Susan Estrich - Planned Parenthood politics

It wasn't just the Republican candidates who, with one exception, went out of their ways to outdo one another in their condemnation of an organization that is the sole provider of basic gynecological, obstetric and preventative care services to millions of American men and women.

That's 5 million people worldwide, and 2.7 million in the United States.

And, need I add, not only do most of these patients not come for abortions, but no federal funds are used to pay for abortions in any Planned Parenthood clinic — which has not stopped Republicans from threatening to close down the government unless the House cuts off funding to Planned Parenthood.

Shutting down the whole government like this, something the Republicans have done before (and paid the political price for) makes even less sense here than it did when Republicans were playing games with Obamacare, closing the government down even though there was no chance that doing so would undo the Affordable Care Act. In this case, there isn't even a plan to bring up similar legislation in the Senate, where there seem to be a few more grown-ups (although unfortunately, none of them are running for president). So the plan is, "Let's close down the Government, which will hurt all kinds of people having nothing to do with abortion, so we can protest an organization that helps millions of American women." Genius.

Did I mention that 1 in 5 American women has visited a Planned Parenthood clinic sometime in her life? Now, if you eliminate about 20 percent of women voters before you start — and 84 percent of Planned Parenthood patients are over the age of 20 — it means you need to get 6 out of 8 of the women who haven't visited a Planned Parenthood clinic to win a majority. No, but wait: many women don't go alone. They have mothers and sisters and husbands and boyfriends — male voters who might also react negatively to attacks on the one organization that provides desperately needed health care to many of our loved ones. Write them off, too.
These candidates are the crowd that would tell a pregnant rape victim or a pregnant incest victim or a woman carrying a baby who cannot survive to carry that pregnancy to term and have that baby anyway. This is the crowd that wants the government to tell a pregnant woman that her unborn child's life counts for more than her own. Imagine the government deciding that. And they call themselves conservative.

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I joined two boards: Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles and the California Abortion Rights Action League. The latter (CARAL) was full of hard-core political activists, campaign veterans and community organizers. I was among the well-dressed, establishment types. Planned Parenthood was another story. I was one of the least well dressed, and the least conventional, people at those meetings — that is, I was a Democrat. Planned Parenthood had some of the richest, most powerful, most socially connected Republicans in town on its board, and that is how it was around the country. Planned Parenthood was composed of men and women who cared about women and children. Why would anyone put such a group on its list of enemies?

Oh, we Democrats have our problems, with a socialist, who won't be elected president, inching embarrassingly close in the polls to the heiress apparent, Hillary Clinton; and Uncle Joe Biden and his cadre of very talented aides getting tantalizingly close to a contest that is unlikely to end well for him. But when it comes to actual issues, to policy rather than labels or style, Democrats are a case study in unity and compassion compared to the folks on the stage at the Reagan Library. They were all doing their best to imitate the Gipper, but none came close.

And if the Republicans on stage were hard to imagine in Reagan's shoes, some of their supporters would make the late president aghast. Need I mention, only briefly, Ann Coulter? For some reasons, Republicans (and news networks) continue to treat her as if her words were worth our consideration. This is what she tweeted Wednesday night: "How many (expletive) Jews do these people think there are in the United States?"

How many people can you offend in a single evening? A lot, maybe even enough to lose an election.

(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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Pat Buchanan - U.S. and Catholicism in crisis

During the 1950s, the twin pillars of worldwide anti-communism were Dwight Eisenhower's America and the Roman Catholic Church of Pope Pius XII.

During the 1980s, the last decade of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan and the Polish pope, John Paul II, were the pillars of resistance.

When Pope Francis arrives in Washington on Tuesday afternoon, the country he enters will be a very different one from Eisenhower's America or Reagan's America. And Catholics will be welcoming a new kind of pope.

In America 2015, homosexuality, abortion on demand and same-sex marriage — shameful crimes in Ike's America, mortal sins in the catechism of Pius XII — have become constitutional rights. These represent the values that define Barack Obama's America, the values our officials defend at the United Nations, the values we preach to the world.

