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I think the suggestion that citizens formally renounce affiliation with any party is an excellent one. It is, in fact, a way of rebelling, of letting the politicians know that their time is drawing to a close. It's a very good idea! Regarding the use of the word corruption, which I will continue to do, I take your point, but consider this, please: if we reach a moment in our history when our politicians engage in massive vote buying through the dispensing of public favors with taxpayers' money, we can only consider that to be a corrupt process--it corrupts our democracy--even though it is done legally, so to speak. In a corrupted state, legality ceases to have any meaning: in the former U.S.S.R., virtually everything the state did to oppress, and indeed murder, its citizens was done quite legally. This is the problem we face today, across our nation. The Patriot Act is a "legal" act; unfortunately it violates our constitution in some of its provisions, so if we consider, as I do, that our constitution is the higher law, then it is a illegal act. I believe, therefore, that to consider corrupt only those acts of the government that are done without sanction of law--and there are now many--is to miss the point: the process of our government is now thoroughly corrupt. We, the people, no longer direct our government in any meaningful way. If Bill Gates paid a thousand people some irresistible sum to vote as he desires, we'd call that corrupt. Well, our legislatures pander to voters with hundreds of billions of our dollars with the sole purpose of buying their votes. Is that not massively corrupt?   
- Claude Roessiger   Mar 07, 2012
You do make a distinction that I didn't consider in my earlier reply, that not all actions by the government, though at the time considered "legal," are in accordance with the constituion.  Many laws have been struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.  However, I find it hard to get my head around how a cop on overtime at construction site is "corrupt."  But let's leave that as perhaps not the best example of what you are primarily saying: "the process of our government is now thoroughly corrupt. We, the people, no longer direct our government in any meaningful way."   I don't see things quite the way you do.  I cannot recall in my exposure to US history where there was any time in our republic's existence when we the people (meaning the average citizen) were ever satisfied that we could direct our government in any meaningful way.  Which is  to say, I don't think we are any worse off now than we've ever been in that respect.  In fact, there were many times in our glorious history when our liberties were far more constrained than today.  Can you name a ten year period where our liberties, and by "our" I mean all ethinc groups, religions, and persuasions, were better protected than the past ten?  There were times when portions of our government were well and truly, undeniably, and glaringly corrupt.  But somehow, we managed to get past those rough spots.  I would argue that the average citizen has more power now to question our government and influence events than at anytime in the past. I grant you that the Patriot Act raises concerns.  Enacted as part of our government's response to the 911 crisis, it was not made law out of any interest to curtail our liberties to further some conspiratorial purpose.  The men and women in charge were, and still are, genuinely scared that they would not be able to prevent another terrorist act, that they would miss an opportunity to connect the dots and uncover a plot to do us harm.  However, it may be time to draw back some of the special powers granted to law enforcement.  The longer those powers are left intact, the more opportunity presents itself for mischief. To address your initial question, The end of our democracy?, I would say no, not even close.  We may have a rough spot or two to get through, but we are in no way being forced into armed rebellion.  Count me out of that.  We will correct oursleves as we've always done, as free men and women, in more or less civil discourse, and despite the polarity of the day, with eventual compromise that will sort of, kind of, make the best sense at the time.  We've never been perfect.  My regards,   Tim
- Tim Jennings   Mar 07, 2012
I think the single most immediate and effective thing that the individual voter can do to impact the concerns you two have raised, the thing that will send the clearest and loudest message to both parties, is to drop his or her party affiliation and become an officially, recognizable, undeclared or independent citizen.  Imagine for a moment a large number of voters riding themselves of their party affiliations, declaring that they are fed up with the polarizing politics of both parties, and demanding a move to compromise and bi-partisanship.  You can bet the media would be on such a movement in a heartbeat.  With both parties facing large losses of registered members, heads would turn.  What we need is a bigger mass of swing voters, a larger center for which the candidates must compete, not more members of the party choirs singing the old hyms of party loyalty and solidarity.  By the way Claude, while I appreciate your description of police at construction sites as an example of government not performing its job efficiently and appropriately, I don't think it an example of "corruption."  It's merely a practice that started out with good inentions and morphed into an operation that should be re-considered, for the reasons you imply.  As a former public works director, I can tell you that having blue lights and a uniformed cop at a busy construction site clear;y enhances the safety of the men working in the street.  Most of us welcomed seeing the guy in blue, 'cause it's scary as hades out there standing on the road with nothing but an orange vest between you and frenzied traffic.  On the other hand, knowing that some of those cops are out there only to beef up their last three years of earnings, just to maximize their retirements, is irritating.  My point is that if a practice is glaringly visible and approved by our laws and government and within the constitution, it's not corruption.  Bad policy, yes.  Needs fixing, you bet.   I'm sure you and I could come up with a better way to skin that particular cat.  Tim Jennings Enfield, NH
