E. Scott Cracraft - Rope is cheap

Recently, New Hampshire missed the chance to join the company of other civilized states and democratic nations and abolish the death penalty. A bill to abolish capital punishment passed overwhelmingly in the state House and Governor Hassan promised to sign it. But, it was defeated by a tie in the state Senate. This does not exactly constitute widespread support for the death penalty.

Historically, New Hampshire has imposed the death penalty sparingly and reluctantly. This trend goes back to colonial times. In fact, our last hanging was in 1939. Today, only certain types of murder are deemed "capital," including killing a police officer or "murder for hire."

The Legislature voted to abolish the death sentence years ago but the bill was vetoed by Governor Jeanne Shaheen. Also, New Hampshire changed its method of execution from hanging to lethal injection. However, in case lethal injection cannot be "conveniently" carried out, we can switch back to hanging.

Given the problems with obtaining lethal injection drugs (European countries do not want to sell them to the USA if they are used in executions), many states are reconsidering how they dispose of those on death row. But in N.H., where many conservatives are reluctant to fund education and social services, one wonders if down the road, some "anti-tax, anti-spend" governor or corrections commissioner might not well say "well, legal injection machines and the drugs could run to a few thousand dollars. I can buy rope at a hardware store for $9.99!"

Why do we even have the death penalty on the books, considering we are so reluctant to use it? Currently, the state has just one prisoner under sentence of death, an African-American who killed a police officer, which, in N.H., constitutes "capital murder." But, he had a public defender — like most on death row.

N.H. had a rich white man, with a private lawyer, who also committed capital murder by hiring a "hit man" and he got a life sentence. Is there race or class consideration in the imposition of the "ultimate sanction?" Is our justice system really the "best money can buy?" Statistics show that most people on death row in the U.S. are male, poor, or people of color.

One can sympathize with supporters of capital punishment. After all, we are dealing with the most horrible crimes. It is not that I feel sorry for these offenders. If one of my loved ones were brutally murdered, I would probably want revenge. That is human. Perhaps if we really lived in a society with "equal justice for all," one might concede that such a society had the right to get rid of its worst predators.

But, we are not "there" yet. There have been innocent people executed in America. We can let someone out of prison but we cannot bring them back to life. Moreover, while many might feel some temporary satisfaction, it does not bring any victim back. In addition, it has been shown not to deter crime.

Some advocates of capital punishment talk about the cost of imprisonment. In most cases, however, it is actually cheaper to keep a criminal in prison for life than it is to execute him or her. There are multiple reasons for this including the appeals. Most people on death row are indigent so someone has to pay for appeals. Even people in favor of capital punishment do not want the wrong person executed.

Other advocates of the death penalty point to public safety but today, we have modern, high-tech, high-security prisons from which it is virtually impossible to escape. Society can be protected from its worst predators without resorting to killing them.

Finally, there are practical reasons for abolishing capital punishment. If a murder suspect is able to flee to many countries, including the E.U. countries or Canada, that country will not extradite the suspect unless it is certain that the death penalty will not be sought. These countries (and human rights organizations) consider capital punishment a violation of human rights. Incidentally, most countries that have abolished it have much lower crime rates than the U.S.A.
(Scott Cracraft is a U.S. citizen, taxpayer, veteran, and resident of Gilford.)

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Sanborn — New year, new houses

As the New Year begins we saw almost two hundred listings expire without selling in the twelve communities covered by the real estate market report. The inventory dropped from 952 listings available as of Dec 1, 2014 to just 761 as of January 1, 2015 with a median price point of $249,900. But this is not unusual and it happens every year. Seems like that 12/31 is a popular expiration date. The current inventory level represents a little over a nine month supply of homes to sell, but I don't expect it to stay that way long as properties are re-listed and brought back on ​ ​the market.

So what's new on the market the first few days of this New Year? Here's a few nice ones to look at if you are in the market for a new home!