What Ike's America saw as decadence, Obama's America calls progress. And among its noisiest celebrants are our Catholic vice president, Joe Biden, and the Catholic leader of the Democratic Party in the House, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Since Eisenhower's time, Christianity, the faith that created the West, has been purged from American public life. The Bible, prayer, and all Christian art, books and symbols have been expunged from the public schools as they were in Cuba when Fidel Castro took power.

Our cradle faith cannot be taught in our public schools.

America is a different country today, a secular and post-Christian nation on its way to becoming anti-Christian. Some feel like strangers in their own land. And from the standpoint of traditional Catholicism, American culture is an open sewer. A vast volume of the traffic on the Internet is pornography.

Ironically, as all this unfolds in what was once "God's country," Vladimir Putin seeks to re-establish Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the basis of morality and law in Russia. And one reads in The Wall Street Journal on Monday that Xi Jinping is trying to reintroduce his Chinese Communist comrades to the teachings of Confucianism.

The world is turned upside down. Every civilization seems to recognize the necessity of faith except for the West, which has lost its faith and is shrinking and dying for lack of it.

In a New York Times article this month — "Are Western Values Losing Their Sway?" — Steven Erlanger writes: "In its rejection of Western liberal values of sexual equality and choice, conservative Russia finds common cause with many in Africa and with the religious teachings of Islam, the Vatican, fundamentalist Protestants and Orthodox Jews."

Yet what Erlanger describes as "conservative Russia" does seem to share values with America, only it is the America of 1955, another country from the America of 2015.

Which raises a question: Does moral truth change? Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, "The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market."

But is this true? A decade after his beer hall putsch failed in Munich, Adolf Hitler's Nazi party won the largest number of Germans ever to vote in a democratic election. He had succeeded in the marketplace of ideas. Did that democratic ratification make Hitler's ideas true? Or does truth exist independent of the marketplace?

Secular America, which has purged Christianity, preaches a new gospel to the world: liberal democracy as the salvation of mankind. Yet did not Winston Churchill, icon of the democracy worshippers, tell us that "the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter"?

The Catholic Church, too, faces a growing crisis of moral consistency and credibility.

The church of Pius XII and John Paul II taught that the truths of the Ten Commandments brought down from Sinai and the truths of the Sermon on the Mount are eternal. Those popes also taught that a valid marriage is indissoluble, that homosexuality is unnatural and immoral, that abortion is the killing of the innocent unborn, an abomination. Yet one reads regularly of discussions inside the Vatican to alter what is infallible church teaching on these doctrines to make the church more appealing to those who have rejected them.

As the pope arrives in America, some Catholics are calling for an acceptance of contraception, the ordination of women and a new acceptance of homosexuality. Yet the Episcopalians, who have embraced all these "reforms" and more, appear to be going the way of James Fenimore Cooper's Mohicans.

In Cuba, Pope Francis declined to address the repression of the Castro brothers. Will he also avoid America's moral crisis to chatter on about income inequality and climate change and find common ground with Obama?

What has come out of the Vatican in the past two years is moral confusion. Yet as Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput reminds us, "confusion is of the devil." It is also trifling with schism.

Having emerged victorious in the 70-year ideological struggle against one of the greatest enemies that mankind has ever known, Marxism-Leninism, are the United States and the Catholic Church heading for the same desuetude and disintegration?

(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.)

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Michael Barone - Obama has fundamentally transformed American politics

In this presidential cycle, voters in both parties, to the surprise of the punditocracy, are rejecting experienced political leaders. They're willfully suspending disbelief in challengers who would have been considered laughable in earlier years.

Polls show more Republicans preferring three candidates who have never held elective office over 14 candidates who have served a combined total of 150 years as governors or in Congress. Most Democrats are declining to favor a candidate who spent eight years in the White House and the Senate and four as secretary of state.

