E. Scott Cracraft - We guys don't get a vote on this

In recent months, there have been letters to The Sun opposing a woman’s right to reproductive choice. While this may offend some men, “we guys” are not really entitled to a vote on this issue. Even anti-choice women do not really get a vote either, since the decision to terminate a pregnancy is a matter between the woman concerned, her doctor, and her God. It is no one else’s damn business. If men do not like abortion, they can take care that they not be the reason for one.
There are some men who think it is their business, especially if they are the father. Naturally, if a man and a woman are in a committed relationship, such a decision should be discussed but a man does not have the veto power. After all, all we men have to be is sperm donors if that is all we want to be. If that is the case, the birth, care, and raising of the child falls on the mom. The same is true of parental permission and notification laws. Even if a pregnant girl is a minor, it is still her decisions. Parental notification and permission laws are only an end run around the right to choose by making the choice more difficult.

It is disturbing that years after the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade (1974) ruled that a woman has to make that choice, we still have powerful forces trying to deny her that choice. Some of these same individuals and groups even want to deny a woman an abortion in the case of rape or incest. Many also oppose birth control which almost seems like working at cross purposes. Perhaps the real reason is that they just want women “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen” and to be dependent on (and submissive to) men? Or, perhaps they are just anti-sex?

Since they have been unable to overturn Roe v. Wade, these forces work to make it difficult for women. They enact legislation that is so restrictive that in some states, women must travel to make this choice. Or, they favor legislation to make a woman afraid of an abortion or to undergo degrading, invasive procedures before being allowed to have one.

This writer finds the term “pro-abortion” misleading. He is not “pro-abortion.” He is “pro-choice.” He does not know that if he were a woman if he could make that choice. Many anti-choice advocates like to portray women relying on abortion as birth control. That may have been sometimes true in the Soviet Union and communist China but not in the U.S.A. Most women who choose abortion will tell you that it was one of the hardest decisions in their lives.

The term “pro-life” is misleading, too. It is difficult to believe that most of the anti-choice people are “pro-life.” Although there are some notable exceptions, most seem to favor some pretty “anti-life” policies. They often seem to care about a fetus only until it is born. Then they oppose anything that might make a mom want to keep her baby, thinks like affordable health care, welfare, food stamps, W.I.C., and a host of other social programs. Many support mean, inhumane socio-political agendas. Moreover, they are often also the ones who oppose comprehensive sex education in the schools.

Many picket outside abortion providers claiming to “counsel” women but actually harass them and prevent them from entering a clinic when perhaps they were there for prenatal care because they wanted to keep their baby! Some anti-choice activists go as far as picketing a provider’s private home and even harassing their children. A few even condone—and commit—acts of violence against abortion providers. Is this “pro-life?”
The anti-choice folks also engage in a fair amount of misinformation and disinformation. For instance, a recent writer to The Sun compared abortion to the Nazi Holocaust. As another writer pointed out, this was highly offensive. It was offensive to the memory of those who died in the Holocaust. It also shows a grave ignorance of Nazi Germany’s real attitude toward abortion and toward women.

The Nazis were trying to build a master race. While they had no problem with people they considered inferior having abortions, they did not want German, “Aryan” women to have them. Hitler wanted to expand the number of German people. He believed women should be home taking care of the house and having lots of babies. That is why women were not used for war plant work in Germany as much as in Britain and the U.S.A. Women who had six or eight kids were given awards. By 1943, a doctor could be executed for performing an abortion on a German woman. So, I guess that made the Nazis “pro life?”

In addition, they lobby against late-term abortions as though they are commonplace when in reality, these constitute only a fraction of one percent of all abortions and are always performed when the fetus is not viable or when the mother is in danger. Or, they spread misinformation that abortions are harmful to a woman’s mental or physical health.

