E. Scott Cracraft - In search of a sane, rational drug policy

In any crisis situation, it is difficult to maintain "balance" and the tendency is to either overreact or under-react. This is true of the opiate problem facing N.H. Of course, abuse of heroin and other drugs are nothing new in the U.S.A. but historically, it usually only gets called a "crisis" when it shows up in lily-white, middle class communities.

But, a crisis it is. The heroin now is stronger and cheaper than ever before. People are overdosing and people are dying. People who are "cut off" prescribed pain meds are turning to the illicit market. Narcotics need to be controlled and their medical use monitored but hopefully the current problem will not result in irrationality.

One cannot help but wonder if the war on opiates will result in doctors being reluctant to manage their patients' pain for fear they will get into trouble. Patients in pain who cannot get prescribed medications will simply turn to illicit sources. Doctors do and should monitor patients taking these medications and there is room for improvement.

In a previous op-ed in The Sun, this writer pointed out that the drug business is like any other capitalist economy. There is a demand side and a supply side. As long as there is a demand, someone will take the risk to manufacture or sell drugs.

Previous "wars on drugs," which focused primarily on the supply side and the busting of dealers and the eradication of drug crops (which hurt farmers in developing countries where growing coca or opium is more lucrative than other crops) were dismal failures-at U.S. taxpayers' expense. A sane drug policy addresses both supply and demand.

We should treat manufacturing and dealing of large amounts of dangerous drugs harshly. But, many people doing time for low-level sales are simply people who are supporting habits. It is easier to bust the user than the big suppliers.

As for the demand side, addicts need treatment. In spite of a Sun writer calling it "liberal claptrap," addiction has long been classified as a disease by the medical and therapeutic professions. Removing the stigma of addiction is a part of solving the problem.

Twelve-step programs like A.A. and N.A. are great but there also needs to be professional, medical intervention and more public funding for the same. There also needs to be more control over the private, for-profit rehab industry, which sometimes operate their facilities like cults and use scare tactics to bilk money out of families.

There also needs to be realistic drug education and this starts at home. As with sex, kids need the facts and not what adults wish them to think. They do not need D.A.R.E. cops telling them to turn in their parents if they smell pot. Nor, should they be told "all drugs are the same." While it is likely that most crack addicts smoked marijuana at some point, it does not follow that everyone who tries pot will smoke crack.

As for cannabis, medical marijuana should be legal in every state and the Feds need to remove it from the list of "Class I" controlled substances. Naturally, there would have to be rules. Perhaps even recreational use should be legal for adults as it is in two states.

Legalizing pot might actually result in less use because this might take away some of the "thrill." As for other drugs, perhaps we should follow the example of Portugal where mere use is decriminalized without legalizing trafficking. This might give the police more time to concentrate on more serious crimes.

But historically, it is usually police organizations that have lobbied the hardest against changes in our marijuana laws. Many even oppose medical pot. They say that medical pot will be diverted to the illicit market.

Of course, that can happen but doesn't the same thing happen with other prescribed medications? Or, they say if pot is legal for adults, some will get to the kids. But doesn't that already happen with booze?

People seem to forget that our two most dangerous and most addictive drugs, alcohol and tobacco, are completely legal. Alcohol is celebrated in our culture. But, these substances are responsible for more deaths, directly and indirectly, than all the other drugs combined.

(Scott Cracraft is a citizen, taxpayer, veteran, and resident of Gilford.)

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Pat Buchanan - Eviction notices

The self-righteousness and smugness of Ted Cruz in refusing to endorse Donald Trump, then walking off stage in Cleveland, smirking amidst the boos, takes the mind back in time.

At the Cow Palace in San Francisco in July of 1964, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, having been defeated by Barry Goldwater, took the podium to introduce a platform plank denouncing "extremism."

Implication: Goldwater's campaign is saturated with extremists.

Purpose: Advertise Rocky's superior morality.

Smug and self-righteous, Rocky brayed at the curses and insults, "It's a free country, ladies and gentlemen."

Rocky was finished. He would never win the nomination.

Richard Nixon took another road, endorsed Goldwater, spoke for him in San Francisco, campaigned for him across America. And in 1968, with Goldwater's backing, Nixon would rout Govs. George Romney and Rockefeller, and win the presidency, twice.

Sometimes, loyalty pays off.

About Cruz, a prediction: He will not be the nominee in 2020. He will never be the nominee. If Trump wins, Cruz is cooked. If Trump loses, his people will not forget the Brutus who stuck the knife in his back.

