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Bob Meade - Happy Birthday President Truman

On his desk in the oval office, President Harry S. Truman placed a sign that read, "The Buck Stops Here." Perhaps more than any other president, at least of modern times, Truman took that sign seriously. He was a man with a strong backbone who didn't shy away from making the tough decisions. Although he was ever the staunch Democrat, his decisions weren't "political", he made them because they were the right things to do.
Harry Truman was born on May 8, 1884, and started life as a farmer. While working on the family farm, he joined the Missouri National Guard in 1905, and was called to active duty, as a Field Artillery Captain during World War 1. After the war he stayed in the Army Reserves and eventually attained the rank of Colonel. As a bit of trivia, while he was in the army, each soldier had to sign the payroll as he received his monthly pay. The payroll form required a first name, middle initial, and a last name. It was during that time that Harry Truman "adopted" the middle initial "S", as his parents hadn't given him a middle name. For the rest of his life, he used his military signature, including the adopted letter S.
In 1934, and again in 1940. Truman was elected as a senator from Missouri. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was running for his fourth term, selected Truman to be his vice presidential running mate in the 1944 election. Less than three months after being sworn in, in April of 1945, Truman was elevated to the office of president when Roosevelt died. Shortly thereafter, the war in Europe ended and all eyes turned to ending the war with Japan.
Truman used neutral parties to petition Japan for their unconditional surrender, advising them that we could unleash devastating destruction upon them. Japan refused and intelligence reports were that they were "digging in", preparing for an allied invasion of their country. Truman asked what the cost would be in allied and Japanese lives if we were to have a conventional invasion of the Japanese homeland. The estimates he received were that up to ten million Japanese citizens would lose their lives, as would up to one million allied forces.
The president made the decision, and the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945. After that, neutral emissaries again petitioned Japan for their surrender and they again refused. On August 9, 1945, Truman ordered the second atomic bomb to be dropped on Nagasaki. Japan offered their surrender on August 14th.
The decision to use atomic weapons was perhaps the most difficult decision a man has ever had to make. Looking back, it may be argued that the decision may have actually saved millions of lives. Truman was a man of decisions. For example . . .
It was Truman who made the decision to fully integrate the services. Prior to that, people of color in the military were primarily used in food services or support positions, and housed separately. (There we some fighting units however, such as the Tuskegee Airmen, that performed nobly in fighting roles, albeit on a segregated basis.)
It was Truman who went to the aid of South Korea when that country was invaded by North Korea in 1950. (Note: The last time Congress declared an official act of war was against Japan, then Germany, and subsequently, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania, in early 1942. The Korean war was called a "police action".)
It was also Truman who rebuffed and accepted the resignation of General Mac Arthur who had proposed using atomic weapons against the North Koreans.
It was Truman who developed the plan to help rebuild Europe. Knowing that he was personally unpopular, Truman named it the "Marshall Plan", after his Secretary of State, the highly respected General George C. Marshall, essentially assuring that the Congress would appropriate the funds necessary to accomplish the task.
It was Truman who, after the Soviets blocked road, rail, and water access to west Berlin, directed the Berlin air lift, essentially flying cargo aircraft round-the-clock for fifteen months, each day bringing in the over 2,000 tons of food and other essential items needed for the survival of the west Berliners.
It was Truman who first recognized the state of Israel in May of 1948, following the passage of United Nations Resolution 181 at the end of November, 1947.
Former Oklahoma quarterback and later a Congressman, J. C. Watts, used to talk about "doing the right thing, even when no one is looking".
If he were alive today, that description would aptly describe Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States. Happy birthday, Mr. President.
(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Roy Sanborn - April Waterfront Sales Report

