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Hope can be dangerous placed in the hands of political phonies

To The Daily Sun,

I just finished watching one of the recent revisions of the Peter Pan story. Like most action movies, it was stuffed with plenty of special effects. But the story line seems to have been subverted to the embellishments. It reminds me of the over-the-hill treatment of most Hollywood creations these days. The more the headlines scream at you, the more crime, revolt, unrest and excess of all stripes invade your living room, the more people seem to recoil into fantasy.
You see this mass exodus from reality in all facets of society. Comic book heroes are depicted acting out the fantastic imagined adventures of immature young boys who seek fake glory. Most markedly, craven politicians preach quick and certain fixes to leverage decreasing self-esteem in a world that continues to devalue individuals. Subsequently, the politeness and mutual consideration curve of general society continues to erode.
For me, the whole phenomenon seems to explain two huge problems: the drug culture and the recent allure of fascist politics (i.e., "...take my word for it, dummy — I'm gonna get THEM and fix IT"). The common thread here is the need to escape, and, the stunting of adult sensibilities.
If that's true, then what is it that most people want to escape from? I believe that, for now, the modern world has walked away from normal humans. It is simply too complicated a place for too many people to cozy up to. We are truly left standing in the lurch watching the slow vacuum of formerly third-world countries absorb industrial production at rock bottom costs. Centuries old religious beliefs and allegiances are drying up with the emotionally unsatisfactory remains of 'mere' philosophy or scientific facts — all of which are the domain of scholars, engineers and scientists. Not very uplifting or consoling for the common Joe.
If you want to have serious conversations about how to move forward, it seems to me you must look the tiger square in the eye. No one politician is going to solve the major problems of the world. Not in two terms and certainly not in one term. These issues must be addressed by placing adults in office who remember how to address complicated issues in America's ongoing experiment in democracy. This leaves plenty of competition in the arena of political ideas. But few are joining in.
Please don't ever forget that virtually all human advances start as an idea. In this country, the system used to work because the best ideas got their candidate in office. It's where the phrase "American Pragmatism" was born. In cases where different or opposing ideas shared equal representation, the miracle of compromise, once a revered art, had prevailed.
In theory, the idea process starts with support from the electorate — 'We the People' — and not with the corporations and other special interests. Recently, the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling equates "freedom of speech" to unlimited corporate political funding. If you believe as I do, this is an egregious and specious argument. I can't imagine my employer giving unlimited funds to candidates on behalf of the business. What if you don't want that candidate? That's the money you and I earned for them that they're giving away! It is I and my co-workers who vote. When was the last time you saw a corporation walk in and pull the lever for a candidate? I'll tell you — it's when candidates' coffers are stuffed with obscene amounts of money from their Citizens United super-pacs. Makes your vote seem kind of puny, huh? Not to mention insulting all the hard work you do.
Most politicians and law enforcement people agree that the drug wars have been a failure. That's easy enough to swallow. When I graduated from high school in 1967, the word marijuana was not a household term. Fifty years later, all sorts of drugs are prevalent in high schools and beyond. What has changed so dramatically from the 1950's until now? Well, hope has seemingly vanished. People want to escape this dreary landscape but there are no exits in sight — for many, that means drugs and/or alcohol as a way of life.
Hope is a strong motivator but when the need for it is so strong, it can be dangerous when placed in the hands of political phonies who promise the world without an adult plan of attack.
Personally, I do not believe that shutting down government or running campaigns that are based solely on personal trash talk get results. I don't have to prove that — just look at the past couple of decades.
I urge you — do not be afraid of complicated, long-term and reasonable solutions to our problems. This election offers you two choices and one of them wins. Do not make the child's mistake of placing your trust and admiration in a man who offers P.T. Barnum advice and who clearly does not have the personal control required of the office. Do not be duped by fake patriotism. If you have watched the Trump campaign you cannot push aside your most basic feelings that he is worthy of the office. I here so many people argue, "...well, he's not a saint, but..." Listen to the "but" part of your deepest soul. It's telling you that this man cannot possibly be president of the United States without inflicting disaster on us and the rest of the world. For me, all other arguments about the opposing side pale in comparison.
I'm writing this two days before Halloween. News has just been released regarding the FBI Director's renewed interest in the Clinton e-mail "scandal" — all against the dictates of his boss, the United States Attorney General. Mark my words — WikiLeak's will pile onto this just days before the election for a double-whammy. It will take months to sort all of it out. By then, possibly the most significant election of this era will have passed.
Do not fall for this obvious political intrigue. Hmmm. I wonder what dirt bag Sen. Frank Underwood's complicity is in this?

