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nick howe for 8/2/14

Recent news releases have told us of a discussion in our government concerning helping Ukraine forces with nuclear bombs.
How many of us can find the Ukraine on a map? It’s an area in eastern Europe, draw a line westward from London on through Warsaw in Poland, and it will cross the top of the Ukraine.
At the height of the Cold War we had so many targets on the nuclear list that we had warheads aimed at wheat fields in Russia on the theory that they could be used as air fields. There were 50,000 nuclear bombs on each side, which should be enough for most purposes.
One hundred years ago an idealist named Gavrillo Princip stood on a street corner in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, and a passing parade included the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the Empress Sophie riding in an open carriage. Princip killed them both and that lit the spark that flamed up to become the First World War.
The event is remembered by two footprints cast into the sidewalk to show where “The hero patriot” stood. I’ve seen that street corner many times and children put their feet in those prints and make their fingers into guns and go “Bang bang” at passing cars.
At the first battle of the Somme, the British attack started at 7:30 a.m. on a line seventeen miles long and the men started walking across No-Man’s Land. They were under the command of Britain’s General Alexander Haig of Great Britain and he’d been told that all the German barbed wire had been torn up by the artillery barrage and most of their troops had been killed.
He was wrong on both counts. In the first four hours the British suffered 50,000 casualties. That afternoon they tried again and lost another 10,000. General Haig reported, “The news is not altogether good.” The Germans suffered 50,000 casualties, and one of the wounded men was an infantry corporal named Adolph Hitler.
There were about twenty years without major international hostilities, but war thinking continued.
The nations of the world do not shoot with their fingers and they continued to raise new armies and weapons, but they continued to think in terms that were quickly becoming obsolete. For instance, our country invested heavily in very large coastal guns based on the theory that future attcks would come from off-shore enemy fleets as they had in Pearl Harbor. There were, for instance, batteries of fourteen-inch “disappearing” coastal guns that would rise up on hydraulically-powered underground mounts to protect the city of San Pedro, California.
They were tested in 1943 and the concussion of the first shot broke an estimated fifty-thousand dollars worth of window glass in the city, the concussion of the second shot blew the shingles off the roof of the soldier’s barracks, and the concussion of the third shot blew the porch off a storage building.
No more coastal guns were built, but by that time American scientists were only two years away from testing something they called an atomic bomb, and then two of them ended the war in the summer of 1945. Now those bombs have became so widespread that South Africa had three of them, then dismantled all three. Sources say, however, that about a dozen countries still have them.

Nicholas Howe is a writer from Jackson. He is author of “Not Without Peril.” E-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Last Updated on Friday, 01 August 2014 06:03

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National Perspective: Nixon shall live in infamy

