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E. Scott Cracraft - What wrong with Canada's health care system?

President Trump, along with a lot of GOP members of Congress and state officials, rode to power, at least in part, on a promise to get rid of "Obamacare." Now, many are having second thoughts. Why? Because, except for some problems here and there, Obamacare is working and the GOP has not articulated a replacement plan that addresses the same concerns that brought about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And, polls show that the reforms brought about by the ACA are much more popular than the Right would have Americans believe.

Obamacare and Medicaid expansion (in spite of opposition to expansion by many state-level conservatives) resulted in over 18 million American who lacked health insurance now being covered. While many of these may have voted for Trump, they won't like losing their coverage. Even conservative members of Congress are aware of this. Now, those who were ineligible for insurance can get it.

The ACA is far from perfect. It IS quite confusing for the ordinary consumer. But, it is not "socialized medicine" as many charge. It is actually capitalist medicine with a few needed checks and balances on the health care industry and those checks are far from enough.

There is no public option in Obamacare. There was one in the original plan but the insurance lobby made sure that was not included in the final version. So, most American health care is still in the hands of powerful interests who have more to gain from denying care than providing it.

Actually , the U.S.A. already has "socialized medicine" for some people. What is military or veteran health care but a government operated system? And, what is medicare but a "single payer" plan. So, already, there is a bit of "socialism" in our health care system.

Over the decades, the opposition to any rational health care reform has changed. In the 1940s and 50s, the American Medical Association was at the forefront of opposition to any changes in the system. This was while the U.S. was actually helping a conquered country, Japan, built a national health care system! Today, though, more and more health care professionals are disgusted with our current system and would like to change it.

Today, the biggest opponents of real health care reform are Big Insurance and "Big Pharma." Since they are largely responsible for our health care fiasco, this writer never understood why they even got a place at the table.

One of results of the ACA keeping health insurance within the private sector is that the legislation is confusing. The interests opposing even these mild reforms have used this complexity to disseminate disinformation about Obamacare such as the supposed "death panels" for grandpa.

What is needed is a single-payer system like Canada. Of course, the "medical/industrial complex" disseminates disinformation about that, too. In the 1990s, when the Clintons tried to reform health care, the insurance lobby hired an extreme right-wing Canadian to campaign about how awful Canada's system is.

In reality, most Canadians, even that country's Conservative Party, accept the Canadian health care system as a matter of right. This writer has Canadian friends and family who seem very satisfied with their system. Conservatives like American conservatives are considered "fringe" in Canada!

Of course, there are always those who complain about some detail, but overall, Canadians like their system and certainly don't want OUR system. As for waits for elective, non-emergency procedures, they do exist in Canada but they exist here, too. Nor, is the Canadian system "socialized" medicine. The insurance may be socialized but doctors can remain in private practice. Also, drug prices are so much lower in Canada that many Americans go to Canada to fill prescriptions.

America has some of the finest medical professionals in the world. We also have the best medical technology. Until Obamacare, however, we had one of the worst health care DELIVERY systems in the democratic, "developed" world. And, it is still not that great. Virtually all modern democracies and even some "developing" countries have national health plans, single payer or at least a public option. We need to catch up with the rest of the "civilized" world.

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

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Froma Harrop - What is Trump most afraid of

Why does President Trump rush off weekend after weekend to his Mar-a-Lago palazzo in Florida? Because Mar-a-Lago is totally under his control. There he can play the prince, favoring a wedding party with a cameo or entertaining the Japanese prime minister in lavish Palm Beach style.

Why does he also spend so much time in Trump Tower, his flashy Manhattan spread, when he has the gracious White House at his disposal? Because everyone there is his servant, as opposed to a public servant.

"The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances," Niccolo Machiavelli, the Renaissance sage, coldly told his noble patrons, "and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar." ("Vulgar" in this context means "common," not "crude.")

Why does Trump surround himself with spokespeople happy to repeat his easily verifiable lies? It's not hard to find ambitious aides lacking scruples, but wouldn't Trump be better-served by surrogates who understand the value of their credibility? Yes, but that would impair the master-servant nature of the relationship.

Rather than communicate to the nation, White House spokesman Sean Spicer and Trump's more reptilian proxies seem to serve an audience of one. Their job is to maintain the illusion of an all-powerful executive, a fearsome force who makes the world tremble with every tweet.

Machiavelli also wrote, "The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him."

Mike Flynn played the wacko throughout the Trump campaign, spreading fake news and threatening Hillary Clinton with jail. That he would be exposed for possibly traitorous dealings with the Russians was a matter of time, yet Trump made this cracked personality his national security adviser.

Having invaded the American political system to put Trump in office, the Russians are now messing with the man himself. Just as investigations of administration ties to the Kremlin are gearing up, Russia is piercing the Trump balloon with provocations. Last week, a Russian jet buzzed a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea. And there were reports of a Russian spy ship "loitering" 30 miles south of Groton, Connecticut, home to a Navy submarine base. The ship was in international waters, it's true, but one can't doubt that the Russians knew the U.S. public wouldn't get that.

