National Perspective: A tale of two Clintons

By David Shribman

She is private; he is public. She studies bulging policy briefing books to look prepared; he studies them to look spontaneous. She has the gift of iron discipline; he has the gift of gab. Hillary Clinton regards a crowded auditorium as hostile territory; Bill Clinton regards it as his sweet Arkansas home.
"Bill is a big-picture guy but isn't as disciplined as she is," says former Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, a onetime Democratic National Committee chairman who has observed both at close range. "He's incredibly bright and a very fast learner, but she's more detail-oriented."
For the third time in a quarter-century, the Democrats are gathering to nominate a Clinton for president. But the Clinton who now begins her general-election campaign is seeking the White House in a different century and, in many ways, in a different country from the one her husband governed.
This third Clinton campaign comes in an age when the Democrats have virtually abandoned the free trade Bill Clinton espoused, when their constituent groups are rethinking his views on crime and welfare, when they are re-examining the Wall Street ties that in the 1990s were refreshing symbols of a new approach to business.

Tom McLaughlin: American Families

“Ruth is on top, finally,” said my brother-in-law. We were at Arlington National Cemetery to bury my wife’s mother, Ruth Kosiavelon.

The graves are all in straight lines there like soldiers in formation — ever ready, as the cemetery tour guide described them. We had buried my father-in-law, Theodore Kosiavelon there four years ago, and Ruth’s coffin was to be situated above his because there isn’t room to put spouses beside dead soldiers. Her inscription would be etched into the back of his stone.

Ruth was Ted’s second wife, loved and respected as mother to children and step-children. Nearly all made the trip down along with friends who had attended her wake and funeral Mass back in May. It takes time to arrange a burial at Arlington, and they do 30 every day. Ted earned the right to be buried there during World War II when he was wounded in the Manila Bay by a Japanese torpedo plane attack. Ruth wouldn’t be anywhere but with Ted, and so we all gathered again for her ceremony. It’s the end of an era because Ruth was the last remaining member of the greatest generation on my wife’s side.

Leaving from the Portland Jetport last Wednesday night, we bumped into conservative commentator Tucker Carlson. He has a place in Andover, Maine, where he told us President Obama got only one vote in the last election. It was a different story in Washington, D.C., where Obama remains popular.

The Obama effect is evident all over town. In the guided tour of the Arlington National Cemetery, blacks laid to rest there were mentioned most prominently, from Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, some Tuskegee Airman, Frank E. Petersen Jr., who was the first black Marine general, Matthew Henson, who was with Admiral Peary when he discovered the North Pole, and so on. Museums we toured showed similar influence, where attention is constantly called to the first black this and the first black that.

Worldwide, there was a lot going on last week, but I couldn’t study events as closely as I usually do with doing the tourist things as well as commiserating with family. The five Dallas police officers killed last week were being laid to rest, then three more were killed in Louisiana. A Muslim terrorist killed 85 with a truck in France.

Information about torture at the November Paris nightclub attack emerged after the French government withheld it for months. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, to whom I’d been introduced by a mutual friend during an earlier trip, was selected as Donald Trump’s running mate.

It stresses me when I can’t find time to keep up with world events, and last week I was falling further behind with so much going on. Ruth had always tried to keep up, too, and I’ll miss getting her perspective.

After the burial we all gathered in the revolving sky dome restaurant on the 14th floor of the Doubletree Hotel in Crystal City. The Pentagon is nearby with Arlington National Cemetery beyond, and we could see across the Potomac to the Washington Monument. Ruth had bought everyone a round of drinks at the sky dome when we buried Ted, and we all toasted her memory.

Also at the hotel was a reunion of another extended family calling itself the Demery, Farley, Syas, Taylor Family. Four hundred of them wore red T-shirts, and I’d get snippets of information from members during elevator conversations. In an extended discussion with one member I learned they’re all descended from two brothers who were “free people of color” in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and fought in the Battle of New Orleans. For this, they were granted special permission to live as free blacks in Louisiana, which would not otherwise have allowed it. Their descendants have kept in touch for two centuries and still meet every two years.

