Sunday, February 07, 2016

This is why people don't trust the media



Chris Matthews marching in a 4th of July parade. 


His wife is running for Congress. She's a former reporter, btw. From her campaign website, Kathleen Matthews for Congress:

Today MD-8 Democratic candidate Kathleen Matthews publicly endorsed Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.


Here we see Chris transcend mere sycophancy to attack Sanders so that Hillary doesn't have to. 




This is why people don't trust the media. This is why the cries of "liberal biased media" don't ever go away. 

This is conflict of interest.  

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Quaint Notions


Avoiding the appearance of impropriety used to be a matter of concern, especially for elected officials. Back in the olden days, a mayor or a congressman wouldn’t appoint his biggest campaign donor’s wayward progeny to a high paying job they were utterly unqualified for, because of ethical issues AND the appearance of impropriety.

Every now and then we give ethics a workout. Congressman Frank Guinta’s foolish acceptance of campaign funds from mommy was a thorny ethics problem for him, especially when he so vociferously called former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter a liar for actually pointing out HIS lies.

On the big stuff we sometimes pay attention. But when it comes to the small, ongoing questionable matters of ethics and conflict of interest, we don’t pay that much attention. Especially when it comes to New Hampshire’s 400 person volunteer legislature. The sheer number of legislators is problematic in itself. The other big problem is that there aren’t many investigative reporters working in our state any more. Newspapers are cutting back on staff, and trying to figure out how to survive and go forward into a very uncertain media future. In other words, nobody is really watching over the conflicts of interest our 400 state representatives and 24 senators may or may not have.

Are there conflicts of interest? Let’s take a look at a few bills.

HB 1554 is a bill to establish a sports lottery in NH. There would be lottery games for which one would purchase a ticket. There would also be lottery game machines.  The licenses for this sports lottery would be issued to individuals who have valid liquor licenses.

As it happens, the lead sponsor of HB 1554 is Representative Adam Schroadter, who owns a place that has live music, serves food and liquor.

HB 1252 is a bill that would permit employers to pay their employees either weekly or biweekly. An employer could petition the labor commissioner to pay even less frequently than that, although it would have to be once a month.

Many low wage workers work a couple of part time jobs. These are folks scraping to get by. Paying them even less frequently isn’t going to help them out any. Worse, though – is the impact this can have on tipped employees. Some restaurant/bar owners include credit card tips left for servers in their paychecks. This means a server might have to wait 2 weeks to get their tips. Given that the tipped wage is 45% of the minimum wage of $7.25 in NH, these folks aren’t paying their rent with their hourly wage. It does, however, benefit the employer who will spend less doing payroll and cutting checks for employees.

The lead sponsor of this bill is Representative Laurie Sanborn. She and her husband, State Senator Andy Sanborn own a sports bar in Concord. Representative Adam Schroadter is a sponsor, and so is Representative Keith Murphy. He owns a bar in Manchester.

HB 1540 is an act relative to shipments of beer. Sponsors? Murphy and Schroadter. HB 114 establishes beer specialty licenses. Sponsors? Murphy.

Murphy is a member of the Free State Project, those wacky armed miscreants moving to NH to take over our state government and threaten secession. The Free State Project party line is that the libertarians are coming to leave you alone! They want small government! Government small enough to benefit their own businesses and those of their allies.

No one said boo when Rep. Dan McGuire (R. Free State) sponsored a bill that would have caused taxpayers to foot the bill for the millions that would be required to move the Suncook River back after it jumped its streambed during a big storm. It wasn’t a feasible project, according to engineers, but McGuire went ahead. That his house is on the bank of the former riverbed was surely just a coincidence. It seems we don’t really pay much attention to conflicts of interest, and the “appearance of impropriety” is a quaint notion from the past.


The New Hampshire General Court Ethics Booklet is a useful publication. From Part One:

Public Office As A Public Trust
Legislators should treat their office as a public trust, only using the powers and resources of public office to advance public interests, and not to attain personal benefits or pursue any other private interest incompatible with the public good.


This sounds as if legislators shouldn’t be writing bills to benefit themselves or their own businesses. Hmmm. Will these restaurant and bar owners abstain from voting on their own bills? The odds that they will are slim to none – and slim is out of town.

There are a number of minimum wage bills, including bills that would increase the tipped minimum wage. All business owners should abstain from voting on these bills – especially owners of businesses in the hospitality industry. It’s the only industry where customers are expected to directly pay the wages of the staff. Imagine if you had to tip your bank teller or pharmacist. Owners love to howl that if they had to pay employees a decent wage they’d have to raise their prices sky high. As anyone who has ever traveled knows, other countries seem to make it work. Not only does it work - they all have single payer health care. Damned socialist hellholes.