- Tim Jennings   Mar 06, 2012
What you say is true: we in New Hampshire could more readily effect reform at the state level, especially since we are in any case less distant than many of the other states from a democratic process that can still be judged in some way democratic. But even in New Hampshire, we see the corruption of the state in many things. A glaring example has been the absurd and inordinately expensive state police presence at highway construction sites. Who has not shaken his head at the numbers that were regularly deployed at the Rochester Route 16 multi-year construction site? The cost, well above $10 million, was money that was entirely wasted (Did you ever look to see how hard at work these cops were?), and that waste was imposed upon us by a corrupt process that mandated, in the private interest of the cops' pockets, their presence. I found a very large number of citizens who were frustrated and angry, but did anything get done? Not at all. Our politicians simply lacked the courage to act for us. They were mau-maued by a bureaucratic and union interest. I cite this only as one example. So, the question: is redress of our legitimate grievances still possible by any kind of traditional democratic process? I think it doubtful. What is the alternative? Claude Roessiger
- Claude Roessiger   Mar 06, 2012
Them's fighting words, for sure.  Although I'm not sure I'd go so far as to support a revolution, I agree that my hopes for democratic reform lie at the state level - and particularly in NH, since as a small state with a relatively small government we citizens have much more potential to influence state policy.
- Anna Brown   Mar 05, 2012
Thursday night in the Great Room of Hampton's One Liberty Lane, the unthinkable happened: Republican presidential hopefuls gathered -- irrespective of their fundraising totals and place in the polls -- for the opportunity to answer questions from a moderator, ordinary New Hampshire citizens and one another. And the responses generally lasted more than 30 seconds. In many cases, much more than 30 seconds. Yet the tone remained civil, like the civil tone the Live Free or Die Alliance strives for and insists on in our Virtual Town Hall and Facebook discussions. Billing the evening as a "Constitutional Conversation," the Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC hosted former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, past two-term New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, former Louisiana congressman and governor Buddy Roemer and ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in a candidates forum before 200 people. Among the highlights: Johnson would effectively abolish the IRS via the so-called fair tax, an idea to scrap the current tax code in favor of national sales tax. Roemer said he prefers a flat tax. Santorum and Gingrich, while both calling for a shrinkage in the tax-collection bureaucracy, said any plan to get rid of the IRS is doomed, if not "delusional." "We've had a revenue service since the beginning of time," Gingrich said. "They're in the New Testament." Johnson, when asked what part of the Constitution he would like to see amended, favored repeal of the 17th Amendment, the 1913 provision that enacted the direct election of U.S. senators, rather than their selection by the various state legislatures. Roemer drew significant applause with an evening-long cri de coeur about the corruption of big money in elections, pointing to his own practice of limiting donations to $100 apiece as a way to mitigate the influence of political action committees and SuperPACs, which aren't even subject to the scrutiny of traditional PACs. He also said the small donations are in line with his view of America as a "bottom-up country" rather than one that is dictated by the whims of Washington, which he calls the "capital of corruption." And, on this night anyway, America showed it is a nation where rivals can disagree without being disagreeable. After criticizing Johnson for accepting PAC money, Roemer said, "If I don't make it, I'm going to vote for Gary." While Gingrich and Santorum didn't explicitly endorse one another when it was their turn to take the stage, they joshed about the fact that -- for the first time in the presidential campaign season -- Santorum was given the opportunity to answer first. "I'm used to being at the end, where I'm not given the chance to answer the questions," Santorum said, marveling at his change of fortune. However, Gingrich japed that he relished the opportunity to formulate his own responses while Santorum answered first. The mood was less jocular, however, when it came to criticizing President Obama's handling of the military, the economy and, well ... just about everything. When asked about Obama's largest failure from a constitutional standpoint, Gingrich deadpanned: "Not understanding which country he's president of."