And speaking of family reunions, last week I guided members of the Stiles Family to the lonely, 1848 grave of ancestor Olive Stiles for the third time after I wrote about finding it in 2007. It’s on the slope of Stiles Mountain in the White Mountain National Forest. Ten of them were making a side trip from their larger reunion in New York City.

As she lay on her death bed, Ruth told her loved ones she knew she was going to her Lord. That awareness gave her strength to die with peace and dignity, which in turn helped ease the loss for everyone.

Also, the DSFT family reunion activities included “Family Worship” on Sunday, the day we left. Awareness of where we come from strengthens us all. Our Founding Fathers understood that and referred to our Creator at our country’s birth — a good thing to keep in mind at a time when our country and the families that make it up are feeling the strain of troubled times.

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

Mark Hounsell: My choice for governor

The people of New Hampshire are fortunate to have several people seeking election to become the 82nd governor of the Granite State.  In this election cycle whoever is elected from either party will be acceptable. On Sept. 13 it is assured that both parties will select eventual nominees who will be highly qualified, decent individuals who would perform admirable service. We actually have a selection where we could cast ballots for “any of the above.”

So, who is my choice for governor? I have not yet decided.  Rest assured my choice will be the one who shows me a “sincere” willingness to upgrade Route 16 through Conway Village as well as a heartfelt commitment to consider the needs of Carroll County with the same level of attention that seems to have been reserved for Hillsborough, Rockingham and Merrimack Counties.

I am fortunate to know many of the candidates personally and over the years have become familiar with most, if not all of them.  Here is my take on those I know.

Democrats first. Former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand is one of the most thoughtful, caring and joyful politicians I have met.  His commitment to people and to justice is authentic, and there is no question he would be a fine governor.

Executive councilor, District 2, Colin Van Ostern, a fascinating and successful businessman and politician who has done yeoman work in government for many years.  He has the youthful vitality and deep connections that suggests that his would be a very capable and energetic bipartisan administration.

I have no personal relationship with Democratic candidates, Mark Connolly, Derek Dextraze or Ian Freeman.

Republicans. State Sen. Jeanie Forrester.  No question that Forrester is a highly intelligent, principled and determined public official. She will be clear on where she stands and insistent on leading the state in a positive direction. Hers would be a no-nonsense administration.

Manchester mayor and former state Sen. Ted Gatsas. Unsurpassed in executive experience. Gatsas is a walking encyclopedia of pertinent information, connections and success.  No question he would be quite capable of promoting responsible and affordable state operating budgets. He would appoint tough-on-crime judges.

Executive Councilor for District 3, Chris Sununu of Newfields. I first met Sununu when he was 11 years old.  His father, Gov. John H. Sununu, was inaugurated in 1985 and at a statehouse ceremony celebrating the occasion, the governor had his family in attendance. Chris Sununu was raised in an environment of politics and public service. Sununu is a sincere and experienced candidate, and he is one of the kindest and most responsible gentleman to grace the political landscape over the past few years.

I have no personal relationship with Republican candidates Frank Edelblut or Jonathan Lavoie.

This year I would ask every voter to find the candidate who will care, and by that I mean one who really cares, and one who will finally take action to address the long-neglected economic, educational, infrastructure and environmental needs of the Mount Washington Valley and Carroll County. I will be voting for that candidate who will best fit this bill. I highly urge every voter of Carroll County to do likewise.

 Mark Hounsell is a 12th generation Carroll County native son.

Erik Eisele: God, science and wonder

A few weeks ago I woke up to a bear in the yard. He wasn’t doing anything really, just milling about. I watched him through the window as he sniffed, coursing back and forth over the grass lazily, painted orange in morning sunlight. When he lumbered off to the next yard, I packed my things to go swimming.

