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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

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Pat Buchanan - Just a geographic expression?

Speaking to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Albuquerque in 2001, George W. Bush declared that, as Mexico was a friend and neighbor, "It's so important for us to tear down our barriers and walls that might separate Mexico from the United States."

Bush succeeded. And during his tenure, millions from Mexico exploited his magnanimity to violate our laws, trample upon our sovereignty, walk into our country, and remain here.

In 2007, backed by John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Teddy Kennedy and Barack Obama, Bush backed amnesty for the 12 million people who had entered America illegally. The nation thundered no. And Congress sustained the nation.

The latest mass border crossing by scores of thousands of tots, teenagers and toughs from Central America has killed amnesty in 2014, and probably for the duration of the Obama presidency.

Indeed, with the massive media coverage of the crisis on the border, immigration, legal and illegal, and what it portends for our future, could become the decisive issue of 2014 and 2016. But it needs to be put in a larger context. For this issue is about more than whether the Chamber of Commerce gets amnesty for its members who have been exploiting cheap illegal labor.

The real issue: Will America remain one nation, or are we are on the road to Balkanization and the breakup of America into ethnic enclaves? For, as Ronald Reagan said, a nation that cannot control its borders isn't really a nation anymore.

In Federalist No. 2, John Jay wrote, "Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs ... "

He called Americans a "band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties." The republic of the founders for whom Jay spoke did not give a fig for diversity. They cherished our unity, commonality, and sameness of ancestry, culture, faith and traditions.

We were not a nation of immigrants in 1789. They came later. From 1845-1849, the Irish fleeing the famine. From 1890-1920, the Germans. Then the Italians, Poles, Jews and other Eastern Europeans. Then, immigration was suspended in 1924.

From 1925 to 1965, the children and grandchildren of those immigrants were assimilated, Americanized. In strong public schools, they were taught our language, literature and history, and celebrated our holidays and heroes. We endured together through the Depression and sacrificed together in World War II and the Cold War.
By 1960, we had become truly one nation and one people. America was not perfect. No country is. But no country ever rivaled what America had become. She was proud, united, free, the first nation on earth. And though the civil rights movement had just begun, nowhere did black peoples enjoy the freedom and prosperity of African-Americans.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday that America is today in "a fundamentally better place than we were 50 years ago." In some ways that is so. Equality of rights has been realized. Miraculous cures in medicine have kept alive many of us who would not have survived the same maladies half a century ago.

But we are no longer that "band of brethren." We are no longer one unique people "descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion."

We are from every continent and country. Nearly 4 in 10 Americans trace their ancestry to Asia, Africa and Latin America. We are a multiracial, multilingual, multicultural society in a world where countless countries are being torn apart over race, religion and roots.

We no longer speak the same language, worship the same God, honor the same heroes or share the same holidays. Christmas and Easter have been privatized. Columbus is reviled. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee are out of the pantheon. Cesar Chavez is in.

Our politics have become poisonous. Our political parties are at each other's throats.

Christianity is in decline. Traditional churches are sundering over moral issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Islam is surging.

Our society seems to be disintegrating. Over 40 percent of all births now are illegitimate. Among Hispanics, the figure is 52 percent. Among African-Americans, 73 percent.

And among children born to single moms, the drug use rate and the dropout rate, the crime rate and the incarceration rate, are many times higher than among children born to married parents.

If a country is a land of defined and defended borders, within which resides a people of a common ancestry, history, language, faith, culture and traditions, in what sense are we Americans one nation and one people today?

Neocons say we are a new kind of nation, an ideological nation erected upon a written Constitution and Bill of Rights. But equality, democracy and diversity are not mentioned in the Constitution. As for what our founding documents mean, even the Supreme Court does not agree.

More and more, 21st-century America seems to meet rather well Metternich's depiction of Italy — "a geographic expression."

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Froma Harrop - Hippies under the bed