There were 10 waterfront homes sold on Lake Winnipesaukee in April at an average sales price of $805,588. That total is up from the seven sales last April but the average price is down from $2.15 million. This is due to only three sales exceeding the million dollar mark last month compared to the five out of seven that were over a million last April.
The least expensive sale on the big lake was at 251 Dockham Shore Road in Gilford. This is a 1938 vintage, four bedroom, seasonal cottage on a third acre lot with 50-feet of frontage, a sandy beach, and a dock. Now this charming little place is only 968-square-feet so you get the idea that the bedrooms are tiny, but who cares? There's a knotty pine living room with cathedral ceilings and a field stone fireplace and a great screened porch to tell tall tales on. What more do you need? This property took a little time to sell. It was originally listed in September 2010 at $699,000 and then relisted in May of 2012 at $499,000. The price was subsequently reduced to $399,000 and sold then for $350,000. The current tax assessment is $684,960. I'm thinking the buyer got a pretty good deal...
The property that sold closest to the median price point is at 56 Loch Eden Shores Road in Meredith. This property sold well below the assessed value of $812,600 but it took a while to find a buyer, too. It was first listed for $859,900, was reduced to $749,000, and finally sold after 402 days on the market for $695,000. Built in 1955, this house was a little newer, but it also had that knotty pine interior, cathedral ceilings, requisite stone fireplace, and enclosed porch. It was also a little larger with 1,411-square-feet of living space and three bedrooms and one and a half baths. The house is located on a private .48-acre double lot and has 190-feet of southwesterly facing frontage in a quiet cove. Sounds like a skinny dipping spot to me...
The largest sale on Winnipesaukee in April was at 62 Sticks and Stones (will break my bones?) Road in Moultonborough. This 1929 vintage, 2,431-square-foot, five bedroom, log-sided home also has a large great room with knotty pine walls, cathedral ceilings, and a stone fireplace, but the price is also creeping up due to everything else it has. The house has lots of porches; one on the lakeside, a farmer's porch on the front, plus a screened one so you can tell lies at night without getting bit by the bugs. The house sits on a 5.22-acre parcel with a level lawn area, 375-feet of sandy southwesterly facing frontage, and a forty foot permanent dock. Permits are in place for a new seven bedroom Adirondack home and a seasonal dock system for five boats. This property was listed at $1.74 million and sold for $1.625 million after just 40 days on the market. It is assessed for $1.484 million. I bet someone is excited, what do you think?
There was one sale on Winnisquam at 210 Black Brook Road in Meredith. This is a 3,500-square-foot, three bedroom, three bath, gambrel style home on a 1.31-acre lot with 252-feet of frontage. This home was built in 2003 and offers fantastic views of the lake from the deck, the great room, and from a Light House Tower! I wonder if there is a damsel in distress up there? The home has vaulted ceilings, floor to ceiling fireplace, custom wood work, a kitchen with hickory cabinetry and Jenn-Air stove, and even an adorable guest cottage. There's a two car garage and a 24-foot dock to tie up your motorized vehicles. This home was listed for $799,000, reduced to $699,000, and finally sold for $600,000 after 587 days on the market. It is assessed at $672,100. See the pattern?
There was also one sale on Squam in April and to me it is a quintessential Squam Lake property. Located at 55 Laurel Island Lane in Holderness, this classic 1940's compound includes a charming 3-4 bedroom seasonal main home with a field stone fireplace, knotty pine interior, and a fantastic wrap-around porch plus a two bedroom guest cottage. Pretty special! There's also a three car garage and two additional outbuildings offering other bunkhouse possibilities. The private 1.27 acre lot has 180-feet of frontage, a boat house, and dock. This property was listed at $1.399 million in June of 2012, relisted this year at $1.05 million, and sold for $975,000 in just nine days. I think they had a buyer waiting and I bet he's extremely happy...
Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 5/7/13. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 May 2013 11:07

