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Jim Hightower - The real scandal in Denny Hastert's life

Washington's establishment of politicos, lobbyists and media sparklies are shocked — shocked to their very core! — by the scandalous sexual revelations about Dennis Hastert.

The portly Republican, who'd been Speaker of the House a decade ago, was an affable, non-descript Midwesterner who was popular with his fellow lawmakers. A former high school wrestling coach in rural Illinois, Hastert was viewed as a solid salt-of-the-Earth fellow embodying Middle America's moral values. So his recent indictment for paying $1.7 million in hush money to a man he apparently molested during his coaching years has rocked our Capitol City.

"I'm shocked and saddened," said the current GOP Speaker, John Boehner. Likewise, former colleagues from both sides of the aisle were dismayed that "our Denny" would have been engaged in child molestation and now caught in an illegal financial cover-up of that abomination. "This has really come out of nowhere," exclaimed Rep. Peter King, a longtime ally of the man whom all of Washington considered a straight arrow.

Washington's gossip mill is spinning furiously over last week's revelations. Before we join these officials in wailing about Dennis Hastert's alleged long-hidden molestation, however, let me note that while they are bewildered by his sexual impropriety, they find it not worthy of mention — much less condemnation — that Denny has long been immersed in the immoral swamp of Washington's game of money politics. The guy they profess to love as a paragon of civic virtue — "the coach," as Rep. King hailed him — was one of the most corrupt speakers ever. What about the filthy, backroom affair he has been openly conducting with corporate lobbyists for nearly two decades?

During his tenure as House speaker, Hastert turned the place into the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of corporate favors. By putting campaign cash into Republican re-election coffers controlled by him and his top hit man, Majority Leader Tom DeLay, corporate interests gained entry into Denny's psychedelic playhouse.
With Hastert himself singing "Candy Man," the favor seekers could help themselves to the river of chocolate running through Congress' back rooms.
Remember "earmarks", the sneaky tactic of letting congressional leaders secretly funnel appropriations to favored corporations and projects? Earmarks became the trademark of Hastert's regime, sticking taxpayers with the tab for such outrages as Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere." Indeed, Denny grabbed a $200 million earmark for himself, funding an Illinois highway near land he owned — land he then sold, netting millions in personal profit.

When he left Congress, Hastert moved just a short limo ride away to become — what else? — a corporate lobbyist. Trading on his former title, personal ties to House members and knowledge of how the chocolate factory runs, he has been hauling in a fortune as a high-dollar influence peddler for makers of candy-flavored cigarettes, Peabody Coal Company, land developers and other giants. And guess what his specialty is? Getting "riders" attached to appropriations bills, so public money is channeled directly to his clients.

Hastert openly traded legislative favors for campaign cash, including profiting personally from his powerful position. And, when he was squeezed out because of the corruption, he didn't return to the home folks — he became a K-Street lobbyist, continuing to profit to this day by doing corporate favors. That's how he got so rich he was able to shell out $1.7 million in hush money to the student he abused.

Good ol' Denny has always thought he was above the law. Just as Hastert should be held accountable for the deep personal damage his alleged molestation would've done to his former student, so should he also pay for his abominably-indecent abuse of office, his self-gratifying groping of public funds and his repeated, sticky-fingered violations of the American people's public trust.

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Would be nice if conservatives would use facts instead of myths

To The Daily Sun,

Climatologists have successfully projected sea level rises with amazing accuracy. Dave Schwotzer on the other hand not only does not understand this but makes an outlandish statement about Al Gore and sea level. He remarks, "At one point he claimed that the oceans were going to rise by many feet which would have occurred by now according to his timetable." Gore never said that.

Climatologists in 1990 projected a 6-7 centimeter rise in sea levels by 2010. [1] That is right on the money. The 2013 IPCC report also expresses high confidence in projections of thermal expansion of the oceans [2].

Warm water expands so it's not just melting land ice that causes sea level rise, it's the warming of the oceans, too. Warmer oceans also lose their carbon sink abilities which leaves more carbon in the atmosphere which warms the oceans even more causing a positive feedback loop. Not good.

The oceans have warmed significantly in very recent times. They rose 6 cm in the 19th century and 19 cm in the 20th. Just 3 meters of sea holds more heat than the entire Earth's atmosphere and the present sea is only able to absorb one-third of the industrial CO2. The majority of the planet's heat is stored in the oceans. [3]

It would be nice if conservatives would use facts instead of right-wing myths and falsehoods in their letters. I will address his other claims in another letter.




James Veverka


Last Updated on Thursday, 04 June 2015 10:36

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GOP senators devoting selves to tax breaks for big businesses

To The Daily Sun,

I was just thinking about the N.H. Senate and House budget proposals and I am saying to myself, "What are they thinking?"

I know the Republicans are firm in their belief that everyone would be better off with lower taxes, but taxes serve a very critical and worthwhile purpose. There are many things the government provides that simply could not be provided for by private businesses, such as open roads and bridges network, our public school system, and of course a steadfast social safety net.