On behalf of all liberals — living and dead — I'd like to apologize to Adam Bellow. In 1976, Bellow was at a Michigan State University writing workshop when a radical feminist publicly rebuked him for saying she had "balls." He says he meant that as a compliment.
Some formative experiences are forged in the hell of war, others in the crucible of writing class.
Bellow never recovered from his. In a recent piece for National Review, he recounts this 38-year-old hurt as exhibit A for why the right needs to launch its own literary movement to tell its own stories.
"I didn't see why I should be called out in front of the group and angrily chastised as though I were merely an embodiment of the white male heterosexual power structure," complains Bellow, son of the great novelist Saul Bellow.
I don't see why, either, but how about a larger picture? More recently, right-wingers disrupted town hall meetings, shouting down the elected representatives trying to address their constituents. Might that be "a bare-knuckled attempt to enforce an ideological orthodoxy by policing the boundaries of acceptable speech," an accusation Bellow chucks at the left?
Such examples would cloud the simple tale of mannerly conservatives battling the '60s hippies. So down the memory hole they go.
But the long-term memory still works fine. For boomer conservatives, the '60s remain fresh material. It matters not that most of today's students barely remember the '90s, much less the '60s.
Anyhow, Bellow complains that when he joined the culture war in 1988 as an editor, "conservatives had little to read." One of the rare examples he cites was "The Road to Serfdom."
"Serfdom" is a classic we all should read. I especially hope its conservative fans will review Chapter 9, where Friedrich Hayek advocates government-guaranteed health care. But I digress.
Bellow acknowledges that on the nonfiction lists, the right is doing OK. Actually, more than OK.
A quick check shows that No. 1 and No. 7 are by conservative movement authors. No. 8 is by an evangelical Christian, and No. 10 by a Republican strategist. The only liberal in the lineup is Hillary Clinton at No. 3.
The top book, "Blood Feud," was issued by Regnery, a conservative publishing house. "For the past 15 years," the publisher's website says, "Regnery has boasted one of the best batting averages in the business — placing more than 50 books on the New York Times bestseller list, including nine books at No. 1."
The author at No. 7 is Ben Carson, a hero of the right. He's published by Sentinel, a conservative imprint of the Penguin Group. Perhaps, just perhaps, the objective of the media conglomerates now publishing books is to sell books.
But their business interests don't reach into fiction, according to Bellow. In fiction, conservative authors are "embattled and excluded."
The only way to fight liberals' "thought control," Bellow insists, "is by turning their weapons against them and channeling the spirit of the Sixties counterculture."
Conservatives must bypass the establishment. They're already self-publishing their novels through digital technologies, though some are afraid to use their names. "Their resistance and courage are deeply inspiring," Bellow writes.
You've seen those midnight roundups of right-leaning novelists, haven't you?
The publishing houses must have been asleep at the switch when they let conservative Ayn Rand through the barricades. Her novels currently rank No. 1 and No. 2 on the Modern Library reader's list of 100 best novels.
Well, imagination is a good thing. And in that vein, I can almost hear the feminist meanie telling Bellow to "man up."
And don't anyone ask me to take that back. One apology per column.

(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 Monday, 14 July 2014 08:24

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Susan Estrich - Sugar babies

The news that Google executive Forrest Hayes died on a yacht after being injected with heroin by a "date" he met on a website that connects "sugar daddies" with "sugar babies" has prompted not only charges against the woman, 26-year-old Alix Tichelman, and an investigation of a similar death (ruled accidental) involving Ms. Tichelman in 2013, but also questions about the website that brought the dead husband and father into contact with the woman who literally killed him.
While police have described the woman as a high-priced escort with an ongoing "prostitution relationship" with the executive, the website "Seeking Arrangements," denies that its site in any way condones prostitution. According to the site's spokesperson, "What we do know is that these were two adults that were involved in a consensual relationship that was ongoing. This appears to be a case of recreational drug use gone wrong."
Actually, it appears to be quite a bit worse than that. It wasn't just that Tichelman allegedly injected Hayes with a lethal dose of heroin. The security cameras show her injecting the heroin, and then watching as Hayes' body went limp. Instead of calling 911, as anyone with an ounce of humanity would do, Ms. Tichelman allegedly finished her wine, packed up her needles and heroin, and then stepped over his body to leave, pausing only to reach back and pull down the blinds so no one would see the dying man inside.
This is, of course, according to the police. Ms. Tichelman is innocent until proven guilty. But if the report of what was captured on camera is correct, she deserves to be charged not with manslaughter (the current charge against her, along with drug and prostitution charges) but murder. She may not have intended that Hayes die when she injected him, but her actions once she did so establish malice; to leave someone to die, much less pull down the shades, when they are potentially facing death is an omission that is as serious as an intentional act of killing. And the fact that another man — this one in Georgia, last year — died under similar circumstances while Ms. Tichelman was showering not only raises questions for Georgia police, but also is relevant to Tichelman's knowledge and intent on the night she injected Hayes.
In short, Ms. Tichelman has big problems, as well she should. The degrees of murder reflect the fact that not all killings are alike: The killer for hire, the killer who plans his act, are punished more seriously because they are, quite simply, more evil than one who kills in the heat of passion. On the "scumbag scorecard," a woman who would finish her wine and pull down the shades after killing the man with whom she was supposedly "involved in a consensual relationship" deserves to be in that same category.
And the website? They claim that matching a "sugar daddy" with a "sugar baby" for a "no-strings" ideal relationship for the daddy and financial stability, shopping sprees and exotic travel for the baby has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with prostitution. Meet "background-checked" babies, the men are promised. I wonder if Ms. Tichelman's background check picked up the man who died while she was in the shower? I doubt it.
Prostitution by another name is still prostitution. A website which facilitates prostitution is complicit in that crime, at least. There are so many sites like that on the web (to quote the song, "The Internet Is for Porn,") that it would be impossible to shut them down, even if anyone had the will to try. But when prostitution leads directly to death, there is a case to be made that all those complicit share in the responsibility for the death, if not under the criminal law, at least under the civil law, and certainly as a matter of morality.
(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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Sanborn – 'Summa Kitchins'