Another example: many of the same people work to defund Planned Parenthood by spreading disinformation about the agency. Contrary to what these people say, no Federal funds can be used by Planned Parenthood for abortions. In addition, abortions are only a fraction of what Planned Parenthood does. The organization provides contraception, pre-natal care, and many other basic medical services.

Abortions have been performed since ancient times. Even the harshest laws do not prevent them; women who feel the need to make that choice will do so. If we made it illegal, women would still get them, often with the help of a sympathetic doctor who will write it up as something else. Others, however, will perform them on themselves and wind up with a serious infection or die. Let us all work to keep this basic right of any woman safe and legal.

(Scott Cracraft is a taxpayer, a citizen, a veteran, and a resident of Gilford.)

  • Written by Edward Engler
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Pat Buchanan - Unserious nation

How stands John Winthrop's "city upon a hill" this Thanksgiving?

How stands the country that was to be "a light unto the nations?"

To those who look to cable TV for news, the answer must at the least be ambiguous. For consider the issues that have lately convulsed the public discourse of the American republic.

Today's great question seems to be whether our 45th president is as serious a sexual predator as our 42nd was proven to be, and whether the confessed sins of Sen. Al Franken are as great as the alleged sins of Judge Roy Moore.

On both questions, the divide is, as ever, along partisan lines.

And every day for weeks, beginning with Hollywood king Harvey Weinstein, whose accusers nearly number in three digits, actors, media personalities and politicians have been falling like nine pins over allegations and admissions of sexual predation.

What is our civil rights issue, and who are today's successors to the Freedom Riders of the '60s? Millionaire NFL players "taking a knee" during the national anthem to dishonor the flag of their country to protest racist cops.

And what was the great cultural issue of summer and fall?

An ideological clamor to tear down memorials and monuments to the European discoverers of America, any Founding Father who owned slaves and any and all Confederate soldiers and statesmen. Stained-glass windows of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson have been removed from the National Cathedral. Plaques to Lee and George Washington have been taken down from the walls of the Episcopal church in Alexandria where both men worshipped.

But the city that bears Washington's name is erecting a new statue on Pennsylvania Avenue — to honor the four-term mayor who served time on a cocaine charge: Marion Shepilov Barry.

Whatever side one may take on these questions, can a country so preoccupied and polarized on such pursuits be taken seriously as a claimant to be the "exceptional nation," a model to which the world should look and aspire?

Contrast the social, cultural and moral morass in which America is steeped with the disciplined proceedings and clarity of purpose, direction and goals of our 21st-Century rival: Xi Jinping's China.

Our elites assure us that America today is a far better place than we have ever known, surely better than the old America that existed before the liberating cultural revolution of the 1960s. Yet President Trump ran on a pledge to "Make America Great Again," implying that while the America he grew up in was great, in the time of Barack Obama it no longer was. And he won.

Certainly, the issues America dealt with half a century ago seem more momentous than what consumes us today.

Consider the matters that riveted America in the summer and fall of 1962, when this columnist began to write editorials for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. What was the civil rights issue of that day?

In September of '62, Gov. Ross Barnett decided not to allow Air Force vet James Meredith to become the first black student at Ole Miss. Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent U.S. Marshals to escort Meredith in.Hundreds of demonstrators arrived on campus to join student protests. A riot ensued. Dozens of marshals were injured. A French journalist was shot to death. The Mississippi Guard was federalized. U.S. troops were sent in, just as Ike had sent them into Little Rock when Gov. Orville Faubus refused to desegregate Central High.

U.S. power was being used to enforce a federal court order on a recalcitrant state government, as it would in 1963 at the University of Alabama, where Gov. George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door.

As civil rights clashes go, this was the real deal.

That fall, in a surprise attack, Chinese troops poured through the passes in the Himalayas, invading India. China declared a truce in November but kept the territories it had occupied in Jammu and Kashmir.