Psephologists of varying stripes attribute this discontent to varying causes. Conservatives blame insufficiently aggressive Republican congressional leaders. Liberals blame Hillary Clinton's closeness to plutocrats and her home e-mail system.

But in our system the widespread rejection of experienced leaders ultimately comes from dismay at the leader in the White House. In 1960 Richard Nixon, after eight years as vice president and six in Congress, campaigned on the slogan "Experience counts." No one is running on that theme this year.

Nixon could, because over the preceding quarter-century the majority of Americans mostly approved of the performance of incumbent presidents. Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower still look pretty good more than 50 years later.

Barack Obama doesn't. His deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes recently said that the president's nuclear weapons deal with Iran was as important an achievement of his second term as Obamacare was of the first. Historians may well agree.

These two policy achievements have many things in common. Both were unpopular when proposed and still are now. In March 2010 Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that people would know, and presumably like, what was in the bill after it was passed. But most Americans didn't like it then and most don't today, five and a half years later. As for the Iran deal, Pew Research reports it has only 21 percent approval today, much lower than Obamacare in 2010.

Both Obamacare and the Iran deal were bulldozed through Congress through legislative legerdemain. Democrats passed Obamacare by using the temporary 60-vote Senate supermajority gained through a Minnesota recount and the wrongful prosecution of Sen. Ted Stevens. After they lost the 60th vote, they resorted to a dubious legislative procedure.

This year Obama labeled the Iran treaty an executive agreement, and Congress concocted a process requiring only a one-third-plus-one rather than a two-thirds vote for approval. Only 38 percent of members of Congress supported it. Many, such as House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, did so only after saying that they never would have accepted it in negotiations.
In 2008 Obama promised he would "fundamentally transform" America, and Obamacare and the Iran deal are indeed fundamental transformations of policy — transformations most Americans oppose.

Obamacare assumed that financial crisis and recession would make most voters supportive of, or amenable to, bigger government. But as National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru points out, polling doesn't show that. Obama assumed that if America could "extend a hand" to such propitiated enemies as the mullahs of Iran, they would become friends with us. Most Americans think that's delusional. No wonder voters are angry.

Republican voters are frustrated and angry because for six years they have believed they have public opinion on their side, but their congressional leaders have failed to prevail on high visibility issues. Their successes (clamping down on domestic discretionary spending) have been invisible. They haven't made gains through compromise because Obama, unlike his two predecessors, lacks both the inclination and ability to make deals.

So Republicans who imposed harsh litmus tests in previous presidential cycles (like asking candidates if they've ever supported a tax increase, or if they've ever wavered in their opposition to abortion) are flocking to Donald Trump, a candidate who would fail every one of them. They are paying little attention to candidates — Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal — who advance serious proposals to change public policy.

In polls, Democratic voters have stayed loyal to the president. But to listen to their candidates (and maybe-candidate Joe Biden) you would think we are in our seventh year of oppression by a right-wing administration. You don't hear much about the virtues of Obamacare or the Iran deal — or "choice."

Most Americans hoped the first black president would improve race relations. Now most Americans believe they have gotten worse.

And so a president who came to office with relatively little experience has managed to tarnish experience, incumbency and institutions: a fundamental transformation indeed.

(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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Froma Harrop - Obamacare after Obama

The morning of the recent Republican debate, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the number of uninsured Americans in 2014 had dropped by about 9 million from the year before. This was thanks, of course, to the Affordable Care Act.

So it did cross one's mind that at least one of the Republican presidential candidates might lend a kind word to Obamacare. After all, some of the largest gains in health coverage were among moderate-income families, a group including much of the Republican base.

A futile hope. Not even Governors John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey — who, to their credit, had accepted the law's expansion of Medicaid coverage in their states — offered a shred of praise. Instead we heard vows to basically blow it up, the main difference being the number of dynamite sticks to use.

Grudging appreciation for Obamacare has also extended to significant parts of the Democratic base. In the 2012 election, many Democratic candidates actually avoided discussing it. You see, a flood of anti-Obamacare propaganda — which Democrats had neglected to counter — caused support for the program to swoon in the polls.

