Pat Buchanan - Taking down The Donald

If his Republican opponents will not take down Donald Trump, Fox News will not only show them how it is done. Fox News will do the job for them.

That is the message that came out loud and clear from last Thursday's debate in Cleveland, which was viewed by the largest cable audience ever to watch a political event — 24 million Americans.

As political theater, it was exciting and entertaining.

But what was supposed to be a debate among the top-10 Republican candidates turned into a bear-baiting of Donald Trump.

Make no mistake. The issues Fox News raised were legitimate. Trump's threat to run third party, his remarks about women who have affronted him, the bankruptcies that four of his companies went through as he built his real estate empire — these are all fair game.

What was wrong here was that it was not his Republican rivals raising these issues or taking on Trump. It was the Fox News "moderators" of what was supposed to be a candidates' debate. They came into the arena to do to Trump what his GOP rivals have been too timid or reluctant to do.

Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelly came with their oppo research done and attack questions prepared — to sack Trump in the end zone and send him to the locker room on a stretcher.

When did that become the job of a "moderator" who is supposed to be more of a referee than a middle linebacker? Who decided to turn the first Republican presidential debate into a two-hour version of "The Kelly File"?

With the exception of Rand Paul on the opening question about Trump bolting to run as a third-party candidate, no Republican chose to follow up the Fox News attacks on Trump that were disguised as questions. They let Fox do the wet work.

The anger of Trump and his followers that he was being singled out and sandbagged is understandable, even if his reaction revealed that Fox News had drawn blood. Indeed, this debate will be recalled in political lore as the night Fox News tried to take down the Donald.

Did they succeed? What do the early returns tell us? According to an NBC poll, taken in the 48 hours after Cleveland, Trump has held first place and has risen a point to 23 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz had vaulted into second place with 13 percent. Dr. Ben Carson had risen to No. 3 with 11 percent. Carly Fiorina, who was not in the top 10 a week ago, is now fourth with 9 percent.
Together, these four outsiders can claim the support of well over half of all Republicans, while the beltway favorites — Marco Rubio at No. 5, Jeb Bush at No. 6 and Scott Walker at No. 7 — can together claim less Republican support than Donald Trump alone.

Who won the debate? According to the NBC poll, it was Carson, Trump and Cruz in that order.

With a real opportunity to capture the presidency in 2016, those leading in the race for the GOP nomination seem to be among the least likely to amass 270 electoral votes. But those most acceptable to the establishment seem, as each month passes, to generate less and less enthusiasm.

Yet, what is now clear is that the Republican establishment wants Trump out of this race, and, frustrated at his continuing strong support, is less and less willing to wait for him to implode.

Over the weekend, we heard talk of a Kasich-Rubio ticket, or vice versa. Yet, in that NBC poll, Kasich remains dead in the water after the debate, dropping from 3 to 2 percent, while Rubio is at 9 percent.

A real danger is emerging here of the split inside the GOP deepening and widening. For if it is seen that Trump has not been rejected by the voters, but driven out the race by the establishment and the elites, the value of the nomination will be vastly diminished.

Thus far in this presidential season, the rise of the Republican outsiders, insurgents, nonpoliticians and anti-politicians reveals how far the people of the United States are estranged and alienated from their political leadership.

In the Democratic Party, too, we have seen the rise of outsider-insurgent socialist Bernie Sanders to within single digits of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, and the fall of Clinton to where she is underwater in the polls on issues of trust and, "Does she care about people like me?"

If there is one lesson to be taken from this run-up year to the presidential campaign of 2016, it is that a huge and growing segment of the nation does not want what the establishment of either party has on offer.

And as insurgent parties spring up all over Europe, and the two-party system disintegrates there, the Europeanization of American politics may be at hand.

(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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Froma Harrop - Trump playing in ballpark the GOP built

There's this great scene from "Law & Order" where Detective Briscoe shows a victim's picture to a prostitute. He asks whether she knew of anyone who had "dated" him.

"I didn't, but he's cute," she says.

"You've been at this too long, honey." Briscoe replies. "He's dead."

The political punditry seems unable to agree on whether Donald Trump's candidacy will survive the billionaire's latest barrage of rhetorical barbarities. We refer to his attacks on Fox News questioner Megyn Kelly and the infamous "blood" remark.