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Susan Estrich - Mother love

My daughter was born on Mother's Day, 23 years ago. It was the happiest day of my life — matched only, almost three years later, by the birth of my son.
I had never felt such love before.
Hooray for Hallmark.
Years passed. My own mother died. My daughter went off to college and then graduated. My son went off to college.
I see young mothers struggling with squirmy children, exhausted mothers losing their tempers in the mall, mothers and daughters walking and shopping, women my age caring for their own mothers, and I know how hard some of those moments are. But still, I am hopelessly jealous.
I want to say to those tired women, "Don't you know how lucky you are?" — as if my saying it would somehow light a bulb in their brains, calm their nerves, make them realize that the days may be long but the years are so very short. They fly by, and suddenly you are alone at the mall, on the walk, and instead of a squirming child in your arms, you have time on your hands, instead of too many calls from your mother, there are no calls at all.
So this column is not for all the mothers who will be surrounded by family on Mother's Day; it's not for the sons and daughters who will be toasting their mothers on what is the biggest day of the year for eating out.
This one is for those of us who have lost our mothers, for those of us whose children won't be with us that day, for those who never knew the joy I did or who loved and lost.
This one is for those of us who are trying to make our peace with the hardest part of being a mother (or a child), which is not sleepless nights, expense, exhaustion or aggravation. It's letting go.
It is true. From the time our children are born, we begin the process of letting them go into the world, and they begin the process of leaving us.
That is a mother's most important job: not to hold on, but to let go. All of those stories about the mother bird sitting on her eggs and then the baby birds flying away... How could I have missed that? My mother hated birds. Maybe that's why.
There is a scene in "White Oleander," a wonderful novel about the foster care system, that describes teenage girls, abandoned by their mothers, giving birth, screaming in pain, crying out for their mothers.
To grow up without a mother's love leaves a hole you never stop trying to fill. But no matter how we try, no matter how much we love, in ways big and small, we disappoint our children, we do things wrong, we fail them.
"Just you wait," I want to say to those young women. "If only I could do everything again," I say to myself.
I remember a moment, years ago, driving with my two young children in the back seat. I was one of those girls who always had an easier time with my professional life than my personal life. I knew I was smart, but no one ever told me I was pretty. I knew I could support myself, but I feared I would always be alone. And there I was with two children — my children, my blessed, beautiful children! And I wanted to freeze the moment, to be there always, right there.
But of course, that is not how life works. Children need to grow. They need to have their chance at life, with all of its ups and downs. And as they age, so do we.
So, 23 years later, I will not be toasting my new baby on Mother's Day. I will do what I do most Sundays: go to the market, read the paper, do my work. My children will call me, and I will tell them I am fine, good luck with exams, congratulations on the new cat, I am so proud of you. I will think of my own mother, may she rest in peace. I will try to remember, really, how lucky I am, how grateful I should be. I will do my best, which, ultimately, is all any mother can do.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Jim Hightower - A $250M can of whitewash (FOR TUESDAY)

Big doings in Big D — the George W. Bush Presidential Library is open for business!
What a piece of work it is: a $250 million, 226,000-square-foot edifice on 23 acres in Dallas. His brick-and-limestone structure is certainly imposing, but once inside, you quickly see that it's a $250 million can of whitewash. Of course, all ex-presidents want libraries that show their good side, and Bush himself was organizer-in-chief of this temple to ... well, to himself. What's most striking is not what's in it, but what's not.
For example, where's that "Mission Accomplished" banner that he used as a political prop in May 2003, when he strutted out so fatuously on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln wearing a flight suit to pretend like he had won the Iraq war? And how about a video loop of him finally showing up in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, cluelessly praising his infamously incompetent emergency management honcho with the now notorious shout-out: "Heck of a job, Brownie."
Also, while there are 35 featured videos, a replica of W's oval office, narrated presentations by top Bush officials and even statues of the family dogs — where's Cheney? Shouldn't there be an animated exhibit of the perpetually snarling veep in his dark chamber, scheming to shred our Constitution and set up an imperial presidency (or, more accurately, an imperial vice presidency)?
Another essential element of George's tenure that goes unportrayed could be called "The Dead Garden of Compassionate Conservatism." It could feature such mementos as him cutting health care funding for veterans, closing of the college gates for 1.5 million low-income students and turning a blind eye as 8 million more Americans tumbled down the economic ladder into poverty on his watch.
Then there's a shady exhibit that deserves more exposure. It's the list of $160 million-plus donors to the center, with each name chiseled into bricks that form what should be called "The Brick Wall of Special Interest Government." Among those chiseled-in are AT&T, casino baron Sheldon Adelson, Rupert Murdoch's Fox News empire, several billionaire funders of right-wing politics, the founder of GoDaddy.com, and even the royal rulers of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
The 160 names are by no means all of the corporate and fat cat donors — many more gave, but shyly requested that their involvement be kept from the public. Present law allows such unlimited, secret donations, even while a president is in office, still wielding the power to do favors for donors. Bill Clinton used this undercover loophole, and George W. happily chose the same dark path.
On May 1, the doors to Bush's Pharaonic "Presidential Center" opened to the public, allowing us commoners to dig deep into the shallowness of his achievements. The enormous building itself sets the tone: sharp edges, high brick walls and the welcoming feel of a fortress. Yet the ex-prez insists that it's a place for public contemplation of his legacy, "a place to lay out facts," he says.
How ironic is that? After all, the Bush-Cheney regime was infamous for its disregard of facts, as well as its hiding, twisting and manufacturing of facts to fool people. From going to war over Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction to its plan to gut and privatize Social Security — facts were whatever Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Rove and Condi imperiously declared them to be.
More ironic is the centerpiece of the library's attempt to whitewash George's eight awful years: an interactive exhibit called "Decision Points Theater." And theater it is, portraying George heroically as "The Decider." Visitors to this rigged exhibit can use touch screens to see Bush in virtual action, pondering as he receives contradictory advice on whether to save the poor people of New Orleans, bail out Wall Street bankers, rush into Iraq, etc.
The whole show is meant to make you feel sympathy for him, then you're asked to "vote" on whether he did the right thing. Again, irony: We the People got no vote on these issues back when it would've mattered.
There are many, many Bush quotes in this pantheon, but the one that best characterizes him and should be engraved above the entrance to his sparkling new center is this, from August 2002: "I'm the commander. See, I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 May 2013 12:43

