Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Remember Dr. Tiller

On May 31, 2009, Dr. George Tiller was murdered, in his church, by a terrorist. These are the three pieces I wrote following his murder. One was written as an op-ed piece for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.

US Physician Killed by Terrorist
This Murder was Allowed to Happen
The Tearful Troy Newman

Today I am remembering Dr. Tiller, and feeling the anger all over again. I still have the same questions I had 3 years ago:

At what point will terrorists stop having more rights than women and doctors?

At what point will we take domestic terrorism at abortion clinics seriously?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The House of Cards in Free Fall

By now you know that NH House Majority Leader DJ Bettencourt has resigned twice. The first time he announced he was getting married and starting a new job, so he'd be stepping down June 8, and wouldn't be running for reelection. The second time he resigned effective immediately, because it turns out he'd been falsifying intern work toward his law degree.

This editorial from really brings home the lies told by various members of the O'Brien junta. It's a good read. Here's part of it:

For those of you who might have been camping and unplugged from the news over Memorial Day weekend, Bettencourt announced Sunday that he will resign from the House immediately, after falsifying academic records submitted to the UNH School of Law.

Bettencourt had approached a fellow Republican lawmaker, Brandon Giuda, and told him he didn't have enough credits to graduate and needed an internship. Giuda gave him that internship but Betterncourt proved a no show, then lied about it to UNH. "I will never cover for a dishonest person," Giuda said.

The Concord Monitor reminds us that there are many questions still to be answered:

• It appears that O'Brien heard Giuda explain Bettencourt's fraud and was nonetheless willing to go along with the ruse that Bettencourt was leaving to take a job with the foundation. Was this an attempt to shield legislators and voters from the truth?

• Why didn't O'Brien demand an immediate resignation from Bettencourt?

• And when O'Brien heard Bettencourt's initial public explanation, was he troubled? If Giuda hadn't blown the whistle, would Bettencourt have avoided public scrutiny?

It seems to me, that if Bettencourt had done as Guida asked, Guida and O'Brien would have covered for him. That smacks of conspiracy. The voters of NH have a right to know the truth here.

In local news, James Pindell tweeted earlier today that Rep. Norman Tregenza of Madison has resigned, because he's moving out of the district. I hear he's been living out of the district for a while now. It must have been about to become public knowledge somehow - probably via real estate transactions in the newspaper.
There will be no special election - not with only about 10 days left in the legislative session.

Madison hasn't been represented for the last year and a half, so it won't make any difference. Tregenza spent his time in the House representing Ron Paul and the John Birch Society.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Frank Pageantry

On Tuesday (May 22, 2012), NH CD-1 Congressman Frank Guinta hosted a job fair in Conway, at Granite State College. A mere 4 days earlier, on May 18, NH Employment Security and Granite State College partnered on a job fair, at the same location. One might be tempted to think that two job fairs in a 4 day span must mean that there is a an abundance of available jobs. One would, of course, be wrong. The Guinta job fair was just another chapter in his re-election pageant. A failed chapter.

In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t get to the NHES job fair on the 18th, but I did attend the Guintapalooza. I spoke to folks who attended both events. By all accounts, there were 3 times as many vendors at the first job fair, many offering local jobs. There were more attendees, too. I’ll be generous in saying that about 50 people came through the Guinta job fair during the 3-hour period I was there. There were 14 vendors. Of the 14, two were branches of the Granite State college system; one was NHES,, the Small Business Administration, NH Works, and SCSEP (Senior Community Service Employment Network) a non-profit that helps low-income folks over the age of 55 find jobs. The businesses represented were: US Cellular, Avon, Bankers Life and Casualty Company, efi, Dove Chocolate Home Parties, Personal-Touch Home Health Services, and Aeroflex.

Aeroflex manufactures microelectronic components. They’re located in Londonderry and in Lawrence, Ma. EFI is located in Meredith. They print big stuff, like banners and billboards. Both of these workplaces involve a rather lengthy commute. US Cellular did have jobs available, though mostly in Maine. Banker’s Life was looking for unspecified numbers of people to sell their investment/retirement products. Personal-Touch Home Health Services is a national corporation that provides home health care personnel and services to individuals in their homes. They’re located in Berlin, and trying to gain a foothold in the Conway area. Avon and Dove Chocolate home parties are also available for locals. I watched a number of men walk around the room and leave without speaking to anyone.