Then there was the Cuban missile crisis, the most dangerous crisis of the Cold War. Since August, the Globe-Democrat had been calling for a blockade of Cuba, where Soviet ships were regularly unloading weapons. When President Kennedy declared a "quarantine" after revealing that missiles with nuclear warheads that could reach Washington were being installed, the Globe urged unity behind him, as it had in Oxford, Mississippi.

We seemed a more serious and united nation and people then than we are today, where so much that roils our society and consumes our attention seems unserious and even trivial.

"And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods?" wrote the British poet Thomas Macaulay.

Since 1962, this nation has dethroned its God and begun debates about which of the flawed but great men who created the nation should be publicly dishonored. Are we really a better country today than we were then, when all the world looked to America as the land of the future?

(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.)

  • Written by Edward Engler
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Bob Meade - Government overreach . . .

In the past I have written about what I thought was judicial overreach.  Part of that overreach came in the form of judges denying bail or setting it for unusually high amounts, often for “cash only,” or not assigning similar bail amounts from person to person for the same or similar offenses, and so on. In some cases, the judges' pre-trial bail decisions have the effect of prejudging a person’s guilt before they have a chance to plead their case, as they are kept in jail for months or a year or more, pending their trial.

Recently, the Associated Press reported that California’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, stated she wanted to do away with the option of judges to impose a cash bail requirement on defendants.  She prefers to rely on assessment of a defendant’s flight risk and danger to the public to determine whether or not the person should be released.  Good for her!  Let’s hope all jurisdictions follow her lead.

Would it be possible to have an ombudsman-type panel to quickly review a judge’s bail decisions before they are imposed?  It appears that those of limited financial resources are the most hurt by severe bail decisions, and will most likely not be able to afford an appeal of the judge’s ruling.

Another issue of government overreach has to do with the federal government claiming ownership of approximately 30 percent of the total land mass across the country.  The feds claim ownership of about 640-million acres of land.  Of that number, 92 percent of the property is in 12 Western states.  Following is the percentage of each of those state’s property that is owned by the federal government: Alaska-62 percent, Arizona-38 percent, California-46 percent, Colorado-36 percent, Idaho-62 percent, Montana-29 percent, Nevada-85 percent, New Mexico-35 percent, Oregon-53 percent, Utah-65 percent, Washington-29 percent, Wyoming-48 percent..

It is understandable that the federal government may want to take ownership of certain lands for our national parks.  However, federal ownership of other property within a state essentially denies the state and its citizens the ability to explore and develop its natural resources, to sell properties for home and businesses to expand, to derive tax revenues, and so on.  A number of the states are objecting to federal claims and intend to bring suit.

As noted, the federal government claims ownership of 85 percent of Nevada’s land.  One may recall the fuss that began in 2014 when the Federal Bureau of Land Management began to round up the cattle of rancher Cliven Bundy, ostensibly because he had failed to pay the government the fees that they claimed he owed for grazing his cattle.  He and his family before him had been grazing cattle on that land for over 150 years, long before Nevada ever became a state.  Bundy had maintained the wells and the fencing on the property.  Fellow ranchers and other supporters from across the country went to Nevada to face down the Bureau of Land Management.  Other states refused to accept the Bundy cattle that had been rounded up by the government.  Abattoirs (slaughterhouses) also refused to accept the cattle.  In somewhat of a pickle, the BLM stopped their round-up.  At the heart of this case is the fact that the claim of ownership by the government can essentially take away a family business that had been in operation for over 150 years.  It isn’t like the federal government had another “need” for the property, or that the Bundy’s and other ranchers in the area had another alternative grazing source.  Governmental bullying?

In another case of judicial overreach, Rochester resident Jerry DeLemus was one of the supporters who were arrested in the Bundy protest. Judge Gloria Navarro refused to allow the Marine Corps veteran to post bail; he was held in jail until his hearing.  When he finally had his hearing, the federal prosecutors had asked that he be given a six-year sentence.  The judge refused and gave him a sentence of 87 months.  DeLemus had also previously asked to withdraw his guilty plea after other people who had participated in the protest had been acquitted of a similar offense in Oregon. Judge Navarro refused to let him change his plea. Judicial bullying?