In other news, the first in the nation primary is upon us. The calls, the door knocking, the mailings, and the ads…oh, it’s almost over.
Given that this is NH, I expect most readers have met at least one candidate, and been to events, and done some reading and talking and thinking about who to vote for.  I hope you’ll all find time to exercise the franchise on February 9th. The NH legislature continues to try to solve the non-existent problem of voter fraud by attempting to make voter participation increasingly difficult. Vote while you still can. 

The primary circus will leave town, and we can get down to the serious business of our state elections. As big and colorful as the primary stuff is, the folks we elect to our local, county, and state governments have a much bigger impact on our daily lives than the president does. Thanks to Citizens United, the cash spigot will be flowing in ways we’ve never seen or imagined. We will all need to pay close attention.





This was published as an op-ed in the February 4, 2016 issue of the Conway Daily Sun.  

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Chris Sununu - Impervious to Facts



Back in August, Chris Sununu voted to defund Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire, after the big fake video uproar:

With Planned Parenthood, “you have a criminal investigation on a federal level,” Sununu tells National Review, referring to a congressional probe into the organization launched by House Republicans. “If this had been any other business with this type of legal and ethical scrutiny, there would be no question about cutting state funds.” The state’s elected council voted to cut $639,000 in funding for Planned Parenthood. Their success may have been partly due to New Hampshire’s unique process, in which its elected council works with the governor to approve large state contracts.

(Note: The Executive Council is one of many processes unique to NH - like using user fees to fund our state park system. They are unique for good reason - they don't work well.)

There was a criminal investigation. Planned Parenthood has been exonerated. Here's the thing. Abortion is legal. Tissue donation is legal. Patients have to agree to it, just as survivors agree to organ donation when their family member dies. It's a choice. 

Not only has Planned Parenthood been cleared of any wrong doing, the videographers were indicted in Texas.  That's right, Texas. Not exactly the home of abortion friendly politics. 

Despite the exoneration and subsequent indictment, Chris Sununu is staying the course:

Chris Sununu, an executive councilor and Republican candidate for governor, said he will not change his position against funding two Planned Parenthood state contracts, after a grand jury in Houston, Texas, Monday found no wrongdoing by the organization relative to a fetal tissue program in that state.
Nor, he said, will he be influenced by the GOP-majority New Hampshire House’s vote Wednesday not to investigate the women’s health care provider. 

The facts aren't going to sway this guy! Nosiree Bob! 

In interviews Wednesday and Thursday, he said his continued opposition to the contracts is based on Gov. Maggie Hassan’s refusal to investigate Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and because of attacks against him by the women’s health care provider following his vote against the contracts. 

Sununu wants the governor to spend state money on an investigation of ....what, exactly?  Planned Parenthood has been exonerated. NH has never been part of the tissue donation program. 

“They proved themselves to be bullies and I don’t do business with bullies,” Sununu said.

An inability to handle pushback from opposition doesn't bode well for him should he be elected governor of our state. 



 Chris Sununu once had some cred as a pro-choice Republican, but now he is running for Governor. He's going to need a LOT of money to fund that campaign. Let us all ruminate on how many GOP funders will be willing to fund a "pro-choice" Republican. Sununu made a very calculated decision to choose money over facts. Money over women's women's lives. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

An Evening with John Nichols in Concord, January 25


Monday, January 25th, 2016, at 5:30 p.m.
John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, joins Gibson's Bookstore for a discussion of democratic socialism in the United States!
During the Cold War it became a dirty word in the United States, but socialism runs like a red thread through the nation's history, an integral part of its political consciousness since the founding of the republic. In this unapologetic corrective to today's collective amnesia, John Nichols calls for the proud return of socialism in American life. He recalls the reforms lauded by Founding Father Tom Paine; the presence of Karl Marx's journalism in American letters; the left leanings of founders of the Republican Party; the socialist politics of Helen Keller; the progressive legacy of figures like Chaplin and Einstein. Now in an updated edition, The S Word makes a case for socialist ideas as an indispensable part of American heritage. A new final chapter considers the recent signs of a leftward sea change in American politics in the face of increasing and historic levels of inequality.

Event date: 
Monday, January 25, 2016 - 5:30pm
Event address: 

John Nichols in Portsmouth, January 24


On Sunday afternoon, January 24, John Nichols will be in at the South Church in Portsmouth, discussing his recently updated book, The "S" Word, A Short History of An American Tradition....Socialism. 

John is the national affairs correspondent for The Nation, a prolific writer, a frequent guest on MSNBC, Democracy Now, and various radio programs, including The Attitude with Arnie Arnesen on WNHN in Concord. 

He's a captivating speaker - you won't want to miss this!

