Susan Estrich - Why superdelegates count

Every time I see a tally of the delegate race that excludes so-called "superdelegates," I have to laugh. "Of course they count," I want to scream at The New York Times, which otherwise offers a flawless tally. That's precisely why I, and a minority of others, fought so hard against the introduction of superdelegates. Now I've been fortunate to live long enough to finally see them do what they are supposed to: Keep the party from driving off a cliff. And yet, no one wants to count them. What did we do wrong?

Let's start with the numbers. Those are clear. The Democrats have a nominee. With more than half the delegates already selected, Hillary Clinton is leading Bernie Sanders by more than 700 delegates — 1,690 to 946. For him to close the gap, he basically has to wipe her out everywhere, which isn't happening.

"But wait," you say. "You've included the superdelegates in your tally. They haven't all picked their candidate." For the record, 583 of the approximately 700 automatic delegates — automatic because they are elected officials or members of the Democratic National Committee (which, by the way, makes these rules) — have already declared their preferences. And that's not even mentioning the imbalance among pledged delegates. The insiders are for Clinton, by a vote of 467 to 26.

Wipeout. Just what is supposed to happen. Lest those pesky Democratic grass-roots activists and loser-lover types be inclined to drive the party over a leftward-hanging cliff, the establishment is supposed to step in to ensure that we nominate the electable candidate.

This is precisely why I was against superdelegates. It's why I (thank you to the late Bill Safire for figuring this out) was actually the one to coin the term "superdelegates," a term meant to oppose the creation of just such a powerful voting bloc of white men. Or that's what I said in The Washington Post, as I recall. It was also true, I can say in retrospect, that I took that position because I was inclined to leftward-hanging cliffs and figured the so-called "superdelegates" would be putting the brakes on my candidates.

How time changes things. The superdelegates were slow to move in 2008, notwithstanding Clinton's establishment roots, because Barack Obama's surprisingly broad appeal left Democrats who need to win for a living moving cautiously, so as not to get ahead of their constituents. For fear of offending one group or another, they stayed neutral, at least until their states voted.

This time, the superdelegates moved early and gave Clinton a huge margin of error. In the end, she won't need it, but the end looks both closer and more inevitable when you do the numbers to include the 467-26 margin among unpledged delegates.

It's ironic, to say the least, to watch Republicans, whose system was supposed to allow a winning candidate to consolidate his gain with big winner-take-all primaries, now struggling to put the brakes on a runaway train, and with no big blocs of delegates to do it.

And the Democrats? I'm afraid to say it, but we grew up. I remember what it was like to be on the trail in 1980 for Ted Kennedy, when we didn't have a chance of the nomination. We had those same kinds of pesky numbers, but we were fighting for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, and I don't think I've ever had a better time in politics in my life — except that we lost. And then Democrats lost in the general election. And the next one. And the next one.

And by the time Bill Clinton came around — who happened to be part of what I fondly termed the "little white boys caucus," which supported superdelegates — Democrats had lost enough to understand that the purpose of the nomination process was to pick a candidate who might win, rather than define the heart and soul of the party. That is why we have superdelegates, and why they most assuredly do count.

(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.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 553

Bob Meade - You be the judge. . .

Quite a bit of press coverage has been given to the arrest by federal authorities of Rochester's Marine Corps veteran Jerry DeLemus, for his involvement in the Cliven Bundy grazing land case in Nevada. Before passing judgement on Mr. DeLemus, please take a few minutes to digest some background information.

The grazing land in question, in Clark County Nevada, had been the property of the Nevada territory until it was taken over by the federal government as part of the agreement for Nevada to become a state. For about the last 20 years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been arguing with Mr. Bundy over fees for the grazing area. Bundy has, for decades, maintained the fencing and the water supplies that are necessary for the cattle to graze. His family and others have been grazing their cattle on the land for over 150 years.

In 2014, things came to a head when BLM personnel went into the grazing area, which is over 150,000 acres, and began rounding up Bundy's cattle, to get them off the property and to try and sell them. That's when local ranchers/citizens, and others like Mr. DeLemus, joined together to protest what they believed to be significant government overreach.

A number of Western states have been meeting with the objective to have the federal government return their control over the public lands back to the states. There are many reasons for doing so but, primarily, the lands contain a plethora of valuable natural resources the state's believe should be under their and/or their citizen's control and ownership. (http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Cliven-Bundy-Western-federal-lands/2014/04/21/id/566804/)

Since that protest standoff in 2014, the federal government has been targeting people who were involved in the protest . . . Jerry DeLemus is part of that targeting effort. At this writing, he is being held in federal custody, without bail, and will be transported to Nevada to be prosecuted. News reports have indicated that rancher Cliven Bundy, if convicted, may face life in prison.

