calculation is obvious: preempt attacks from Sanders on the left and isolate Biden, who is supporting TPP, on the right. But it's not the sort of thing that will generate enthusiasm and gin up turnout for a candidacy currently in disarray or respect for a candidate who seems increasingly unserious about governing.

(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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Froma Harrop - Democrats have become the party of 'normal'

Who "won" the Democratic debate? The Democratic Party won. All the presidential candidates, from the most flamboyant to the most contained, talked seriously about issues, even straying from liberal orthodoxy.
Hillary Clinton's upbeat morning-in-America approach contrasted with Bernie Sanders' eve-of-destruction — I mean revolution. But both stood grounded in reality, with special kudos to America's favorite socialist for some refreshing breaths of nuance on polarizing issues.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — not a crazy Republican but one who often talked crazy -- once called Democrats "the enemy of normal Americans". Who's looking normal now?
Surely not Republican Carly Fiorina, condemning abortion with a gruesome description of a fabricated video she never saw. Not Ben Carson or Rand Paul, who, despite being doctors, didn't strenuously counter Donald Trump's contention that vaccinations put children at risk. Trump doesn't seem normal even when he's right.
The consensus said that Clinton walked off with it. She did, but it was an ensemble performance. Sanders struck the high note by mocking the overblown controversy over Clinton's use of private e-mails as secretary of state.
"The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails," Sanders said. "Let's talk about the real issues facing America."
And the Democrats generally dived under the surface of today's public debates. Clinton chided Sanders for his skepticism on some gun control measures, but Sanders had it exactly right. He explained that his state, Vermont, has a rural hunting culture that doesn't see guns as always evil. Sanders backed a ban on assault rifles but opposed letting gun shops be sued if a gun they sell legally is used in a crime. Common sense all around.
The immigration discussion offered a welcome balance between the need to deal humanely with people here illegally and the need for controls. Sanders defended his attack on an immigration plan that would have admitted huge numbers of "guest workers" to compete with low-wage Americans. If only more Democrats would talk that way.
Former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia spoke up for struggling poor whites, another welcome reference in a party that too often frames policy in racial or ethnic terms. And thank you, Jim Webb, for saying, "No country is a country without defining its borders."
All in all, though, it was Clinton's show. Responding to Sanders' declaration of love for Scandinavian socialism, Clinton firmly replied: "We are the United States of America. And it's our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn't run amok and doesn't cause the kind of inequities that we're seeing in our economic system."
The consensus erred in naming Webb the evening's "loser". The former Navy secretary did great in his seething, quiet way. He steered the debate away from cloying political correctness. This very smart son of Appalachia would make a great vice presidential candidate.
Few noticed that Webb provided the wittiest remark of the evening. That came when he dryly informed Sanders that he doesn't "think the revolution's going to come."
The most unintentionally funny line was from CNN moderator Anderson Cooper.
"In all candor," Cooper said to Clinton, "you and your husband are part of the 1 percent. How can you credibly represent the views of the middle class?"
To borrow from the MasterCard ad, being questioned about losing credibility on matters of class because you've become rich: $2.03. Being so questioned by the son of a Vanderbilt: priceless.
Clinton is clearly moving on from intra-party debate to general election mode. The other candidates seemed to genuinely respect that pivot and gave her space.
How gratifying to hear a leading presidential candidate sound like a normal American and not get punished for it.

(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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Sanborn — Winni Waterfront Sales Report - September 2015

September was a banner month for Winnipesaukee waterfront sales with a total of 27 transactions at an average sales price of $916,660 and a median price point of $675,000. All but six of those sales were mainland sales and there were ten sales over the million dollar mark. Last September there were just 14 sales. This brings our total number of sales on Winnipesaukee to 127 so far this year at an average price of $1,087,481 compared to 93 at an average price of $1,104,983 for the same period in 2014. That's a 37 percent increase in waterfront sales on the big lake. Pretty outstanding!

The entry level sale once again was an island property at 556 Rattlesnake Island in Alton. This 1971 vintage, four room, two bedroom cottage has 700 square feet of open concept living space, cathedral ceilings, pine paneling, and lots of glass on the waterside to enjoy the view. There's a wrap around deck, another deck down by the water, and a 6' x 30' dock. There's even a fire pit so you can keep a blaze going to ward off the rattlesnakes at night. That's a must on Rattlesnake Island. The cottage sits on a .9 acre lot with 149' of sandy bottom frontage that gets sun all day long. This property was listed at $325,000, was reduced to $299,000, and sold for $264,000 after just 58 days on the market. It is assessed at $251,500.

The median price point sale was at 41 Spindle Point Road in Meredith. This five room, two bedroom, 676 square foot cottage was built in 1955 on a .55 acre lot with 300 feet of westerly facing frontage and a U-Shaped seasonal dock. There was little info in the MLS and no pictures of the interior so this sale was likely all about the lot. It sold at full price at $675,000 in just five days and is currently assessed for $660,300.