Sunday, January 24
South Church, 292 State St., Portsmouth, NH
4 - 6 PM

Facebook Event Page

Pledge Politics Create a Moral Vacuum



In 2013, State Senator Nancy Stiles of Hampton sponsored SB 190, a bill titled: relative to admission fees for certain persons at state parks and historical sites. It turned out to be a bill to charge persons over the age of 65 for admission to NH state parks and historical sites. Seniors are admitted free of charge. The bill would “allow them” to purchase a Granite Parks Pass at a third of the cost of an individual season’s pass.

An individual pass cost $60. That means that seniors would be “allowed” to purchase a pass for $20. For $10 a US citizen aged 62 or over can purchase a LIFETIME pass to our national parks. Here in NH, Senator Styles and her cosponsors wanted to sell a SEASON’s pass to a senior for $20. Such a deal!

On the day of the hearing, members of the committee referenced the $400,000 budget deficit that the NH park system always has. The park system constantly runs at a deficit because it is the only state park system in the country that is funded by user fees. At the hearing, it was taken as a given that this is the way it is, so gouging old people is one way to fill the gap Apparently it never occurred to any of the legislators to do something about a failed system. Apparently it hadn’t occurred to them that there’s a reason why NH is the only state that does it this way.

I testified before the committee. I pointed out that this was gouging old people who already had property taxes to contend with. I mentioned that it was disproportionately unfair to women, given that they make less than men over the course of a lifetime.  I was asked how I would fund the national parks, given that they’re having some funding problems. I said that if we cut the Pentagon budget in half, there would be plenty of money to fix all kinds of things. They asked me how I’d fund the state parks and the state. I said that I’d support an income tax, so that our state’s 27,000 millionaires were paying their fair share, and not living here in tax-free splendor. I was even asked why I cared about this, why I was paying attention – which was the most depressing question of all.  

The bill didn’t go anywhere in 2013, but in NH, bad ideas never die. They return again and again. This year, Senator Stiles is sponsoring SB 471, an act relative to discounts and admissions without charge at state parks. This bill doesn’t call for charging a fee or  “allowing” seniors to purchase a season’s pass. This bill opens the back door so that in a year or two some fees can be slipped in without anyone even noticing. It also stipulates that seniors will pay full price for using the Tram at Cannon on weekends and holidays, and more importantly, the elderly con artists who have been gaming the system will be paying full price for parking.

According to the numbers compiled by the Dept. of Resources and Economic Development, nearly 20,000 seniors were granted free admission to NH state parks last year. There were 1500 that accessed the Flume. A whopping 49 seniors scammed free admission to the Tramway at Cannon last year. I’m guessing the real problem is the 7, 704 seniors who were granted free parking at two state beaches. Senator Stiles represents the seacoast. That free parking could have raked in $115,500 if it weren’t for those darned elderly grifters.

Thanks to the way we fund our state, we have some of the highest property taxes in the nation. One of my friends retired and had to choose between the upkeep on her historic old house or paying her exorbitant property taxes. She sold the house and moved out of state. And good riddance to her! That’s one senior swindler that’ll never take her grandchild to the park for free again!

Even if the elderly mountebanks pay full price, it only brings in about $200,000. That’s only half of the deficit, so perhaps the senate can find another marginalized group to fleece in order to make up the difference.

It doesn’t stop there. SB 471 is an act relative to parking for persons with disabilities. There is no cost for a handicaped placard at the present time. This bill would establish a $5 fee for both temporary and permanent placards. The permanent placards would be renewed every five years. The fiscal note attached to the bill estimates that this new fee would bring in $162, 285 per year.

It’s worth pointing out that at the same time these bills are being proposed, our legislators are working diligently to cut millions of dollars worth of revenue out of our state budget by decreasing business taxes. It seems they’re going to try to fill in the gaps by taking from the elderly and the disabled; people who are largely on fixed incomes.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I have a handicapped placard.)

The five-dollar fee isn’t even the issue, though it might be a hardship for someone who is getting a series of temporary placards, in increments of a few months at a time. This is just another illustration of the complete moral bankruptcy that governs our state, thanks to our ridiculous tax system, and our allegiance to pledge politics. If this bill goes through, it would make NH the only state in New England to charge for a handicapped placard. Now there’s something to be proud of.

This is what our legislators are willing to do - nickel and dime seniors and people with disabilities, rather than appropriate enough money to properly run our state agencies. In their desperation to come up with some cash, any cash, (to fill in the holes they’ve created) they’ve chosen to go after the vulnerable. After all, the vulnerable don’t have former governors lobbying for them.

That this is what we’ve come to, as a state should be a source of shame to us all.



This was published as an oped by the Conway Daily Sun newspaper, January 22, 2016



My notes  from the hearing in 2013. 

Friday, January 08, 2016

Nipples and Nonsense






It’s the start of the new year, and that means that the legislature will be back in session! The fun has already begun, with some of our NH Republicans covering our state with glory in the national media.