To any who read Allen Drury's "Advise and Consent" or saw the movie, Ted Cruz is the Senator Fred Van Ackerman of his generation.

Yet, beyond the denunciations of Trump and disavowals of his candidacy, something larger is going on here. The Goldwaterites were not only dethroning the East Coast liberal establishment of Rockefeller, but saying goodbye to the Republicanism of President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon. Something new was being born, and births are not a pretty sight.

What was being born was a new Republican Party. It would be dominated, after Nixon, by conservatives, who would seek to dump the Accidental President, Gerald R. Ford, in 1976. They would recapture the party in 1980, and help elect and re-elect Ronald Reagan.

Vice President George H. W. Bush won in 1988 through the exploitation of cultural and social issues. His Democratic rival, Gov. Michael Dukakis, opposed the death penalty, opposed public school kids taking the Pledge of Allegiance, and had a progressive program to give weekend passes to convicted killers and rapists like Willie Horton.

Once this became known, thanks to Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater, the Little Duke was done. The Dukakis tank ride in that helmet, to show his aptitude to be commander-in-chief, probably did not help.

The crisis of today's Republican Party stems from a failure to recognize, after Reagan went home, and during the presidency of George H. W. Bush, that America now faced a new set of challenges.

By 1991, America's border was bleeding. Thousands were walking in from Mexico every weekend. The hundreds of thousands arriving legally, the vast majority of them Third World poor, began putting downward pressure on working-class wages. Soon, these immigrants would begin voting for the welfare state on which their families depended, and support the Party of Government.

By 1991, free trade had begun to send our factories and jobs overseas and de-industrialize America.

By 1991, an epoch in world history had ended. With the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the Cold War was suddenly over. America had prevailed.

"As our case is new," said Lincoln, "so we must think anew and act anew." Bush Republicans did not think anew or act anew.

They were like football coaches who still swore by the single-wing offense, after George Halas' Chicago Bears, the "Monsters of the Midway," used the T-formation to score 11 touchdowns and beat the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL championship game, 73-0.

What paralyzed the Republicans of a generation ago? What blinded them from seeing and blocked them from acting on the new realities? Ideology, political correctness, a reflexive recoil against new thinking, and an innate inability to adapt.

The ideology was a belief in free trade that borders on the cultic, though free trade had been rejected by America's greatest leaders: Washington, Madison, Hamilton, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

The political correctness stemmed from a fear of being called racist and xenophobic so paralyzing, so overpowering, that some Republicans would ship the entire Third World over here, rather than have it thought they would ever consider the race, ethnicity or religion of those repopulating America.

The inability to adapt was seen when our Cold War adversary extended a hand in friendship, and the War Party slapped it away. Rather than shed Cold War alliances and rebuild our country, we looked around for new commitments, new allies, new wars to fight to "end tyranny in our world."

These wars had less to do with threats to vital interests, than with providing now-obsolete Cold Warriors with arguments to maintain their claims on national resources and attention, not to mention their lifestyles and jobs.

With Trump's triumph, the day of reckoning has arrived. The new GOP is not going to be party of open borders, free trade globalism or reflexive interventionism.

The weeping and gnashing of teeth are justified. For these self-righteous folks are all getting eviction notices. They are being dispossessed of their home.

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Jim Hightower - What's next for the Sanders revolution?

As we approach the upcoming Democratic convention, let's look back at the race ... and forward to the future.

The mainstream media tried to reduce the two Democratic campaigns as a Hillary v. Bernie war. The reality, though, is that most Sanders backers were enthusiastic precisely because his campaign's purpose was far bigger than the usual personality politics. Supporters were signing up for a revolution against corporate rule.

To achieve this, we have to keep mobilizing for a truly democratic movement, and this is much harder than one presidential run. Sanders and close advisors are strategizing to help grow the grassroots rebellion — from school boards to Congress. This new coordinating effort will build on the framework and momentum of the campaign.

Outside of Sanders' circle, a multitude of Bernie supporters are not waiting on a smoke signal from headquarters. With the primaries over and the convention starting, a mushrooming, percolate-up creativity has already burst into new organizing projects that are advancing this energized populist movement. Here are just two examples:

The People's Summit. In the world of politics-as-usual, a losing candidate's supporters just drift away, but All-Things-Sanders tend to be unusual. So, on June 17, just three days after the final Democratic primary, some 3,000 Berniecrats from all across America gathered in a Chicago convention center to "Keep the Bern Alive." Rather than being morose or cynical about Sanders not winning the nomination, attendees were exuberant about the future and the movement that he galvanized. This extraordinary, uplifting event was a combination of tent revival and workshops for serious strategizing and organizing, and was rightly labeled a "Festival of Joyous Rebellion." The two-day summit was convened by National Nurses United (a scrappy, aggressively progressive union) and co-sponsored by more than 50 diverse and effective democracy-building groups.

