Froma Harrop - What makes a heavy drinker?

There's been a significant rise in "heavy drinking" among Americans, according to a new study out of the University of Washington.

But what do these researchers mean by "heavy drinking"? wine lovers must ask. For a woman, heavy drinking is defined as more than one glass of wine a day. For men, it's more than two. Other definitions of heavy drinking use similar measures. But hmm.

I'm often a heavy drinker by these lights, but not by my lights. Many days, I'll have two glasses of wine. Occasionally, I'll have three. I don't think that's a big deal, and I don't see myself in any kind of denial.

Is the Frenchwoman who takes a glass of rose with lunch and a cabernet at dinner a "heavy drinker"? And if she should add an aperitif before dinner and a dash of cognac when the meal ends two hours later — that is, consume four alcoholic beverages in the course of 24 hours — does that make her a "binge drinker," as many would define her?

Even doctors pointing to the cardiac benefits of moderate consumption urge people to not start drinking for health reasons. Well, why not, unless the person is addicted to alcohol?

Other healthy adults should be able to split a bottle of wine with a friend without being told they are headed to the gutter. Somewhere in our society's gut lives the notion of alcohol as inherently evil.

When experts talk about the one-drink-a-day limit for a woman, they ignore vast differences in the sizes, ages and health conditions of the sisterhood's members.

"I can't drink anything," my 90-year-old aunt Shirley told me during a recent dinner out, "but would you like another glass of white?"

Aunt Shirley has only 102 pounds on her but a ton of wisdom.

Even getting tipsy now and then should be the drinker's own business, assuming that he or she doesn't then drive. On that subject, campaigns against drunken driving have succeeded in sharply reducing alcohol-fueled fatalities on the road. Unfortunately, the modern-day temperance movement has gotten into its head that the way to push these numbers still lower is to make alcoholic beverages more expensive through higher taxes.
In truth, the dangerous drivers are typically alcoholics with repeated arrests and blood alcohol levels that are double the legal maximum or more. They are not real sensitive to the price of the substance.

Promoting higher prices as a response to campus binge drinking is also a non-solution. The problem of students' downing rotgut until they pass out is not just of too much alcohol but of too little civilization.

Giancarlo Gariglio, editor-in-chief of Slow Wine Magazine, touched on this in his criticisms of a European Union plan to discourage binge drinking with minimum prices and regulated alcoholic percentages. His big complaint was it lumped artisanal wines with industrial, pre-mixed alcohol beverages.

"Without culture," he wrote, "we drink poorly and we don't even enjoy ourselves, because we gulp down rubbish."

Taxes on alcohol are, of course, regressive. The Beer Institute, an industry trade group, reports that beer drinkers pay $5.6 billion a year in hidden excise taxes alone — hidden because they are levied at the brewery.

Low- and middle-income Americans are beer's chief consumers. The institute estimates that households earning less than $50,000 per year pay half of beer taxes.

The battle is on to define moderate drinking. If that means dishing out the same guidelines to a skinny Nancy Reagan at 93 and a large Melissa McCarthy at 44, then they're not going to say much.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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Bob Meade - WWJD?

Do you feel like you are being scammed? Being lied to repeatedly? Being fed more propaganda than real news? Being prevented from knowing why your freedoms are being challenged? Being considered bigoted because you have "faith"? Being herded into a feed trough of political correctness? Being manipulated? Being pitted one against another for political purposes?

Thomas Jefferson said he would rather have newspapers without a government, than a government without newspapers. He fully expected that the newspapers (today, the media in all its forms) would provide the people with the information necessary for them to control the government . . . a government of, by, and for the people.

Thomas Jefferson also said that people get the government they deserve. He evidently believed that, given an accurate accounting of the government's activities by the newspapers, the people would ultimately be responsible for ensuring the government was functioning to their satisfaction . . . ergo, the rise or fall of the government was the people's responsibility.

If he were alive today, Jefferson would be thrilled with the technological diversity of the media, its ability to communicate to the citizenry within minutes, its ability to present visuals all across the country and the world, and to provide real time commentary from those we elected to various government positions, be they local, state, or national.