An investigation of Trump's own business dealings with the Russians must include release of the president's tax returns. As chairman of the House oversight committee, Jason Chaffetz has the power to subpoena them, but the Utah Republican has so far refused to do so, framing it as a "fishing expedition."

However, many of his constituents think Chaffetz is ignoring what may be a major national security threat to protect Trump. Hundreds of them attended his recent town hall meeting and chanted, "Do your job."

As one told The Atlantic, "This wasn't about Chaffetz being a Republican. ... This was about Chaffetz straining at gnats for Hillary and Obama and swallowing camels when it comes to Trump."

Trump's fear of opening his tax returns to public scrutiny could go beyond revealing what Donald Jr. called the family's considerable business dealings with Russia. The release could also expose a net worth well below the billion-dollar mark.

Not being rich is normally nothing to be ashamed of. But it would be for someone who's sold himself as a hotshot tycoon able to apply his business smarts to fixing all that's wrong in the country.

Trump doesn't seem to fear failure — after all, he's filed for bankruptcy four times — so much as he fears not being seen as successful. Appearances are paramount in the Trump universe, and frankly, things are not looking so good these days.

(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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Susan Estrich - Truth or consequences

Our new president, it appears, believes that his power includes the right to lie, to insist that black is white and white is black and that the truth is whatever he says it is.

Harsh? I wish.

Take his insistence that more people came to his inauguration than Barack Obama's: Wrong. Not so. Universally debunked.

Trump did not win the popular vote. It was not stolen from him by millions of undocumented immigrants overwhelming polling places, as he insists. As if that's what you would do if you're worried about being deported — go in and lie at a polling place. Very sensible. Anyway, it didn't happen. There is no evidence. No proof. In fact, all evidence is to the contrary. When his team is asked to come up with facts, evidence or support, they offer none.

But the president still believes it. He's Donald Trump. He won. He gets to decide what is true.

Does anyone tell him just how dangerous this little game is?

Or do they stand in a circle, looking like nothing so much as a meeting of the Politburo, ignoring the fact that the orange-haired bully at the table is wearing no clothes?

Okay, so what if Trump can't handle the fact that maybe Obama was more popular than him (and still is today)? And maybe he can't handle the fact that, actually, the American people didn't want him to be president; more of them wanted Hillary Clinton than him, even though he had all those phone banks in Moscow working overtime.

Is it really news that the new president is the biggest egomaniac to hold the office?

Is it so bad if he gives America's comics fresh material on a daily basis?

This is what is bad: It is bad to have a president who does not know or care about the difference between what is true and what is not true.

There are unknowns; there are relative differences; there are differences of opinion.

But there is such a thing as the truth. There is such a thing as a fact. There is also such a thing as a lie.

It is one of the first lessons we teach our children. It is first because it is important, a matter of principle as well as good sense. Lying is not just inaccurate but wrong. Playing games with the facts is one of the things people resent most about politicians. True.

Which is why it is horrifying to see a president — a president of the United States — with utter contempt for cold, hard facts that hardly matter, such as inauguration attendance numbers. If he would lie about anything, would he lie about everything?

"President continues to credit debunked accounts," the headlines read. Has he really surrounded himself with people who dare not, not a one of them, tell him that he is actually wrong, that his "facts" are wrong, that he did not win the popular vote, that it wasn't the illegal immigrants who cost him, that more people actually wanted Clinton and more people came to celebrate Obama's swearing-in? Sorry, Donald, but no, you are not the most popular person on the entire planet. If his advisers won't tell him the easy stuff — the stuff that, frankly, shouldn't matter to someone with the weight of the world on his shoulders — what else will they let him lie about?

Donald Trump makes junk science look good by comparison: There is no science about his lies, just junk. And one of these days, the truth might actually matter.

(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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Lakes Region Real Estate — Winni Waterfront Report, Jan. 2017

There were seven sales on Lake Winnipesaukee in January, 2017, and all but one were over the $1 million mark, The average sales price came in at $1,664,571 and the median price point was $1,500,000.

The entry level sale this month, at $825,000, was a little higher than usual because it was a mainland sale rather than the usual island property that garners this honor. This property was at 48 Lucerne Ave in the Weirs in Laconia. It is, or was, a 1921 vintage, six room, three bedroom cottage on a 1.2-acre lot with 190 feet of frontage and an existing u-shaped dock. From what I could see driving by, I believe the cottage is gone now and I expect that something more substantial will take its place. The property was originally listed at $899,000 and was on the market 220 days. It is assessed at $468,400.