Another related issue is that a president can use the “Antiquities Act” to independently designate property as a “Federal Monument,” thereby preventing that territory from ever being developed, and its resources made available.  During his administration, President Clinton designated the Grand Staircase-Escalante as a national monument.  It encompassed the largest land area of all U.S. National Monuments.  When that monument was named, it removed the largest clean coal supply in the world from ever being developed . . . and no citizen or legislative representative ever had a say in the issue.  Governmental bullying?

We can do better.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident. He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

  • Written by Edward Engler
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Susan Estrich - Beware a silent backlash

I don't want to see the next name in the headlines for sexual misconduct. I know too many of them. I believe the women. Some companies are conducting internal checks, and some are not, because they don't want to get caught up in all this. And because while it's true that sexual harassment is a real problem, there are also questions of degree. An 89-year-old President George H.W. Bush, in a wheelchair, accused of sexual assault?

The reason I write this is not to discredit women. I write all this because if people I'm talking to feel this way then other people — people who would never talk to a feminist such as myself — must feel it even more strongly.

So beware. Amidst the apologies, amidst the corporate commitments, amidst the sense of empowerment that many women rightly feel — the kind that comes with standing up and going beyond being a victim — pause to observe that the ingredients for a real backlash are all lined up.

I'm not suggesting for a minute that men are out there ready to harass women as vengeance, or to punish those who spoke out. Not at all. The power dynamic has shifted. Everyone felt the shaking, as we say in California. Duck, cover and hope the glass won't hit you. That's what it's been like, figuratively speaking. No one wants to be next. "Am I allowed to say a woman is attractive?" a male friend asked me, seriously and respectfully. "Is the woman a co-worker?" I asked. She was. (Whom else do most of us see during the day?) I suggested he not do that, not right now. Ridiculous, I agree, but good advice, you have to admit.

So I'm not worried about workplace revenge, at least not in that obvious way. I think most workplaces are in for some changes: more time-outs for reflecting; a little more care about the jokes people tell; about the asides; about physical contact. None of that is necessarily a bad thing. That's what happened, at least for 10 minutes or so, after Anita Hill captivated the nation.

It's the silent backlash I worry about: It's not what people are going to do, but what they aren't going to do.

Who wants to mentor the attractive young women associates? Who wants to travel with the junior "girl"? Who wants to spend weeks in hotels on business trips with the blonde millennials?

There was a time when you had too many men volunteering for those assignments, some of them for all the wrong reasons. But I worry that going forward, you're not going to find as many volunteers as are needed. Because as much as Anita Hill captivated the nation and spurred many women to speak out, her testimony did not fundamentally change the structure of power in this country. There is a reason — not simply our superior judgment — that every single one of those accused in the current round of accusations has been a man. Every one. It is not simply about gender differences. It is, at its core, about who has power. It is the reason that these problems are so stubborn: Challenging the powerful to behave differently is difficult, convincing them to share power even more so.

Every study comes to the same conclusion about what women need to do, what we need to have. We need mentors. We need people with more power than we have to promote and advise us. That is what men have had for centuries. It is what the "old boys' network" is all about.

And where will young women find them? First, of course, from the ranks of successful women, but there aren't enough powerful women to go along; that's the problem. (And that's not to mention those women headed to a special place in the afterworld for not recognizing any responsibility to help other women.) The second place we women find mentors is from the ranks of successful men who are willing to have meals with us and travel with us and have confidential conversations with us; who trust us to learn and not to destroy.

There is only one way to make sure that this moment does not lead to a silent backlash that takes opportunities from women rather than opening doors. Count. Count how many women are hired and how many are promoted and how many leave. Do it on a regular basis. No quotas. Just a mirror. Sometimes seeing is all you need.

