Mark Hounsell: A big win for Kasich — welcome back, moderates

Although it is a fact Bernie Sanders big victory is both a surprise and a very impressive event, the big winner from Tuesday was Gov. John Kasich, who is now the preferred choice of many. All the other Republicans candidates will eventually get behind him and he will prevail over Trump.
Kasich will be the Republican nominee for the November presidential general election. He is authentic and he knows what he is doing.
A Kasich/Sanders race would be the most exciting choice Americans could have from this field of candidates, but a Kasich/Clinton race remains the most probable.  
I celebrate the fact Kasich will be the candidate Bush, Rubio, Christie and eventually Trump himself (as well as the Republican establishment) will rally around.
In November, Kasich should easily beat Sanders in what would be an almost revolutionary donnybrook, or in November Kasich might lose to Clinton. Of course, a great deal can change in 10 months.
New Hampshire was a HUGE win for Gov. John Kasich.  The Republican establishment did what they had to do — they found the best alternative to Trump.
We will see. But right now, someone should be saying, “Welcome back, moderates.”

Mark Hounsell lives in Conway.

  • Category: Columns

Tom McLaughlin: What have we become?

Women working at his Houston abortion clinic saw Dr. Douglas Karpen kill babies by “twisting their heads off their necks with his own bare hands.” Sometimes he stabbed a surgical instrument into the soft spot in their heads or snipped their spinal cords just as Dr. Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia did. This happened every morning according to one of the women. “Sometimes he couldn’t get the fetus out... he would yank pieces — piece by piece — when they were oversize,” (Karpen’s ex-assistant Deborah) Edge explained. “And I’m talking about the whole floor dirty. I’m talking about me drenched in blood.” The women took pictures surreptitiously with their cell phones.
Philadelphia’s Dr. Kermit Gosnell is serving three life terms in Pennsylvania for his crimes, but what happened to Houston’s Dr. Karpen? Nothing. A grand jury shepherded by Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson refused to indict him. What about the testimony of four eyewitnesses? What about the photos they took with their cell phones? We don’t know if any of that was shown to the grand jury by Ms. Anderson because according to a statement from Anderson’s office: “Texas law forbids this office from disclosing the proceedings of the grand jury, including the names of the witnesses who testified, the documents they subpoenaed, and any speculation into why the grand jury chose (not to indict Dr.) Karpen.”
So, we don’t know what Ms. Anderson showed or didn’t show to the grand jury. We don’t know what she said or didn’t say. Thirty years ago New York Judge Sol Wachtler observed that district attorneys have so much control over grand juries that they could convince them to indict a ham sandwich. Evidently, they can also persuade grand juries there’s no such thing as a ham sandwich. Did Dr. Karpen get away with murder? It sure looks like it. As Dr. Kermit Gosnell sits in his Pennsylvania prison cell, does he wish he had moved his clinic to Houston?
All that occurred in 2013. Fast forward to January 2016 and Harris County Texas District Attorney Devon Anderson was investigating Planned Parenthood for selling baby parts from its abortion clinics. You’ve all seen or heard about the infamous videos that came out last year, right? Well, “Surprise-surprise!” as Gomer Pyle would say. Ms. Anderson’s grand jury not only absolved Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing, it actually indicted the two people who exposed their horrors! They were charged with misdemeanors for “buying” baby parts and a felony for making a fake ID!
This is truly a bizarre story. DA Anderson claims to be a pro-life Republican who just applies the law regardless of her personal beliefs. Well, she is a Republican, but is she pro-life? One of the fellow prosecutors she hired is a board member of Planned Parenthood. She got at least $25,000 from Attorney Chip Lewis for her re-election campaign in late 2014 and guess who Chip Lewis represents? None other than abortionist Dr. Karpen! And who are Chip Lewis’ other clients? They include the wealthy accused serial killer Robert Durst, who appears to keep him on retainer to handle his Houston legal troubles while he faces murder charges across the country.
What are some of the Houston legal troubles millionaire and accused serial killer Robert Durst has? Well, Durst was arrested for urinating on some candy a his local CVS store. Chip Lewis handled it and “Devon Anderson’s office reduced the charge to a fine-only class C charge.” Why didn’t Anderson hold Durst and notify officials in two other states who wanted to prosecute him for murder? God knows.
The more I looked into this story, the worse it got. I felt soiled and stunned by what I was learning. When Robert Durst was on trial for the murder of Morris Black in 2003, he admitted to dismembering Black’s body and dumping it in Galveston Bay. He claimed Black pulled a gun on him and while he and Black struggled, it went off into Black’s face, but authorities never found Black’s head, so “Prosecutors were unable to present sufficient forensic evidence to dispute Durst’s account of the struggle.” Durst was acquitted!
No wonder Republicans are in wholesale rebellion. The failure of “leadership” in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood was the final straw for millions of conservatives. We have a president who vows to shut down the entire federal government if Congress doesn’t give them $550 million. We have a Congress too timid to confront him, and we have a “pro-life” Republican in Houston who not only protects notorious baby killer Dr. Douglas Karpen, she prosecutes those who expose what’s going on at Planned Parenthood.
We refuse to even look at the evil in our midst, and we prosecute those who would force us to look. What have we become?

