Ed Engler - Semantics: you yell, I just talk loud

The Daily Sun has come under some criticism for its reporting of the April 28 meeting of the Belknap County Convention, at which the lawmakers in attendance, by a vote of 9-7, declined to fund a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the county administration with a union representing nursing home workers. Specifically, our report of that meeting included words like "yelled", "screamed" and "shouted" to describe an exchange between Convention Chair Rep. Colette Worseman (R-Meredith) and Belknap County Commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia).

I was not at the meeting but I have gone back and watched a video tape of the proceedings that was recorded for broadcast on Lakes Region Public Access television. This is what I observed:

Near the end of the meeting, a motion was made and seconded to approve a $366,000 appropriation to fund the union contract and members of the convention were taking turns making statements as to why they were in favor of, or against, the agreement. Except for some occasional cheering from the audience in response to comments made, all was calm.

When Chair Worseman recognized Rep. Mike Sylvia (R-Belmont), he stated that if even the convention agreed to fund the contract there was no guarantee that the Board of Commissioners would in fact use the money for that purpose. That statement was an apparent reference to the situation where the convention appropriated money in the county's 2014 operating budget to fund two additional positions at the House of Corrections but the commission chose instead to use the money to fund benefits for existing employees, arguing that the convention had deliberately shorted the county of funds to meet its contractual health insurance obligations.

Rep. Sylvia concluded his remarks by suggesting the convention could not trust the commission to spend the money appropriately and that the November elections would provide an "assessment of who is right and who is wrong."

Those words provoked an immediate reaction from Commissioner Philpot and chaos reigned for the next 38 seconds.

The convention members sit along tables arranged in a square-off "U" shape. At the open end of the "U" is another series of tables and the three county commissioners are seated behind those tables. At the conclusion of Rep. Sylvia's speech the LRPA camera is looking over his shoulder, with the commissioners in the background. Chair Worseman is not in the picture.

As soon as Rep. Syliva stops speaking one can hear eight or nine quick bangs of a gavel and it becomes obvious that Commissioner Philpot has begun speaking directly to Rep. Sylvia, who is perhaps 20 feet away from him. Philpot is angry about the accusations just made by the lawmaker and intends to offer a rebuttal. The commissioner is out of order because the conservation, at that point, is limited to members of the convention, which he is not, and Chair Worseman immediately tries to get him to stop talking. She says "commissioner" three times, each attempt louder than the last, then bangs her gavel hard, two more times.

Commissioner Phlipot keeps talking as the camera focuses in on him. His voice is getting louder as he strives to be heard over the gavel and Worseman's repeated calls for him to be silent. Other voices can also be heard. The chair can be heard saying "out of order" a few times and then she says, "Commissioner Philpot, you are out of order". At that point, the commissioner turns his attention from Sylvia to the chair and says, "No madam, you are out of order. . . this whole process is out of order." Another male voice yells, "You're out of order".

Commissioner Philpot stops speaking. LRPA switches to another camera that is focused on Worseman and she seems calm and is smiling. She quickly recognizes another representative who wants to speak and the meeting goes on.

I heard nothing that I would characterize as a "scream". I heard a lot of "loud talking" that at points could probably fairly be described as "yelling". The entire scene reminded me of one of the those cable TV talk shows where they invite several people with contrasting views to be on air at the same time and they wind up just trying to talk over one another. Everyone is talking loudly (yelling?), no one is listening.

The video tape of the meeting is still being broadcast at times on LRPA. Judge for yourself.

— The editor

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Sanborn — Time for a Redneck spring cleaning?

There were 62 residential single family homes sold in March of 2014 in the twelve Lakes Region communities covered by this report. The average sales price was $187,500 and the median price point was $271,236. This brings our total number of single family homes in the communities changing hands in the first quarter of 2014 to 174 sales at an average price of $312,386. For the first quarter of 2013 we had 172 transactions at an average sale price of $226,492 so it looks like some more expensive sales are happening.

Spring is definitely here although some days it is still hard to tell from the temperature. If you are selling your home now is the time to get out there and get going on all those spring chores that will make your home look its very best when a potential buyer comes for a visit. It has been a hard winter and it has likely taken its toll on you and your property especially if you are a redneck homeowner.

You see, Redneck homeowners do some strange or extreme things and other times they do nothing at all. And, as a consequence, certain steps may be necessary to get their homes back in saleable shape once the snow has disappeared. Now before some people get all upset about me picking on rednecks, I have to do some of these things, too. And even if you drive a Volvo and drink Starbucks, these things apply equally as well to you.