But all this presupposes that Trump is conducting a real, living candidacy rather than a mega-prank. By all appearances, he is using the Republican fringe's high tolerance of — nay, appreciation for — off-the-wall comments to expand the Trump brand at no cost to Trump. The billionaire also seems to be whipping up the right wing's hatred of establishments, including the Republican one, for fun and profit.

Face it. Some 24 million viewers didn't tune in to the Fox News debate just to hear Trump say outrageous things. They wanted to see him make the other candidates suffer.

Trump's performance led to his banishment from the subsequent RedState debate. Its organizer, Erick Erickson, explained, "I don't want my daughter in the same room" as Trump.

Sounds chivalrous, but Erickson's coat of armor is not without chinks. It was Erickson who attributed feminists' anger to their "being too ugly to get a date." And he called Michelle Obama a "Marxist harpy wife."

That armor evidently needs repair, for Erickson now seems hurt by the pro-Trump blowback. "I have e-mails from people referring to Megyn Kelly as a 'whore,'" he complained. "I have e-mails from people referring to me as 'gay.' I have e-mails referring to the president by the N-word and (saying) that Donald Trump is standing up to all of us."
Imagine such sensitivity coming from the man who writes such blog posts as "Is Obama Shagging Hookers Behind the Media's Back?" That's when he's not writing deep religious tracts.

This is the ballpark Republicans have been playing in. Trump may say things that are dumb and crude, but they're no dumber or cruder than the musings of the right-wing spokesmen whom party leaders routinely court.

Erickson can portray himself as a bulwark against indecency, but he's really been Trump's warmup act. Without his and others' normalization of lunatic statements, Trump would never have gotten as far as he has.

One feels for the respectable Republicans dragged into these environs. It was sad to see Ohio Gov. John Kasich pummeled at the Fox News debate for having humanely expanded Medicaid in his state. It was unfortunate but inevitable that someone (this time Rand Paul) would slam New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for having publicly hugged President Obama. The context, some may remember, was the president's visit and offer of federal help after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.

On the other hand, Christie and other Republicans had no problem sharing the stage with the likes of Erickson.

The Huffington Post last month moved its Trump coverage to the entertainment section from politics. Jay Rosen, a well-known media analyst, praised the decision as "the work of fed-up and free-thinking adults."

But the move has irked political writers at The Washington Post. Are they merely defending their turf? Or have they been at this too long?

 

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Roche — Lakes Region Pofiles - A young professional likes what he sees in the Lakes Region

We've been seeing a growing population of young professionals and entrepreneurs in the Lakes Region creating a new pulse of enthusiasm, which is exciting! Ben Wilson is one of these individuals. He is a good friend of my son Chris and I've followed Ben since he moved to the Lakes Region. He is a great example of the new hardworking talent that comes into our area, adding to the vitality of our region.


Ben, I knew you moved from a different region. Where were you from, originally?


"I grew up in Alvin Texas, a small country town outside of Houston, roughly the same size as Laconia. There were two seasons, hot and humid and most of our fun was found through riding horses or cooling off at a local river. After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin, I found that I wanted to branch out and see different parts of the country."

 

So where did you head next?

"After a back packing trip out to the high sierras in California, I decided I would call Murrieta, California my base for the next three years. It was during this time that I realized that no matter how hard I tried, California never felt like home. After visiting friends in N.H., I decided that New England seemed like a great place to hang my hat. Initially I started out in Portland, Maine. I liked the small city feel, and easy commute to the ocean, but still craved something a little more country. It was not until I made it to Laconia, surrounded by the beautiful lakes, that I truly felt at home."

 

What was it that drew you to this area?

"It was more like what didn't draw me, as I was blown away with how nice this area was. Everyone I met was incredibly welcoming and it was easy to integrate into the community. I loved the four seasons and the lake culture. After growing up in the hot Texas sun, not having to worry about sunstroke was a huge added bonus."

 

How has the business community treated you here?

"Here in Laconia I found things to be alive and well. There is a thriving business community, unlike older communities in New England; it has a burgeoning population of younger professionals who are working hard to make the community even greater. I find it very easy to interact with so many people in the Lakes Region. Everyone is so approachable, and from my business that's the key to establishing a solid reputation in my profession. Additionally there are many second home owners which provide an added population boost and economic diversity."