by David M. Shribman

Richard Nixon no longer walks among us, having departed this earth a full two decades ago. But the ghost of the enigmatic figure who 40 years ago this week resigned the presidency — a position described by Franklin Roosevelt, still the man against which all subsequent presidents are measured, as "pre-eminently a place of moral leadership" — lingers among us, and he is a curious character indeed:
Awkward in manner — but shrewd in judgment. Flawed in character — but peerless in vision. Much misunderstood — but possessed of a peerless understanding of human nature. Tarred with mendacity — but a political magus nonetheless.
How soon we forget, and how smoothed by the years are the edges of a man Harry Truman — who in his own revisionist reverie is now regarded as a beacon of plain-spoken wisdom — once described as a "no-good, lying bastard," a base scoundrel who, the 33rd president said, "can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, and if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he'd lie just to keep his hand in."
This is not one of those cases where the truth is right there in the middle. Richard Nixon deserves to live on in opprobrium, for high political crimes and misdemeanors.
The presence of the word "high" in Article 2, Section 4, of the Constitution — describing the basis for impeachment, which Nixon avoided only by resigning in disgrace — was not meant as synonym for "serious." It meant crimes conducted by officials in "high" positions, an implicit indication that the nation's founders expected top officeholders to hew to higher standards than those common in others.
In that case, and in that case only, the Framers agreed with Nixon that the president was above the law.
For all those crimes — regarding the presidency as a perch to conduct a political range war, confusing the values of national security with the virtues of domestic life, besmirching the reputations of his rivals and on some occasions conducting clandestine operations against them — Nixon's most enduring legacy is not what laws he broke but what customs of civic comportment he shattered.
Nixon admired Bismarck, and in his shabby revival of the Iron Chancellor's reign delighted in the machinations of big-power diplomacy and the confusion created when liberal initiatives sprang from conservative principles — sickness and disability insurance in Bismarck's case, environmental and health care proposals in Nixon's. But Nixon merely followed the Bismarck precept of listening for "the steps of God sounding through events" and then having the guile to "leap up and grab the hem of His garment." His ideology was opportunism.
Nixon's defenders speak of his far-sighted policies, but in truth he only made the inevitable imminent. Someone else eventually would have recognized Red China, another president likely would have reached out to Soviet Russia. But only Nixon poisoned our civic life with a cynicism that remains an American contaminant.
Indeed, in the entire arc of American history — slavery, civil war, a Depression, two worldwide military conflicts, countless smaller ones — the word "amoral" appears more often in the American conversation in the Nixon years than in any other time of our national life. This is a measurable fact.
As to the argument that Nixon brought into national service an astonishing group of distinguished figures, from George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole to Paul Volcker and Elliot Richardson, let us add a few other names: John Mitchell, John Ehrlichman, H.R. Haldeman, Charles Colson. All served prison terms.
The Nixon bench, moreover, had a rival roster, including some of the figures who comprised the congressional "Watergate Class" that produced a Democratic gain of 49 House seats in 1974. Or consider simply some of the young staffers of the House Judiciary Committee impeachment inquiry, also arguably brought into public life by Nixon: a future secretary of state (Hillary Rodham), White House counsel (Bernard Nussbaum), Massachusetts governor (William Weld) and Boston Red Sox president (Lawrence Lucchino).
That's without even considering the effect the Nixon experience had on some of the shimmery youth drawn into the presidential circle by duty and idealism, often against the ardent advice of friends and mentors whose distrust of Nixon dated to his Red-baiting and treacly "Checkers" speech that salvaged his position on the Republicans' 1952 national ticket.
"The qualities that kept some from joining Nixon's administration became more visible, particularly after the revelation of the tapes, which showed both dishonesty and how the bile of resentment was corroding his best intentions and closing down his ability to realize his promise," one of them, John Price, a Rhodes Scholar who succeeded Daniel Patrick Moynihan as special assistant for urban affairs and later headed the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, told me. "Those still in place as his presidency collapsed were caught in the trap of a vicious survival fight and the collapse of their hopes to leave positive and lasting changes in government."
During Senate Watergate Committee hearings, Gordon Strachan, a Nixon aide, was asked what he might say to young people contemplating public service. "My advice," he replied, "would be to stay away."
Nixon took the "credibility gap" created by Lyndon Johnson and rendered it enduring. With the retirement of LBJ, the nation, as A.J.P. Taylor said of German history in 1848, had "reached its turning point and failed to turn." The suspicion and distrust of the Johnson years only deepened, and then became permanent.
These days it is fashionable to measure Nixon by coffee spoons, a dollop of disgrace balanced by a splash of brilliance that somehow dilutes the dishonor. "He committed abuses, but why should they disappear because he did a few good things or even a lot of them?" asks Timothy Naftali, director of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum from 2007 to 2011. "That would mean we're a nation of cynics."
And that is what those who believe Nixon is "one of us" mean. But if we are a nation of cynics, Nixon stands indicted for making us that way. Thomas Jefferson said, "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." Nixon lived by an abridged version of that book.
His recent predecessors (Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy come to mind) and his successors (Ronald Reagan and probably Bill Clinton, too) spruced up the American presidency. Richard Nixon tore away the greenery. For that, never forgive him.
David M. Shribman is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or follow him on Twitter at ShribmanPG. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist has a vacation home in Kearsarge.

Last Updated on Friday, 01 August 2014 00:16

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Tom McLaughlin: More fundamental change from our president

By Tom McLaughlin
Four years ago I flew to Tucson, Arizona, rented a Jeep, and drove down to the Mexican border at Nogales. I wanted to see for myself what was going on down there. I turned right just before the Mexican crossing and drove west along International Street on the U.S. side of our primitive border fence. There, I encountered several modified, four-door, white and green Dodge pickup trucks scurrying around in a futile effort to stop the flood of illegals constantly sneaking over, under, and through the flimsy international "barrier."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 July 2014 01:07

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Mark Guerringue: Hobby Lobby Trouble for GOP Senate candidates

The primary isn't until Sept. 9 but after editorial boards with U.S. Senate candidates Scott Brown and Bob Smith, the early consensus at the Sun is neither can beat incumbent Jeanne Shaheen.

That's not to suggest Brown and Smith aren't heavyweight candidates. Both are former senators, very experienced, capable and dynamic, albeit in totally different ways.