(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.)

  • Written by Edward Engler
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Michael Barone - Will setbacks unite Republicans?

The inexorable workings of the political marketplace seem to be enforcing some discipline over hitherto fissiparous Republican politicians. The question is whether this is happening too late to save the party's declining prospects in the 2018 midterm elections.

You can see this in Republicans' reactions to the tax bills Congress is currently considering. Last spring, when the party's congressional leadership teed up its health care bills, purportedly repealing and replacing Obamacare, they faced rebellions from practically every corner of their party's caucuses.

In the House, the Freedom Caucus trotted out one criticism after another. This is in line with standard practice, going back at least to October 2013, when Freedom Caucus types, heeding newly elected Senator Ted Cruz's calls to defund Obamacare, produced a government shutdown that sent the party, predictably, plummeting in the polls.

House Republican rebels made purist arguments, cited pledges never to vote for government expansion, called for constitutional conservatism. They chided Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for insufficient boldness, seemingly forgetting that the Constitution gave President Barack Obama a veto.

Now things look different. With Republicans holding the White House and majorities in both houses of Congress, the purism that resulted in defeat of the House's first attempt at Obamacare revision, followed by the defeat of a second in the Senate, leaves Republicans double-digits behind Democrats on the generic which-party-would-you-back question.

Democrats' big victories in the Virginia and New Jersey governor races also struck a chord. These states, dominated by high-education suburbs in major metro areas, tilt more Democratic than the nation. But Republicans have been losing legislative special elections even in red-state Trump districts.

So just about all the erstwhile rebels are suddenly supporting Speaker Paul Ryan's tax bill, even though it's easy to find complex provisions to which purists could object. They've discovered that in the American political marketplace, whose rules usually limit competition to two parties, a majority party that can't perform is liable to severe punishment.

But for some — notably former White House advisor Steve Bannon — the point is not to win, but to oust the current Republican leadership. Just as California billionaire Tom Steyer conditions contributions on pledges to vote for impeachment, so former Goldman Sachs exec Bannon requires pledges to vote for ouster of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

That left him endorsing, apparently with no visible effect, Roy Moore in the special election Republican runoff for the Alabama Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Moore, a dim bulb, was twice ousted from the state Supreme Court for disobeying a federal court order (banning his Ten Commandments courthouse statue) and the Supreme Court decision proclaiming a right to same-sex marriage.

His stands proved popular with many evangelical voters. But his argument, that the order and decision were wrong, shows either ignorance of the supremacy clause in Article VI of the United States Constitution or a commitment to lawlessness that is the opposite of conservatism.

But all that has been pushed to the side after last week's Washington Post story that as a 30-something lawyer, Moore had at least one sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl and pursued four other teens; this week came charges of sexual harassment by another. Moore's quasi-denials, even to the sympathetic Sean Hannity, have been unconvincing. Polls have shown him losing ground and even trailing against a respectable Democratic candidate in a state that Donald Trump carried 62 to 34 percent.

Republican senators, including McConnell and Alabama's Richard Shelby, have responded by saying he should withdraw from the race. His name can't legally be removed from the Dec. 12 ballot, but there is speculation about a write-in campaign for Luther Strange, the appointee he beat in the runoff, or even Sessions.k

Corey Gardner, head of the Senate Republicans' campaign committee, has gone father. "If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him." Under the Supreme Court Powell v. McCormack decision, the Senate must seat him, but could expel him by a two-thirds vote.

Contrary to claims that there is no precedent for this or that a senator can't be expelled based on conduct prior to election, a move by senators to expel Michigan Senator Truman Newberry was frustrated only when Newberry resigned in 1922.

No possible outcome looks helpful for beleaguered Republicans now. Unless, perhaps, Republican politicians — and voters — heed the signals in the political marketplace and reject Steve Bannon's burn-the-barn-down strategy.

(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.)


  • Written by Edward Engler
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