Just listed at 65 Washington Street in Laconia by Judy McShane of Coldwell Banker RB is a nice 1900s vintage, four bedroom, one and a half bath, 1,780 square foot colonial home. You see this style colonial throughout Laconia and this period home was extremely well built with lots of character and charm. And, this one looks pretty nice with a remodeled eat-in kitchen with stainless appliances, hardwood floors, new replacement windows on the first floor, first floor laundry, and a new coat of exterior paint in 2012. The house sits on a third acre lot with a one car garage and is within walking distance to Bond Beach. This is a solid starter home for someone and is priced at $165,900. Check it out!

Another Laconia in-town home over at 30 Holman Street also has that period charm. This 1920s vintage Dutch Colonial has 3,404 square feet of space with five...yes five bedrooms, plus an efficiency apartment in the basement, three and a half baths, a family room with fireplace, hardwood floors, formal dining room, craft room, enclosed porch and lots more. This house has been upgraded throughout the years but the original character is intact. It sits on a large .42 acre lot and has a two car garage. It is listed by Randy Annis of JG Realty at $349,000.
If you are looking for something newer in a low tax town, then check out the property at 27 Melly Lane in Moultonborough. This 1,736 square foot tri-level was built in 2006 and has three bedrooms and two full baths, and a nice kitchen with maple cabinetry, solid surface countertops, center island and stainless appliances. The large living room's focal point is a great gas fireplace with stone surround. Outside you'll find a nice back deck, a farmer's porch, and low maintenance cement board siding. Nice stuff! There's an oversize two car garage with plenty of room for a work bench. The house sits on a .51 acre lot and you have access to 46 acres of adjacent conservation land. This property is listed by Mary-Ann Schmidt of the Bean Group at $259,500. The tax bill here is only $2,100 folks!

Lastly, there is a nice 4,000 square foot, four bedroom, two and a half bath cape at 257 Cotton Hill in Gilford that may be just what you are looking for. This is clearly not a cookie-cutter cape. It has a open concept floor plan with wood clad cathedral ceilings and exposed beams in the great room, a custom kitchen with bead board cabinetry and the requisite granite counter ​tops, formal dining room, a first floor master suite with large walk in closet and bath with double vanity, plus a second floor den and a finished basement with exercise area. Outside, on the private 5 acre lot, you'll find an in-ground salt water pool, exquisite landscaping and perennial gardens, and a 30 x 40 foot barn style garage and workshop! Yup, room for all the toys! This property is listed by Meagan Bowen of Coldwell Banker at $579,000. Seems like it has it all. Let's go take a look!

P​ease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others.
​Information was obtained from the NNEREN MLS system. ​Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012

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Bob Meade - Ms. or Mr. President . . .

You, the reader, have just been sworn in as President of the United States. What greets you is a world that is in flames. Our military morale is diminishing. Our spending is out of control, and we are building deficits that will be beyond the ability of our future generations to pay. Our labor participation rate is at its lowest point since 1978. These are but a few of the problems you must deal with urgently, while you try to address and heal the growing racial divide in our country.

You want to put together a high quality multi-racial task force to address the racial divide problems, honestly and completely. You can call on any number of people willing and eager to put together a solution. Among a wide array those who may be available, are some outstanding black executives, including . . .

John Thompson CEO of Virtual Instruments and the independent chairman of Microsoft Corporation. He received his Bachelor's degree from Florida A & M and spent the next 28 years advancing up the corporate ladder at IBM. During that time he received his Master's degree from MIT's Sloan School of Management. He left IBM to join Symantec Corp. as its chairman, president, and CEO. In his 10 years at Symantec he grew the company from $600 million to over $6 billion in revenues. In 2010 he became CEO of Virtual Instruments

Kenneth Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express, earned degrees from Bowdoin College, Harvard University, and Harvard Law School. He began his career with American Express in 1981 and in 1997 became its president and CEO. In 1995, Ebony magazine listed him as one of the fifty "Living Pioneers" in the African American community.

Kenneth Frazier, president, CEO, and director of pharmaceutical giant Merck and Co. Son of a janitor whose mother died when he was 12 years old, he was able to graduate from high school at the age of 16. He enrolled at Penn State and received his Bachelor's. During that period, he essentially worked his way through school through his own business enterprise. After Penn State he went to Harvard Law School and earned his JD. He went to work for a law firm and one of his clients was Merck and Company. The company hired him as its general counsel and he moved up the company's management ranks becoming its CEO and board member in early 2011.

Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation. She is the first African American woman to head a Fortune 500 company. She received her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from NYU and her Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University. Forbes rated her as the 22d most powerful woman in the world.

Dr. Ben Carson, former chief neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, who is credited with the first successful separation of twins who were joined together at the head. Born and raised in Detroit. Overcame childhood temper issues and poor studies to become a top student, graduating from Yale and the University of Michigan's Health System.

Condoleezza Rice, PhD, former professor and then provost of Stanford University, speaks fluent Russian, served as our national security advisor, and was our Secretary of State.

There are also some notable non-business related black leaders such as the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton. Sharpton has been identified with "race baiting" since 1987 when he received national attention in the Tawana Brawley case, when he made unfounded charges against a police officer and a prosecutor but he offered no proof. The police officer committed suicide and the court found Sharpton guilty of defamation against the prosecutor, and his two lawyers had their law licenses revoked by the court. It turned out that the young woman admitted to having fabricated the entire story. Subsequently, after a Hasidic ambulance driver accidentally hit a young African American man, Sharpton was credited with inflaming the Crown Heights race riots which resulted in an innocent Hasidic student who was visiting from Australia, being attacked and murdered. A few years after that, the Reverend Sharpton incited another anti-Semitic riot at what was known as Freddie Fashion's Mart and one of the protesters shot several customers and started a fire that killed seven employees. Sharpton attended Brooklyn College.

Out of all those candidates, you select the Reverend Sharpton. Why?

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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James Pindell - 2 political dynamics to watch in 2015

Observers of New Hampshire politics were certainly spoiled in 2014 on the mere entertainment value of what took place in the state.

There was the most expensive — and wildly unpredictable — U.S. Senate contest between Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Scott Brown. Casino gambling was stopped by just one vote in the Statehouse. Republicans even agreed to a gas tax increase and to expand Medicaid.

But there already signs that 2015 could be even an more interesting year politically in the state. Here are two political dynamics to watch.

Which direction will the Republican Party take?

Yes, this is a bold question, but the Republican Party appears to be at a political crossroads locally and nationally.

Locally there is a very relevant fight between the party's conservative base and the party's establishment moderates. In 2010, heading into the last presidential primary season, the base was clearly winning, given Tea Party leaders were elected as state House Speaker and to lead the state Republican Party. But 2014, heading into a different presidential primary, the establishment struck back. For the first time since 1986, Republicans nominated a pro-choice statewide candidate. Actually, they nominated two, their nominees for governor and U.S. Senate. Further, the party apparatus is firmly in the grip of U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who has never been loved by the party's vocal base. The upcoming presidential primary should shift this dynamic.

While locally there are tensions, nationally there is a much more fundamental conversation taking place. For a generation the Republican Party was defined by a three-legged stool of fiscal conservatism, social conservatism and strong national security positions. Now, with polling showing the Republican Party's brand as low as it has ever been, presidential candidates will come to New Hampshire fighting over this definition of the party.

Some potential Republican presidential candidates have raised taxes or expanded Medicaid. Some believe that the party should take a more libertarian approach to social issues like gay marriage. Then there are the likes of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who believe the United States shouldn't be so involved in foreign conflicts anymore.

Will the legislature approve of casino gambling and legalized marijuana?

There is a lot of momentum on these two issues heading into the upcoming legislative session.

The reason why the state doesn't have casino gambling already is due to the House consistently rejecting the idea. This session new House Speaker, Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson) has never voted for a gambling bill, but it is unclear just how much power he will this session to impose his will. He has also repeatedly said that he isn't opposed to the concept of gambling, he just opposed the particular gambling bills that have been proposed. This upcoming budget session, Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Republican-led State Senate favor casino gambling and will be looking for more revenue.

Revenue could also be found in taxing marijuana sales, should the legislature pass a legalization bill. Already four states — Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington — have legalized marijuana and it would be consistent with the state's Live Free or Die motto. However, no major legislative leader nor Hassan, are big backers of the idea.