This meeting had a minimum of blah-blah and a maximum of planning on how to put experienced, locally-based organizers and volunteers directly into growing the movement — starting now. These ever-larger and broader local coalitions will: (1) be rooted in principled, anti-corporate politics; (2) launch direct grassroots initiatives and actions on a range of populist issues; (3) recruit, train, and elect thousands of movement candidates to school boards, city councils, state legislatures, and other offices; (4) deepen the relationships and sense of shared purpose in this revolutionary democratic movement. And (5) — Make it fun — putting the "party" back in politics. www.thepeoplessummit.org

Brand New Congress. What if progressive organizers and volunteers joined forces to run a nationwide campaign to replace today's corporate-owned congress — all at once? Yes, one sweeping campaign to oust all incumbents of either party who owe their jobs to the Big Money powers. Those congress critters, feeling snug in their gerrymandered rabbit holes, could be outed by hundreds of coordinated, Brand New Congress campaigns running simultaneously in every state. Each local campaign would back candidates publicly pledged to fight for an agenda of economic, social, environmental, and political justice.

Impossible? Not in the minds of Zach Exley, Becky Bond and other former Sanders staffers who conceived and implemented this campaign's successful grassroots model that Exley calls "distributed organizing." They trained and empowered tens of thousands of far-flung volunteers to be autonomous organizers, digitally linked into a nationwide network, eliminating the need and cost of a rigid hierarchy of "leaders" to boss volunteers, recognizing instead that volunteers themselves are leaders — in churches, clubs, workplaces, community groups, etc. Now they're applying this model to Brand New Congress that will carry the message of authentic populism and a shared agenda of populist policy proposals.

BNC is to be a true bi-partisan effort, running Dems in blue districts, Repubs in solid red ones, and independents whereever that makes sense. But wait — how can BNC get Republican candidates to run on progressive values? By recognizing that true populism is neither a right or left theory, but a top vs. bottom reality that even middle-class and lower-income Republicans can relate to. (Note: In Vermont, which often elects Republican governors, Sanders won 71 percent of the vote in his last Senate race). Indeed, outside of the right-wing Congress, many rank-and-file Republicans would support stopping global trade scams and crony-capitalism corruption, as well as assuring health care for all, recognizing climate change, and standing up to bigotry.

Bernie has urged his supporters to keep pushing for their democratic ideals. "Real change never takes place from the top down. It always occurs from the bottom on up — when tens of millions of people say 'enough is enough' and become engaged in the fight for justice. That's what the political revolution we helped start is all about. That's why the political revolution must continue."

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

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Michael Barone - Is America ready for a disruptive president?

Disruptive. That's a good word to describe Donald Trump's presidential candidacy, and to describe the sometimes-ramshackle Republican National Convention his campaign more or less superintended in Cleveland this past week.

Apple disrupted the music industry; Uber disrupted the taxi cartels; Amazon disrupted the mega-bookstores. Global competition has been disrupting American manufacturing for decades. The inundation of low-skill immigrants unintentionally produced by the 1965 immigration act has disrupted many communities and big metro areas.

Over history, America has mostly been built by disruption. Certainly the Loyalists in the American Revolution thought so. So did the farmers who cheered for William Jennings Bryan's free silver as industrialization was disrupting the farm economy.

The New Deal was disruptive. So was World War II. As Yuval Levin points out in his book "The Fractured Republic," both the political left and political right see the two post-WW2 decades as normal, with high family formation, low crime, strong faith in institutions and relatively smooth economic growth.

But that period was there exception, not the rule. Postwar America was massively disrupted by the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations, high crime, urban riots and antiwar protests.

That's the point in time when Donald Trump began using his father's political connections to move his Brooklyn/Queens real estate business to Manhattan and beyond. And to stamp his last name on casinos, hotels and eventually a reality TV show.

When Trump came down the escalator at Trump Tower 13 months ago and announced his candidacy, almost no commentator took his chances seriously — except the Dilbert cartoonist, Scott Adams.