The median price sale representative is located at 426 Gov. Wentworth Highway in Tuftonboro. This property consists of a 1973 vintage open concept four bedroom home plus three rental cottages, a grandfathered boathouse and a large garage/barn structure on 5.91 acres with 355 feet of southwesterly facing sandy frontage. Not too shabby! This property was first listed back in 2013 at $2.5 million, re-listed at $1.9 million, reduced to $1.65 million and sold for $1.5 million after some 1,245 days on the market. The property has been subdivided into two separate lots so I expect we'll see some new structures being built there as well. The property is assessed at $1,579,100.

The highest sale for the month was at 150 Smith Point in Alton. This was another multi-structure property called Camp Fisher. It consisted of a fabulously charming old style lake house built in 1912 with the most wonderful porch you'll ever see, four seasonal cottages totaling 17 bedrooms, and a two-bay boat house on six acres with 700 feet of frontage. This was the way Winnipesaukee used to be! It was originally listed at $3.999 million, was reduced to $3.75 million, and sold for $3.25 million after 355 days on the market.

There was one sale on Winnisquam at 9 Bear Point in Meredith. This 1960s vintage, five-room, three-bedroom home has a fireplace, a great screened porch and sits on a level half-acre lot with 100 feet of frontage looking southerly down the lake. It was listed at $549,000 and sold for $518,800 after just eight days on the market. It is assessed at $472,300.

Visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and sign up for our monthly newsletter. Data was compiled using the New England Real Estate MLS System as of Feb. 13, 2017. Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.

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Bob Meade - What goes around . . .

As we witness a tidal wave of petulance spreading across the country, we are in a notable moment in the history of this great nation. Individuals are being encouraged to assemble in protest, riot, and obstruction of the normal processes of our government. As the petulance continues, it can only lead to anarchy, chaos and the absence of our government system. At the root of the petulance is hypocrisy.

Our "professional politicians" are at the root cause of the hypocrisy as they seek only to keep and grow their tenure and the power and the profit it brings to them. Their intentions are made to sound well-meaning and intended to benefit the citizenry but, in reality, those intentions are mainly to grow and solidify a base of voters who will keep them in power.

In recent history, we have experienced the Gore vs. Bush and now the Clinton vs. Trump, electoral vote issue. Those on the left were adamant that Gore would have won Florida's electoral votes had it not been for the "hanging chads." However, the facts are that the Gore side did not want a full recount, they wanted it limited to those counties they thought would benefit their candidate. (Multiple post-election independent studies all confirmed that Bush won the state.) Further, and perhaps more important, is that the Gore team wanted to use the court system in order to stall and delay the final recount of the votes so that Florida's electors would not get certified in time to be able to cast their votes in the national election, about a week later. (Electoral College votes are cast on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.)

After that election, many on the left bemoaned the existence of the Electoral College. They wanted only a popular vote; a democracy. However, although we democratically elect our representatives, we are a republic . . . we elect the representatives who will vote on our behalf. It is doubtful that at our founding, or today, the states would agree to be anything other than a republic as, if we were, the large majority of smaller states would lose their voice and suffer the tyranny of the majority . . . those handful of states that have extremely large populations. Although many thought their candidate should have won, the people accepted the results and George W. Bush became the fourth president to have won the presidency without having won the popular vote.

Today, we have our fifth president who has been elected without having received the popular vote. As the founders understood, in order to prevent the tyranny of the majority, the smaller states had to have a voice. The Electoral College has 538 representatives. That number exactly matches the number of representatives and senators of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Now, on a daily basis, we watch as protesters riot for a variety of reasons. "Students" at colleges and universities riot, trash, burn, and injure as they terrorize and refuse to allow anyone to speak who does not comport with their left wing ideology. We have yet to see professors or other faculty or administrators try to calm the situations or speak in defense of the First Amendment. Other riots and protests have all the appearance or orchestrated events . . . professional signs, coordinated timing across the country, widespread media coverage with "guest" speakers readily available to speak on behalf of the protesters, and so on. Sadly, people of stature and influence, politicians and academia, do little, if anything, to support the electoral process.

The late speaker of the House, Democrat Sam Rayburn of Texas often said, "What goes around comes around." He knew that an action taken today could have a consequence tomorrow . . . and not always what you want. A few years back, Democrat Senate Leader Harry Read changed 240 years of tradition by changing the Senate's "Advice and Consent" procedure, eliminating the minority right to filibuster presidential appointments, except for presidential appointments to the Supreme Court. He did so to allow President Obama to expand the number of federal judges in the district courts and, in doing so, to appoint only Democrat-leaning judges, thereby "stacking" the courts in order to achieve majority left-leaning jurists. That single action not only warped the Advice and Consent process, it paved the way for the administration to circumvent the deliberative law-making process in the Congress – shameful and harmful to the Constitution's separation of powers!

Now political leaders, by both their actions and, in many cases their unwillingness to stand for what's right, are allowing/encouraging the riotous march to anarchy. In their attempt to de-legitimize President Trump they either fail to see that anarchy will either destroy our great nation, or be overcome by a stronger police or military presence. A Hobson's choice of the worst kind.

Sam Rayburn was right.

(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.)

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