It is doubtful however, that Jefferson would be thrilled with the integrity of today's media, and its failure to accurately report the news without bias. He probably didn't think the media would choose sides. But they have. He wouldn't be pleased with the apathy of the citizenry either . . . he probably would have expected the people to demand the best from their politicians. Initially, those who served in politics at all levels of our government were essentially "volunteers", not professional politicians. Of course it is highly probable that he would be first to challenge the "professional" politician. The difference between the volunteer and the professional politician is that the volunteer "gives" of him/herself for the good of the community, while the professional politician seems to be more concerned with achieving some level of personal tenure, and a desire for personal power and enrichment. In short, we are not being "served", we are being "used".

While I can't speak for Jefferson, I think it's reasonable to assume that he would do everything within his power to challenge the ever growing federal bureaucracies; the cabinet level departments that basically serve themselves and continue to grow without ever achieving the objectives for which they were established. The result of their continued presence is that we, the people, are in many ways being ruled by the non-elected. Adding salt to those bureaucratically inflicted wounds is the fact that "regulations" issued by those departments can have the force of law without ever having gone through the rigor of the legislative process necessary to enact a law.

So, where do we place the blame for the bureaucracies, or the career politicians? Do we blame the bureaucracy? Do we blame the politicians? No, we can't blame either as they are simply taking advantage of the lack of attention we, the people, have paid to our government and our political process.

We have come to accept "political correctness" as a substitute for both civil laws and moral tenets. We have allowed the citizenry to be divided by income, sex, race, political party, race and ethnicity, education, religion, and more. The "professional" politicians have promoted those divisions as a way of pitting one group against another, and for sorting them into groups to be pandered to. The "professionals" will offer (shallow) words tailored to each group in an effort to convince each of them that they are the one most deserving of their vote. And will the political candidate campaign on a promise to rein in the various bloated bureaucracies? Or to reduce the size of government? Or to restructure the "legacy" costs for those in government to make them more closely resemble the personal retirement plans of the majority of the citizenry? Or to enact laws that require every bureaucratic "regulation" to have to be approved by the Congress and signed by the Executive branch?

We can't expect those running for elected office to campaign on traditional values and integrity unless we, the people, demand that they do. Our country has lost its moral compass because of our apathy and that has resulted in our being ruled by the non-elected, our freedoms have been diminished as the Constitution is ignored, and our national debt and unfunded liabilities may be beyond recovery. If you, me, and we don't shed our apathy and become an informed and active citizenry that demands a return to adherence to the Constitution, our great nation will continue to decline. It's up to you.

What would Jefferson do?

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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Lakes Region Profiles - Finding that perfect vacation home

By Frank Roche, President Roche Realty Group, Inc.

Our profile this week features Gary and Maureen Robidoux from Pelham, N.H. who recently purchased a vacation property at Yacht Club Vista on Lake Winnipesaukee in Gilford.


We grew up in Pelham, N.H. and have 2 boys, 26 and 22 years old. Over the years we vacationed in many regions... at N.H.'s seacoast, the coast of Maine, the Florida Keys, Aruba, Mexico, Virginia Beach, and other vacation retreats. We felt we wanted a region that was close to home without extensive travel time. So many places took 4-8 hours out of our day to get there! A beacon surfaced when we rented a lake home in Meredith last year for 1 week... we absolutely fell in love with the Lakes Region. Everyone was so friendly and there was so much to do.


We knew right off after renting in Meredith that the Lakes Region was the perfect spot, so we signed up on real estate websites Zillow and Trulia in October to research properties in the Lakes Region. Prior to this past year our family had taken many day trips with kids to the Lakes Region and coastal regions, however we felt the Lakes Region offered so much more for year-round living compared to the coast. We communicated with Rachel Xavier, a Realtor® in Meredith, through Zillow and outlined some of our objectives.


We looked at 20-25 properties in Laconia, Gilford, Meredith and Alton Bay, on Lake Opechee, Winnisquam, Newfound and Lake Winnipesaukee. We found a property in Laconia on Plantation beach... however the deal went south. Rachel was convinced she would find us the perfect place, so we continued our quest. Many weekends and lots of properties, culminating in a great showing at Yacht Club Vista on Lake Winnipesaukee.