Brown, who won a special election following the death U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, served two years representing Massachusetts before losing to Elizabeth Warren in 2012.

He's a bona fide rock star, and not just because he learned to play the guitar as an adult and played "Surrender" on stage at Hampton Beach with Cheap Trick.

Starting with a challenging childhood — his parents each were married and divorced four times — Brown worked his way up. He's a recently retired colonel in the National Guard, a lawyer, and got his start in politics as a selectman.

Conservative columnist George Will often refers to the "public choice theory" that holds that public officials pursue goals of aggrandizement as much as people in the private sector. The difference is in the public sector profit is measured by power rather than money.

That's Scott Brown. He's a top-of-food-chain guy and if he had chosen a career in the private sector he'd likely be a CEO of a multi-national company.

Instead, he's hustling for a Senate seat, taking the most convenient path through New Hampshire, a place he can lay technical claim to as home because he was born here and owns a home.

Politics, however, makes strange bedfellows, and even our own Rep. Gene Chandler, the most "native" of any politician we know, has saddled up to Brown as the candidate with the best chance of beating Shaheen.

The Odd Couple describes Brown's relationship with New Hampshire, and is personified by Chandler.

Picture in your mind's eye the two of them walking through the front door of the Daily Sun building.

Chandler, the embodiment of local New Hampshire politics, the guy whose year isn't complete unless he gets "his deer," and Brown, voted 30 years ago the "sexiest" guy in Boston having appeared in a Playgirl center spread.

Smith, meanwhile, is old-school Republican. Rock solid, a fiscal and social conservative, a man of character and his word, and totally comfortable in his own skin. One of his most refreshing lines is he says he's not a slave to polls and votes his "conscience, not his constituency."

He freely associates himself with the Tea Party, and shares its beliefs and values, but he's cut from a different cloth. Shrill, dismissive, intolerant language is not part of Smith's DNA.

He tells a touching story of his close relationship with fellow senator Ted Kennedy. Years ago when Smith's wife suffered a serious injury, Kennedy was his only colleague who offered assistance. "One out of 99," Smith said referring to the other 98 senators who didn't offer help, as he recalled one of his most meaningful personal moments in the Senate.

Smith also, and famously and infamously, is fiercely independent. He left the Republican Party while he was senator because as he says the "Republican Party left me."

And remarkably, he's not bitter despite being thrown under the bus by a president in his own party that cost him his career.

In 2002, Smith lost the primary to John E. Sununu, but only after political adviser Karl Rove publicly committed president George W. Bush's support to Smith, of which the president later reneged.

John E. Sununu's father, of course, was former governor of New Hampshire and chief of staff of George W.'s father, George Herbert Walker Bush.

Smith learned a painful lesson that blood is not only thicker than water — but politics.

The day before Brown's visit to the Sun, his staff wouldn't release his schedule for publication. It didn't make sense, as Brown is skilled at retail politics.

When asked about it at the Sun's editorial board, Scott said he was being "tracked," meaning people taking video of him to make him look bad.

We discovered later that a renown British journalist from the Guardian newspaper was dogging him that resulted in an awkward moment at Priscilla's restaurant. Scott reportedly dodged the reporter by taking a trip to the bathroom rather than answering a question about the recent Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby.

That controversial 5-4 decision allowed a privately held company, for religious beliefs, to not offer health insurance that covered certain types of contraceptives.

For Scott, there is no right answer to the Hobby Lobby question. If he supports it to appease the conservative voters he needs to win the primary, the Democrats will hammer him in the general election.

Speak against it and he could lose the primary to Smith, who makes a good case that the polls showing Scott way ahead are misleading.

Smith says polls reflect the opinions of all registered voters, not just the 20 percent of the Republicans who vote in the primary, and who happen to be the most conservative of Republican voters.

Although he's willing to talk about it, Smith, however, will have his own problems with Hobby Lobby, which he supports, should he get though the primary.

In a lively exchange at the Sun's editorial board, when asked what would be the difference between Hobby Lobby not offering coverage on birth control, and, say, the Sun, not covering cancer, if the owners were Christian Scientists, Smith said birth control is not a medical necessity.

Biologically, he has a point, but as a matter of public health policy there is no hotter button than birth control, and determining which medical procedures and drugs are medical necessities is a slippery slope, and distinctions independent voters, who often decide New Hampshire elections, are not likely to make.