The most glaring omission here wasn’t the dearth of actual companies hiring folks. It was far worse than that. There wasn’t a reporter or photographer from any mainstream media outlet there to capture the Congressman as he did a walk-through, and glad-handed the vendors. This was a pageant failure. No bouquet of roses, no sash, no tiara, and worst of all, no photographers.

When I went in, I did tell Guinta’s aide that I write for the Conway Sun, and do some blogging. This was a true statement. I didn’t feel compelled to explain in what capacity my writing manifests itself. The Guinta aides interpreted this as me being a reporter. As Guinta briefly worked the room, another aide approached me and asked if I’d like to speak with the Congressman. Naturally I said I’d be delighted to. The aide asked me a few more questions. When he heard my name, his face froze and he said, “I’ve heard of you.” So much for the opportunity to speak with the Congressman. The aide said Guinta had a meeting with the college president, but he’d be back. Guinta never returned. I only saw him speak with one actual attendee of the job fair.

In March, the Congressman had an event at St. Anselm’s College in Manchester that was billed as the first “Empower, Educate, and Engage Women’s Conference. I was there, with approximately 50 other women. There were a number of photographers and someone doing video recording. Guinta gave a short speech, encouraged us all to reach out to him personally, because he is here to serve the people of NH. Lots of pictures were taken. When the photographers left, so did the Congressman.

The Women’s Conference began with a panel about leadership, and included a rather lengthy discussion amongst the 3 panelists on the “psychology of dressing.” We learned that, as women, we are all leaders. The next panel was comprised of women from the non-profit sector. They were more interesting. The last presenter was a young woman who is the HR director at a corporation. She offered up a lot of information about resumes, interviews, and what to do about gaps in one’s employment history. That was especially important to the attendees. There were some young women there; some obviously students from St. A’s, but the majority of attendees were over 50. I spoke with many of them. Mostly they’re older women re-entering the workplace out of financial necessity. They have sick husbands or family members, they lost their savings when the economy crashed, there were many wrenching stories.

These were women who didn’t need anyone blowing smoke up their skirts about leadership. They’re just trying to stay afloat – and they’re scared. They know that as unemployed people over the age of 50, they have a better chance of getting struck by lightening than finding a good paying job. This conference did little to help the women in that room. It did, however, provide excellent photo coverage for the re-election pageant, which is the sole reason for all of the job fairs.

Congressman Guinta puts out a series of memos called “Frankly Speaking.” In spite of his alleged frankness, he still has yet to adequately explain the magic bank account that funded his 2010 campaign. Frankly Speaking Frank was terribly concerned with Congressional franking privileges during the 2010 campaign. One of his centerpieces was getting his teanut supporters all wound up about Carol Shea-Porter’s alleged abuses of the Congressional franking system. The franking system was created in 1775, and allows Congresscritters to send out mail under their signature, with no stamp or postage. Congress reimburses the Post Office for the franked mail that it handles. Candidate Guinta bemoaned the mailings of our former Congresswoman, and asked, “How is this supposed to help our deficit?”

Given all the caterwauling over the franking, I was shocked to learn that Congressman Guinta spent more than any other member of the House on franked mail. Let’s be frank about Frank’s franking. He sends out big multicolored mailers all the time. He does this, because he doesn’t actually want to meet with constituents. Guinta has chosen to conduct his “town hall” meetings with constituents via conference call. I’m sure you all remember the contentious town hall meetings held in 2010, where teanuts were shrieking at Congresswoman Shea-Porter. It seems likely that the GOP is smart enough to realize that their tactics could easily be turned on them. Guinta’s chosen to eschew events that might provide that sort of potential.

If Guinta had chosen to speak to me, it wouldn’t have changed my mind about how he has served this district. It would, however, have caused me to give him credit for being willing to speak with a member of the alternative/opposition media.

