- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 25, 2014

While much of America takes to their living rooms in freezing January, there’s big doings in the Granite State, where the New Hampshire Rebellion — a nonpartsan grass-roots group — is busy planning a chilly gathering to protest political corruption and to send a message to presidential candidates that local voters are “no longer for sale.” In mid-January, hundreds will bundle up and walk over 250 miles to the four corners of the state, to eventually converge on the State House in Concord on Jan. 21. Walks will be held simultaneously from Dixville Notch, Portsmouth, Keene and Nashua. Yes, there’s a rally.

Their message to the potential presidential hopefuls from both sides of the aisle: “The NH Rebellion will make big money in politics the central issue in the 2016 presidential primary by asking every presidential primary candidate, How are you going to end the system of corruption in Washington, D.C.?” the group says in their mission statement.

“The growth of this movement here in New Hampshire shows that people across the state from every political background are taking a stand to stop systemic corruption in our political system,” declares project manager Jeff McLean. “The demand on candidates to spend the majority of their time raising money from narrow interests artificially heightens polarization and leads to the dysfunction of Congress and its historically low level of public approval. It is time we take on this root issue.”

This is not the first time the locals have gotten mighty restless. Last January 207 walkers marched 190 miles from Dixville Notch to Nashua — snow and all — with much ado. “We call on every citizen of the state to join us in declaring to the presidential candidates and the nation that we won’t be bought,” says Dan Weeks, director of Open Democracy, a Concord-based “nonpartisan reform group” that aids in the outreach.

MEMO TO CONGRESS: RESTORE AMERICA’S CONFIDENCE

Public annoyance with both the White House and Congress is an ever-present factor as Americans wait for signs of productivity. Negative reviews of Congress, in fact, are as high as 93 percent at year’s end. But there’s some genuine damage to some infrastructure here. The public is not just angry; it’s losing confidence in leadership. Not good. “Only a fourth of Americans are confident that the government will do what needs to be done for the country; two-thirds of Americans — 67 percent — are not confident. Confidence is especially low among independents, at 19 percent, versus 31 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats,” reports Larry Shannon-Missal, managing editor of the Harris Poll, which surveyed 2,225 people about their concerns. President Obama gets a negative review from two thirds of the respondents. Lawmakers do far worse.

“It’s unlikely to surprise anyone following politics to hear that positive ratings for Congress continue to hover in the single digits — 7 percent to be precise, while a strong majority of Americans — 93 percent — give them negative marks. The only marginal gift under Congress’ collective tree this month is that their positive ratings are up a bit from December of last year, when only 5 percent gave them positive marks,” Mr. Shannon-Missal adds.

THE SCIENCE OF POLICE BODY CAMERAS

President Obama vows to spend $75 million on body cameras for U.S. law enforcement officers in the future — and here come the effectiveness studies of this emerging phenomenon. Researchers from the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology have published what they call “the first full scientific study” of the effect of body-worn cameras on policing, based on initial yearlong field tests conducted in Rialto, California, two years ago. The British researchers say the knowledge that events are being recorded creates “self-awareness in all participants during police interactions” and prompts the individuals in question to modify their behavior. And the numbers: They report that use of force by officers wearing cameras fell by 59 percent while reports against officers dropped by 87 percent when compared to previous figures.

The research team cautions the findings are “the first step on a long road of evidence-gathering, and that more needs to be known about the impact of body-worn cameras in policing before departments are steamrolled into adopting the technology — with vital questions remaining about how normalizing the provision of digital video as evidence will affect prosecution expectations, as well as the storage technology and policies that will be required for the enormous amount of data captured.”

MR. CLAUS HAS BIG PLANS FOR JANUARY

Now that the big day is over, the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas — yes, the hundreds of Santa Claus stand-ins who sport authentic, meticulously groomed white beards — are staging a reunion in January, and they want “the entire Christmas community” to join them for a two-day event near Los Angeles.

The Santas are an inclusive group. Everyone who helped out in all those mall and department stores is welcome at their big doings. “Designer bearded Santas, Mrs. Clauses and elves from across the U.S. are all welcome and heartily invited to attend the reunion luncheon,” the organization advises.

LESS REGULATION, PLEASE

Despite promising news of an improving economy, the U.S. makes a poor showing in the global marketplace due to some lousy big-government habits. “For all of its financial might, the U.S. lags behind many other developed nations when it comes to its business climate, and the gap is growing,” says Kurt Badenhausen, a financial analyst for Forbes, which ranks the U.S. 18th on its annual list of “Best Countries for Business.” This makes the fifth straight year of declining status.

“Blame an expanded government, as well as expensive new regulations in finance and health care. The U.S. is the only country to record a loss of economic freedom seven straight years in the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom,” Mr. Badenhausen continues, noting that over 130 major new federal regulations for business startups have been added in the last five years, at an annual cost of $60 billion. Heritage, in fact, places America 81st out of 146 countries for monetary freedom.

“The U.S. also gets knocked for its corporate tax climate, which ranks 43rd out of 146 in the World Bank’s Doing Business report. The statutory corporate rates in the U.S. are the highest in the world among developed countries, and the complexity of the code keeps an army of accountants busy,” the analyst adds, noting that this “makes for bad PR.”

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: The Historic Wagener Farm, built in 1885 by leading farmer and miller in the region, located on two acres in New Castle, Virginia. “Four square” brick Victorian; 3,600 square feet of living space; three bedrooms, three baths, library, dining and living rooms, breakfast room, den, five fireplaces, heart of pine flooring throughout, wide crown moldings, beaded ceilings, bay windows, multiple arched entries, built-in bookshelves. Updated kitchen with stainless steel appliances, composite counters with integrated sinks; detached two-care garage, carriage shed, dog run and kennel. Mountain, sunrise and sunset views.

Priced at $239,000 through ParkPlaceRealtors.com (MLS number 809728).

POLL DU JOUR

52 percent of Americans say a solution “will be worked out” regarding troubled relations between blacks and whites.

51 percent say the nation’s criminal justice system “favors whites over blacks.”

46 percent say race-related situations “will always be a problem” in the U.S.

41 percent say the judicial system treats blacks and whites equally.

40 percent say “almost none” of their local police are prejudiced against blacks.

22 percent say “a few of them” are; 15 percent say “some,” 10 percent say “most,” 8 percent say “none of them.”

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,011 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 18-21.

Murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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