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Susan Estrich - False equivalence

The "crossfire" mentality that defines public discourse today has the obvious problem of ignoring the fact that most of us land somewhere in the middle, turning every debate into a shouting contest between the extremists who generate passion and ratings, and rarely reflecting the views of the majority in the middle. I've been saying for years that it might be just as entertaining, and certainly more productive, to see where ideological opposites find common ground. But until someone actually attempts it, we will keep spiraling down into extremism and incivility.

That, in my mind, is bad. What's worse is that our crossfire, right and left, mentality can create a sense of equivalence when there is no basis for it.

Survivors and deniers do not belong on the same platform.

Evolution is not debatable.

Israel and Hamas do not stand in the same shoes.

Poor Israel. Until the past day or two, the death toll scoreboard so widely reported in the media was running so lopsidedly in Israel's "favor" that Israel was being chastised because too few of its soldiers and civilians had died. But that is not for want of trying.

Hamas has launched thousands of rockets into Israel, one so close to Ben Gurion airport that American airlines were banned from flying there. Israel is being punished for investing in shelters (where families are literally living) and building a sophisticated missile defense system — in other words, for protecting its people. Hamas uses children and families as human shields for terrorists.

Israel gets cast in the eyes of the world as an aggressor, but this is not about conquering foreign land. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. This war is about finding and destroying the tunnels that were built to smuggle terrorists and weapons into Israel — more of them than anyone expected and some of them clearly built to target Israeli communities.

Israel is seeking to defend itself, seeking to stop the rockets and attacks. Hamas is seeking to destroy Israel, and they are willing to sacrifice their own wives and children to do it.

So how did Israel become the aggressor?

The murder of three Israeli teenagers was followed by the murder of a Palestinian teen. Equivalent? No. The Israelis suspected of murdering the Palestinian boy have been arrested and charged with terrorism. The Palestinians responsible for the death of the Israelis? If they ever are identified, it doubtless would be to celebrate them.

There are real human beings suffering on both sides. The fact that a father would use his child as a human hostage hardly means that the child deserves to die. If a ceasefire could be negotiated, if the tunnels can be shut down, if an international body can disarm Hamas, the people of Gaza would be infinitely better off. They might be able to share in the economic growth and energy of the Israeli economy, instead of living in dire poverty. Their children could sleep safely at night, instead of worrying about whether their homes will be targeted and whether their parents will protect them.

Israel wants peace. Gaza desperately needs it. And yet its leaders prefer to fight Israel, to send rockets that mostly miss, to expose their children to missiles that mostly don't miss — rather than recognize Israel and make peace.

And Israel is to blame for that?

A friend forwarded an e-mail to me from a relative in Israel, a wise and thoughtful e-mail, not from a "hawk" or a "hardliner," but from a man who is living with sirens in the background and wondering how it is that the world press could be painting Israel as the villain in this fight.

It is a troubling question. I don't like any of the answers. Maybe it's just the crossfire culture. Or maybe it's because it's Israel.

(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.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Bob Meade - Questions: Why . . .

Why is it that Mexico can jail an American Marine who made a wrong turn, beating him, chaining his arms and legs to his cot, and holding him for over three months before he can even go before a judge for a hearing?

Why is it that Mexico can be used as a highway from various Central American countries to illegally cross the border into the United States, and we don't protest to Mexico?

Why is it that this administration, and the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, seems to believe we should have "open borders"?

Why does this administration act surprised that 60,000 young people have recently crossed into this country, when over six months ago, our department of Homeland Security requested funding for this anticipated event?

Why is it that our nation's sovereignty is being ignored for political purposes?

Why is it that our only true ally in the Middle East can have three of their teenagers kidnapped and brutally murdered, and be under endless rocket attacks, and our president doesn't tell the attackers to cease, but tells our ally to "act with restraint"?

Why is it that our Secretary of State has not made a forceful demand to Mexico to stop allowing its citizens, and transients, to cross our borders illegally?

Why hasn't our president demanded that Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi be released months ago? Why hasn't the Secretary of State also done so?

Why did it take over a year and a half to capture one of the leaders of the Benghazi attack?

Why is the leader of that Benghazi attack being accorded all the "rights" of an American citizen who may have committed a far less grievous crime, let alone an act of war?

Why hasn't the Ft. Hood shooting that killed 13 people and wounded over 30 others been called an act of war, when not doing so has deprived victims and their families of benefits that they are rightfully entitled to?

Why did this administration leave Iraq without a "Status of Forces" agreement?