Tom McLaughlin lives in Lovell, Maine.  He can be reached on his website at

  • Category: Columns

Cathie Gregg: Bobcat hunting plan is off the mark

I gave testimony on Monday night at the State House and on Tuesday night in Lancaster on Fish and Game’s proposal for bobcat hunting. I have been a licensed New Hampshire wildlife rehabilitator for 29 years and director at Elaine Conners Center for Wildlife in Madison for 25 years, and I am opposed to hunting bobcat.
We began taking in bobcats at the Elaine Conners Center for Wildlife in 1992 and have a scientific permit to microchip the released cats. In the 24 years since 1992, we have taken in only 17 bobcats. This compares to over 10,000 other animals accepted at the center in the same time period.
I believe, as others do, that the numbers in the study are skewed and the proposal premature. The most cats we have seen at our center in any one year were two. Those years were 2007, 2002, 2001 and 2000. Years that we saw one cat were 2013, 2008, 2004, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1994, 1993 and 1992. All other years we had zero intake. The heaviest bobcat activity was between 1992 and 1997, and in the past seven years, we have taken in only one bobcat.
The University of New Hampshire bobcat study asked the public to report encounters with bobcats, and more than 1,000 reports were received. How many of those were duplicate sightings and how did the study prevent duplicate counting? John Livaitis, lead researcher at UNH, has spoken about the “enthusiasm and passion people expressed for bobcats … and that for many of them, this is an animal that represents the magnificence of nature.”
Was the public told that the information they provided about their encounters would be used to create a bobcat season? When asked in 2008 for my sighting input, I was not told that it would be the foundation for a bobcat hunt. And the general public sharing their bobcat encounters on Facebook and WMUR u-local, does not mean that there is an over-abundance of wildcats in the state.
Last winter, with the permission of Fish and Game and a landowner, I attempted to live-trap a bobcat in a populated area of Conway. The cat was reported in six different locations as a different cat. Yet it was the same male bobcat, making his way along shoveled paths to birdfeeders, trying to survive in a winter where snow was three times his height. Facebook photos showed this cat in various locations within 5 miles, well within his large territory. But one cat sighted by numerous people is still one cat.
When asked the survival rate used in the study, I was told that based on a litter of two or three kittens, the survival rate is 2.2 kittens, which I question because in New Hampshire they are at the top of their range with survival more difficult than southern climates. I feel a 2.2 survival rate is high when most juvenile wildlife don’t make it past their first birthday.
In 1991, I took from Twin Mountain two juvenile siblings that were not going to make it through the winter. They were already starving — in December. Given the estimated two to three kittens per mother, if two kittens had been born and both kittens died it would have been a 100 percent mortality. Even if the mother was alive and had a third with her, this is a 66 percent mortality.
Just because I am a wildlife rehabilitator, that does not mean that I do not understand the realities of hunting. I have a scientific permit to raise fawns and moose calves for release, realizing that these animals will be subject to hunting at some point. But the bobcat has struggled for 27 years to make a comeback from the brink of disappearance in our state. Is it prudent to take an animal from a state of protection to a season of hunting and trapping? The study estimates that there are 1,400 bobcats in the state, and states the population appears to have grown. The proposal says that a conservative season of 50 permits will allow for continued growth at a rate slightly less than it would be without the season. This 50-permit season, however, is the initial season and will likely be increased to adjust for the annual increase in bobcat population.
I have read repeatedly that bobcat harvest occurs in all states and provinces bordering New Hampshire. In recent revisions for wildlife rehabilitation regulations in New Hampshire, rehabbers lobbied for a written test for newcomers, using the case that all bordering states require it before new rehabbers can accept wildlife. This argument did not hold water and the regulations were passed without a test. To say that other states do this is no reason to say that we must.
More than 550 people turned out for the hearing at the State House on Monday night and the overwhelming majority opposed this bobcat season. At the Lancaster hearing on Tuesday night, although there were a good many who spoke in favor of the bill, there were as many hunters and sportsmen who spoke in opposition.
This bill is premature. This protected species is being placed in a lottery season when words like “estimate” and “appear” are being used in their current population count. The proposal is off the mark on a number of levels. I urge the commissioners, before voting, to look at all the facts, not simply the charts and graphs behind this proposal.
If you wish to express your opinion, Fish and Game is accepting comments until Feb. 10 at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you wish to contact your county commissioners, they are listed on the Fish and Game website at The final vote takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 17, at 1 p.m. at Fish and Game headquarters in Concord.

 Cathie Gregg is the executive director of the Elaine Conners Center for Wildlife in Madison.

