Forum, Sept. 11: Our Nation Is Circling the Drain

Monday, September 10, 2018
Our Nation Is Circling the Drain

In the last three years, I’ve had the painful honor of being there with both parents as they passed away. Both in their late 80s, they lived happy, full lives with few regrets. In the past two years, I’ve had a seat watching something ultimately more painful — the potential death of the idea called the United States.

Just the other day I listened to NPR as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee gave opening remarks in the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

The partisan divide is nothing new. We’ve been watching this evolve over decades. What struck me was the diversions.

Republican senators attempted to downplay the role of the court, stating, “We are not looking for this man to be some sort of super-legislator.” The GOP members went on the suggest that Congress has abdicated its responsibility by vesting regulatory power in departments and bureaus of the executive branch — “the ABC bureaucracy,” I believe they called it. While this plays nicely to their base, which claims to want small government and to trim governmental intrusions into personal liberties, the idea is laughable.

Congress can’t complete the most basic tasks of lawmaking, let alone make specific regulations about clean water or air, assess the safety of drugs and pesticides, or take actions to address the most exigent circumstances facing us daily.

Delegating regulatory authority to non-partisan subject experts possessing a complete body of evidence is not only appropriate but necessary. The key is non-partisan. Until, and unless, we can ensure this condition, we need non-partisan courts.

Now we watch a confirmation based on incomplete evidence, with committee members deliberately denied up to 90 percent of the data needed to make an informed decision.

No sane person would engage in, or endorse, such a process. These events are not normal vital signs of a democracy.

Indeed, they suggest that our nation is “circling the drain,” and the caretakers are discussing who’s hosting the gathering after the funeral.

Karl Stanford


For the (Corrected) Record

I made an error in my letter to the editor regarding Jeff Stiegler (“Backing Stiegler and Greyes,” Sept. 8). Stiegler, a candidate for Grafton County sheriff, noticed the error and contacted me.

Although he has had much experience with dispatch centers in New Hampshire and Vermont, he has not been in charge of such a system, as I wrote.

I sincerely apologize to Stiegler, to the other candidates, and to readers for my mistake. I also thank Stiegler for informing me of my error and appreciate his integrity.

Helen Skeist


‘Native American’ Is Misleading

In the Sept. 3 issue of the Valley News were two articles using the term “Native American” — a front page article concerning a new director for the Native American Program at Dartmouth College and an article on Page 2 about Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The term “Native American” is misleading. I am a native American. I was born in Harrisburg, Pa., and raised by parents whose forebearers were from England and Scotland.

Come to think of it, I know very few people who are not native Americans.

Canada used to refer to its indigenous people as “Aborigines,” now considered a derogatory term. Native tribes in Canada are now referred to as “First Nation,” a far better description.

I suggest we make a similar change, from “Native American” to “Original American.” Let’s face the fact that the first ethnic group to populate America had been in this land for many centuries before those from the British Isles and Europe arrived. They are truly the original Americans.

George Sutherland