Why hasn't a Status of Forces agreement been reached with the president of Afghanistan?

Why is there no outrage in the press over the appointment of (a political crony and donor to the Obama Campaign) Barbara Bosserman, to "investigate" the IRS scandal?

Why hasn't the president openly advised IRS employees to come forward and speak truthfully about the targeting of conservative groups?

What are the odds of seven IRS employees, all key to the investigation of targeting, having their hard drives crash and the information on them not be retrievable? (Note: A "nerd" friend claims those odds to be 1 in over 78 billion)

Why has the current administration "stonewalled" and not answered the question about who authored the talking points Ambassador Rice used concerning the Benghazi attacks?

Why has no one been held to account for the Justice Department's mis-representation of facts to a court, in order to obtain a warrant to spy on a reporter for Fox News, and his family?

Why has the press/media generally acted as a fan club for the president, ignoring blatant abuses of power?

Why does the media continue to cite the "recess appointments" made by Presidents Bush and Clinton, without pointing out that such appointments are authorized when the Senate is not in session? (President Obama's recess appointments were made when the Senate was in session. See Article 1, Section 5, Para 2, of the Constitution).

Why does the media not point out that the Articles of Impeachment for President Andrew Johnson were for his making a recess appointment when the Senate was in session?

Why has the media not kept up a drum beat about Senate Majority Leader Reid implementing the so-called "nuclear option" in the Senate; stripping away the 60 vote rule needed to close out a filibuster? (This historic change has far reaching effects as it allows the party in power to exercise what is called the tyranny of the majority. The late Democrat Senator Robert Byrd stated, "In the hands of a tyrannical majority and leadership, that kind of emasculation of the cloture rule would mean that minority rights would cease to exist in the U.S. Senate." The change instituted by Reid essentially allows any nominee submitted to the Senate to be rubber stamped by the majority party.)

Why was the decision made that our military personnel, with 10 or 15 years of faithful service, and experience, would be mustered out in an effort to reduce the size of the military and to allow continued recruitment of younger, untrained personnel?

Why do we not have answers to these questions? Think long and hard about your answer.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Froma Harrop - Will blabbermouths wake Democrats up?

It is often said, believed and undoubtedly right that the Republicans' ace in midterm elections is apathetic Democrats not showing up at the polls. But that once predictable waltz into November is threatened by blabbermouths of the right's seeking self-aggrandizement by hurling darts at the sleeping Democratic bear.

It's not that they don't know better. It's that their fame and fortune rests not on electing Republicans but on nurturing their brands. Brands don't take summer vacations.

Recent calls to impeach President Obama and unsubtle attacks on users of birth control have been bombastic enough to crash through the wall of midterm inattention that surrounds two large and very reliable groups of Democratic voters: African-Americans and single women.

As any self-respecting Republican strategist understands, the ground game is to keep these potential voters disengaged. Leave the older, white conservative voters who predictably show up to determine the midterm results. Let the political planets revolve on their appointed paths and find a lounge chair beside the pool.

But now you have Sarah Palin demanding to impeach Obama. African-Americans are hardly alone in finding such talk emblematic of a civic culture in decline, but this group tends to take it more personally. It also enjoyed the recent experience of having helped save Mississippi pork-meister Thad Cochran's bacon in a runoff election with a tea party challenger. That was a power surge that calls for impeachment could recharge come November.

Thus, the conservative Wall Street Journal got rather personal in blasting Palin over talk of removing Obama. "Progressives would like nothing better than for Republicans to try to impeach Mr. Obama, so they could scare up otherwise demoralized Democratic voters to come to the polls this November," an editorial said.

It is right, of course.
Next up at bat but playing the part of the ball are single women. Single women now represent 25 percent of the potential electorate and half of voting-age women. In 2012, nearly 3 in 4 voted for Obama. But their participation in elections drops off dramatically in nonpresidential years.

And that's why Republicans should find the Hobby Lobby case so worrisome. For single women, the part that soared over the fence of distraction was not so much the Supreme Court decision, regrettable though it was. Rather, it was the circus of insulting taunts against sexually active women that surrounded it.

On Fox News Channel, you had Jesse Watters expounding on single women as "Beyonce voters." He explained, "They depend on government because they're not depending on their husbands."

You have to get the full picture. On the set, Watters was flanked by four leggy dolls giggling appreciatively at his wit. Fox News can transform the most average white guy into an hombre.