The other 16 Republicans largely represented a party consensus: conservative on cultural issues; pro tax cuts, backing military interventions and free trade. Trump was different: perfunctory on cultural issues; against the Iraq War; corrosively critical of trade agreements and illegal immigration.

Trump's victory in the Republican race owes much to $2 billion or so of free media coverage and to his 16 rivals' unwillingness to risk attacks that might recoil against them. His dystopian picture of America and the world spinning out of control gained credibility after terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, Orlando and Nice, and even more so after recent mass murder of police officers. This was the centerpiece of his acceptance speech in Cleveland.

Trump didn't get a majority till he got home to New York April 19, but by May 4 all his rivals withdrew.

It's widely appreciated that Trump appealed especially to non-college-graduates and older voters. There's also an ethnic angle. Groups with high degrees of social connectedness and respect for order — Mormons, Dutch- and German-Americans — were largely immune from his appeal. People without such ties, whom he called Thursday night "people who work hard but no longer have a voice," were drawn to him.

Groups that respond positively to raucous disruptive appeals rallied to Trump: Scots-Irish along the Appalachian spine from western Pennsylvania to northern Alabama; and Italian-Americans, half of whom live with 100 miles of New York City. If you draw a map of counties where Trump topped 50 percent by May 4, the great bulk of them are along that diagonal and within that circle.

For 20 years American elections have been battles between two roughly equal-sized armies in a culture war, with results differing little year to year. It's easy to predict how 40 states will vote, much harder to predict who will win the election.

Donald Trump may well disrupt this pattern, too. Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes seem within his range, as well as Ohio's 16 and Florida's 29 — which together would have made Mitt Romney president. Trump seems less competitive in states with younger, more educated populations, such as Colorado (9) and Virginia (13). Heavily German-American Wisconsin (10) seems hostile; low-social-connectedness Nevada (6) quite friendly.

It's not clear that this disruptive convention will help him. Trump's managers have disrupted the traditions in place for 30 years. These rules had been: only supporters speak, sessions end promptly at 11 p.m., don't visibly crush dissent, vet speeches carefully. Monday saw a rules rebellion squashed. Tuesday it was controversy over a bit of anodyne plagiarism. Wednesday it was Ted Cruz's ringing non-endorsement, booed off the stage.

But there's another way of looking at a campaign that has not gone conventional wisdom's way. Disorder and disarray work against the party in power. Terrorist attacks and police shootings are not what America thought it'd get in the Obama years.

As tech billionaire Peter Thiel argued Thursday, disruption is a good thing when old ways — and especially government — aren't working well.

(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

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Blueberries and The Silent People of Finland

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The Silent People of Finland outside of Suomussalmi, Finland

What do wild blueberries and The Silent People of Finland have in common?
A hike in the Belknap Range
By Gordon DuBois

Anyone for blueberry pie, blueberry jam, blueberry cobbler? The wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) season is upon us and picking is in full swing. If you are a wild blueberry aficionado better head to the barrens before the fruits have vanished from the bushes. This week, with my friends Karen and Tom Barker, along with Reuben, I headed to the Belknap Range where the wild blueberries grow in abundance. On the side of South Straightback Mountain we found an incredible field of blueberries just dripping off their slender stems. In an hour we filled our pails and mouths with hundreds of the beautiful, blue, iconic fruit of Northern New England.

Earlier in the summer (see the article "Hiking Into the Eastern Belknap Range," 7/8/16) I had hiked to the summit of South Straightback mountain via the Jesus Valley Road and the Straightback Mountain Trail. There I encountered field upon field of blueberry blossoms. I knew that in a few weeks the mountainside would be covered with the gorgeous blue fruit. So this week I put out a notice to friends who would be interested in harvesting a crop of berries along with hiking some of the best terrain in the Lakes Region. Tom and Karen jumped at the proposition of hiking a section of trails and picking blueberries along the way.

On a very hot and humid day, we set out for the Jesus Valley Road trail, just off Route 11 to begin our trek up Straightback Mountain via the Blueberry Meadow Trail. As we approached the ridge running over to Mt. Major, we beheld a beautiful sight: an Elysian Field of blueberries. It was like magic when we spotted the endless meadow of low bush berries full of ripened fruit. It seemed as though a magnet just sucked us into this meadow. Within an hour we had filled our buckets and our stomachs with this delicious fruit. Reuben laid beside me in this beautiful meadow filled with wildflowers and berries. A slight breeze was blowing that provided a welcome relief from the heat and humidity of the day. I felt as though I was laying in Elysium, the beautiful meadow referred to in Homer's Odyssey, the ultimate paradise where men lead an easier life than anywhere else in the world. I found my own Elysium where the berries hung like grapes from the vine, just waiting to be picked. If you have never tasted a wild low bush blueberry, then you have never lived. Forget those propagated high bush barriers or better yet, throw out those frozen berries from the grocery store and head to the hills with your bucket in hand to begin picking.