1. First, take down the Christmas lights. It is time and it has warmed up enough to do it without freezing your fingers.

2. Haul the dead Christmas tree from the back lawn. I know the squirrels living in it are going to be upset, but it will kill the lawn eventually if you don't move it. Put the tree on the brush pile and burn it on a rainy evening (only after getting a burning permit.) The critters living in the brush pile are gonna be mad too, but you are trying to sell your house, not theirs.

3. Clean the winter's worth of dog poop from the yard. Despite what your brother-in-law Cletus says, it is not good fertilizer. For that, you have to go to the garden store and talk to them. Some lime and good fertilizer will go a long way toward making your yard lush, green, and presentable instead of having burned spots all over the place.

4. Yes, you have to move the snow machines and other yard ornaments into or behind the garage before you fertilize.

5. Sweep off all the sand you spread on your driveway over the winter. This tip applies only to paved driveways. You get a pass if you have a gravel driveway as it won't look any different. You could, however, fill in the ruts.

6. Take the snow blower down off the roof. Fix the shingles where you got down just a tad too far.

7. If you burned wood all winter, clean up the mess where your woodpile once was. I know you can't have any wood left, after this winter nobody does.

8. Fix or replace the gutter where the ice broke it and repaint the water stains caused by the ice-damn in the family room.

9. Pick up some new plantings for the front yard. Something that will be bright and cheerful as prospective buyers drive by to check your place out. Make sure to get some fresh mulch down on the beds. Curb appeal is a big, big deal so consider it a worthwhile investment in window dressing that will set your redneck palace apart from the rest.

10. Finally, fix and repaint the garage door where you hit it with the plow. While you're at it, take a good look around and paint or touch up the front of the house. A fresh coat of paint on the front door could go a long way to making your home look appealing. It is spring, so freshen it all up. As Phil says on Duck Dynasty, "Happy, happy, 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 4/20/14. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

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Jim Hightower - Uber-rich NFL owners paying cheerleaders below minimum wage

It doesn't take an IQ much higher than room temperature to realize that it's way past time to raise America's sub-poverty minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. But let's also pay attention to the millions of people trying to make ends meet on — believe it or not — America's sub-minimum wage.

Some of our country's richest corporations have turned national wage laws into Swiss cheese, riddling them with special loopholes that let them escape paying even today's miserly minimum wage. This amounts to wholesale daylight robbery of restaurant workers, farm workers, domestic workers, pro-football cheerleaders, taxi drivers, and ... wait a minute ... back up ... cheerleaders?

Give me an N! "Nnnnnn!" Give me an F! "Ffffff!" Give me an L! "Llllll!" What does it spell? Greeeeeddd!

The monster moneymaking machine known as the National Football League is continuing to run an off-field power play against its valuable and highly marketable female team players. Women on NFL teams? Yes — not running plays, but on the sidelines running the synchronized gymnastics and precision dance routines of professional cheerleaders. These women are an integral part of the spirit, entertainment, promotion and financial success of this $9 billion-a-year corporate enterprise.

Yes, super-rich NFL football teams, which sop up billions of dollars in subsidies from us taxpayers, pay peanuts to their highly publicized cheerleading squads. Widely assumed to be a glamour job, it's actually a poverty job that requires long hours of arduous practice, involves frequent travel (at their own expense) for media appearances and charity events, and subjects the women to abusive treatment by supervisors.

Members of the Oakland Raiders' squad calculate that their pay works out to less than $5 an hour, while the Cincinnati Bengals' cheerleaders (who bear the burden of being called "Ben-Gals") are paid about $2.85 an hour — far less than the federal minimum wage — to be worked like mules, constantly abused, cheated and disrespected.

Astonishingly, though, a recent ruling by the U.S. Labor Department says that this does not violate federal law. Why? Because the macho sports industry got its cheerleaders categorized as "seasonal amusement" — a loophole that exempts them from our national pay rules. Side note: NFL's mascots are considered "employees" of the teams they represent, worthy of a salary between $23,000 and $60,000, plus benefits.
Finally fed up, members of the Oakland Raiderettes cheerleading squad have sued their team's corporate hierarch for gross labor violations. You'd think the billionaire owners of these sports kingdoms would be embarrassed to be publicly exposed as cheapskate exploiters of women. I mean, why wouldn't they just pay $10 an hour, or — what the hell — $100? That's pocket change to them.