The new Census Bureau numbers show that African-Americans and Latinos have enjoyed an especially sharp rise in health coverage under Obamacare. And that makes it painful to contemplate these groups' dismal turnout in the 2014 midterm elections.

Back then, the newly won guaranteed health coverage was under grave threat. Republicans had tried to repeal Obamacare dozens of times. Had a case before the U.S. Supreme Court gone badly, the program could well have been destroyed.

You'd think that low-income Americans would have marched to the polls waving Obamacare flags. Problem was their so-called advocates had moved on to immigration and income inequality and saw the elections as an occasion to blame Democrats for what they held was inadequate progress. They forgot there was something precious to defend — and that Obamacare was a huge advance against said inequality.
Nowadays, Hillary Clinton not only is waving the flag but has hired a brass brand to march behind it. We await the details of her proposals for improving the program. Same goes for Joe Biden, should he choose to run.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent seeking the Democratic nomination, gives Obamacare two cheers but not enough credit. In a recent CNN interview, he said he wants a "Medicare-for-all single-payer health care system."

Expanding Medicare to everyone happens to be a super idea. But we must note that Medicare is not single-payer. It is a multi-payer program combining government and private coverage. As such, Medicare is more like the top-ranked French and German health care systems than it is the good, but not-as-good, Canadian single-payer program.

Because Medicare has strong public support, Medicare for all can be imagined. It would be a very hard political sell, however. Recall that Democrats couldn't even get the "public option" past Congress. That was to be a government-run health plan to compete on the new insurance exchanges with the private ones.

Sanders' own Vermont tried but failed to put together a modified single-payer health plan. If Vermont can't do single-payer...

Suffice it to say, it would take a master politician to get a greatly expanded Medicare passed in this country. A master politician Sanders is not. But may his vision live on.

Happily, Obamacare now seems safe. Its imperfections well-documented, it remains a work in progress. But whoever is the next president should be grateful to have a universal health care program on which to build.

(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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Lakes Region Profiles — Squam Lake, holy ground in the Lakes Region

by Mary O'Neill, Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group


An excursion on Squam Lake brings to mind the lines of 19th century poet, Christina Rossetti. "Tread softly! All the earth is holy ground." The lake hasn't changed much in the last 100 years. So says Jim Hall, who has lived on or near Squam all his life.
Jim attributes the preservation of Squam and the surrounding area to local families, the Squam Lakes Association, and the surrounding towns' protective zoning. People who, according to Jim, are from "the old school and have a great respect for the lake."

