Jim Hightower - Not even fellow 1 percenters want Jeb Bush

If you are a presidential aspirant and you have to tell people that you are a person of integrity — there's a very good chance that you are not.

And those odds at least quadruple if you have to hire a talking head to attest to your honor; how intriguing, then, that a spokeswoman for the Bush campaign was recently trotted out to tell us that, "Jeb's record, both in office as Florida's governor and in the private sector as a successful businessman, is one of integrity." The testimonial from his paid mouthpiece was necessitated by the still-evolving news story that, after leaving the Florida governorship in 2007, he immediately cashed in on his name, state government knowledge, and contacts. Bush became a richly-paid legislative consultant and board member to major corporations that had received lucrative benefits from Florida's government while he was at the helm of it.

With cynical chutzpah, Jeb, the presidential wannabe, now campaigns as an ethics reformer, piously preaching against the corrupt coziness between money interests and government officials. But in the last eight years, Preacher Bush has pocketed at least $18 million in personal payment from his own quiet spins through the revolving door of government-corporate corruption. For example, Jeb was only out of government office for four months when he got a nice sinecure as a board member of the insurance giant, Tenet Healthcare (which just happened to run several of Florida's private hospitals under Florida's Medicare program). In 2006, Tenet was found to have cheated patients and taxpayers with more than a billion dollars in overcharges. To settle this malfeasance, the corporation paid only $7 million.

Meanwhile, Tenet has gushed in recent financial reports that it has "benefited greatly from Mr. Bush's extensive background in government service, his perspectives on public policy and social issues." In heartfelt gratitude, during the past eight years, this one corporation alone has put more than $2 million in Bush's pocket.

The Tenet case clearly shows that Bush suffers from a total lack of integrity, but poor 'ol Jeb seems to also have a terminal case of "Mitt Romney disease" — he just keeps blurting out asinine comments that reveal the fact that, in heart, soul, and political mindset, he is yet another "son of a Bush."

His inner-bigotry against the poor, coupled with his cartoonish concept of the black community's political motivation, was outed recently when he was asked how he planned to win the votes of African-Americans. "Our message is one of hope and aspiration," he responded. Okay, Jeb, go positive, so far so good! But then the deep prejudice derived from his narrow upbringing as a child of privilege surfaced. His campaign message "isn't one of division and get in line and we'll take care of you with free stuff," he asserted with a sneer. Then, to punctuate his little lecture on how to appeal to low-income black families, the multimillionaire heir to the Bush fortune said he would tell them: "You can achieve earned success."
Yes, Jeb — instead of hard-hit people lining up to get what you call "free stuff" (like unemployment compensation and health care), thinks it better to challenge them to "earn" success. Tell them to have the same gumption you did — to be born to rich parents, to be welcomed as "legacy" applicants into the most prestigious schools, and to have their fathers open the doors for them to "achieve" financial and political success.

Yet the former "shoo-in" for the GOP presidential nomination can't figure out why he's running fifth in New Hampshire and fifth in Iowa, even after pouring millions into a month-long blitz of TV ads to goose up his appeal. Such shallowness, callousness, and condescension expose an ingrained contempt for all who don't live in Bush's elite zip code. No one but his fellow "one-percenters" wants someone like that in the White House.

(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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Sanborn — The much-missed parlor

My first recollection of the parlor (or palour, if you like a French flair) was on the Beverly Hillbillies TV show. Old Jeb moved from Bug Tussle to Beverly with Grannie, Jethro, and Ellie May to a 32-room, 14-bath, 21,523 square foot magnificent mansion located at 750 Bel Air Road. They had a grand foyer, a dining room with a fancy eating table, Grannie's kitchen, a "cee-ment" pond, and the parlor where they could greet the Drysdales, Jane, or other "city-folk" that might come a callin'.

The origin of the word "parlor" was from medieval Europe and was used to denote two rooms in a monastery. There were inner and outer parlors where the clergy, who, despite the vow of silence, could talk about the Patriots and Deflategate without getting caught. The outer parlor was used to greet visitors and conduct business. The inner parlor was where the clergy could talk amongst themselves, play cards, and possibly make wine or beer... Indeed, the work "parlor" is derived from the French word "parley" which means to talk. Parley vous?