Instead, the Oakland Raiders have rolled out their army of lawyers armed with a legalistic bomb called "mandatory arbitration." The lawyers claim that, thanks to the sneaky arbitration proviso tucked into the ladies' employment contracts, the cheerleaders cannot go to court, but must submit any complaints to a private arbiter.

And who would that be? Why the NFL commissioner himself, whose $44-million-a-year salary is paid by the teams' owners! Why would he side with poverty-pay cheerleaders against the regal owners who feather his own nest? He won't, which is why these indefatigable women are not only challenging the NFL's abuse of them, but also the abuse we all suffer from the absurd corporate-rigged system of forced arbitration.

The Powers That Be are trying to transform our Land of Opportunity into their low-wage, plutocratic province. From farm workers to cheerleaders, we're all in this together — and it's time for us to get together to stop the plutocrats.

To keep up with the cheerleaders' case and see how they are standing up for us, go to levyvinick.com/blog/news.

(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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Pat Buchanan - Nationalism, not NATO, is our great ally

With Vladimir Putin having bloodlessly annexed Crimea and hinting that his army might cross the border to protect the Russians of East Ukraine, Washington is abuzz with talk of dispatching U.S. troops to Eastern Europe. But unless we have lost our minds, we are not going to fight Russia over territory no president ever regarded as vital to us.

Indeed, should Putin annex Eastern and Southern Ukraine all the way to Odessa, he would simply be restoring to Russian rule what had belonged to her from Washington's inaugural in 1789 to George H. W. Bush's inaugural in 1989.

This is not an argument for ignoring Russia's conduct. But it is an argument for assessing what is vital and what is not, what threatens us and what does not, and what is the real deterrent to any re-establishment of the Soviet Empire.

Before we start sending troops back to Europe, as we did 65 years ago under Harry Truman, let us ask ourselves: Was it really the U.S. Army, which never crossed the Elbe or engaged in battle with the Red Army, that brought down the Soviet Empire and dissolved the Soviet Union?

No. What liberated the nations of Eastern Europe and the USSR was the determined will of these peoples to be free to decide their own destinies and create, or re-create, nations based on their own history, language, culture and ethnic identity?

Nationalism brought down the empire. And Mikhail Gorbachev let these nations go because Russia was weary of maintaining a coercive empire and because Russia, too, wanted to be part of the free world.

While Putin may want the Russians of Ukraine and Belarus back inside a Greater Russia, does anyone think he wants Rumanians, Bulgarians, Poles, Hungarians, Czechs or Slovaks back under Moscow's rule?

Putin knows that his own popularity, near 80 percent, is due directly to his being seen as a nationalist willing to stand up to the Americans and their claim to be sole architects of the New World Order.

And it is nationalism, not a NATO full of freeloaders, that is America's great ally in this post-Cold War world.

It was nationalism that liberated the captive nations, broke apart the Soviet Union, split Czechoslovakia in two and divided Yugoslavia into seven countries.

Nationalism drove the Chechens to try to break from Moscow, the Abkhazians and South Ossetians to secede from Georgia, and the Crimeans to say good-bye to Kiev.

And as nationalism tore apart the Soviet Empire and USSR, nationalism will prevent their recreation.
Should Putin invade and annex all of Ukraine, not just Crimea and the East where Russians are in a majority, his country would face the same resistance from occupied Western Ukraine Russia faces today in Dagestan, Ingushetia and Chechnya. Putin knows that.

But if Eastern Ukraine in the May election should indicate a will to secede and join Russia, or become a separate autonomous state, why would we automatically oppose that? Are we not ourselves the proud descendants of the secessionists of '76?

If we can view with diffidence the drive by Scotland to secede from England, Catalonia to secede from Spain, Venice to secede from Italy, and Flanders to secede from Belgium, why would the secession of the Donbass from Ukraine be a problem for us, if done democratically?

Nationalism is the natural enemy of empires, and it seems on the rise almost everywhere.

An assertion of Chinese nationalism — Beijing's claim to islands Japan has occupied for over a century — has caused a resurgence of a Japanese nationalism dormant since World War II. Japan's nationalist resurgence has caused a rise in anti-Japanese nationalism in Korea.

China's great adversary today is Asian nationalism.