It's still early, but our money is on Shaheen.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 05:52

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Susan Bruce: You Break It, You Own It

An immigrant is a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country. They migrate and settle.
A refugee is forced out of their country to escape violence, persecution, war, or natural disaster.
These words mean very different things. Since the flood of child refugees knocking on the United States’ door began, the word “immigrant” is being used instead of the proper term, which would be refugee. It’s often preceded by the word “illegal.” The average age of these children is 11.
The same people who are desperate to force white women to serve as involuntary incubators because they venerate “life” so much are the same crew who are now shrieking and name calling about these children. Apparently the lives of imaginary white fetuses are far more important than the lives of brown children fleeing violence, traffickers, and rape.
The reporting on this topic is dreadful. The response is dreadful. The commentary from the far right fringe is dreadful. What these children have experienced already is worse than anything the U.S. xenophobes could possibly say.
Last week I spoke with Jen Smyers of Church World Service. CWS is a group of religious denominations that came together to help refugees after World War II. This is their mission. Jen told stories about the violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – the countries these children are fleeing. They aren’t leaving their families by choice. Their families are sending them away in order to save their lives. Their families have been targeted for violence, and the governments of their countries are either unable or unwilling to protect them. The average age of these children is 11.
Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. Since the military coup in 2009 the violence has gotten worse. The coup was brought about by military forces that trained at the School of the Americas in Georgia, where we’ve been training the future despots and dictators for Latin America since 1946. The United States supported the 2009 coup, and we continue to send military aid to Honduras, even though they’re murdering and terrorizing their citizens. In the 1980s in Guatemala, the United States financed counterinsurgency campaigns with forces trained at the School of the Americas. Ronald Reagan supported the regime of Rios Montt, claiming he got a “bum rap” for his massacres of indigenous populations. Reagan also interfered in the civil war in El Salvador, providing exorbitant military aid to the nationalists, who used death squads to make people disappear. When Salvadorans attempted to flee to the United States, we sent them back. Many of them were never seen again.
In short, we helped create this mess. Remember what Colin Powell told President Bush about Iraq, “You break it, you buy it?” We’ve never applied that standard to U.S. interference in Central America. Now we have angry white people yelling at buses full of children in California. We have Rick Perry sending the Texas National Guard to the border. That should be a big help in dealing with traumatized children. And in New Hampshire, we recently had a group of yahoos on a highway overpass in Rochester, bellowing about illegal aliens.
They were headed up by Jerry DeLemus of Rochester, who most recently covered himself with glory out at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada, where he defended the fraudulent claims of Cliven Bundy, welfare rancher. It was Jerry DeLemus who sent Jared and Amanda Miller away from the Bundy Ranch. After leaving, they headed for Las Vegas, where they killed two police officers and a civilian. DeLemus said he sensed something wrong with them, but naturally he didn’t bother to report that to law enforcement, seein’ as how he and the boys had their guns trained on the legal authorities.
DeLemus claims to be a Christian, and his wife wears a cross large enough to ward off even the most persistent vampires. Susan DeLemus distinguished herself while serving in the legislature by bellowing at an assistant AG during a ballot law hearing on whether Obama should be on the NH ballot. Mrs. DeLemus is a birther and one assumes that so is Mr. DeLemus. They’re both opposed to a woman’s right to medical privacy and bodily autonomy. Yet, there he was, on an overpass with Billy Baer, who most recently achieved renown for engineering his own “on camera” arrest over a book his daughter was reading at school. The daughter was at this protest. Apparently she was too delicate a flower to learn about date rape, but hardy enough for white supremacy.
Jason Margolis, writing about this for PRI, mentioned a protestor named Desiree Tumas. She believes that the gubmint is secretly bringing in “illegals” to the United States and placing them in New Hampshire. The far right fringe thinks that Obama is bringing the children here to vote Democrat. The average age of the children is 11. Tumas also bemoaned the idea of bringing in children when “we can’t take care of the homeless people we have.” The rest of the year homeless folks are filthy moochers, but suddenly, Ms. Tumas and her ilk are feeling all warm and fuzzy toward them. I’m certain that warmth has a very short half-life.
The most disturbing aspect of the PRI story was the quote from a 12 year old that has already assimilated the lessons she has been taught. She told the reporter that these children (many younger than she is) should be sent back because otherwise little boys and girls in New Hampshire will be kidnapped or killed because of “the illegals.” The average age of these children is 11.
These people aren’t brave enough to call themselves white supremacists. Just as well. They have no reason to feel superior. Teaching intolerance, cruelty, and hatred for children is unfathomable.
In New York Harbor the Statue of Liberty hangs her head in shame.  

Susan Bruce is a writer and activist who lives in the Mount Washington Valley. Visit her blog at susanthebruce.blogspot.com.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 02:00

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