I’m not much of a swimmer. I did a lap across the Echo Lake, pausing in the middle to rest, lie on my back and float. I could feel my heartbeat in my ears as I stared upwards, leaving my wetsuit to buoy me. My arms and legs hung in the water. When I exhaled I sunk. When I inhaled I rose. Clouds tracked overhead and ripples brushed my face. I closed my eyes, floated.

I stayed like that, motionless, just breathing. It may have been a minute, maybe five; I lost track of time. After a time I turned, rolled into the water and aimed for the near shore.

On the drive home my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered anyway. On the other end was Gene Likens, the scientist who 50 years ago discovered acid rain. An ecologist and former Dartmouth College professor, his most recognized work took place at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, a site an hour drive the Mount Washington Valley. Likens co-wrote a book on the forest, and I wanted to write a story about it. We spent 20 minutes talking, and he described the surprise of discovering acid rain: “Nobody knew there was a problem,” he said, but “the very first sample of rain we collected was very acidic,” up to 100 times the normal levels.

What got them to look at rainwater? I asked. Intuition? Some indication something was wrong.

Nothing like that, Likens replied. It was simple curiosity.

“It was purely serendipity,” he said. “So much of science is this way.”

“We didn’t set out to discover acid rain,” he said, but “it was there and we ran with it.”

They were just looking at raindrops. Because raindrops are amazing.

I’ve had a quote saved on my desktop for several years: “The beauty of science is not in the answers it provides, but in the act of questioning. And each question leads to more questions. There are no answers, only infinite questions.”

It’s not from some book or from anyone famous. It’s just some musings I scribbled down one day, the noise inside a writer’s head, something I didn’t want to forget even though I’ve forgotten what inspired it.

But like a tuning fork it sprang to life again, driven by that phone call: Likens was not studying stream water to prove some point. He was there to learn, driven by curiosity. It was a search of wonder, only a few steps removed from the child growing tadpoles from frog eggs she found in a puddle. It is innate inquisitiveness, a joyous exploration.

Science is built on such wonder. It is the act of questioning, of unveilings and discovery and reexaminations and answers so tenuous they are subject to constant revision. It is a process more than an outcome, something built over the soft passage of time, through the constant brushstrokes of curiosity. And in the process the truth emerges, the heart and soul of our world, something foundational. It is both the how and the why, with no part so sacred it cannot be discarded. In science everything is open to more questions.

There is something beautiful in that. Something simple, elemental, pure. And I can’t help but wonder if religion is born from the same roots. Maybe at one point humans looked at the majesty of the universe and couldn’t help but exclaim, “Who could have made such a beautiful thing?!” Maybe the answer they came up with was God.

It is a perfect question: Who could have created such a beautiful thing? What could have led to this world, all its life and all of us? It is the question scientists still ask today, one of curiosity and wonder. Look into the heart of the everything, and whether your launch point is science or religion it is impossible not to be overcome by the ants and oceans, by the volcanoes and the hurricanes. How is it that the Earth spins around the Sun? How did life come into being? How did so much order grow out of seemingly infinite chaos?

Those questions are everywhere. They were in the bear sitting outside the window, in my heartbeat in my head as I stared at the sky, in the cradle of water that held me up, in the clouds that traced the sky as I watched. Wonder. Beauty. Grace. These are the heart of science, and they are the heart of religion. Indeed, they are perhaps the heart of everything. The magic of creation is captured in music, in a van Gogh painting, in Shakespeare and Hemingway. It is in the movie that speaks to us, in the play that touches our hearts, in the book that we come back to and back to. Science, religion, music, art — it is all the same. It is all one thing, different versions of the same performance.

I wrote the piece on Likens. It ran a few days later. It relayed the facts of what he told me, but it missed the heart of his quest, the simple wonder on which his research began. Any written snapshot is guaranteed to be far too brief to do his story justice.

But then again his answers were not the point. He is a scientist; the point is always the questions.

Erik Eisele is a reporter at The Conway Daily Sun.