Now consider this other sequence of events that occurred during those same time lines. Back in 2011, Senator Harry Reid's son, Rory, was a commissioner in Clark County, Nevada. Senator Reid and his son went on a trip to China and met with a large manufacturer of solar panel equipment, the ENN Energy group.

Upon returning to the United States, Commissioner Reid arranged for 6,000 acres of Clark County Nevada land to be sold to the ENN company, at less than market value, so that they could build an extensive solar panel energy farm on the property. But, a significant problem arose as the acres in question were the habitat of the "Desert Tortoise", which just happens to be an endangered species. And, if the solar panels were to be installed on the property, they would generate so much ground heat, it would kill the endangered tortoises. A decision was made to relocate those creatures to a different spot . . . apparently the grazing area that had been maintained and used by the Bundy family and other ranchers for over a century and a half.

Rory Reid is now an attorney/lobbyist for the ENN Energy group and, the person who heads up the Bureau of Land Management is Neil Kornze, who was on the staff of Senator Reid, from 2003 until 2011. He was then transferred to BLM to serve as acting deputy director for Policy and Programs. He served in that position until November of 2013, when he was nominated for the position of director of the BLM. He was confirmed in April of 2014.

The First Amendment gives the people the right, ". . . to petition the government for a redress of grievances." The Tenth Amendment states, ". . . powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

Those wonderful words seem to lose their effectiveness when they have to compete with the power of political insiders. In this case, Bundy and other ranchers have felt, and are feeling, the full strength of the federal government . . . which is arresting them with the prospect, if convicted, of serving long-term jail sentences. And, even if the ranchers/protesters are acquitted, it appears the government has taken away their right to make a living doing what they and their families have done for over 150 years.
I don't think the founders intended for government to be so oppressive. Nor do I think the founders intended for well-connected individuals to be able to profit at the expense of the citizenry.

You be the judge.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 612

Lakes Region Profiles — Now is the time

If asked what the optimal time of year is to list a home, most real estate professionals would answer that market activity increases in the warmer months and that now is the time to list property for sale. Explanations given for this surge of activity are varied and interesting. But first let us see if the facts match up with conventional wisdom.

Here are the monthly totals for residential property closings for the last two years in the combined Belknap and Carroll County areas: For 2014 and 2015, respectively; January – 119/126, February – 110/101, March – 152/133, April – 145/153, May – 235/224, June – 210/262, July – 195/315, August – 284/297, September – 240/293, October – 296/290, November – 192/213, December – 203/223 [data compiled from New England Real Estate Network. The numbers speak for themselves. The closings in June, July, and August, for instance, were 2 to 3 times the numbers of those that took place in January and February. Interestingly, sales in the Lakes Region still held strong through the fall months. This may be attributable to the fact that Lakes Region activities draw buyers to the area in all four seasons. Keep in mind, too, these numbers represent closing dates where the sales agreement would have been signed a month or two earlier. In any event, it is clear that if you want to list your property for sale, now is the time to contact a real estate agent to take advantage of the upcoming season.

Another factor to consider is that it is generally believed that sellers receive the best prices during the prime season. Even though the inventory may be greater in the spring and summer months, this is counterbalanced by a large influx of buyers. Seasonal buyer activity is attributed to the idea that spring and summer months are the most convenient time for buyers to view properties and to move, particularly true for families with school age children who are relocating or second-home purchasers looking for vacation homes. With a greater pool of buyers, bidding wars are more apt to occur – a definite advantage for sellers who are looking for top dollar. "Bidding wars mean more money in your pocket. They also usually mean buyers are less likely to make repair requests or other demands," according to an article by Craig Donofrio, posted on realtor.com.

Another factor in higher prices is the belief that most properties show better in the spring and summer – greater curb appeal. "If you're selling in winter, especially in snowy areas, your house will have less of that colorful pop it might have in spring," Donofrio writes.

Do statistics support this idea that a home will sell for more in the prime season? Numbers generated by NEREN seem to back this conclusion. In their report Residential Sales and Inventory History, including data throughout New England over the past five years, the percentage difference between sale price and listing price rose slightly in spring and summer months. In 2015, for example, the percentage differences were as follows: January – 95 percent, February – 95.9, March – 96.2, April – 96.7, May – 96.6, June – 99.1, July – 97, August – 96.7, September – 96.3, October – 96.3, November – 95.9, December – 95.9. So this means that in June a seller received on average 99.1 percent of the asking price whereas in January the seller received only 95 percent of the asking price. Are these percentage differences significant? For a home listed at $250,000, if sold in June the seller would receive $247,750. If sold in January, the same seller would receive $237,500 – a difference of more than $10,000, which for most sellers is significant.

