Richard Barnes

A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government. – Thomas Jefferson



Sex Offenders Rights

According to the Union Leader this week, Manchester is currently debating whether or not to ban sex offenders from being able to live near schools, playground or other places children would gather.  Sounds great, but is it actually a good idea?  For that matter, is the sex offender registry even a good idea?

As a parent I certainly appreciate knowing who in my town or near by towns are sex offenders, but just because you know Mr. Smith down the road is a sex offender doesn't mean Mr. Jones down the other side of the road may not also be someone dangerous we should keep our children away from.  The lists only point out known sex offenders yet it is the ones you don't know who you should be most worried about.

Also there is the question of when has a criminal done their time? The 5th Amendment states, "nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb".  In other words if you've already done the time the court has given you that's it, you cannot be re-punish for the same crime twice.  Yet that is what we are looking to do in many cases.  Criminals who have done their time and since been released are later sentenced a second time by being told they must "register" on a list.  And now as in what is being discussed in Manchester, they are being told they must sell their homes and move from where they live.

 The 5th Amendment also states however, "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;".  So someone convicted of a crime can be put to death if that is what is deemed correct punishment for their crime.  But that's just it... once punishment is given, that's it.

Ideally then when someone is released from jail we consider them having adequately being punished for their crime.  In some cases we continue the punishment after jail with probation and yes the sex offender registry but that was given as part of the sentence when the person was punished.  However, those who were sentenced and punished before the registry was created are now being given a new punishment for a crime they've already done their time for.  And as more and more towns seek to enact bans such as the one Manchester is looking at, that too is creating even more new punishments on top of what was already given.

There are also people who irresponsibly use sex offender lists to target ex-criminals for harassment and tormenting as was the case Gloria Hout in Manchester who had a mob of 15 people show up outside the apartment building she lives in shouting out names and even lighting a scarecrow on her wood front porch nearly setting the entire apartment building on fire.  While I'm of the mind that a bullet in the back of the head is correct punishment for many of these offenders, I'm also of the mind that regardless of the crime, once someone has done their time that's it... they did their time.  And in this case there were children living in that same apartment building.  Who was the greater threat to those children I ask you, the known ex-criminal or the angry mob who nearly burned the building down while the children were inside?

And now if Manchester does pass the ban, Gloria and others like her will be forced to move and in some cases to sell their homes after they've already done what the court has ruled as the correct sentence for their crime.

Re-sentencing someone who's already done their time, regardless of the justification for it is not just.   And in doing so as I already pointed out, it does nothing but create a false sense of security.  Sex offenders are out there.  Forcing those who are identified and known about to move away doesn't prevent new unknown sex offenders from moving in.  The other fear is that forcing more and more restrictions on those who are known will only drive them underground.  Think about it, if someone is a known criminal and they wish to continue committing the same types of crimes they were already convicted once for (or worse crimes) do you really think they would hesitate breaking others laws as well?  Of course there are those who think that stopping someone doing nothing wrong simply because they choose to use their second amendment rights actually accomplished something as well.  News flash, it doesn't.  It makes you FEEL safe but that's it... you feel safe.  Just like those at Virginia Tech felt safe because the campus banned guns.  Lots of good that did.



Merrimack and the Toll Revolt

By now I'm sure most of you have read the news surrounding Merrimack's upcoming toll revolt planned for August 27th in which people using the toll booths at exits 10, 11 and 12 will be paying their tolls in pennies. At 12:20 there will be an extra protest in that a group will gather in a motorcade and stop one by one at each of the 3 tolls paying in full in pennies.

The revolt has been a long time coming due to the government of New Hampshire continually ignoring the pleas of the people of Merrimack to eliminate the tolls. Merrimack is the only community in NH where you can not get on or off the highway without paying a toll regardless of what direction you travel thus placing an unfair burden on the town. While not the answer Merrimack was looking for Deb Pignatelli at least offered to toss some form of table scraps by seeking to offer a discount. Gov. Lynch stripped that option away from the executive council. That was the final straw, the people of Merrimack are now at war with the state and this is the first of what I hope to be many different forms of protesting that will continue until the tolls are removed (ideally from everywhere in the state).

The papers are predicting the protest could cause the machines to jam up leading to backups in traffic. Personally I think this will be just a glimpse of what the tolls will look like once the Outlets off exit 10 open but that's a different issue. Regardless of the outcome, the protests are already working in that they are getting papers to discuss the unfairness of the tolls and getting other forums across the state to likewise discuss the unfairness of them.

So the question remains will the state listen to the people it works for? Will it seek to eliminate the tolls or will it continue the unfair taxation on the people of Merrimack to the point they need to continue pushing for more forms of protests that will eventually impact the entire state to the point they will have to listen?

Here's something to think about...

Tolls tax only those who travel those roads.  Since the tolls are not equally distributed through the state the amount people pay have very little to do with how much traveling they actually do on the roads so in other words it taxes based on location rather then by use.