Then there are our military and security agencies, through which a safe and stable society is maintained for all. In New Hampshire, our state government provides many services for students, our elderly and disabled, as well as many New Hampshire-focused jobs and business initiatives that specifically serve Granite Staters and make us more competitive both within America and abroad.

Republican state senators have decided to devote themselves to tax giveaways that will disproportionately benefit large businesses. Their cut to the Business Profits Tax will see 76 percent of the cut go to the largest 1 percent of corporations and will cause the state to lose $80 million overall in this next budget cycle alone. That's a lot of money that could be going to schools, roads, or helping to care for our most needy citizens.

So readers, when was the last time you went to your employer and asked him/her to lower your income? That's exactly what these Republican senators have done with our state revenues.

Paula Trombi


Last Updated on Thursday, 04 June 2015 10:32

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Got Lunch makes sure kids who need food have healthy groceries

To The Daily Sun,

We not only live in a beautiful resort area, surrounded by the beauty of the mountains and lakes but we  also live in a community that cares about children. In 2014, GOT LUNCH! Laconia fed 654 children throughout the summer. It costs the program approximately $120 to feed each child for the entire summer. All these community efforts make a big difference and make this program possible.

GOT LUNCH! Laconia is a community collaborative made up of volunteers who work together to deliver healthy groceries to the school children of Laconia during the 10 weeks of the summer school vacation. With more than 60 percent of the children qualifying for free and reduced lunch, the potential is great for many of the children in Laconia to go without enough food during the summer.

GOT LUNCH! Laconia makes sure that children who need food have healthy groceries delivered to their doorstep.

In April, the Laconia School District came up with the idea of 5 on the 5th for Cinco de Mayo day. All school employees who donated $5 to GOT LUNCH! Laconia could wear jeans on May 5 and proudly wear a sticker "5 on the 5th." Then they thought to challenge the local businesses to do the same. One press release about the challenge and very little time to pull this challenge together raised $1,835.50 to feed the children of Laconia; raising enough money to feed 15 children for the entire summer. The school district alone raised $1, 230.50.

Other businesses that answered the call this year are: Irwin Automotive, Lakes Region Community Services, Lakes Region Partners for Public Health, Lake Opechee Inn and Spa, Wescott Law, and Sunday's Salon and Spa.

Thank you, so very much for responding to the challenge. Next year we hope to grow this challenge and include more business and non-profits – watch for the opportunity next year. Thank You Laconia! Thank you, Laconia, for caring for our children.

For more information about the program, or how to register, volunteer or donate, go to the website: www.gotlunchlaconia.org.

GOT LUNCH! Laconia

Advisory Board

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 June 2015 10:25

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I question you 80% of Americans believe in God statement

To The Daily Sun,

Mr. McCoole incorrectly stated in his letter that I "blamed my hatred of God" on "Christian beliefs and morals." I in no way stated I "hate God" or that it's Christians or morality I dislike, I just have merely become a non-believer.

I do have a disdain for people of the pulpit for my own personal reasons, but would never hold anything against anybody for their religious beliefs. I respect the beliefs of others and for the record am pro-life (excluding cases of rape, incest and harm to the mother) despite my religious disposition. So you can throw your three-paragraph rant of extreme abortion legislation out the window.

Obviously now, nobody would vote for an abortion law that allowed killing a 2-year-old child! It seems to me more and more that strict Christians are a bit thin-skinned. You can all dish it out, but point out a few glaringly bad facts and it gets nasty fast. You literally added no less than three lies about what I wrote in your letter.

It's nice that you came racing to the defense of your Bible, but I still don't believe that there was some dubious intention from the filmmakers and authors of the '60s, '70s and so forth to directly undermine the values and morals of Christianity. It was just people being creative and let loose out of their repressive box that many of their strict parents had them in. I would argue that strict Christian parents are actually the cause of many youths to leave the church and pursue other interests. I would also argue that most intellectuals are not religious. Scientists, philosophers, engineers... I have no research on this, but most I have personally encountered do not believe in higher powers.

Furthermore, I do not label people on whims, I used to actually be a fan of Pat Buchanan, even would have voted for him if I was old enough when he ran for president. Through the years though, I just personally feel that he's a dinosaur, incapable of changing with the times. I thought his letter was full of generalizations with an undertone that if you're not a practicing Christian, you're immoral. Throw in Mr. Demakowski's biblical threats and that is where I was coming from.

I'm not trying to be some smarmy juvenile who is poking fun at your way of life, sir. But when Bible-thumpers constantly throw it in our face, three, four, five times a week in these letters, I just thought we should hear a different point of view. I would question your 80 percent of "American's believe in God" statement though, unless that's a AARP poll or something. Which God do you refer to? God is a term that many use. And of those 80 percent, how many are actually practicing? Going to church to worship besides Christmas and Easter? Certainly not 80 percent. I would be shocked if it were 30 percent.

Thomas Lemay


Last Updated on Thursday, 04 June 2015 10:20

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