The term parlor made its way into residential homes in the 18th and 19th centuries where the front parlor was used to greet guests and entertain. It was the center of family gatherings to celebrate births and weddings but also to hold funerals. As such, this was the most important room in the house and therefore it was decorated and furnished with the very best the family had in order to show the rest of the world their social status. I have noticed older homes in this area where the front parlor, or living room as we call it today, has ornate wood work, a fireplace, nice hardwood floors and then the next room back would have lesser quality and hardwood floors where the center portion of the room is finished in pine rather than hardwood to save money.

Today, we don't call any room in our house the parlor. We have replaced it with the living room, the family room, the great room, and even the Man Cave. But parlors live on outside the home. We have tattoo parlors, ice cream parlors, beauty parlors, pizza parlors, billiard parlors, and, thankfully, funeral parlors (not that we didn't want Grandpa hanging around a little extra longer there next to the wide screen TV.) There is even the well known Polly's Pancake Parlor if you are familiar with Northern New Hampshire. And, of course, there are lots of massage parlors that you say you have never visited.

But, the parlor at home, whether you call it the living room or family room, was and still is the most important parlor. Back in the Victorian era (that's even before black and white TV) when groups of people gathered in the parlor they got bored looking at each other. So they invented games such as Charades, Blind Man's Bluff, and the Dumb Orator (that's not a reference to a real estate agent.) These were to become known as Parlour Games. My kids played Space Invaders, Pac Man, and Asteroids in the parlor but someone thought "Video Games" sounded better.

Then there were enterprising and clever sorts that would entertain the guests with simple feats of magic sleight of hand, and illusion. Disappearing coins, card tricks, levitating cigarettes, and lots of silk scarves were used to mystify and amaze. Many a Houdini got his start in the front parlor. As does many a real estate agent who sits and meets with his new clients there. But, while real estate agents can be extremely entertaining and can even perform magic on occasion, the parlor along with the rest of the house has to be priced well in order to make it disappear. Anyone want to play Pictionary?

There were 1,107 residential homes on the market as of November 1, 2015 in the twelve communities covered by the Lakes Region Real Estate Market Report. The median price point came in at $264,999 meaning that half the properties were priced below and half were priced above number. This inventory level represents a 12.4 month supply of front parlors on the market...

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. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 11/11/15. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.

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Michael Barone - Free stuff can turn out to be a bad buy

Free college! That's what the Democratic candidates were offering in their presidential debate. And it's likely that, if the subject had come up, they would have offered something like free home mortgages as well, to judge from Hillary Clinton's statement that she had urged Wall Street to stop mortgage foreclosures. Sounds a lot like free houses!

Free stuff sounds good to many people, and it's not just Democrats who promise it. Republican candidates have been talking about reducing college costs, too, and George W. Bush was as passionate a supporter as Bill Clinton of encouraging home ownership for blacks and Hispanics.

Such policies are not necessarily examples of political demagoguery, though some are. They are based on observations of undisputed facts. College graduates over the years tend to make more money than non-graduates. Homeowners over the years tend to accumulate wealth and to build communities more than renters.

From these observations policymakers have drawn the following conclusion. If we just get more people — especially minorities — into college, they will make more money. If we just get more people — especially minorities — to become homebuyers, they will accumulate more wealth. And what easier way to do that than to make these things free, or close to that?

This argument has special appeal to those oldsters born in the 1940s — Bernie Sanders, Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Donald Trump. Back then most Americans did not own homes, and only a small minority graduated from college.

These politicians saw how public policies such as the FHA and VA home loans and the GI Bill of Rights, together with unexpected postwar prosperity, changed that. By 1960 more than 60 percent of Americans were homeowners. By the 1970s most high school graduates were going on to some form of higher education. If old public policies could increase college attendance and homeownership, shouldn't new public policies be able to increase them still more?

Over the last quarter-century we have had such policies, with some unhappy results. By 2007, 69 percent of American adults were homeowners. In 2009, 70 percent of young Americans went on to some form of higher education. But those numbers have slipped down since.