(James Pindell covers politics for WMUR. You can see his breaking news and analysis at WMUR.com/political scoop and on WMUR-TV)

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Jill Lawrence - Republicans long for return to 20th Century

President Obama's dramatic move to reopen relations with Cuba crystallizes the larger story of his presidency: In many significant ways, he has dragged America into the 21st century. But how long will we stay here? I ask because so many Republicans seem nostalgic for the golden era of Chubby Checker, Elvis Presley and The Shirelles, or the slightly more recent decade when Lionel Richie and Olivia Newton-John topped the charts.

For now, Republicans are sitting in the metaphorical green room of history, waiting for their onstage close-up. They're free to rail against anything and everything Obama does, knowing that his core achievements will be protected for two more years by Senate Democrats and Obama himself. Even the new Republican-controlled Congress can expect filibusters and vetoes if it goes too far in trying to obliterate the Obama era.

The real test will be what the GOP does if and when it has the relatively unfettered capacity to work its will — for instance, if it elects a president in 2016. That person would have to decide whether to roll back the many Obama policies achieved through executive action, regulations and a handful of major laws. Would he or she revive a Cold War with Cuba, stop nuclear talks with Iran, break a climate agreement with China? Revoke temporary legal residency for millions of immigrants? Take away health coverage from millions who are newly insured? Lower the minimum wage for federal contractors? Weaken consumer protections against banks? Reduce tax rates on the rich?

At least a few GOP lawmakers and 2016 prospects must be secretly relieved that Obama is taking the heat for some decisions that were necessary and-or inevitable. We have thriving automobile and renewable energy industries, even as Republicans have been able to rail against government "bailouts" and "picking winners." We aren't sending combat troops into quagmires, prolonging a long-failed isolation policy toward Cuba or courting confrontation with Iran, and the GOP can still hammer Obama as weak, indecisive and naive. America has finally joined the rest of the developed world in offering broad access to health insurance — and Republicans, in an act of political jujitsu for the record books, have ridden the new law to two midterm routs.

The positioning so far in the 2016 presidential race is revealing. Most of the hot GOP prospects have a foot in the 1980s, the 1960s or both. The field is crowded with aggressive interventionists, supply-side tax cutters and climate-change skeptics. Some seem to want to prolong the Cold War. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, whose parents left Cuba well before Fidel Castro's revolution and takeover, has been so emotional and militant in opposing Obama's Cuba shift that The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz wrote a parody called "Rubio Vows to Block Twenty-First Century." ("We cannot stop time, perhaps, but we can defund it"). What's most striking about Rubio's old-school views is his age. He's just 43.
To give them their due, several future contenders are trying to formulate plans for a 21st-century Republican Party. Rubio and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan are looking at alternative ways to fight poverty, while Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush support comprehensive immigration reform that deals with the millions of illegal immigrants already in America. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is a warrior for privacy rights and criminal justice reform, he backs Obama on Cuba, and he's against what the libertarian Cato Institute's David Boaz calls "promiscuous interventionism" abroad.

Yet in crucial areas, they and many other GOP prospects are still modeling themselves on an illusory Ronald Reagan. The actual Reagan raised as well as cut taxes, grew the government, terminated a U.S. mission in Lebanon — that is, cut and ran — after 241 military personnel were killed in a bombing, and negotiated with "evil empire" leader Mikhail Gorbachev to reduce nuclear weapons. But who in the Republican field will emulate the practical, flexible Reagan who was open to discussion and compromise?

Paul stands out at this point for rejecting the Reaganesque Republican ideal of America as global supercop with its nose — not to mention its bombs and troops — in everyone's business. He's on the same page as his colleagues, however, when it comes to tax cuts as an economic cure-all. His draconian proposals to cut taxes, slash spending and balance the budget in five years are about as new-fangled as Hall and Oates.

Given his name and his race, Obama's two election victories were potent symbols of a new century and the promise of an increasingly diverse nation. Yet the real 21st-century pillars of his presidency are his policies, from energy and health care to immigration and diplomatic engagement. My fingers are crossed that in their rush to reject all things Obama, Republicans won't reflexively climb into the wayback machine and embrace the ideas of the past.

(Jill Lawrence is nationally syndicated columnist and a writer for Al Jazeera America Opinion. She has covered every presidential campaign for news organizations since 1988.)

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