Bob Meade: When punishment is needed

By BOB MEADE

U. S. District Court Chief Judge Brian Jackson recently ruled that a Louisiana policeman, who was injured by a rock thrown at him by an unidentified protester in a Black Lives Matter protest rally, cannot sue Black Lives Matter because it is a “social movement.” In other words, if the person committing the felonious act while in the social group cannot be positively identified (and I assume the identity corroborated) the person being injured has no legal recourse to seek damages for injuries suffered. Wow! Has the Judge just found a way to legalize mayhem by “social groups”?

Let’s think this through for a few minutes. First, one might assume that to hold a protest rally, the leaders of that rally should need a permit from the municipality.  It is also reasonable to assume that the permit allows for “the people to peaceably assemble” as cited in the First Amendment to the Constitution. It is hard to imagine that the founders would have endorsed participants in such an assembly having the ability to commit felonious acts without any chance of being held accountable.  The Amendment specifies peaceable, not felonious.

Next, the judge’s ruling cites Black Lives Matter as a “social” movement and denies the officer the right to sue for damages to his person. Wouldn’t one think that a truly “social” movement would not have a problem asking its participants to identify the person(s) who threw the rocks? And, if a “social” group is given a permit to “peaceably assemble,” but the group breaches that permit by committing felonious acts, should it still be considered a “social” group? And, should all “peaceably assemble” permits now require all participating in the rally to be verifiably identified and also sign the permits?

One has to wonder if the judge either didn’t know of, or if he simply ignored the numerous incidents of those groups attempting to incite violence when their protest slogans called for policemen to be killed and calling them pigs, to be fried like bacon? Do you think our founders would have judged those marches as “peaceable” assemblies?
Thinking of a recent protest rally in Boston, it is estimated that seven thousand people showed up to protest a “free speech” rally being held by approximately fifty people. I don’t recall if the protesters had a permit, or if they were a “social” group but, as a matter of context, if a Boston police officer were to have been similarly injured at that protest rally, would he or she have been allowed to sue the rally organizers? Equal justice? Blind justice?

One also has to wonder if Judge Jackson would have made a similar ruling if the person who was injured was not a Louisiana policeman, but was a child who was visiting her grandmother. If justice is to be blind, the ruling of the judge should be the same regardless of who was injured.

Sadly, we have seen our court systems become politicized, making decisions that are more socially driven than Constitutional. We have judges who have imposed large “cash bail” requirements on people which has resulted in some being held in jail for lengthy periods prior to their trial dates . . . essentially prejudging their guilt. We have seen judges refuse to accept a change in plea request seemingly because others charged with the same crime were not found guilty by a jury of their peers. Prejudging guilt!

The recent tragedy in Las Vegas that resulted in the killing of 58 innocent people, and the injury to over 500 others, is going to present many more serious claims for damages. In all likelihood, not only will the estate of the shooter be sued, but so will the hotel, gun manufacturers, and maybe even municipalities, for failing to prevent the “peaceful assembly” of the concert goers. It seems like there would be no questions as to suing the estate of the shooter, but perhaps the hotel will seek to be absolved of any responsibility. Obviously, a vigorous case will be presented alleging that the hotel turned a blind eye to the unusual amount of baggage that was brought in, the fact that the alleged shooter refused housekeeping entry into the room for a number of days, or ignored the sounds that resulted from the building of the platform from which the shots were fired. We have to wonder, if a judge can prevent what he deems to be a “social group’’ from being sued by a policeman who was injured by someone in that group, can another judge also prevent a hotel from being sued for ignoring out of the ordinary conditions that resulted in such a tragic event?

We are all fallible; we make mistakes, as do organizations, businesses, and government entities. We need to find ways to do better, but that won’t happen if we don’t acknowledge the failings and assess some punishment for them.

Bob Meade is veteran, retired businessman and longtime volunteer in Laconia.