Government grants and subsidized loans have enabled many people to afford higher ed. But they haven't guaranteed that recipients graduate or that graduates find satisfactorily remunerative work. The availability of government subsidy has prompted colleges and universities to raise tuitions far more rapidly than inflation, with much of the proceeds going into administrative bloat. That has left many borrowers with enormous debts that they cannot shed in bankruptcy.
Government policies, aided and abetted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, promoted low- or no-down-payment mortgages for buyers, especially Hispanics and blacks, previously considered not credit-worthy. Policymakers, lenders and buyers all assumed that housing prices would always rise so that homeowners could always refinance any money problems away.

Oops. Housing prices fell sharply starting in 2006, and financial firms ended up with mortgage-backed securities that regulators classified as safe but for which they suddenly could find no buyers — and the economy crashed. Mortgage foreclosures soared, and by my estimate about one-third of those foreclosed on were Hispanics in California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida, whose recent low- or no-down-payment mortgages left them deep underwater when prices plummeted.

In response, many politicians, mainly Democrats, are calling for iatrogenic policies: more of the medicine that caused the malady. Free college (actually, just free tuition) falls in this category, giving colleges and universities a more direct pipeline to government funds but not guaranteeing better results for students. Junior college is already largely free, but most enrollees don't graduate.

And the Obama administration is seeking to reinstate Clinton and Bush administration policies providing low- and no-down-payment mortgages to blacks and Hispanics who do not meet traditional credit standards. What could go wrong?

Recent experience should tell us that college and homeownership are not for everyone. Many people lack the cognitive skills for higher education but have other abilities that can make them productive and successful adults. Many people, like those who move frequently, are better off renting than paying the transaction costs of buying a home.

Maybe policymakers got causation backwards. Increased college and homeownership, they thought, would upgrade people, and for a long while it did. But we seem to have reached the point of diminishing returns, when making things free will hurt the intended beneficiaries more than help.

(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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Bob Meade - Violating the oath

Members of both Houses of Congress, and the president, take an oath of office that requires each of them to abide by the Constitution. In the oath of members of the House and Senate are the words, ". . . support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic", and in the presidential oath are the words, ". . . and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States". Clearly, each elected official is required to abide by, and to protect and defend, the words in the Constitution.

Part of the Constitution is the Bill of Rights; the First Ten Amendments. These Amendments were necessary to secure ratification of the Constitution by the States. The First Amendment is deemed to be the most important and reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances".

The importance of the two preceding paragraphs is that it can be argued that elected members of the government, in both the Legislative and Executive branches have seriously failed to live up to their oath of office by passing legislation, namely the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), that has the effect of attacking the "free exercise clause" of the First Amendment, and by the Executive branch making unilateral changes to that law after it had been enacted, without getting the approval of the Congress for those changes.

With the legislation passed and signed into law by the president, the bill which no one had a chance to read prior to its being passed, then became available and its dictatorial aspects that directly attacked the "free exercise" clause of the First Amendment were exposed. While the PPACA law consisted of 381,517 words, regulations having the force of law, which were issued by the Executive branche's Department of Health and Human Services, totaled 11,588,500 words.

Article 1, Section 7, Paragraph 2, of the Constitution provides that legislation passed by both houses of Congress shall be presented to the president who can accept it as written and sign it into law, or, if he has any objections, he is to return it to the house of Congress in which the bill was originated. When the president signed the PPACA bill into law, it had specific requirements that were to be met. According to the Galen Institute, the president acted unilaterally 32 times in making changes to the law, without seeking Congressional approval. It would appear that the president violated the oath he took to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution's Article 1, Section 7, Paragraph 2.