We loved this location in Gilford at Yacht Club Vista. It had the perfect walk-in natural sand beach with crystal clear water, unbelievable views of Mt. Washington and the lake, and our own boat slip with large sundecks built over the water. An outdoor pool and tennis court was also included. The condominium home included 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, an open kitchen/dining area, living room, and laundry. The enclosed porch overlooking the lake was so relaxing. Both of us immediately felt so comfortable at this spot and said let's go for it!


Both of us love boating, kayaking, swimming and hiking, and there's so many fun restaurants and pubs to experience. We're right next to Meadowbrook and we've been going to concerts there for years. It's a 1st class phenomenal facility and a huge attraction for the Lakes Region. Gary loves to fish and golf and the choices are endless. I cross-country ski and Gary downhill skis, and we hope to get another snowmobile this winter. The Winnipesaukee area offers so much with its quaint New England villages and relaxed atmosphere. It's perfect for our stage in life and the kids adore this place.


Gary is an engineer and president of Mammouth Fire Protection in Lowell, Mass. He's been in the industry for 25 years and he's the president of the New England Fire System Designers Association. Maureen has been a registered nurse for 23 years with an office in Dracut, Mass. and she's the sole proprietor of a medical skin care company "A Smoother You."


We plan to rent our vacation home periodically. Some renters were in place for this upcoming Motorcycle Week. Where we can't come up every single week because of our busy work schedule, it makes sense to rent once in a while to help defray the expenses. Now that summer has arrived we can't wait to explore the beauty of Lakes Region and settle in to our new-found lifestyle on Lake Winnipesaukee, which we are so excited about.

Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group, Inc. in Meredith & Laconia, NH and can be reached at (603) 279-7046.

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Michelle Malkin - Why America hates the GOP Obamatrade deal

Constitutional conservatives don't like it. Trade unions abhor it. Obama critics hate it. Environmentalists despise it.

Outside the Beltway bubble, a broad coalition of voters from the left, right and center opposes the mega-trade deal getting rammed through Congress this week by the Republican establishment on behalf of the White House. Here's why.

The Obama administration, House GOP leader John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have sold out American sovereignty. Their so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission will have sweeping authority over trade, immigration, environmental, labor and commerce regulations.

As alert watchdogs U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest and U.S. Rep Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., warn: "By adopting fast-track, Congress would be formally authorizing the president to finalize the creation of this Pacific Union and will have surrendered its legislative prerogatives. Before a word, line, paragraph, or page of this plan is made public, Congress will have agreed to give up its treaty powers. ... In effect, one of the most sweeping international agreements seen in years will be given less legislative scrutiny and process than a Post Office reform bill."

The Obama administration, House GOP leader John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have sold out legislative transparency. Boehner smugly asserts that so-called Trade Promotion Authority puts Congress in charge and promotes "more openness" on trade talks. Nonsense. Under the Boehner/Obama plan, Congress gives up its ability to amend any trade deals under fast track, severely limits the ability to debate and lowers the vote threshold in the Senate from 61 to 51. The 11 international parties negotiating with Obama on TPP refuse to sign their dotted lines until Congress agrees to pre-agree to behemoth global trade pacts — sight unseen.

As Obamatrade cheerleader and Big Business crony Sen. Orrin Hack, I mean Hatch, admitted, "I don't know fully what's in TPP myself."

The secretive wheeling and dealing on the massive 29-chapter draft (kept under classified lock-and-key and only a tiny portion of which have been publicly disclosed through WikiLeaks) make the backroom Obamacare negotiations look like a gigantic solar flare of openness and public deliberation.

