In 1914, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst mounted a yellow-journalism crusade to demonize the entire genus of cannabis plants. Why? To sell newspapers, of course, but also because he was heavily invested in wood-pulp newsprint, and he wanted to shut down competition from paper made from hemp — a species of cannabis that is a distant cousin to marijuana but produces no high. Hearst simply lumped hemp and marijuana together as the devil's own product, and he was not subtle about generating public fear of all things cannabis. As Mother Jones reported in 2009, Hearst's papers ran articles about "reefer-crazed blacks raping white women and playing 'voodoo satanic' jazz music."
Actually, while hemp had been a popular and necessary crop for decades before the crackdown on all cannabis plants, marijuana was largely unknown in America at the time and little used, but its exotic name and unfamiliarity made it an easy target for fear mongers. The next wave of demonization came in 1936 with the release of an exploitation film classic, "Reefer Madness." It was originally produced by a church group to warn parents to keep their children in check, lest they smoke pot — a horror that, as the film showed, would drive kids to rape, manslaughter, insanity and suicide.
Then Congress enthusiastically climbed aboard the anti-pot political bandwagon, passing a law that effectively banned the production, sale and consumption of marijuana and by default hemp. Hearst finally got his way, and the production of cannabis in the U.S. was outlawed. Signed by FDR on Aug. 2, 1937, this federal prohibition remains in effect today. Although it has been as ineffectual as Prohibition, the 1919-1933 experiment to stop people from consuming "intoxicating liquors," this ban, for the most part, continues despite its staggering costs.
Until recent years, prohibitionists had been able to intimidate most reform-minded politicians with the simple threat to brand them as soft on drugs. But finally, with the help of some reform-minded activists and the general public, our politicians are starting to come to their senses on cannabis.
At the state level, 32 states have legalized medical marijuana in some form or another. And Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon have legalized recreational uses of marijuana. While these are huge steps, what is truly remarkable is what has taken place in Congress just in the last year.
Tucked deep in the 2013 Farm Bill was a little amendment introduced by Representatives Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, and Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky. The amendment allows universities, colleges and State Agriculture Departments to grow industrial hemp for research in states that have made it legal to do so. California, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia already have laws on their books to allow for this.
The most recent step forward to come out of Congress was in the last-minute federal spending bill in December. Democratic Rep. Sam Farr and Republican Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, both from California, included a provision in the bill to stop the DEA and DOJ from going after states that legalize medical marijuana. They can no longer conduct raids on licensed marijuana outlets that service patients who use marijuana to treat everything from the side effects of cancer treatments to epileptic seizures. The marijuana farmers are now safe to cultivate the plant, and the patients themselves are now safe from prosecution for possessing it.
Marijuana Policy Project and Vote Hemp are two organizations that are working tirelessly with the public and our lawmakers to change the laws and regulations surrounding cannabis. To learn more about how these groups are making a difference and to help get involved, connect with them at www.mpp.org and www.VoteHemp.com.
(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".)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
Western media are declaring the million-man march in Paris, where world leaders paraded down Boulevard Voltaire in solidarity with France, a victory over terrorism. Isn't it pretty to think so.
Unfortunately, the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, its military-style execution, the escape of the assassins, and their blazing end in a shootout Friday was a triumph of terrorism not seen since 9/11.
Unlike the Boston Marathon bombing where the Tsarnaevs did not know or care whom they maimed or killed, the attack on Charlie Hebdo by the Kouachi brothers was purposeful and targeted terrorism. And like a flash of lightning in the dark, it exposed the moral contradictions and confusion of the West. During the slaughter the Kouachis shouted "Allahu akbar," said they had "avenged the Prophet," and spoke of ties to al-Qaida.
And the first response of President Francois Hollande? These terrorists "have nothing to do with the Muslim religion."
This is political correctness of a rare order. Perhaps terminal.
Linking arms with Hollande in solidarity and unity Sunday was Bibi Netanyahu who declared, "I wish to tell to all French and European Jews — Israel is your home." Colleagues urged French Jews to flee to Israel.
Marching on the other side of Hollande was Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who seeks to have Netanyahu's Israel indicted in the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Gaza. Solidarity!
In chanting "Je Suis Charlie," the marchers showed support for a magazine French Muslims rightly believe is racist and anti-Islamic.
Yet, Marine Le Pen, leading in the polls for the French presidency, was blacklisted from marching for remarks about Muslim immigration that are benign compared to what Charlie Hebdo regularly publishes.
All weekend long, journalists called it an imperative for us all to defend the lewd and lurid blasphemies of the satirical magazine. But as journalist Christopher Dickey points out, Muslims in the banlieues wonder why insulting the Prophet is a protected freedom in France, while denying the Holocaust can get you a prison term.
Hypocrisy is indeed the tribute that vice pays to virtue.
Moreover, all this chatter about freedom of speech and of the press misses the point. It was not the right to publish that provoked the slaughter, but the content of what was published. When Aaron Burr challenged Alexander Hamilton to a duel, and killed him, he was not attacking the First Amendment freedom of the press, but rather Hamilton, for defamation of Burr's character, which had helped to destroy Burr's career.
What the commentators seem to be saying about the assault on Charlie Hebdo is that not only is what is spoken or published protected by the First Amendment, but those who print and publish vile things must never suffer violent consequences.
People who believe this is attainable are living in a dream world, and may not be long for this one. Even as children you knew there were words you did not use about someone else's girlfriend, mother, family, faith or race, if you did not want a thrashing.
That same day millions marched in France, Saudi Arabia was administering 50 lashes to blogger Raif Badawi, convicted of insulting Saudi clergy, the first of 1,000 lashes over 20 weeks in addition to his 10-year jail sentence. Had Badawi been guilty of apostasy, he would have been executed.
Welcome to the new Middle East, same as the old Middle East.
And Islam and the Prophet were not the only targets of Charlie Hebdo. Catholicism was also. In one cartoon, Charlie Hebdo depicts the First and Second Persons of the Blessed Trinity in incestuous activity.
And we all supposed to march in solidarity with that?
A liberal secular West might find this a democratic duty. Not all will. When people are using the First Amendment to assault the somewhat older Second Commandment, "Though shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain," they should not be surprised when devout followers of Abrahamic faiths take a pass.
These Islamic terrorists are sending us a message: In the post-Christian West, Christians may turn the other check at insults to their God and faith. We are not turn-the-other cheek people. Insult our faith, mock the Prophet, and we kill you.
An awakening and rising Islamic world — a more militant faith than Christianity or secularism — is saying to the West: We want you out of our part of the world, and we are coming to your part of the world, and you cannot stop us.
And Francois Hollande's response? Show solidarity with Islam by ostracizing Marine Le Pen. This is the true heir of Edouard Daladier of Munich fame.
The Kouachi brothers sent yet another message. If you are a young Muslim willing to fight and die for Islam, do not waste your life as some suicide bomber in the wilds of Syria or Iraq. Do as we did; shock and awe your enemies right inside the belly of the beast.
(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.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
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.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
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!
Pease 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
Last Updated on Friday, 09 January 2015 07:44
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)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 January 2015 10:03