- John Sullivan   Nov 10, 2011
Over the past few months, you’ve probably seen news stories from Concord about how the extreme agenda in the State House is already doing real damage to our state, our economy and our communities.   I was particularly troubled when New Hampshire recently became one of the first states in the country to cut off all funds for the breast cancer screenings, annual exams, birth control, and other non-controversial health care provided at Planned Parenthood health centers. This was a big win for the far-right, but it was a real loss for our communities. And it came at the hands of the our state’s five-person Executive Council, whose job is supposed to be keeping an eye on spending and key state appointments – not pushing a radical social agenda.   So today, I’m writing to share the news that I am planning to run for Executive Council in 2012, to be a check on Concord and to bring back smart management that puts our state economy first. (District 2)   Please join our growing team in this effort.   In just the two months since the Executive Council defunded this preventative health care, 3,718 New Hampshire men and women have already had their access restricted.  But sadly, the all-Republican Executive Council is taking this same out-of-the-mainstream approach to governing across the board.  This spring, they put state tax dollars at risk by refusing to coordinate local health regulations with the federal government, simply in order to score political points against the current administration.   And more recently, they are playing politics with government appointments — even refusing to appoint fellow Republicans to state boards if the candidates are too bipartisan.   This isn’t the “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire that I love.   We need a check on this  polarizing agenda in Concord, and instead we need to replace it with a new focus on growing the economy and keeping the government out of our personal lives.   This election will come down to our values: do we want an Executive Council that is willing to damage our state in order to amplify the partisan extremism in Concord, or do we want to moderate it with smart, and jobs-focused management instead?  Frankly, I’m embarrassed by the antics we’ve seen lately in the State House.  Putting a fringe ideology ahead of what’s best for New Hampshire families and our state economy would never fly in the private sector where I work as a business manager today, it would never be accepted at the New Hampshire nonprofits I’ve helped grow over the past decade, and it would never be tolerated by the elected leaders to whom I’ve served as senior adviser. We must do better.   Dozens of New Hampshire community leaders are already standing with me in this effort – please consider joining us today, sharing this effort with your friends by Facebook, Twitter, or Email, and making a donation to fund our campaign. We’ll have a more formal announcement next year, but I need your help now, from day one.   Talk with you soon,         PS – The measure to stop preventative health care for thousands of women across the state passed by just one vote: that of our current Executive Councilor here in central New Hampshire.   We will need to reach out to 263,294 voters in the sixty-seven towns of this district to get our state back on track– so please consider making a contribution today.
- Colin Van Ostern   Sep 26, 2011
I am writing to initiate a dialogue concerning what I consider a blight upon this State: I am referring to roadside litter. We live in a State which trades upon it's beauty. However, if you bike, walk, run, or drive on roads it is hard to avoid seeing rivers of trash - discarded bottles, cans, paper of various sorts, and other evidence of the detritus of everyday life. I am not referring to urban settings alone, but to so called scenic routes. Take for example route 1A on the Seacoast. The roadside is marred with every imaginable beer bottle and can. One can not walk more than a few yards without encountering such evidence. So what does this mean? What have we become? At the very least it says that we are careless. Possible it says that we don't care about the environment, or that we don't care about each other. Maybe it reflects a larger problem about respect, or the lack thereof : Or even a larger problem about the very fiber of this country. Like many others, I make it my business to pick up trash whenever I can. When I walk I am often seen with several cans or bottles in hand. There are volunteer groups who can be seen on spring days collectively doing the same. However, this does not even get close to remediating the problem. I have written to the Governor, and other State officials concerning this issue and have received sympathetic replies; but sympathy is not enough. I assume that any solution will involve education, penalties, and a permanent and ongoing way of cleaning up the mess. Additionally there needs to be a marketing campaign to reach out all ages in order to help create the Liiter Free State.
