Thursday, January 05, 2012
First in the Nation
The Iowa caucuses are over, and the circus has come to NH. The national and international media are either here or on the way, and the whole world is watching. The Iowa caucus generated a lot of discussion about the relevance of Iowa in the Big Political Scheme of things. The effort to end New Hampshire’s favored First in the Nation status are ongoing. So, with all that in mind, knowing that they eyes of the world are upon us, the NH legislature has decided to stop pretending to have a laser like focus on job creation, and is bringing out the full on crazy. News sites and blogs are having a marvelous time laughing at NH, and the berserkers that we the people sent to Concord last year.
Some recent national headlines are courtesy of Rep. Jerry Bergevin of Manchester. Bergevin is a freshman legislator, one of the many Teabaglicans swept into office during the noxious red tide of 2010. Bergevin wants our public schools to teach creationism, and has filed two anti-evolution bills, in the hopes of dictating religious curriculum. Bergevin told the Concord Monitor that teaching evolution has a global societal impact that led to the rise of the Nazi party, and ultimately the Columbine massacre. (Warning: do not try to make sense of this.) Bergevin seems to be his own best proof that evolution is only a theory.
National headlines are also being made by a trio of freshman legislators who filed HB 1580, after a “brainstorming” session that seems more likely to have been binge drinking. HB 1580 stipulates: “All members of the general court proposing bills and resolutions addressing individual rights or liberties shall include a direct quote from the Magna Carta which sets forth the article from which the individual right or liberty is derived,”
That’s right, folks. The Magna Carta, a British charter issued in Latin in 1215, requiring King John to proclaim certain liberties. As a widow, I find comfort in this section of the document: “No widow shall be distrained to marry for so long as she wishes to live without a husband, provided that she gives surety that she will not marry without our assent if she holds of us, or without the assent of her lord, if she holds of another.” Does this make Speaker O’Brien my lord?
On January 5, the NH Senate passed HB 542, a bill that allows parents to pull their children out of any lesson they object to, and demand that the school replace it with alternative curriculum. In other words, parents can object to any course, and force the school to come up with an alternative. In a single class of 20 kids, that could mean 20 individual lesson plans. Not only is that unworkable for an already overworked teacher, it’s going to be mighty expensive for the local taxpayers. And that, readers, is the goal. The Teabaglicans are doing their best to eliminate public education by ensuring that it doesn’t work. This bill is so bad that even the Union Leader, propaganda arm of the NH GOP, is opposed to it. As I’ve said before, eliminating education is the best way to ensure more GOP voters.
Of course, that bill may not even be necessary. The just passed HB 334, which prohibits any private entity from prohibiting firearms or knives on any property owned “in whole or in part” by the public. That means that state colleges can’t ban weapons – and for that matter, neither can public kindergartens. All but 3 Carroll County Representatives voted in favor of this bill, by the way. Only Babson, Knox, and Patten voted against it. Guns in schools, guns in nursing homes, and guns in the state psychiatric hospital! Guns in civic arenas and stadiums! Guns and booze, guns and the mentally unstable, and guns and kids – what could go wrong? This is obviously a clever accompaniment to HB 542. Fewer students means lower educational costs.
Nowhere is there any concern being expressed for the sorry condition of our state’s infrastructure. A recent story in Fosters highlighted the closing of a bridge between the town of Milton, NH and Lebanon, ME. The bridge had been redlisted for a long time, and finally was too unsafe to remain open. Maine is willing to pony up their share of the cost of rebuilding, but NH doesn’t have the funds. And because people aren’t willing to drive miles out of their way to get to local businesses on the NH side, one business has already closed, and others may well be on the way. I’m sure a quote from the Magna Carta would be a great comfort to Colleen Savarese and Jeff Everett, who lost their small business and a big chunk of their future.
The O’Brien junta has offered no practical solutions to anything. Instead, this legislature has served up dementia on a plate at every opportunity. They’ve done their level best to ensure that no money comes in to our state coffers, guaranteeing that we won’t have that oft-touted “spending problem.” We don’t even have the money to fix our bridges.
The prospects of moving a business to NH seem increasingly unlikely. Why would a company choose to relocate to a state that is deliberately sabotaging its infrastructure and educational system?
The red tide swept in at a time when the legislature was beginning to repair some of the damage that 150 years of GOP rule had done to our state. The current legislature has set our state back even further. It will take decades to fix all of this, and I’m not sure it’s possible. Our backward tax structure guarantees that our infrastructure will continue to crumble, thanks to a legislature that seems to view Somalia as a model to emulate.
Meanwhile, the whole world is watching the side show the NH legislature is providing. Look for a big future fight questioning why the Magna Carta state should have any role at all in the presidential primary process.
© sbruce 2012
published as an op-ed in the January 6, 2012 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.
Posted by susanthe at 9:12 PM