William Marvel: Benedict Bernie

Cynicism won legions of new converts last week when Bernie Sanders, whose primary qualification for public office seemed to be his absolute honesty, endorsed and embraced the candidate he so convincingly portrayed as undeserving of the office of president. For six months, Sanders persuasively explained to any who would listen that Hillary Clinton, as the Democratic Party’s conduit to Goldman-Sachs, would never exert any effort or apply any influence on behalf of the middle class. He argued, quite rightly, that as the favored recipient of fossil-fuel industry donations she was not likely to work very hard to ameliorate climate change. He lambasted her, justifiably, for extolling the sneaking, imperialistic policies of Henry Kissinger. He assured us that she was an inappropriate choice for president even while declining to strike her Achilles’ heel — her reckless exposure of top-secret government documents and information through her private email account.

Now, everything he said to date is out the window. Now, it’s his job to make sure that the woman who was so unfit for the presidency becomes the next president. There’s no fool like an old fool, and I guess I’m one. I gave Bernie Sanders wholehearted support primarily because I considered him the only sincere candidate in the field, on either side. After years of observing him in House and Senate, and seeing him in person, I judged him as someone who could be counted on to provide that crucial element of the democratic process and tell the truth even in the face of unpleasant consequences. Now I suspect otherwise; everything he said since last winter has lost the aura of absolute candor that made him so valuable.

The motivation for this sudden change of heart is clearly the possibility of Donald Trump winning the election, because several weeks ago Bernie made the remark that the most important thing was depriving Trump of victory. It’s pretty pathetic when the only appeal that can be made in favor of a candidate for any office is to emphasize the deficiencies of the opposing candidate. It’s no recommendation at all, and is nearly as discrediting to the party giving the endorsement as it is to the candidate receiving it.

From the outset of the campaign season, the bosses of the Democratic establishment choreographed a third term for the Clintons, taking dynastic tradition a step further and skirting the spirit of the 22nd Amendment by pretending that Bill and Hillary are not a team. They bludgeoned Sanders with the superdelegates they invented to subvert the will of the voters, creating the illusion of Clinton inevitability from the first caucuses and primaries despite surprising popular support and repeated victories for Sanders. He was the best option American voters have had in decades for a president selected by the people instead of by party gremlins.

The Republicans, of course, tried the same thing, but the threat of a revolt among their troops dissuades them from stealing the mantle from the choice of their voters. The Democrats apparently have no such fear, perhaps mistaking the Sanders movement exclusively as a phenomenon of the left. In fact, the blunt honesty he displayed until last week won the admiration of as many conservatives as liberals, and promised to create an alliance among the more reasonable advocates of either of those basic political philosophies.

Nothing illustrated that bipartisan appeal better than Bernie’s initial response when Clinton started pandering to the Black Lives Matter movement. People at either end of the political spectrum recognize that the problem of authoritarian, shoot-first law-enforcement policies will never be corrected by focusing on the incidental consequence of disproportionate racial victimization; Sanders spoke for victims of all color when he replied that “all lives matter.” While Clinton exercised her customary situational deference just to lay claim to another voting bloc, Sanders took a course more likely to unite people against an institutional evil than to pit one race of Americans against another.

The left then clamored for “common-sense” gun regulation, but Sanders represents a state with easy access to guns and extraordinarily low crime rates. Understanding that other factions could just as logically demand “common-sense” abortion regulation, he took a position equally acceptable to the NRA and the ACLU.

All along, Sanders promised his supporters a fight to the finish — to the floor of the convention. Those who backed him so unreservedly, often despite differing significantly with him over individual policies, deserved at the very least to see him wage that fight with Democratic Party manipulators. Sanders ostensibly ran to offer the people a real choice, and had he won the nomination or decided to run as an independent they would have had that choice. Instead, he quit just in time to deprive them of any chance for one.

Sanders had the support of the young and the better-educated middle class. He would have beaten Trump more handily than Clinton could because he would also have siphoned off Trump’s attraction for voters who are sick to death of handpicked party puppets. Now, those seeking a renegade from party doctrine have only one viable option.

William Marvel lives in South Conway.