Paul B. Utiger

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Do these Republicans think we share their lack of concern

To The Daily Sun,

Our representatives in the New Hampshire House supposedly represent our points of view on important issues facing our county, and state. It is clear to all of us that we have a serious drug problem that is causing crime, wrecking the lives of addicts, their family and friends, even resulting in death to many. Since late 2015, our state government has recognized the magnitude of the crisis and the need to address it. An examination of the voting records of our Belknap County representatives, on the other hand, has led me to conclude that many of them have no understanding of the crisis and choose not to work on solutions.

Four important pieces of legislation have been passed within the last year, starting with the creation of a bipartisan task force to study the crisis and propose needed legislation. The creation of this task force passed by a 290 to 46 vote. Even though this task force was at no cost to the taxpayers, three of your county representatives, Aldrich from District 2, Howard from District 8, and Sylvia from District 6, voted against it. They decided that it was a bad idea to even study the drug crisis!

As a result of the task force study, three significant bills emerged to address the crisis. The first was Senate Bill 576, which had bipartisan sponsorship, including from all three senators representing parts of Belknap County (Senators Cataldo, Forrester, and Hosmer). The bill added fentanyl to the New Hampshire Controlled Drug Act and clarified that substance abuse disorder treatment was covered under the Medicaid managed care program. The bill also required the Department of Health and Human Services to confer on creation and staffing of a drug crisis hotline to facilitate immediate treatment help for those seeking it. SB-576 passed the House 276 to 69, with more than half of the Belknap County Delegation voting NO. Representatives Aldrich from District 2, Fisher from District 9, Howard from District 8, Spanos from District 3, Sylvia from District 6, Vadney from District 2, and Varney from District 5 all voted against it.

The next opportunity for our county Representatives to address the drug crisis was House Bill 1000, which passed 235 to 74. This legislation created and funded a grant system for state and local criminal justice agencies to fund efforts to address the drug crisis. Representatives Aldrich from District 2, Howard from District 8, and Vadney from District 2 all voted against it. Representatives Sylvia from District 6, Fisher from District 9, and Varney from District 5 were all absent for this important vote.

Senate Bill 533, which passed the House 235 to 109, appropriated money for three specific types of programs which have proven successful in other places. The first appropriation was for $2,500,000 to Health and Human Services to fund evidence-based treatment and prevention programs. Next was $2,000,000 to the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority for supportive housing for persons with substance abuse disorders. An additional $500,000 would go to Health and Human Services for the creation and operation of peer support groups to coach recovering addicts to prevent relapses. This bill was opposed by Representatives Aldrich from District 2, Fraser from District 1, Howard from District 8, Spanos from District 3, Sylvia from District 6, Tilton from District 3, and Vadney from District 2.

Representatives Aldrich and Howard voted NO on all four bills, with Sylvia and Vadney voting NO on three (Sylvia absent from the fourth), and Spanos voting NO on two.

Do these Representatives believe that the citizens of Belknap County share their lack of concern for this crisis? If so they are quite mistaken. If the citizens of Belknap County want the drug crisis to be dealt with in a serious, sincere manner they should vote all of these callously indifferent legislators out of office on November 8.

Lew Henry
Gilmanton Iron Works

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