Whether the theories as to why sales are more robust in the prime season are valid or a generally accepted idea has simply gained momentum and affects people's activity, there is no question that NOW is the time to list your house. The statistics do not lie. For a seller, it makes good sense to take advantage of the spring and summer surge of buyers looking for real estate.

How is the 2016 market looking thus far? Data recorded by NEREN for closings in Belknap and Carroll County show January and February 2016 significantly higher than the last two years (January closings – 154 in 2016 as compared to 126 in 2015 and 119 in 2014; February closings – 136 in 2016 as compared to 101 in 2015 and 110 in 2014) – all the more reason to contact your real estate agent if you plan to sell your home. Indications are that 2016 is going to be a good year.

Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, and can be reached at 366-6306. www.rocherealty.com

 

Lakes Region Real estate

Pictured is one of the 1,959 residential properties currently for sale in the Lakes Region's Belknap and Carroll Counties. (Courtesy photo)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 700

DuBois — Double your pleasure with Prospect and Plymouth

By Gordon DuBois

Prospect Mountain, 2064 feet, and Plymouth Mountain, 2,197 feet, sit few miles from each other and provide an opportunity for hiking enthusiasts to enjoy a trek of two summits in one day. The trail head of Plymouth Mountain is located within a few miles of Main Street, Plymouth and Prospect Mountain, in the town of Holderness, is only three miles from Plymouth's Exit 25 off I-93. It's interesting to note that there this another Prospect Mountain in Lancaster located in Weeks State Park, which is also an interesting climb. However, we'll stick close to home.

A few weeks ago, I had no knowledge that these two mountains even existed or that they had well maintained trails to their summits. Then my good friends Steve and Beth Zimmer invited me to climb Prospect Mountain. I jumped at the opportunity to get out of the house for a day with Reuben. We met them at our usual rendezvous spot, the I-93 Exit 23 Park and Ride. After a 15 minute drive on I-93 we left the highway at Exit 25, turned onto Holderness Road toward the Holderness School, and at the hockey arena turned left onto Prospect Mountain Road. From Exit 23 it was only a three mile drive until we found the trail head. It was a small turn-off where we could park our cars. Located across the road was a small white farm house with a red barn.

We began our hike on an old tote road. There was a slight covering of snow and some ice on the trail so we donned light boot traction and climbed leisurely past old stone walls and through stands of oak, maple and birch. The wide pathway, which was once a wagon road, gradually narrowed to a foot path. It followed the ridge line, leveled off and came to an outcrop of rock that provided a clear view of Squam Lake and the Ossipees beyond. After a short walk the trail again took us over another rock outcrop that had wonderful views of the valley below. We reached the summit a short time later and found a canister nailed to a tree that marked the summit of Prospect. We signed in, had a bite to eat and explored a trail that appeared to head down the other side of the mountain. Not wanting to descend off the mountain, we back tracked to the loop trail that led us back down the mountain. On our way off the mountain we found several other marked trails that led us through other sections of the mountain. One could easily get disoriented and lost by taking this alternate system of trails that appeared to be single track mountain bike trails. So, hikers should be sure to stay on the well-trodden main trail. I made a note to return here in summer, with my bike in tow, to continue my exploration of Prospect Mountain.

For many years, Plymouth Mountain was climbed using the Plymouth Mountain trail off of Route 3A in Hebron. A newer and better marked trail provides a slightly longer, but more satisfying ascent from the traditional route and provides access to a knob called "Pikes Peak" which has outstanding views to the north and east. This trail begins off Old Hebron Road in Plymouth. There is ample parking in the large clearing and a kiosk marks the beginning of the Fauver Link Trail, which winds through the Fauver Preserve, land that's protected by a conservation easement.

On the day Reuben and I hiked Plymouth it was overcast, with rain predicted later in the day. As I began my hike it was clear that I would again need foot traction. The trail was covered with water flows that were frozen, making walking without traction extremely dangerous. After reading the information on the kiosk I began on the Fauver trail, marked with yellow and blue blazes. The trail climbed moderately on an old woods road and then turned onto a narrow footpath. At .4 mile I crossed a large logging road and found the beginning of the Sutherland trail on the other side of the clearing. This trail crossed conservation land and is also marked with yellow blazes. We followed the Sutherland trail through beautiful stands of Hemlock, interspersed with some hardwoods. There were numerous beech nuts laying on the ground that I'm sure deer, rabbits and other varmints have feasted on. At .9 mile I reached a side path that led to a rocky knob that provided some restricted views. Continuing on my journey, the trail began to climb more steeply, crossing several rock out crops and at two miles I came to the Pikes Peak outlook. I continued my scramble over several ledges, treading carefully, due to the extremely dangerous ice pack on the trail. There were several locations where I needed to bushwhack to avoid some of the more difficult sections of ice. After another half mile I found the summit of Plymouth, which offered restricted views. After exploring the summit and other rock outcrops nearby, I made my descent back to the car.