- Derek Stern   Dec 20, 2010
The University of New Hampshire recently launched a pilot program that encourages its students to seek medical attention for fellow students suffering an alcohol-related emergency. The concept of “medical amnesty” is part of a national effort being promoted by Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a nonprofit advocacy group that seeks to engage and mobilize students in the political process to address policies and laws pertaining to drugs (including alcohol) that it perceives to be harmful. At UNH the amnesty program can shield students from “punitive” school sanctions for illegal use of alcohol in exchange for a proactive call for medical assistance by the student affected or by a student acting on the affected student’s behalf. Here’s how it will work. If a student has placed a call for medical assistance, both the student offering assistance and the student in need of medical attention have the option of applying for medical amnesty. A campus hearing officer, using information provided by the student(s) as well as emergency responders or medical staff, can make a determination that medical amnesty is appropriate. If so, the student affected is likely to receive “educational sanctions” which could include assessment and alcohol education; however, the student would not be subject to punitive sanctions such as a fine or probation. The policy does not address law enforcement actions, nor does it absolve students of responsibility for other violations of the university’s code of conduct beyond the misuse of alcohol. Additionally, the amnesty applies to sanctions within the university’s conduct system and not to academic opportunities and privileges like study abroad and scholarships. This is not a subject without controversy. There are strong arguments both for and against medical amnesty, and we debated long and hard internally before agreeing to support a pilot program. We rightly resist policies that would in any way contribute to binge drinking. In fact, we stress the legal, academic, social and physical risks of alcohol and drug use even before our students attend their first class or spend their first night in a dorm. College students need to be responsible, and to learn that actions have consequences. But one of the consequences of irresponsible behavior should never be a preventable death. Indeed, one of our greatest duties as educators is to do everything we can to protect the lives of the young people in our charge. University policies should not discourage students from seeking potentially life-saving medical attention, even when the circumstances that give rise to the need for the medical intervention stem from irresponsible behavior or otherwise contravene university policy.
- Mark Huddleston   Oct 21, 2010
Since the Democrats gained majority control of the legislature in 2007, our core New Hampshire values of fiscal restraint, low taxes, less regulation, private property rights and individual freedoms have been under assault, and that is why I am running for re-election - to fight to restore our core values. Instead of relentless hikes in taxes and fees - 84 since 2007 - and a hostile regulatory environment, we need to reduce taxes and fees, streamline regulations and encourage small businesses to grow and get our 50,000 friends and neighbors back to work. Our state faces an $800 million deficit and the Democrats in charge have refused to make the tough decisions and cut spending. Instead they rely on accounting gimmickry, while our families and small businesses have been tightening their belts in these difficult economic times. The Democratic majority shamelessly introduce new tax proposals - capital gains tax, estate tax, electricity generation tax and local meals and rooms tax. The Democrats in Concord just cannot be trusted with your hard-earned dollars. I worked tirelessly for the repeal the job-killing LLC tax and that ridiculous 9% campsite tax - both were repealed. I will continue to be a strong advocate for working families and small businesses that can't afford a single new tax or fee increase. I have served in the New Hampshire legislature and with each new term I have taken the "Pledge" to oppose any boad base tax - and I do so again. Additionally, I have signed the "Private Property Rights Pledge" to "fight to protect and preserve private property rights for all of our New Hampshire citizens and businesses. I ask for your continued support and your very important vote in this most critical general election on November 2nd. 
- David Boutin   Oct 13, 2010


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