But when it comes to birth control, most women have no sense of humor at all. Many of the younger ones work like dogs for meager pay, often raising children at the same time. For them, an unwanted pregnancy can be economically disastrous. And of course, the unmarried sisterhood is a diverse club, including many older widows, independent careerists and divorced mothers trying to make it through the day. They're not laughing, either.

Don't worry if you missed the Fox News performance. The liberal site ThinkProgress has thoughtfully posted the video.

Democratic strategists are up nights trying to get distracted Democratic voters to circle Nov. 4 on their calendars. Social media open new pipelines, but the right's entertainment-industrial complex provides a much-needed prod to find a pencil.

So go ahead, Fox News. Tell a quarter of the voters that they are sluts for wanting a sex life. Make Nancy Pelosi's day.

(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.)

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Sanborn — Lakes Region Waterfront Sales Report, June 2014

Things are holding pretty steady as far as waterfront sales go on Winnipesaukee. There were ten residential sales on the lake in June of this year. The average price came in at $862,150 with a median price point of $748,750. There were also ten sales last June at an average price of $1,364,018. For the first half of the year there have been 48 transactions on Winnipesaukee with an average sales price of $1,103,389 and a median price point of $740,000 compared to 46 sales for the first half of 2013 at an average sales price of $979,300 and a median price of $792,500. So, it seems it is "steady as she goes" at least for now.

The least expensive sale on the big lake last month was at 13 Marlette Drive in Alton. This 1935 vintage, 1,650 square foot, three bedroom, one bath cottage has had some recent upgrades including granite countertops and new cabinets in the kitchen, a bath remodel, and fresh paint. It sits up high on a .08 acre lot across the street from the water so you have great views of the lake from the front porch. The big thing here is that you also have 50' of frontage across the street on the bay with a boathouse that holds a 24' boat plus two docks outside. Now this property did take a while to sell. It was first listed back in 2009 at $479,900, relisted twice in 2011 for $469,900 and then again for $459,900 with Michael Travis of Prudential Spencer Hughes. It was finally reduced to $399,000 and sold for $385,000 after a total of 1,726 days on the market. That's four and a half years, folks. Whoever said selling real estate was easy? This property is assessed at $256,900.

The mid-priced sale of the month was at 18 Sandy Shores Road in Tuftonboro. This bright and open home was built in 2000 and has a lot going for it with 2,328 square feet of space, three bedrooms, three baths, a large family room over one of the two heated 2-car garages plus it sits on a six acre lot with great views, 131' of level sandy frontage, and a dock. But this was no easy sale, either. It came on in June of 2011 at $1,395,000, in February of 2012 at $1,250,000, and then in March of this year at $995,000 with John Byers of Maxfield Real Estate. It was reduced to $872,000 and then sold for $845,000 after a total of 998 days on the market. It is assessed for $1,381,000.

The highest sale of the month was at 81 Timber Ridge Road in Wolfeboro. This Adirondack home was built in 2011 and has 5,888 square feet of space, four bedrooms, three and a half baths, a hickory kitchen, granite counter tops, the requisite great room with cathedral ceiling and fireplace, first floor master suite, finished lower level, and a family room over the three car garage. This home is extremely well done with attention paid to every detail. The home sits on a .57 acre lot with 101' of frontage, a sandy beach, and a 40' dock to sit on and enjoy fabulous sunsets. This home was listed in July of 2011 at $1.998 million, relisted in 2014 at the same number, reduced to $1.895 million, and sold for $1.81 million after a little over 600 days on the market. It was listed with Randy Parker with Maxfield Real Estate.

There were two sales on Winnisquam in June. One was a new construction, Energy Star certified, ranch style home at 589 Laconia Rd in Tilton. It has 2,048 square feet, three beds, two baths, custom cherry cabinetry, hardwood floors, granite counter tops and a walkout lower level. It sits on a .98 acre lot with 82' of frontage, and is permitted for a 40' dock. It was listed by Sandra Grace at RE/MAX Bayside for $359,000, was reduced to $349,000, and sold for $329,000 after 213 days on the market.

The other Winnisquam sale was at 54 Hill Road also in Tilton. This 1888 vintage, fully renovated lake cottage has 1,451 square feet with four bedrooms, two baths, knotty pine walls, cathedral and wood beamed ceilings, built-ins, stained glass, and lots of charm. It sits on a private .19 acre lot with 50' of frontage with a sandy beach and 33' dock. What more do you need? This property was first listed at $499,000 in September 2012, relisted in October of 2013 at $443,000 with Donna Royal of BHHS Verani Realty, was reduced to $415,00, and sold for $360,000 after at total of 636 days on the market. It is assessed at $370,000, These two sales bring the total number of waterfronts sold on Winnisquam this year to nine compared to five for the first half of 2013.