India resents China's hold on territories taken in a war half a century ago and China's growing naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

China's claims in the South China Sea have revived anti-Chinese nationalism in Vietnam and the Philippines. In Western China, Uighurs have resorted to violence and even terror to break Xinjiang off from China, which they hope to convert into their own East Turkestan.

Kurdish nationalism, an ally of America in Desert Storm, is today a threat to the unity of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Elections for the European Parliament in May are almost certain to see gains for the Ukip in England, Marine Le Pen's National Front in France, Geert Wilders Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, and other nationalist parties that have lately arisen across Europe.

These parties in a way echo Putin. Where he wants Ukraine to stay out of the EU, they want their countries to get out of the EU.

Secessionism and nationalism are growth stocks today. Centralization and globalization are yesterday.

A new world is coming. And while perhaps unwelcome news for the transnational elites championing such causes as climate change and battling global economic inequality, it is hard to see any great threat in all this to the true interests of the American people.

(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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Michael Barone - 77¢ argument is bogus

An economist serving on a second-term president's Council of Economic Advisers might expect to weigh in on fundamental issues, restructuring the tax system or making entitlement programs sustainable over the long term. Barack Obama once talked of addressing such issues, and Republican leaders such as House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp are doing so.

But that's not what University of Michigan economist and CEA member Betsey Stevenson finds herself doing. Instead, she is defending the use of misleading statistics in support of legislation addressing a minor problem.

The legislation is Obama's latest pay equity measure, which failed to pass in the Senate last week. The misleading statistic is 77 cents, cited repeatedly by Obama as the amount women earn for every dollar earned by men.

When challenged on this by MSNBC's Irin Cannon, Stevenson admitted that the 77 cents figure is misleading. "If I said that 77 cents was equal pay for equal work, then I completely misspoke," she admitted.

"There are a lot of things that go into that 77 cents figure," she went on. "There are a lot of things that contribute, and no one's trying to say that it's all about discrimination, but I don't think there's a better figure."

Of course some people are trying to say that "it's all about discrimination"—starting with Stevenson's boss, President Obama, and including the political ad-makers preparing to cut 30-second spots accusing Republicans of a "war on women."

So Stevenson is fibbing about that. And when she says, "there are a lot of things that contribute" to male-female earnings disparities, she is indicating that she understands the weakness of using the 77 cents number.

This isn't controversial stuff. As my American Enterprise Institute colleague Christina Hoff Sommers writes in the Daily Beast, the 77 cents "does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure or hours worked per week."

Those factors are acknowledged in a 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics report cited by AEI scholars Mark Perry and Andrew Biggs in the Wall Street Journal. It shows that (a) men tend to work longer hours than women, (b) men tend to take riskier jobs with premium pay and (c) female college graduates tend to specialize in lower-paid fields than male college graduates.

As a result, the BLS concludes, women who worked 40-hour weeks earned 88 percent of what similar men did. Single women who never married earned 96 percent of men's earnings.
Stevenson concedes that not all the differential comes from discrimination or sexism. "Some of women's choices come because they are disproportionately balancing the needs of work and family," she told MSNBC.

By "disproportionately," she presumably means that more women than men choose to stay home to care for children. "Which of these choices should we consider legitimate choices," she asks, "and which of them should we consider things that we have a societal obligation to try to mitigate?"

This raises the specter of government bureaucrats intervening in marital decision-making, pushing more husbands to stay home with the kids. Even the Obama administration stops short of that.

The Democrats' problem is that sex discrimination by employers was outlawed by the Equal Pay Act signed by John Kennedy in 1963 — 51 years ago. To make "the war on women" an issue and rally single women to the polls, the Obama Democrats have had to concoct new legislation putting new burdens on small employers and ginning up business, as the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Act's extended statute of limitations did, for their trial lawyer contributors.

Such legislation attacks a problem very largely solved. The male-female pay differential for those working at similar levels has been reduced nearly, but not quite, to the vanishing point. Remaining differences result almost entirely from personal choices by women and men.

Those choices shifted sharply 40 years ago but haven't changed much lately. The percentage of mothers seeing full-time work as an ideal, Pew Research Center reports, was 30 percent in 1997 and 32 percent in 2012.

By any realistic standard the equal pay problem is minor, certainly in comparison to the growth-stifling effects of the current tax code and the unsustainable trajectory of current entitlement programs.

But this president, unlike his two predecessors, has chosen not to address such major problems in his second term. And so Betsey Stevenson has to defend the indefensible 77 cents statistic.

(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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