  • Written by Ginger Kozlowski
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Hurricanes hit birds hard

View from the Farm

By CAROLE SOULE

As I watched from my window a chickadee parent fed her baby, also in flight. The young bird grabbed the meal and continued on its way. The bird parents were teaching their babies how to grab insects in mid-air by feeding them in flight. That was earlier this year and by now, late summer, the babies are all fully trained in the art of mid-air feeding and are feasting on insects to make it through the winter.
Birds are always with us until they aren't. Recently hurricanes have pounded through the Carribean; not just once but many times. Irma destroyed the U.S. Virgin islands of St. Thomas and St. John but just missed St. Croix, also a U.S. Virgin Island where I have family and have frequently visited. While many hurricanes have touched down on St. Croix the worst was Hugo in 1989. The 27-mile island was not only devastated by Hugo but when it was gone, so were the birds.
Apparently, birds can get sucked into the calm eye of the hurricane and travel with the eye rather than fight the winds. Birds also may also find cover when possible. For example, an injured Cooper’s hawk, now known as Harvey, took refuge in a taxi in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. With a broken wing and in shock, the bird was given to the TWRC Wildlife Center and is expected to make a full recovery. If birds survive a hurricane, and somehow manage to find their way back home, they are faced with habitat destruction that can last for decades.
This year what Hurricane Irma missed, Maria finished off. Two weeks after Irma destroyed St. Thomas and St. John, St. Croix was demolished by Hurricane Maria who probably took the birds with her. With trees and farms stripped of vegetation and no birds to eat them, the bee and wasp population will be hungry and get aggressive just like they were after Hurricane Hugo. It's true, life on a demolished island is a hardship made worse without birds.
Our barn and sheds in New Hampshire are filled with birds getting ready for the winter. Birds mean droppings that cover the hay and equipment, but I'm not going to complain. It's better to have birds and barns with roofs than not. The hurricanes are far away but the pain should be felt by each of us. We can only hope that the birds find their way home and the U.S. Virgin Islanders get help to recover from their devastation. Let's all be grateful for our birds and our roofs. Farm life would not be the same without them.


Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm in Loudon, where she raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs and other local products. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

10 06 Carole Soule birds

  • Written by Ginger Kozlowski
  • Category: Columns
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Better to disrespect the flag than the Constitution

By E. SCOTT CRACRAFT
This past Sept. 17 marked the 230th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution by our founders in Philadelphia in 1787. Unfortunately, Constitution Day is a holiday many do not know about.
As a nation, we love to celebrate the Declaration of Independence on July 4 and Flag Day on June 14, but the birthday of our founding document, our basic “law of the land” goes largely unnoticed. In fact, it seems that few Americans bother to read the Constitution and that even includes those who swore to give their lives to defend it. That short document is more important to what we are as a nation than the Declaration of Independence or the American flag.
A friend of this writer once remarked that for many Americans, the Constitution is a lot like the Bible: many people love to say they believe in the Bible or the Constitution, but they never really read either. If you ask someone who says they believe in the Bible and ask them what their favorite passage is, they confess that they don’t really read it but know what some clergy member says it means.
The Constitution is the same: if you ask people who swear they believe in the Constitution what their favorite Article or Amendment is, they often tell you they never read it (except for, perhaps the Second Amendment which they really do not understand) but they know what some politician says it means. Folks, read it for yourself! It is not that long and the English used is not archaic.
The Declaration of Independence is a fine statement of Enlightenment political philosophy and made official our separation from the British Empire, but unlike the Constitution, it does not have the force of law to protect our rights. As for the flag, people who get upset about any perceived disrespect for our flag do not seem to realize that the flag is merely a symbol for our supposed values as a nation and those values and rights are in the Constitution.
Although the flag is an important national symbol, it is only a symbol. When we who served in uniform took our oath of enlistment, we did not swear to defend the flag. Nor did we swear allegiance to a president. We swore that we would obey the president in all LAWFUL orders but did not swear blind obedience. We swore that we would “protect and defend the CONSTITUTION.
Our Constitution is a brilliant document that is one of the shortest in the world. It has lasted for over two centuries with only 27 Amendments. Why? Because the Founders made it loose enough in meaning so that it changes as we as a nation change. For example, when it was written, the opening words, “we the people” only applied to white males over age 21. Since that time we have expanded the meaning of who “the people” are.
As for the NFL players who chose to kneel during our national anthem, it was not disrespectful. The players did not turn their back on the flag or burn it. They simply knelt in a peaceful, respectful and legal manner to protest that our nation is increasingly abandoning our stated values.
Even if they had shown real disrespect for the flag, the Supreme Court has ruled that such behavior is protected speech under the First Amendment. So, you might say that, among other things, the flag symbolizes your right to burn it. Even many veterans are saying that while they might not choose to take such an action, they fought for the right to do so.
It is certainly hypocritical for our president to get so upset with the NFL and its players for “disrespecting” the flag and the national anthem when he does not respect the Constitution and perhaps does not even understand it. Perhaps, ranting at the players is easier for him than providing aid to hurricane victims, condemning Neo-Confederates and other racists who comprise a large part of his “base,” or answering questions about his campaign’s ties to Russia.
A final question: was it disrespectful to put the words of the national anthem to music taken from a bawdy 18th century tavern song about sex and getting drunk?
E. Scott Cracraft
Cracraft is a citizen, a taxpayer, a veteran, and a resident of Gilford.