The tolls in Merrimack bring in about $3 million from the tolls collected.  Half to two thirds of that goes back to simply running the toll booths themselves.  That leaves the state with about $1.3 million revenue.

The state uses  about 715 millions gallons of gas per year.

A single one cent tax on gas would bring in $7.15 million a year equally collected across the state based on how much people drive and how environmentally unfriendly their car is.  Far more then the $1.3 million or so revenue the Merrimack tolls actually take in.  And the one cent gas tax would be better for the environment as cars would no longer need to idle needlessly at toll booths and the money would be collected for more efficiently since 50% or more wouldn't be going toward the method of collecting.  A 10 cent per gallon tax would collect over $71.5 million again far more then the $63 million or so the state wide tolls collect and it would do so in a more efficient manor and collect more evenly across the state without the need to place unfair burdens on certain locations over any others.

Alas, instead of looking at reasonable and efficient forms of taxation which do not place unfair burdens, the state like always does everything completely backwards.  Yup, they are looking to put in MORE toll booths along the Nashua border which would place more of a tax burden those who work in MA.  Sure it would collect some from MA residents who are coming to NH for tax free shopping, lower price cigarettes or just weekend get always at one of our lakes or destinations, but a gas tax would likely bring in money from those same people, not to mention the toll may end up harming many of the southern businesses in NH as it could discourage those living on the border from shopping here if they were forced to pay 50 cents or more just to cross the state line.



You Have Rights as Long as You Don't Use Them

Dave Ridley, who you may recall was arrested for exercising his 1st Amendment rights passing out a flier at a government office, was harassed again this past weekend for simply walking down the street exercising his 2nd amendment rights.

You have here the whole incident here from a recording made on a cell phone when it happened.

Dave was walking down the street in Manchester, NH and was subsequently stopped by the police, not because he was doing anything wrong, fit the descriptions of someone they were looking for or otherwise lead the police to have reasonable suspicion about his activities... He was stopped because he was using his right to open carry a fire arm.  As a result he was stopped, asked for his papers (ID) and had to prove he was NOT breaking the law before the police let him continue.  Just like something you see in one of the old back and white films of tourists traveling in dictatorships or government controlled countries.

Seems to me that this is completely backwards for America.  You would think the police would need to have reason to suspect you were not following the law before stopping you and giving you a hard time... not simply because you were walking down a street and legally carrying a gun.

Is it no longer a matter of being innocent until proven guilty?  If you choose to use your right to carry a fire arm are you instantly thought of as a criminal and must prove yourself innocent before being allowed to walk down the street?

This is what happens when we as a society stop using our rights, we lose our rights.

Let's hope we never get to the point were I'm writing about Dave's 3rd Amendment rights being violated because at that point it may be too late for any hope that this country be restored to a Constitutional Republic.


Secret FISA Courts

Last week I discussed Democrats seeking to expand warrantless wiretaping discussed in an article you can read HERE.  The oversight that is meant to make everything ok with the warrantless invasions by the government is that there will be review after the fact by secret FISA Courts.  So what exactly are the FISA courts and is their checking up enough to make warrantless invasions by the government ok?

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is a secret court made up of seven judges (later expanded to eleven) that were founded in 1978.  Since then they have given the ok on over 7500 warrants for searches and wiretaps and has only rejected one single request.  These hearings were done in 100% privacy with no public records or public opinions.

Since it's inception the powers of FISA have been expanded.  The largest expansion being under President Clinton through executive order 12949  which gave the power to conduct physical searches without the need of a warrant issued through open court, without notifying the subject that they have been searched and without the need to provide a physical inventory of any items seized.  This in essence tosses the 5th Amendment right out the window!

 Later in 2005 Democrats feigned shock at Bush's use of warrantless searches and wiretaps and turned it into part of the 2006 election (ignoring of course that it was Clinton's executive order in 1998 that gave the government nearly the same power) and it paid off for them as they sweep elections across the country yet now they push to continue expanding the same power they claimed they objected to just a few short years ago.

I don't care what side of the political spectrum you are from, this is frightening and both Democrats and Republicans support it (some just a little more hypocritically then others).



Democrats Seek to Expand Eavesdropping

Over the past couple years how many times have you heard complaints from the left that Bush is spying on Americans and warrantless wiretapping is evil and wrong?  I've lost count.  So imagine my shock when I read the following heading lin the New York Times... "Democrats Scrambling to Expand Eavesdropping". 

The article goes on to say "It would be the first change in the law since the Bush administration’s program of wiretapping without warrants became public in December 2005."

So for years we hear the chats from the left about how evil Bush is and how he's spying without warrants and yet the first change to the law the Democrats look to make is to expand its power.

And if that isn't alarming enough here's the real kick in the pants, "The Democrats have proposed that the eavesdropping be reviewed by the secret FISA court to make sure that it has not ensnared any Americans."  Reviewed by a secret FISA court, well that should put everyone at ease right?

Folks, if you honestly thought you were going to get something different by voting against Republicans in '06 guess again.  We are still in Iraq and the government is still looking to expand it's warrantless spying powers.