As we filled our canisters with berries, the wind began to pick up and the skies turned cloudy. The weather report for the day predicted severe storms that would be moving in by the afternoon. We decided to pull stakes and continue on our hike along the Belknap Range Trail, hoping to be off the mountain before the storm hit. As we hiked the trail at a brisk pace we couldn't resist the temptation to stop and scoop up a handful of berries as they dangled from bushes along the trail. We even had a contest to see who could grab the most berries in one swipe. I think Karen won with nine! As we neared Mt. Anna we decided to head down the Precipice Trail into the valley below.

We wound our way along the ridge of Straightback, traversing sheer cliffs that provided exceptional views to Piper and Hill Pond below. Upon reaching the Cascade Brook waterfalls we descended carefully. Reuben took advantage of the small pools of crystal clear, ice-cold water that were dammed up behind blocks of granite. I'm sure it was a welcome relief for him in the sweltering heat of the day. Karen, Tom and Reuben zipped down the rock strewn cliff as I stumbled downward on my two metal replacement knees. When we arrived at the base of the cascades, with little water flowing due to the recent drought, we followed the trail out to the Old Stage Road, or at least we thought.

We followed this woods road, which also serves as a snowmobile trail, for about a mile until we came to a housing development on a lake. We were confused. We thought this path would take us back to the Jesus Valley Road. Instead, we were wandering aimlessly around looking for a clear way back to where we started our trek. Tom took out his trusty compass and Karen her outdated map. They came to the conclusion that we were headed in the wrong direction. However, Reuben being the smart dog that he is, began leading us along a trail that led to an open field filled with what we thought were scarecrows. There were 20 to 30 of these fixtures planted in an open area in the middle of nowhere – at least this is what we thought. It was surrealistic. It was as though we had entered the twilight zone, with these stick creatures eyeing us. After my initial shock I noticed a sign on a post that read, "The Silent People of Finland." Apparently this strange outcrop of stick figures is a replica of an artwork located in the small town of Suomussalmi, Finland, and created by the Finnish artist Reijo Kela. This particular reproduction must have been created by a Finn who lives in the area.

According to the sign, "No one knows the artist's idea behind the Silent People. He feels the viewer should come to their own conclusion. Some (people) view it as a state of psychological withdrawal, some as forgotten people." Others reflect that it could be a symbolic gesture of the thousands of Finnish soldiers who died in the Finnish-Russian war of 1939-40. Whatever the meaning, it is a very eerie, yet powerful work of art.

After spending a few moments contemplating the display, we continued on our journey, hoping to find the Old Stage Road and the way back to our waiting vehicles. After walking for some time on a snowmobile trail, we finally found, to our surprise, that we were on the Old Stage Road and would soon be back at the Jesus Valley Road trail head. When we did reach the parking area, we were relieved to know we didn't have to spend the night in the woods or have to call the Alton Fire Department for a rescue. We could drive home to the comfort and safety of our own homes. What a day it was, beginning with the Idyllic Elysian Fields of blueberries and ending with the Silent People of Finland, representing the tragedy of war. Hiking the Belknap Range never lets me down.

If anyone knows the story behind the Silent People of Finland that stands in the Gilmanton, Alton, area please contact Gordon DuBois at the email address below.

Gordon has hiked extensively in Northern New England and the Adirondacks of New York State. In 2011 he completed the Appalachian Trail (2,285 miles). He has also hiked the Long Trail in Vermont, The International AT in Quebec, Canada, Cohos Trail in northern New Hampshire and the John Muir Trail in California. Gordon has summited the New Hampshire Hundred Highest peaks, and the New England Hundred Highest in winter. He spends much of his time hiking locally and in the White Mountains with his dog Reuben and especially enjoys hiking in the Lakes Region due to the proximity to his home in New Hampton. He is also a trail maintainer for the BRATTS (Belknap Range Trail Tenders) and can be found often exploring the many hiking trails in the area. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Karen picking blueberries

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