In addition to the above violation, it must be noted that the Federal Government, through the PPACA, made numerous challenges to the First Amendment, specifically by prohibiting citizens from their right to the free exercise of their religion. The law and its regulations demands that religious institutions and citizens either violate the tenets of their faith or be severely fined for not doing so. For example,

— Religious institutions have resisted the provision in the PPACA that free birth control be included in the insurance plans they provide to their employees and, in the case of their colleges, to their students.
— Religious institutions have resisted the requirement to have a variety of birth control measures included in their insurance plans, including "morning after" pills that cause conception to be terminated.
— Religious institution hospitals have resisted the demand to provide abortion services. It should be noted that these hospitals provide 20 percent of all the hospital beds in the nation.
— Religious organizations that have taken a vow of poverty and that provide nursing care to the poor, were required to either provide their employees with health care which included contraception and the morning after abortion pill, or to be subject to penalties and fines in the millions of dollars.
— Businesses owned by deeply religious people that have historically provided their employees with health care coverage that included a number of contraceptives, but who did not want to include any abortion inducing pills or other abortion services that would end a life, were forced to seek relief from the courts.

We are witnessing a callous disregard of our Constitution by those who have taken an oath to preserve, protect, and defend it. If we, the people, passively accept what has been done because it doesn't affect us, what will our reaction be when it does?

(Bob Meade is a resident of Laconia.)

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Susan Estrich - Hillary expertly plays the gender card

Here's the setup. Hillary Clinton has been pointing out that her opponent Bernie Sanders, the darling of the left, has actually opposed gun control. I've been pointing that same fact out to folks for some time, and it's quite compelling. It's clearly had an effect on polls.

It's apparent that Sen. Sanders is feeling the heat. His recent response was to criticize Clinton for "shouting" about guns.

Presidential politics are never easy. And with his remark, Sanders fed a softball over home plate to an experienced politician. As she has done repeatedly over the last two weeks, Hillary Clinton showed what a formidable candidate she is. "I'm not shouting," Clinton replied calmly. "It's just that when women talk, some people think we're shouting."

Show me a successful woman over 40, and I bet you dollars to donuts she's "difficult" — at least according to some of those who work with and for her. I wager almost every woman has been told, while standing up for herself, to keep her voice down — by her boss or co-workers, her boyfriend or husband, or all of the above. In other words, lots of women could connect with what Clinton was saying. It was a reminder of the historic nature of this election. It will be the first (knock on wood) in which a woman is a major party's nominee for president.

And by the way, have I mentioned that Bernie Sanders is against gun control?

Meanwhile, in an ironic twist, Vice President Biden's decision not to run seems to have sealed Sanders' fate, politically speaking. Conventionally, you'd think that Sanders would be better off with Biden out, leaving Sanders as the only alternative to Clinton. But it isn't working that way, nor should one it expect it to now. With Biden in the race, Sanders would have had two juicy targets who are emblems of a more moderate Democratic party, a nomination that would be viewed as up-for-grabs, and the possibility of carrying the day with 30-40 percent of the vote.

But Biden is not in the race because, as he honestly admitted, it was too late by the time he was ready. In other words, he couldn't beat Clinton at this point. With Biden's departure, sandwiched between two very strong outings for Clinton (in the first debate, and in her marathon Benghazi testimony), the deal was sealed. You could hear the collective sigh of relief. No more stories of donor unrest. No more chatter about "what's wrong with her staff." In 10 days' time, the frontrunner reasserted herself, and her only plausible opponent pulled out.

That doesn't mean Sanders disappears. He has already had an impact on the Clinton campaign. He doesn't need a lot of money to stay in. And under the party rules, if he stays in, he'll collect a proportionate share of delegates. This will at least get him a good speaking part and some bragging rights on the platform. Tad Devine, his top strategist, has been in the business of collecting delegates for presidential candidates since the 1980s, and he's as good at this game as anyone on Clinton's side.

But with not a single vote cast, it certainly feels like the race is over. And the latest polls seem to bear that out. In Iowa, Clinton has opened up a 41-point lead over Sanders in one of the polls out Tuesday. I don't expect 41 points to hold, but I also don't expect Sanders to retain his support in New Hampshire if he crashes in Iowa. Not to mention all the party leaders and elected officials, automatic delegates to the convention, who will be committing to Clinton in droves in the weeks to come. And then the states start falling like dominos.

In the interval, for a striking contrast, turn to the Republican race.

(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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