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Froma Harrop - Obama & Clinton won't be destroyed by talking points

On its face, the murder of Americans in Libya, including our ambassador, has absolutely nothing to do with the inappropriate relationship former President Bill Clinton had with a White House intern. But politically, that's another story.
The Republicans had a powerful weapon against President Clinton. But they couldn't stop themselves. It wasn't just wrong; it wasn't just bad or even egregious judgment. They turned it into an impeachable offense and ended up looking worse than the president. Washington overkill, fueled by the bloodthirsty quest for bodies, ultimately provoked the public's revulsion at such gamesmanship. The president ended up the victim.
In those terms, Benghazi is deja vu all over again.
No one doubts that something went terribly wrong in Libya. Mistakes were made. Security was, obviously, woefully inadequate. Those issues have been fully investigated — by no less distinguished a team than former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, who led an independent review board.
No, the issue in Washington is not what went wrong with Libya. The issue is who tampered with Susan Rice's talking points before she went on the Sunday talk shows. Who downplayed the "terrorism" part, and did they do so to make the White House look better? Was there politics going on in the editing of the talking points?
Do they gamble in Casablanca?
Yes, they do. And according to e-mails the president says were handed over months ago, e-mails the Republicans are claiming to be the "smoking gun" that will lead to the president's impeachment and Hillary Clinton's downfall, it appears that many hands took the pen to those talking points before Rice went on television.
So, do Republicans really plan to impeach the president and destroy Hillary Clinton over who tampered with the talking points? Apparently, they think they can. On Monday, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., formally asked (demanded) that Pickering and Mullen sit for interviews with investigators from his committee.
Pickering responded that he welcomes the opportunity to testify, but pointed out the obvious: He and Mullen had been charged with investigating security and safety at diplomatic posts (real issues), not with looking into who tampered with the talking points. The two matters are "not even connectable, as far as I can see."
That's because he can see straight. That's because he's not a politician or a talk-show host.
Both Republicans and Democrats urged humanitarian intervention in Libya. When it appeared that humanitarian intervention triggered terrorism against Americans, that policy should have been subject to careful scrutiny. There are, almost certainly, many lessons to be learned. Pickering and Mullen and Hillary Clinton herself have already testified as to these issues. If further investigation of them is warranted, so be it.
But it is an insult to those who died, and to all of those who are dealing with real problems in this country, to turn this into a Monica Lewinsky-like spectacle focused, this time, not on a blue dress but on the use of a figurative red pen. So Rice was put on television to "spin" the news. Isn't that what everyone does on those shows?
Is Congress really going to spend weeks investigating "spin"?
Maybe I'm angry because I have too many friends struggling through hard times economically, with their health or their kids or their work, too many friends worried about real stuff, hoping there is some way the government can make things better, to have the patience for games I once found amusing to watch. Maybe I'm angry because all that these games accomplish — and the polls bear this out — is dividing us into our usual camps, right down the line, meaning that absolutely nothing gets accomplished, and people hate politics even more than they did before.
But in the end, I'm sure of this much: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are not going to be destroyed by the talking points. As for Republicans who are willing to risk their credibility on blowing up this scandal, that's another thing. Bill Clinton is a whole lot more popular today than Newt Gingrich. You'd think people would learn. They don't.
(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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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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