 

I know you're passionate about your profession, how is your career going?
"Right now, I oversee an Edward Jones office in Laconia that specializes in financial planning. I am an Accredited Asset Management Specialist, and I recently expanded the operation to a new location at 386 Union Avenue in Laconia, N.H. Our new office facility is brand new and has great visibility with a strong traffic count. I'm really looking forward to servicing all our clients in this new convenient location. I absolutely love my profession; where we're able to help so many people in so many ways to establish a solid financial plan for their families. The Lakes Region is the perfect environment for my future endeavors."

 

How has your personal life adjusted?
"I feel so fortunate that I've found such a perfect, four-season location to enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle. When I met Chris Roche I was searching for a home and able to look at a lot of different locations to live and he finally found a perfect spot for me on Paugus Bay of Lake Winnipesaukee. Since I've purchased the home I've been enjoying remodeling and absolutely love my new home. I've recently became engaged and I have so much to look forward to. I see myself living and working in Laconia for a long time and hopefully one day retiring here. So many people work their entire lives just to have a weekend up on the lake, I feel blessed that my life and career allow me to live in a place such as this."

Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group, Inc. in Meredith & Laconia, NH and can be reached at (603) 279-7046

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Bob Meade - By the way. . .

By the way . . . As part of their mantra we quite often hear our Democrat politicians tell us that we must reverse the Supreme Court's decision which is referred to as "Citizens United". That decision essentially said corporations are legal entities and, as such, have "free speech" rights. Democrat politicians act as one in their outrage over this decision. However, as the late commentator Paul Harvey would say . . . now, for the rest of the story. You see, as long as corporations were denied their "free speech" rights, they could not contribute to political candidates. By giving them those rights, corporations are now free to make lawful contributions just as any other citizen could. Essentially, those contributions may come out of corporate profits, or from PACs to which employers and employees could contribute. But those political contributions are not tax deductible, and the corporation must pay taxes on them. If anyone should have a complaint about those corporate contributions, it should be the company's shareholders. The Democrats have long had an edge with union sponsored PACS, and with untold numbers of "in kind" assistance from those same unions.

A look at "opensecrets.org's" top 20 political action committee contributors revealed that four are labor unions, eight are associations, and eight are corporations. The largest group of contributors is the associations, who contributed $21.5 million. Those PACs gave 44 percent to Democrats and 56 percent to Republicans. Next were the corporations, which donated $19.2 million, with 44 percent going to Democrats and 56 percent going to Republicans. Closing out the contributions were labor unions. They gave a total of $9.2 million, with 89 percent of that going to Democrats and just under 12 percent going to Republicans.

In total, the top 20 contributors gave slightly more than $26 million to Democrats (52 percent) and a little under $24 million to Republicans (48 percent). As the figures showed, associations and corporations contribute generously to both political parties while the unions give overwhelmingly to the Democrats. Perhaps our Democrat politicians can stop whining and acknowledge that the court made the correct decision.

By the way . . . Another group that has caught a lot of attention lately is Planned Parenthood. That organization has received over $540 million a year from the federal government. While Planned Parenthood is a "not for profit" organization, most often they end the year with a significant surplus of unspent funds. What's bothersome however is that Planned Parenthood uses part of that money to buy political support for their various activities. Most recently, the organization gave over $2.6 million in support of Democrat candidates, and not one penny was spent against any Democrat. They also contributed a whopping $13 thousand (not millions) to support a Republican candidate, and over $3.4 million "against" Republican candidates. Now isn't that nice, take money from the government and then use it against them if they don't support your every wish. Clearly, using taxpayer money to attack one political party while using other taxpayer money to support the other party is outrageous . . . it should be against the law. Money is fungible, meaning it can be used for a variety of purposes. So, while Planned Parenthood claims not to use any of the $540 million for abortions, that money is used to fund a variety of other expenses and that essentially frees up the money that would be used to support those other functions, to now be used to support the over 330,000 abortions they perform annually. Another deceitful bit of information from Planned Parenthood is that only 3 percent of their activities are abortion services. What is so outrageous is that they give equal weight to a test to see if the patient has an infection, or equal weight to handing out a box of contraceptives, or a number of other simple tasks, as they do for an abortion that takes the life of the unborn child. And, by the way, Planned Parenthood does not own a mammogram machine . . . they simply observe the mammary and, if they feel more testing needs to be done, they refer the patients to their doctor or hospital where a mammogram can be performed. We are giving hundreds of millions of dollars a year to support a deceitful organization. There are better ways to spend that money in support of women's health care.