Well, summer is officially here! Time to barbecue, have something cold to drink, and play the N.H. state pastime; a good old game of Corn Hole. Well, maybe not, but grilling is definitely on the list. That brings me to a discussion on the Summer Kitchen (pronounced "Summa Kitchin.") But what is a Summer Kitchen?

Well, in the olden days when our Patriot forefathers had to cook their meals over an open flame in the big kitchen fireplace on a sweltering July day things got just a little bit overheated. It was already over ninety five degrees in the house and a roaring fire to cook marinated steak tips really put the old man over the edge. So, he went outside and built another little building with a kitchen in it. The "summa kitchin" was born.

Today we still have "summa kitchins" but they generally aren't in another building. Today, especially on lake front homes, you can find them conveniently located in the lower level walk out next to the patio. That way you can entertain without going back upstairs after a dip in the lake. That helps keeps the sand off the hardwood flooring. Other "summa kitchins" are built outside on the deck or on the patio where sun worshipers can grill, eat, and sunbathe all at the same time. Today with the air conditioner cranked up inside you end up going outside to warm up. We have come a long way!

Now you don't have to be a millionaire to have a "summa kitchin," but it helps. Most of us get by with just a barbeque and maybe a cooler for nice cold drinks. But if you are interested in the real deal, here are a couple elaborate "summa kitchins" to choose from. Of course, you have to buy the whole house to get one so chances are I'll see you down at Lowe's looking for a new grill.

First up is the "summa kitchin" at 13 Shore Drive on Governor's Island in Gilford. This is a patio style "kitchin" with awesome views of the lake. It features an L shaped stone island with plenty of seating and Lynx grill and appliances. There's additional dining space on another patio closer to the water's edge where you find a sandy beach and docking. The .42 acre lot has 120' of level frontage. Pretty awesome! Inside the 3,866 square foot, three bedroom, four bath custom built Adirondack home that comes with this "kitchin," you'll find another awesome kitchen with custom cabinetry, granite, Viking appliances, and wet bar. This super high quality Timberpeg Post and Beam home has all the bells and whistles including in-floor radiant heat, whole house generator, security, and irrigation system for the beautifully landscaped yard. There's also an oversized three car garage for your toys. This "kitchin" can be yours for just $1.999 million. I'm sure they'll throw in some steak tips and sauce.

There's a pretty fabulous lower level "summa kitchin" up in Meredith at 64 Wagon Wheel Trail. It has custom cabinetry, stainless steel, granite, a center island with seating, beautiful wood ceiling, natural wood work, wainscoting, and tile floor. And I bet it won't get too warm in there as it has plenty of a.c. There's also a recreation room, two full baths, and two bedrooms on this level in case you eat too much and have to take a nap. Upstairs in the Adirondack, you'll find another 4,163 square feet of high quality construction including the requisite great room with cathedral ceiling and fireplace, a designer kitchen, wonderful four season porch, three more bedrooms and four and a half more baths. Superb! Outside there's lots of deck space, meandering walk ways, lush landscaping, patios and of course a dock on the 204' of owned frontage. And, this all comes with great sunset views to dine by. This property is priced at $3.995 million. I pretty much guarantee you can get some steaks thrown in on this deal...

As of July first there were 1,218 residential homes on the market in the twelve Lakes Region communities covered in this market report. That is up from the 1,139 homes on the market as of June 1 and up just a bit from the 1,210 last July 1st. The current inventory level represents a 14.6 month supply of homes on the market.

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 7/1/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 July 2014 08:19

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