Fast-track Republicans, who rightfully made a stink when Nancy Pelosi declared that "we have to pass the (Obamacare) bill so that you can find out what is in it," now have no transparency legs to stand on.
The Obama administration, House GOP leader John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have sold out our immigration priorities. Both parties have put cheap labor from illegal immigrants before American workers. Both parties support massive increases in foreign temporary worker programs that favor cheap tech workers from India and China over highly educated, highly skilled American workers who are forced to train their replacements. Both parties back fraud-plagued green card giveaway programs for wealthy immigrant investors that amount to a crony "economic development" racket. More Obamatrade documents disclosed by WikiLeaks indicate that negotiators have discussed unilateral changes to U.S. worker protections in visa law, processing times and temporary visa expiration dates.

Supporting free enterprise in America does not mean supporting a global free-for-all for every last $2.00/hour entry-level foreign tech journeyman. Past free-trade pacts have failed to live up to their overhyped promises. University of Maryland economist Peter Morici notes that under Obama's free trade pact with South Korea, imports with that country "are up $3.6 billion" while "U.S. exports are down marginally and the U.S. trade deficit with the Asian nation has swelled to $5 billion."

Meanwhile, he reports, our wage-suppressing $350 billion bilateral trade deficit with China "costs American workers at least 3 million jobs" and several Asian countries now negotiating TPP "have violated WTO and International Monetary Fund rules by purposefully undervaluing their currencies to subsidize exports and raise prices for otherwise competitive U.S. products in their markets."

Here is what those of us against the GOP-Obamatrade bills can all agree on: Both political parties in Washington are screwing over our country. American citizens are sick and tired of the permanent ruling class subverting the will of the people in the name of "bipartisanship." We've had enough of Big Business betrayals and Big Government collusion.

What part of "Stop selling out America!" does D.C. not understand?

(Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the daughter of Filipino Immigrants. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in southern New Jersey and now lives with her husband and daughter in Colorado. Her weekly column is carried by more than 100 newspapers.)

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Susan Estrich - Brand name politics

Not another Bush v. Clinton campaign, you hear from Republicans who aren't for Jeb Bush anyway. Why should these old fashioned brands have such appeal that we actually think we can turn the clock back to the time when the biggest worry was a blue dress. But even that isn't exactly right: There was after all the hopeless search for the weapons of mass destruction and the mission that has yet to be accomplished. Granted, I'm a Democrat. But at least I can find something to look back on fondly, or with amusement, or with anything but a shiver of fear. Not much on the Bush side.

Are we Americans, the children and grandchildren of the greatest generation, just plain afraid? Maye a little lost? Lost in particular as to who we trust to lead us? What makes us think a brand name is better? Do we really expect Jeb Bush to be calling his dad every night for advice on ISIS? Do we even want him consulting his brother? So what does it mean that he has the last name "Bush"? At least Hillary lived through the crises, advised (in some people's minds overadvised the president,) and then went on to advise a president who was not husband, father or brother.

If you judge qualifications by who has lived through similar experiences in the past, you've got to give it to her — not because she's a brand name, but rather an experienced one. And that is a huge difference.

Hillary may or may not be right in her judgments, but at least they are the product of experience on the international stage. Tell me one Republican candidate of whom that is true. And while you're at it, maybe you can explain to me why in a world as dangerous as ours, experience doesn't matter.

Ironic but true: The easiest, slipperiest way to bring Hillary down is to compare her to Jeb Bush, to suggest that they are somehow cut of the same cloth, "the relatives" — maybe second or third string — just two brand names that are keeping us from moving to the future with leaders like George Pataki? OK, Ted Cruz? Carly Fiorina? With great respect, because getting to the top of a tech company is no small achievement — but it's not secretary of state. As William Safire asked pointedly years ago, who wants an inexperienced plumber?

To deny that there will be a "Clinton influence" on a Clinton presidency is obviously naive. But it's equally naive to assume it will be a "Bill Clinton influence" or that the last two decades in the world have not shaped Hillary's views.

I'm not sure any of us could get much beyond "preppie" and "well-bred" and "campaign-born," in discovering just what the Bush brand actually means. Conservative? Moderate? Safe? And is that Jeb?

Jeb has a lot of explaining to do if he is to really turn the Bush name into the ultimate presidential brand. In the meantime, Clinton seems a lot more solid on the things that matter. Imagine.

(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.)

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