  • Written by Mike Mortensen
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From Patriots to Protesters

By BOB MEADE

Our country was founded by Patriots.  A relatively small group of men who were brave enough to declare independence from the most powerful nation in the world.  In addition to their willingness to risk their life and limb to gain freedom, they brilliantly carved out a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution that, though under attack, still lives on and guides us.
After Patriots winning the Revolution, the country was again in peril years later as the British attacked in the War of 1812.  After burning down our nation’s capitol, the British fleet sailed down the Potomac to lay siege on Fort McHenry.  Francis Scott Key was sent to the commander of that fleet to bargain for the release of the American prisoners they were holding. An agreement was reached that the prisoners would be released only if the American flag flying over Ft. McHenry was still flying at dawn’s early light. Although the massive British bombardment hit the flag pole a number of times, dawn’s early light showed the flag was still flying ... because the bodies of the fallen and wounded, Patriots all, were stacked around the wounded mast to keep it erect.
In 1854, a handful of Patriots met in Ripon, Wisconsin, to form a new political party.  The purpose of the party was to abolish slavery throughout the country. It was named the Republican Party and its first president was Abraham Lincoln. He was elected in 1860 and led the country through our most costly war; the Civil War cost the country 630,000 lives, but rid the country of slavery.
In 1917, the war in Europe was at a stalemate as Russia, France and England battled the German Empire, which was backed by the Ottoman Empire. Word was that Russia was about to switch sides and that would have resulted in a tyrannical world led by the German Empire. England’s Lord Balfour asked Baron Rothschild to try to get influential Russian Jews to convince Moscow not to make the switch and give the United States time to get their armies to Europe and join in the battle. Baron Rothschild was successful and the arrival of American troops turned the tide and the German empire was defeated. Over 110,000 American Patriots gave their lives in that effort.
Patriots were again called to service when we entered World War ll in 1941. Approximately 420,000 gave their lives in the fight for freedom and against tyranny.  Our military Patriots were supported by a nation of Patriots at home who did a phenomenal job in producing the weaponry, materials and foods needed to support the military effort across the globe.  Our Patriots fought and died, not to conquer, but to give people freedom.
Over 58,000 of our Patriots died trying to defeat Communism in Vietnam. Thousands of others were wounded, and even more suffered the debilitating effects of “Agent Orange.” Sadly, when these Patriots returned home, they were met with protest after protest by those who chose to blame them for the war. They were spat upon. They were advised not to wear their uniforms as they traveled or were away from their post. Many protesters who avoided their call to duty took pleasure in attacking the true Patriots. There began a diminishment of respect by those unwilling to stand with their fellow countrymen in the fight for peace.
As things evolved, some fought to have God removed from schools and the public square. Political correctness was introduced as a substitute. But mutual respect continued to diminish. Identity politics was added, leading many to a my-way or the highway attitude.  And, now, insults and invectives are hurled without regard for the hurt they may cause.
While we continue to diminish our ability to work together for the common good, we see the Middle East in flames, terrorist groups continuing towards their objectives to eradicate Israel and the West, North Korea flexing its muscle showing off their nuclear and missile capabilities and threatening our territories and our allies, Iran energized with funds and looking forward to becoming a nuclear and missile power, the Kurds in Iraq initiating a claim to become a free state raising the ire of Turkey which has a long standing animosity towards them, Russia flexing its muscle, and more.  As these issues hang over the heads of our leaders, we’re engaged in domestic petulance from the “resistance,” which still refuses to accept the outcome of the presidential election.  And that petulance permeates all the branches of our government as the petulants’ drive us on a fast track, not to solutions to problems, but to anarchy. If that happens, there will be no winners.