The towns of Holderness, Sandwich, Ashland, Center Harbor, and Moultonborough border Squam Lake. Big and Little Squam are spring fed and connected by a channel. Big Squam is New Hampshire's second largest lake with 61 miles of shoreline and 6,791 acres. It was first known as Keeseenunknipee, which means "the goose lake on the highlands." After several other variations, "Asquam" was finally shortened to "Squam" in the 1800s.
The non-profit Squam Lakes Association in Holderness has been one of the guardians of the lake for many years. The SLA was founded in 1904 and ever since has dedicated itself to protecting Squam's water quality and encouraging preservation through conservation, youth, and outreach programs. The association owns islands and areas open to the public for low impact recreation and camping. Access to the lake for kayaks, canoes, sailboats, and boats with 25-horsepower or less is located at the SLA facility. Visitors can consult the website for information.
Real estate on Squam is extremely desirable, in part due to the building laws implemented to protect Squam's unspoiled beauty. A natural buffer of native vegetation must be maintained within 50 feet of the lake. The idea is "see but not be seen." SLA's guidelines specify that limbs and shorefront vegetation should be selectively thinned "so that you can see the lake from selected vantage points but also screen your buildings and yard as much as possible from viewers on the lake."
If you want to know about the happenings on Squam, Jim Hall is the person to ask. As he put it, "I've been in it, over it, through it, and on it all my life." Jim's grandfather, Joe Taylor, was one of the last men to captain the mail boat steamers that carried mail and passengers to the islands on Squam. In the late 1940s, Jim's father purchased property on Big Squam at Livernore Cove next to Finisterre Point and that's where Jim grew up, learning to swim and fish. He lived on Livernore Cove for 25 years with his wife, Laura, and children, Michelle and Craig. Jim has a great love for all the New Hampshire lakes, forests, and wildlife, having worked for the state as a biologist, followed by 16 years with New Hampshire Fish and Game. But Squam is special to him and represents a lifetime of memories.
According to Jim, there are many points of interest the public can enjoy with or without a boat. There are spots where you can drop your anchor for the day without a fee. The SLA allows day use of its Mooney and Bowman Islands. Chorcora Island, also known as Church Island, holds non-denominational church services and has become an enchanting venue for wedding ceremonies. For those without a boat, Jim suggests a hike up Rattlesnake Mountain. "It's an easy hike and the view of Squam justifies putting it on your bucket list." Red Hill, Mount Morgan, and Mount Percival are other climbs that afford fantastic views.
Jim also suggests a visit to the Squam River covered bridge. This bridge replaced a steel and concrete one that was condemned by the state. After the condemnation, a steel bridge was proposed but the citizens of Ashland decided they would prefer a covered bridge. The town placed $35,000 in a fund for the new bridge and the balance was raised by the Ashland Historical Society and spirited citizens through bake sales, dinners, and direct contributions. Milton Graton and Sons of Ashland constructed the bridge. Yankee Magazine called Arnold Graton "the man who saves covered bridges." Of all the bridges Graton has worked on, the Squam River Bridge holds a special place in his heart.

Squam Lake is host to one of the most unique lodging experiences in New England. Since 1897, Rockywold-Deephaven Camp in Holderness has been offering simple, rustic vacations. Their 60 cottages are tucked in amid the pines. Each has its own fireplace, screened-in porch, private dock, and antique ice box where ice from Squam is delivered daily.

Other attractions worth visiting include Walter's Basin Restaurant, the Common Man Restaurant, and the Sandwich Fair. The Squam Lakes Natural Science Center is an area favorite. It offers boat tours on Squam, including a spectacular fall foliage tour. The center itself is an extraordinary walk through the woods where you see local wildlife in its natural setting.
Jim has many stories about the wildlife he has encountered over the years. He talked about a blue heron rookery on one of the private islands where he counted over a hundred nests. "You figure, two adults for each nest and the chicks, that's a lot of herons...a noisy, squawking rookery." There was also a family of bald eagles on one of the islands. Jim said you could cruise by and see the activity around the nest. He noted that the nest was abandoned a year ago and a new one was built on another island.
And then, of course, there are the loons made famous by the movie On Golden Pond. With mention of the 1981 film, Jim let out what may be little known secrets. Walter, the infamous fish, was "dreamed up for the movie. At the time, there were no rainbow trout in the lake to speak of. Fish and Game divers hooked a fish on the line for the movie people." He added that the lake is now well stocked with trout but is really a bass lake. As far as the movie's "Purgatory Cove," it was "just a 'no name' rocky inlet on Big Squam."
Being a lifelong fisherman, it was no surprise that Jim's favorite memory centers on fishing – "hornpoutting" to be exact. He recalls many a night renting a rowboat with his father to legally fish after dark for bullheads. "We used hand lines and hooks, a fading art, to pull in hornpouts like crazy. The legal limit was 40 back then." His description of lanterns flashing on and off around the lake as other fishermen joined in the catch invoked a magical scene.
Then came the obvious question. "Where's the best fishing spot on the lake?" For the first time, Jim became vague in his answer. "You can drop a line wherever there's a rocky reef and make a catch." For a man who has treated Squam Lake as "holy ground" his whole life, it seems some things are too sacred to share.
Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith & Laconia, NH and can be reached at (603) 366-6306.

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