By the way . . . We often hear our Democrat leaders telling us that we need a "single payer system" for our medical needs. What this really means, is that the Democrats want our entire medical system under their control, where they will decide what medical services you can get, when you can get them, and how much the doctors and hospitals can get paid. This raises a few questions. The first is, do you want some government bureaucrat deciding whether or not you can get the medical care you need; especially if you happen to be of a different political party than that bureaucrat? Another question is, if the government has many times broken up companies because they believed they were monopolies and therefore anti-competitive, why would it be acceptable for the government to create the largest monopoly the world has ever known by taking over our entire health care system? And, don't forget, the current Medicare System, according to the Heritage organization, has about $30 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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Jim Hightower - Weed: from demonization to legalization to celebration

Earlier this year, music legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard teamed up to make a pro-marijuana video titled "It's All Going to Pot."

And, apparently they were right, for I've now learned that even the state fair is going to pot — literally. A press release from the organizers of the D.C. State Fair exclaims: "It's true! For the first time ever, we're hosting a new contest for local cannabis growers to show off their plants' finest buds." They're not just blowing smoke, for it turns out that Washington, D.C., voters passed a referendum in November to legalize marijuana — even to allow locals to grow up to six plants at their residences.

With the nationwide renaissance in urban agriculture, why not invite the proud cultivators of the happy weed to show off the finest produce from their pot plots? After all, state fairs already have contests for the best ice cream, pickles, homebrew, compost, flower arrangements, crafts and such — so it's not a stretch to see who can win the Marijuana Bud Blue Ribbon. The buds are to be judged on characteristics such as appearance, smell and stickiness, but not such consumer-satisfaction qualities as "duration of high" or "development of mellowness". In fact, contrary to the judging of the Tastiest Tomato category, the entry form for the Best Bud Contest specifies rather sternly that judges "will not sample or consume your submission." That's probably smart, since the whole panel of judges could dissolve into uncontrollable giggles halfway through the sampling.

From the demonization of marijuana to legalization and now to celebration — it's a trajectory of progress that reflects some mellowing in society itself. As the D.C. State Fair people put it, "Now that it's legal, we wanted a way to highlight this new freedom while also showing off the agricultural talents of the district's people."

And with marijuana prohibition finally ending in states and cities across the land — including full legalization and/or commercialization not just in Washington, D.C., but also Alaska, Colorado, Washington State and Oregon — who better than our friend Willie Nelson to lead the way for weed quality and social responsibility?

The iconic musician and intrepid fighter for justice has announced that he will market his own marijuana brand, "Willie's Reserve," and open a group of stores selling top-quality pot and paraphernalia.
"I feel like I was buying so much of it, it's time to start selling it back!" Willie excitedly said of his new weed venture. "I am looking forward to working with the best growers in Colorado and Washington to make sure our product is the best on the market." A tireless champion of small farmers, civil liberties, the environment, common sense and the common good, he plans to start rolling out his stores and products (including hemp goods) this year, and he'll expand further as states' laws allow. In the typical Willie way, the stores will be "the anti-Walmart model," with a core purpose of helping expand the market for small, energy-efficient, environmentally sound growers.
Over the years I have cited Willie's work in calling for legalization and restoration of hemp farming in America. I've also called repeatedly for an end to the Orwellian, Kafkaesque drug war that has criminalized the cannabis equivalent of cocktail hour — 750,000 people are arrested each year for marijuana-related offenses.

And now, I salute the innumerable grassroots activists who've steadily pushed America from the darkness of marijuana madness to being able to light up a "Willie" without getting busted! So to Willie, Merle, the DC State Fair and all the longtime champions of this struggle for normality, "This bud's for you!" Find out more about marijuana legalization at the Marijuana Policy Project (mpp.org) and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (norml.org).

(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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