  • Written by Ginger Kozlowski
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Michael Barone - House Republicans' frustration may doom their majority

The Founding Fathers didn't expect that serving in Congress would be a lifetime career. And for a century, it mostly wasn't. The first election in which more than half the incumbent members of the House of Representatives were re-elected was in 1898. Since then, the majority of House members have been returned in every election except the one in 1932.

That's the context in which to weigh the fact that three incumbent Republican representatives who have been comfortably re-elected have announced they are retiring — and the rumors that more will do so. Incumbents tend to know — and be known in — their districts. They usually win, whereas open-seat contests often result in changes of party control.

The three retiring Republicans are seven-termer Dave Reichert of Washington, seven-termer Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and two-termer Dave Trott of Michigan.

Reichert was re-elected by a 60-40 percent margin last year in a district dominated by affluent suburbs to the east of Seattle. It also includes some Republican farm country east of the Cascades. Donald Trump lost the district by a 48-45 percent margin, a little worse than Mitt Romney's 50-48 percent loss in 2012.

Dent was re-elected by a 58-38 percent margin in a district that includes the industrial and suburban Lehigh Valley around Allentown. Trump carried the district 52-44 percent, more than Romney's 51-48 percent margin.

Trott was re-elected by a 53-40 percent margin in a suburban district to the west of Detroit. Trump carried that district 50-45 percent, and Romney won it 52-47 percent.

So all three ran ahead of Trump in closely divided districts. Demographically, Pennsylvania's 15th Congressional District is tilted to non-college-educated whites, among whom Trump ran stronger than traditional Republicans; Washington's 8th District and Michigan's 11th District are tilted to white college graduates, among whom Trump ran behind Romney and George W. Bush.

Democrats have been running ahead of Republicans on the generic voting question — which party's candidate will you support for the House of Representatives? — by a 46-37 percent margin in the RealClearPolitics average. That sounds big, but in the past, the generic vote has tended to overstate Democrats' support, and an unusual percentage chime in as undecided. Also, the clustering of Democratic voters in relatively few urban and university districts means the party could win the House popular vote but still fall well short of a majority, as it did in 2012.

But as RealClearPolitics analyst David Byler has noted, the Republican generic numbers have been tracking close to Trump's approval rating. That has risen just a bit during hurricane season but is still underwater in post-Labor Day surveys — at 39.5 percent approval, 56 percent disapproval. His favorable/unfavorable numbers are negative, too, but they were similarly negative Nov. 8.

The nightmare scenario for House Republicans is that their candidates, especially in open seats, run no better than Trump in high-education districts and no better than traditional Republicans in low-education districts. That's roughly what happened in the four seriously contested special elections this spring. That puts at risk the 241-194 majority Republicans won in 2016.

The nightmare scenario facing Republicans like Reichert, Dent and Trott is that they get opposed by Trumpish (or Steve Bannonish) or tea party-type Republicans in their primaries and by well-financed Democrats, who have been lining up to seriously contest the general election.

Plus, the reward for winning is coming back to a House Republican Conference split between leadership loyalists and the House Freedom Caucus and dissed and possibly spurned by Trump. Trump and the House Freedom Caucus types share a corrosive distrust of House Speaker Paul Ryan, but their views on important issues are often wildly divergent.

House Republican rebels insist on purism and are oblivious to the history that legislative majorities, if they stick together, can move policy significantly in their direction.

House Democrats — for example, Henry Waxman with the expansion of Medicaid — did this even in the Reagan years, but not by preventing the party's House leadership from amassing majorities for the basic task of governing.

Republican incumbents may be choosing to retire to avoid harsh competition in primaries and in November. But they may also be motivated by something verging on despair over the fact that their party seems likely to fall far short of what it might reasonably have been expected to accomplish with the presidency and majorities in both houses of Congress.

In those circumstances, they seem to be behaving as the Founding Fathers expected and as politicians routinely did until 1898 — pursuing other endeavors and letting someone else endure the frustrations of trying to govern.

(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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