There was just one sale on Squam in June and that was at 12 Carl Way in Ashland. This cape style home built in 1953 has 1,897 square feet, four bedrooms, two and a half baths, a knotty pine interior, wood burning fireplace, a great screened in porch, and a large deck down at the water's edge. There's also a detached garage with game room above. The home sits on a 1.2 acre lot with 100' of frontage and a dock. This home was listed by Jerry Love at Peabody Smith Realty at $789,000, was reduced to $675,000 and sold for a little over the asking price at $680,000. It is assessed at $639,750.

Please 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 was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 7/16/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Jim Hightower - Their goal is to establish free-market plutocracy

Most of us celebrated July 4 by barbequing, doing a few 12-ounce elbow bends and setting off some fireworks. Some of us might have paused for a moment to reflect on that thing Jefferson wrote about 238 years ago: The Declaration of Independence.

"We the People" are faced — right now — with another of those "when in the course of human events" moments Jefferson wrote about. Not only is this a month to reconnect with our revolutionary heritage but it's also the appropriate time for re-declaring our independence, this time from "They the Corporations."

With little coverage by the mass media, and with the complicity of most lawmakers, domineering corporations have quietly but aggressively used the high court itself to write them and their money into the Constitution as our sovereigns. As legal scholar and Democratic activist Jamie Raskin said in testimony to the U.S. Senate judiciary committee this June: "In several recent 5-4 decisions, the wall protecting democracy from plutocracy has been crumbling under judicial attack."

Just one year after their Citizens United decision unleashed CEOs to be able to roll truckloads of their shareholders' funds into our elections (without asking those shareholders for permission or even informing them after the fact), that five assaulted our democracy again. Their 2011 verdict in the Arizona Free Enterprise Club case increased the volume of CorporateSpeak in elections by decreasing the speech of non-rich candidates. Specifically, they rejected the will of Arizonans who had voted to provide public funds for candidates who are willing to forego all special-interest money. This system gave the political ideas of the non-wealthy a chance to be heard when up against super-wealthy oligarchs. Public financing of elections was successfully widening public debate and freeing up political speech, so the same five corporate supremists stepped in to kill it, absurdly declaring that such laws give an "unfair advantage" to little-guy campaigns.

Next came this year's McCutcheon opinion, in which the same five blew the lid off the limits on money that an individual can pour on candidates during any given election cycle. The limit had been $123,000 — high enough that only about 600 people out of our 330 million reached that maximum in 2012.

The Court's narrow majority lifted the allowable total for one person's election-year spending to a stunning $5.9 million. That empowers a handful of the richest of rich donors — even fewer than 600 — to overwhelm the political voices of millions of common citizens, all in the name of free speech. Adding to this absurdity, this five-man wrecking crew blithely declares in its McCutcheon ruling that even transactions that appear to be obvious conflicts of interest are permissible (e.g., a CEO can give $25,000 to the head of a congressional committee — the same person who a week later can put a bill on the floor to benefit the CEO's corporation). Such corrupt transactions apparently "do not justify" putting restrictions on campaign contributions. Instead, the wily five ruled that the only donor-to-donee corruption that can be regulated is outright quid pro quo bribery.
And do not think that this is as far as the Court will go to empower Big Money. Already, corporate lawyers are asking the judiciary to strike down all limits on what each millionaire/billionaire can spend to elect or defeat any number of candidates, and they're pushing to reverse 29 state bans on campaign donations during legislative sessions (when lawmakers and lobbyists are in heat and most open to exchanging favors for money).

The unstated (but now abundantly clear) goal of the five co-conspirators is nothing less than the establishment of a free-market plutocracy over what used to be America. Eaten up with Ayn Randian dogma, they are using their judicial positions to commodify political participation, converting our elections (the ultimate public function) into just another private market for buying and selling. Why not just authorize the commodity exchanges to post the daily selling prices of politicians alongside the growing rate for pork bellies and Texas crude? Or why not rule that Wall Street can peddle derivatives based on bulk packages of subprime officeholders. But let's not give them ideas. With this Court's corporate quintet on the loose, absolute absurdity is no longer unimaginable.

But we can stop them. We need to treat the "free" in free speech as a verb, not an adjective. Let's join together around a Constitutional amendment to free up the people's rights from the corporate usurpers. Sixteen states and hundreds of cities, towns and municipalities have joined. For more information visit: www.democracyisforpeople.org

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

Hits: 222

 
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