The big dog for the month was over at 107 Clay Point in Alton. This spectacular home was built in 2008 and has 5,293 square feet of living space with four bedrooms, two full, and two three quarter baths. This property has all the quality and features that one would expect at this price point. There is a two story great room with hardwood floors and a floor to ceiling fireplace, stunning kitchen with custom cabinetry, granite, and Viking appliances, formal dining room, first floor master suite, and comfortable family room. Outside there are huge porches overlooking manicured lawns, gardens, and spectacular sunset views across the lake. There's 150' of frontage providing plenty of space for a 23' x 44' boat house and a 36' slip with protective breakwater. This home originally sold for $3.2 million when it was built and was listed in April of this year for $3.8 million. It was reduced to $3.499 million and then sold at $3.275 million after 120 days on the market. It is currently assessed at $3.337 million. I think I could live there...

Over on Winnisquam there was just one sale at 17 Lakeside Ave in Sanbornton. This is a forties vintage, four bedroom, two bath home with 2,886 square feet of living space so there's plenty of room for everyone to come on those long summer weekends. The house has an eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, living room and family room, two fireplaces and a covered porch to sit an tell stories on. It sits on a quarter acre lot with 85' of frontage and broad sunrise views. This property was listed at $499,900 and sold for $492,000 after 50 days on the market. It is assessed at $527,320.

P​ease 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 compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 10/12/15. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.

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Pat Buchanan - Toes up in the OK Corral?

The honor of it all aside, Rep. Paul Ryan would do well to decline the speakership of the House. For it is a poisoned chalice that is being offered to him.

The Republican Party is not, as some commentators wail, in "chaos" today. It is in rebellion, in revolt, as it was in the early 1960s when Barry Goldwater's true believers rejected Eisenhower Republicanism and Nelson Rockefeller to nominate the Arizona senator for president.

A similar and bristling hostility to today's establishment has arisen, in the GOP Congress, the country, and the presidential race.

The acrimony attendant to this militants revolt explains why Speaker John Boehner packed it in, singing "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," and why Donald Trump remains far out in front for the nomination.

Ryan's popularity and pleasant persona are not going to be able to smooth over those divisions. For they are about ideology, and about issues such as free trade and amnesty for people here illegally, where Ryan stands squarely with the establishment and against the revolt.

Many House rebels and Trump supporters look on the hollowing out of America's industrial base as the direct result of trade treaties negotiated for the benefit of transnational corporations, whose profits are contingent on cutting production costs by moving factories out of the USA.

Ryan voted for all of those trade deals. And Ryan voted for fast-track, the unilateral surrender of Congress's power even to amend the trade treaties that Barack Obama brings home.

Should he become speaker, Paul Ryan would have to round up Republican votes for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal Obama has negotiated. But not only are Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton opposed to TPP, Trump calls it a "disaster" that fails to address the critical issue of "currency manipulation".

The TPP has already been rechristened by Republican rebels as "Obamatrade". If Ryan harbors ambitions to be president, he will steer clear of this coming battle between nationalism and globalism.

As former Speaker Newt Gingrich suggests, a Speaker Ryan would be embattled as soon as he took up the gavel: "It's easy to get 218 on the first vote, and then you get to keep the government open through a continuing resolution, and then you get to the debt ceiling, and, if you're not careful, by Christmas you resemble John Boehner."

On the issues of mass immigration and illegal immigration that have roiled the Republican race, Ryan is regarded as an open-borders man. Says Rosemary Jenks of NumbersUSA, which is fighting to halt the invasion: "He (Ryan) has been ... pro-amnesty, pro-mass immigration, pro-replacing American workers with foreign workers ... all of his career."

In the early 1960s, the Goldwaterites demanded "A Choice, Not an Echo" in the title of Phyllis Schlafly's best-seller, an updated version of which is now in print. Those conservatives did not want to compromise with their adversaries in the Republican establishment or Democratic Party. They did not want to work together. They wanted to change policy. They wanted to change the direction of the country.

Backing the Freedom Caucus in the House and the "outsiders" in the GOP presidential race are men and women of a similar mindset, who have been recognized and re-identified by the National Journal's John Judis. They are the Middle Americans Radicals, the "MARS." Their temperament is that of their forebears in the '60s and '90s, but their issues are today's. Patriotic and nationalistic, they cherish the country they grew up in and do not want it changed by mass migration. They want illegal immigrants sent back. On whether a devout Muslim should be president, they are with Dr. Ben Carson.

When Trump says, "We never win anymore," that resonates to these folks. They see 21st-century America as a nation that cannot win its wars, or secure its borders, or build an infrastructure of roads, bridges, rails and airports to match those rising in other countries.

Moreover, the spirit of revolt in the GOP, indeed, in both parties today, is not confined to the USA. It is roiling Europe. In Britain, France, Spain, Italy and Belgium, nationalism is tearing at the seams of nations. Secession from the EU appears to be an idea whose time is coming.

Popular resistance to the dictates of Brussels and Angela Merkel's Berlin, and to mass migration from the Middle East and Africa that threatens to swamp the smallest continent, are familiar to the Americans of 2015 as well.

Paul Ryan is not going to be able to unite a House Republican caucus that is splitting on issues like this. As chairman of the House Committee on Ways & Means, he is better off working on supply-side tax cuts.

After the GOP capture of the House in 2010, Ryan, with new Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, wrote a book about what they were going to do, titled, "Young Guns". "Young Guns" Cantor and McCarthy are now lying toes up in the OK Corral, and if Paul Ryan becomes speaker, he will end up the same way.

(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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