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Pat Buchanan - The Pope & godless capitalism (FOR WEDNESDAY)

"This is called slave labor," said Pope Francis.
The Holy Father was referring to the $40 a month paid to apparel workers at that eight-story garment factory in Bangladesh that collapsed on top of them, killing more than 400.
"Not paying a just wage ... focusing exclusively on the balance books, on financial statements, only looking at personal profit. That goes against God!"
The pope is describing the dark side of globalism.
Why is Bangladesh, after China, the second-largest producer of apparel in the world? Why are there 4,000 garment factories in that impoverished country which, a few decades ago, had almost none? Because the Asian subcontinent is where Western brands — from Disney to Gap to Benetton — can produce cheapest. They can do so because women and children will work for $1.50 a day crammed into factories that are rickety firetraps, where health and safety regulations are nonexistent.
This is what capitalism, devoid of a conscience, will produce.
Rescuers at the factory outside Dhaka have stopped looking for survivors, but expect to find hundreds more bodies in the rubble.
The Walt Disney Co., with sales of $40 billion a year, decided — after an apparel plant fire in November took the lives of 112 workers — to stop producing in Bangladesh. "The Disney ban now extends to other countries, including Pakistan," says The New York Times, "where a fire last September killed 262 garment workers."
Not long ago, the shirts, skirts, suits and dresses Americans wore were "Made in the USA" — in plants in the Carolinas, Georgia and Louisiana, where the lower wages, lighter regulations and air conditioning that came after World War II had attracted the factories from New England.
The American idea was that the 50 states and their citizens should compete with one another fairly. The feds set the health and safety standards that all factories had to meet, and imposed wage and hour laws. Some states offered lower wages, but there was a federal minimum wage.
How did we prevent companies from shutting down here and going to places like today's Bangladesh to produce as cheaply as they could — without regard for the health and safety of their workers — and to send their products back here and kill the American factories?
From James Madison to the mid-20th century, we had a tariff. This provided revenue for the U.S. government to keep other taxes low and build the nation's infrastructure. Tariffs prevented exploiters of labor from getting rich here on sweatshops abroad.
Tariffs favored U.S. companies by letting them compete for free in the U.S. market, while a cover charge was placed on foreign goods entering the U.S.A. Foreign producers would pay tariffs for the privilege of competing here, while U.S. companies paid income taxes.
Foreigners had to buy a ticket to the game. Americans got in free. After all, it's our country, isn't it?
But in the late 20th century, America abandoned as "protectionism" what Henry Clay had called The American System. We gave up on economic patriotism. We gave up on the idea that the U.S. economy should be structured for the benefit of America and Americans first.
We embraced globalism.
The ideological basis of globalism was that, just as what was best for America was a free market where U.S. companies produce and sell anywhere freely and equally in the U.S.A., this model can be applied worldwide. We can create a global economy where companies produce where they wish and sell where they wish.
As one might expect, the big boosters of the concept were the transnational corporations. They could now shift plants and factories out of the high-wage, well-regulated U.S. economy to Mexico, China and India, then to Bangladesh, Haiti and Cambodia, produce for pennies, ship their products back to the U.S.A., sell here at the same old price, and pocket the difference.
As some who were familiar with the decline of Great Britain predicted, this would lead inexorably to the deindustrialization of America, a halt to the steady rise in U.S. workers' wages and standard of living, and the enrichment of a new class of corporatists.
Meanwhile, other nations, believing yet in economic nationalism, would invade and capture huge slices of the U.S. market for their home companies, their "national champions." The losers would be the companies that stayed in the U.S.A. and produced for the U.S.A., with American workers.
And so it came to pass. U.S. real wages have not risen in 40 years. In the first decade of the century, America lost 5 million to 6 million manufacturing jobs, one in every three we had, as 55,000 factories closed. Since Bush 41 touted his New World Order, we have run trade deficits of $10 trillion — ten thousand billion dollars! Everybody — the EU, China, Japan, Mexico, Canada — now runs a trade surplus at the expense of the U.S.A.
We built the global economy — by gutting our own.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 May 2013 08:43

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