Both these hikes of Plymouth and Pleasant Mountains can be completed in one day and offer a fun-filled adventure for the entire family. Children would especially love scrambling over the many rock outcrops on Plymouth. A good lunch at noon can also be found at several restaurants in Plymouth. I would strongly suggest that you wait another few weeks until warmer weather arrives and the ice has disappeared from the trails. For the hiking community this has been the year of ice. Stay safe and continue to enjoy the winter, it's not far from ending.

 

summit of Plymouth Mountain.

Summit of Plymouth Mountain. 

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 396

Pat Buchanan - A rebellion of shareholders

"If his poll numbers hold, Trump will be there six months from now when the Sweet 16 is cut to the Final Four, and he will likely be in the finals."

My prediction, in July of 2015, looks pretty good right now.

Herewith, a second prediction. Republican wailing over his prospective nomination aside, Donald Trump could beat Hillary Clinton like a drum in November. Indeed, only the fear that Trump can win explains the hysteria in this city. Here is The Washington Post of March 18: "As a moral question it is straightforward. The mission of any responsible Republican should be to block a Trump nomination and election."

The Orwellian headline over that editorial: "To defend our democracy, the GOP must aim for a brokered convention."

Beautiful. Defending democracy requires Republicans to cancel the democratic decision of the largest voter turnout of any primaries in American history. And this is now a moral imperative for Republicans.

Like the Third World leaders it lectures, the Post celebrates democracy — so long as the voters get it right.

Whatever one may think of the Donald, he has exposed not only how far out of touch our political elites are, but how insular is the audience that listens to our media elite.

Understandably, Trump's rivals were hesitant to take him on, seeing the number he did on "little Marco," "low energy" Jeb and "Lyin' Ted." But the Big Media — the Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times — have been relentless and ruthless.

Yet Trump's strength with voters seemed to grow, pari passu, with the savagery of their attacks. As for National Review, The Weekly Standard and the accredited conservative columnists of the big op-ed pages, their hostility to Trump seems to rise, commensurate with Trump's rising polls.

As the Wizard of Oz was exposed as a little man behind a curtain with a big megaphone, our media establishment is unlikely ever again to be seen as formidable as it once was.

And the GOP?

Those Republicans who assert that a Trump nomination would be a moral stain, a scarlet letter, the death of the party, they are most likely describing what a Trump nomination would mean to their own ideologies and interests.

Barry Goldwater lost 44 states in 1964, and the GOP fell to less than a third of Congress. "The Republican Party is dead," wailed the Rockefeller wing. Actually, it wasn't. Only the Rockefeller wing was dead.

After the great Yellowstone fire in the summer of '88, the spring of '89 produced astonishing green growth everywhere. 1964 was the Yellowstone fire of the GOP, burning up a million acres of dead wood, preparing the path for party renewal. Renewal often follows rebellion.

Republican strength today, on Capitol Hill and in state offices, is at levels unseen since Calvin Coolidge. Turnout in the GOP primaries has been running at levels unseen in American history, while turnout in the Democratic primaries is below what it was in the Obama-Clinton race of 2008.

This opportunity for Republicans should be a cause for rejoicing, not all this weeping and gnashing of teeth. If the party in Cleveland can bring together the Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich forces, the White House, Supreme Court and Congress are all within reach.

Consider. Clinton was beaten by Bernie Sanders in Michigan, and pressed in Ohio and Illinois, on her support for NAFTA and the trade deals of the Clinton-Bush-Obama era that eviscerated American manufacturing and led to the loss of millions of factory jobs and the stagnation of wages.

Sanders' issues are Trump's issues.

A Trump campaign across the industrial Midwest, Pennsylvania and New Jersey featuring attacks on Hillary Clinton's support for NAFTA, the WTO, MFN for China — and her backing of amnesty and citizenship for illegal immigrants, and for the Iraq and Libyan debacles — is a winning hand.

Lately, 116 architects and subcontractors of the Bush I and II foreign policy took their own version of the Oxford Oath. They will not vote for, nor serve in a Trump administration. Talking heads are bobbing up on cable TV to declare that if Trump is nominee, they will not vote for him and may vote for Clinton.

This is not unwelcome news. Let them go.

Their departure testifies that Trump is offering something new and different from the foreign policy failures this crowd did so much to produce.

The worst mistake Trump could make would be to tailor his winning positions on trade, immigration and intervention — to court such losers.

While Trump should reach out to the defeated establishment of the party, he cannot compromise the issues that brought him where he is, or embrace the failed policies that establishment produced. This would be throwing away his aces.

The Trump campaign is not a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. It is a rebellion of shareholders who are voting to throw out the corporate officers and board of directors that ran the company into the ground.

Only the company here is our country.

(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.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 549