  • Category: Columns

Erik Eisele: Tuning out the media

In science there is something called the observer effect: The act of observing something has a direct effect on the thing being observed. The phenomenon, whatever it is, shifts and changes as a result of being watched and winds up with a different outcome than would have otherwise occurred without observation. The act of observing has impact.
This idea is not limited to science. The observer effect also applies to art, where the act of observation can transform the creative process from a subconscious act to a self-conscious one, from one where an artist feels free to produce whatever comes to mind to something where the audience’s preferences and expectations become incorporated. The end result, again, winds up different, changed.
And then there’s media, another home for the observer effect. The act of reporting a story inherently changes the story. Indeed, the observer effect is basically the point of journalism — to inform the public so they can make educated decisions about their world. Journalism has a predisposition for change; if everything is fine, if everything is running smoothly, there is no story.
Often the media microscope has tremendous value. Reporting on Watergate, for example, resulted in Richard Nixon’s impeachment. Reporting on the Iraq War stripped away the narrative that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. The process can be messy, but the end result is often a better-informed public.
The observer effect, however, is not always desirable. The intensity of a microscope does not always add value. Sometimes, instead of enhancing reality, magnification only serves to sear the phenomena like an ant caught in the sun.
Observe the New Hampshire Primary. Yesterday marked its close. Hopefully you voted, cast your ballot, selected someone who you think would serve America well as its commander in chief. But more than that, hopefully that selection was made unselfconsciously, based on handshakes and face-to-face conversations, not news reporting. I work in media, but yesterday, and leading up to yesterday, I hope you turned off the TV.
The New Hampshire Primary has become the experimental chimpanzee for the presidential campaign — poked and prodded and flipped over, examined from every angle. For the past six months it’s been combed over and pushed and rubbed on all sides like a genie in a bottle capable of laying down predictions about Trump, Clinton, Sanders and Cruz. It has been put under the microscope, watched and commented on and reviewed ad nauseam.
The scrutiny has gotten so intense that media are now reporting on each other. If New Hampshire is the chimpanzee, then we, its local media, are its fleas, and even its fleas have fleas. The local stories are enough for us, but for the national news organizations one more campaign stop in a small New Hampshire town is not a story. So what do they do? They report on the local newspaper. Just this week The Conway Daily Sun refrigerator was featured on both the BBC and MSNBC.
At first glance, the national attention is complimentary, flattering even. A column I wrote a few months ago was cited in a New York Times editorial this week. It also appeared on Rachel Maddow’s TV show. The Huffington Post came to interview me for a documentary series. Our publisher was interviewed by the BBC. Another Sun story landed on CNN.
But our point was never to be the story. It is not the story. The story is the future leader of our country. But in the need for 24-hour news, our fridge becomes news once town hall meetings turn boring.
Enter the observer effect. When our newspaper is getting multiple stories about it on national and international networks, it’s clear we’ve reached a saturation point. And it isn’t just us, but all of New Hampshire is flooded. Every four years, New Hampshire becomes the focal point for all things presidential, but today the media landscape has broadened and deepened. Websites are putting out documentaries. Television networks are hosting blogs. Newspapers are blanketing Twitter. Reporters are everywhere, rivaling voters. The authenticity is fading, and through no fault of New Hampshirites. The national media come to town during one of the most important times in our democratic process, and the stories start pinging back and forth like a closet full of hummingbirds. Voters almost have to get out of the way.
It’s only once you are caught in the media net, once you become part of the story, that you realize just how small and incestuous the national conversation on politics is. Watching pieces about The Conway Daily Sun bounce their way around across the Internet and from one major news source to another feels like being at Wimbledon and paying more attention to the vendor sales than the tennis match.
Voters get it worse. They see more questions, analysis and intrusions than I do as a reporter. At every turn they are pushed to reveal their preferences, a camera stuck in their face, a shining spotlight.
This is the modern New Hampshire Primary, no longer just a conversation with the men and women looking to run our country, but a constant examination. It begins as soon as the first candidates arrive, and it continued until yesterday. Until today even.
What does all this scrutiny, all this inquiry, do to the process? What is the effect of New Hampshire becoming the political reality TV show for the country, for the world? How does that affect our choices?
The problem with the observer effect is there is no control group, no way of knowing what that scrutiny does. But if the New Hampshire voter is the artist, it’s hard to imagine an unselfconscious painting at this point.
But maybe the artist turned off the TV long ago. Hopefully our voters aren’t reading this column.

Erik Eisele is a reporter for The Conway Daily Sun.

  • Category: Columns

National Perspective: Rubio slingshots into New Hampshire

By David M. Shribman

What Iowa said Monday night was: Enough. Enough with business as usual. Enough with conventional candidates. Enough with the tired orthodoxies of politics. Enough with the surpassing power of big — big banks, big lobbyists, big labor and even big self-interested local industries like ethanol. And enough with campaigns based on personal appeal, boasts and an aura of inevitability.
Even with that clarity — and that message of insurrection echoed from the Mississippi in the east to the Missouri in the west — there remained great imprecision in Iowa caucuses whose results were reported in tenths of percentage points. And yet, in muddied outcomes that were supposed to render an explicit and coherent early verdict on the 2016 presidential race, this is clear:
It is perceptions rather than percentages that matter. And in those perceptions there are two big winners — but two big losers.

  • Category: Columns