You may have read that a couple of male legislators made boobs of themselves over the horrifying thought of being subjected to the view of a female nipple. It seems that State Representative Josh Moore was so incensed at the idea, that he told a female state rep that any woman who was putting her nipple on view deserved to have it stared at or grabbed. This is especially fun because Josh is Ted Cruz’s “faith based outreach” director in NH. (Be sure to ask Josh or Ted whose nipple Jesus would grab.) The other offender was Representative Al Baldasaro, who also made crude remarks, but stopped short of justifying assault.

This all came about because last summer some women staged a “free the nipple” topless protest at Hampton Beach. This apparently was too much for the Patriarchal Police, so
a trio of male legislators filed a bill (HB 1525) to define the circumstances that comprise indecent exposure and lewdness.  

NH has some serious problems. We have the 11th worst infrastructure in the United States. Our roads, bridges, dams, and water systems are in serious need of repair. We need telecommunications infrastructure. Young people are leaving the state in droves, because there are no jobs and no affordable housing. NH invests less than any other state does in higher education, so our college students have a tremendous debt load. We’re unwilling to raise sufficient funds to run the state as if it were a going concern, so all state agencies are insufficiently funded and don’t run properly. Our property taxes are some of the highest in the nation, and prevent young people from buying houses, and force old people to sell theirs.

The response of our legislature to the very serious problems our state faces? Nipples. Nonsense.

There are 8 bills attempting to eliminate abortion. Republican  men may not know diddly about planning future, but one thing they do know is that women can’t be trusted with their own bodies. There are 11 gun bills. There’s a constitutional amendment to try to ensure college students can’t vote here.  There’s a bill to require TANF recipients to be drug tested, another to dictate where SNAP benefits can be spent, and a resolution to encourage the governor and executive council to open their meetings with a prayer. Yeah, that’ll help. The legislature opens every session with a prayer, then they go on to do the best they can to ensure that the state’s poverty rate continues to rise.

Some of the bills are very familiar. Our legislators are not deterred by bills that fail to pass for decades – they just keep filing. There’s the usual attempt at defining “domicile” in ways that are aimed at preventing voting as opposed to encouraging it, this time in the form of a proposed amendment to our state constitution. Another constitutional amendment would require a 3/5 vote in the House to override any veto. We’ve heard these before.

HB 1629 would disqualify members of foreign terrorist groups from receiving public assistance. Is there a box that folks check off (yes or no) to notify the state that they’re members of a terrorist organization? HB 1542 would require drug testing of people receiving TANF benefits. This is one of Representative Don Leeman’s favorite hobbyhorses, brought back again. Kansas spent $40,000 on drug testing TANF recipients and got 11 positive test results. Mississippi spent $5,290 and got 2 positive test results. In a state that can’t afford to fix bridges, this seems like a bizarre use of funds, but hey, those poor folks aren’t going to demonize themselves.

HB 1115 stipulates that NH residents would only be required to obey our own state and federal laws. The laws of other states wouldn’t apply to us. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Frank Edelblut, a Republican who wants to be our governor. HB 1128 would designate the second week of September as Patriot Week. Because legislating patriotism makes it happen!

House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan is the lead sponsor of HB 1668, a bill that would create a registry for people convicted of heroin related offenses, and require the registration of those offenders. NH offers very little in the way of treatment for addicts. The GOP is determined to eliminate the NH Health Protection Program, (aka expanded Medicaid) which enables 40,000 low wage NH workers to access health insurance that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Insurance that covers treatment for addiction. Offering young people a future might be more helpful, (affordable education, good jobs, home ownership) but we’re not about to do that – so the only thing left is trying to prosecute our way out of a heroin epidemic. That it hasn’t worked yet is not a consideration.

Coming to us from the small gummint crowd is HB 1596, a bill aimed at changing the paperwork requirements for marriage. Representatives Itse, Hoell, Hill, and Ingbretson do not believe that the state should license anything, so they want to go forward into the past to the way things used to be, with couples filing a certificate of intent to marry, and then a certificate of marriage, which gives interested parties the opportunity to object to the marriage. I’m not making that up. It’s in the text. The text also only refers to couples that are comprised of a bride and a groom. It’s nice to see the same guys who moan and wail about gummint interference working hard to interfere in the personal lives of NH residents. Bravo, libetea dudes!


You can check out all 812 potential bills filed thus far at www.gencourt.state.nh.us . On the right side of the page, you’ll see the section labeled “State Legislation Dashboard” where you can find all bills – the good, the bad, and the peculiar. Presidential primaries generate a lot of heat and noise, but what happens on the state level has the greatest impact on our lives. Make it your New Year’s resolution to pay more attention.


published as an op-ed in the Conway Daily Sun on January 8, 2012