A last minute addition that didn't make the newspaper: Webster's defines a pageant as "a mere show."

© sbruce 2012 Published as an op-ed in the May 25, 2012 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Maynard Thomson, Again

Imagine you were a GOP County Chairman - and you were so arrogant that you didn't think that properly filling out expenditure forms (the ones all political committees and candidates are expected to file) applied to you. You - a lawyer, unable to properly fill out simple forms. Too busy writing your next romance novel perhaps?

Imagine that you resigned your County Chairmanship on the very same day that the NH Attorney General sent you a cease and desist letter, warning you that you were in violation of RSA 664:6. Then imagine that you went to work for Rick Perry's campaign. You remember Rick Perry?

If you were so thoroughly, publicly disgraced would you be writing letters to the editor that criticized ANYONE?

You would, apparently, if you were utterly lacking in common sense, conscience, or propriety. You would if you were Maynard Thomson.

Now, some history. Maynard Thomson has something of an obsession with me. He's been writing letters to the editor about me for over a decade. Those letters failed to get him any response, so he's also tried sending me personal letters. I didn't ask to receive mail from Mr. Thomson. This was all done on his own. And it was done as an attempt to intimidate me into shutting up.

I'm not the only woman he's sent these little billet-doux to. He's tried to intimidate at least 2 other women of my acquaintance by sending them letters. He's never sent a personal letter to a male columnist or letter writer - so it's clear that his creepy intent is to shut women up.

Maynard's last attempt at shutting me up came in the spring of 2009. I mentioned him in a column, and the brilliant barrister read it - but lacked sufficient comprehension skills, apparently, because he sent a letter threatening to sue me. At the same time, he attempted blackmail. If I would only publicly apologize for what I wrote about him, in my column, than he'd call off the lawyers, but other than that, he was going to sue me. At the end of this creepy missive, he suggested I meet him for coffee or a drink.

Instead, I took a shower. Ugh.

Then I wrote back. You can read my response here.

Thomson is the kind of snide, privileged white man who overestimates his own intelligence, and is pompous and arrogant as a result.

His latest missive to the Conway Daily Sun attempts to chide me (as usual) for being an idiot, while using highly selective "facts" in order to do so. This is, by the way, a change. Usually he doesn't bother with citing any kind of facts, he just makes pronouncements.

"It's a shame that columnist Susan Bruce's passion to demonize Republicans leads her into credibility-shattering errors, since her May 11 column, "Reverse Migration," contains some valid points.
The most blatant error is her bald assertion that "the state's unemployment rate has increased since the O'Brien junta took control." That rates a "Huh?"
The Republicans, with Bill O'Brien as Speaker, took control of the House in December 2011. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Hampshire's unemployment rate on November 31, 2010, the last full month of Democratic control, was 5.8 percent. According to the BLS, on March 31, 2012 (the latest data available), our unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, an over 10 percent decline."

You'll notice he goes for the last month of "Democratic control" so that he doesn't have to cite the actual TRUTH. Thomson is a fan of selective use of "facts."

According to the very same BLS that Thomson is playing fast and loose with, for the month of June 2011, the NH unemployment rate was 4.9%. That was the last month of the budget from the former biennium - the DEMOCRAT'S budget.

The following month, according to the very same BLS the NH unemployment numbers jumped to 5.2%.

That's one month into the O'Brien Freebaglican budget.

In other words, Maynard Thomson is generating a great deal of florid prose that boils down to one thing: bullshit.

"I've asked Ms. Bruce in the past to sit down with me and see if we can't find common ground on some of these matters."

I can't think of a single reason why I'd sit down with a disgraced former County chair, serial liar, and utterly creepy guy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Reverse Migration

A new report from the Carsey Institute at UNH shows that more people are leaving the state than moving in. In 2001, there were more people moving to NH than leaving, but by 2010, the trend was reversed and some 2,200 left the state. This report confirms the findings of demographers Peter Francese and Lorraine Stuart Merrill who published “Communities and Consequences: The Unbalancing of New Hampshire’s Human Ecology, and What We Can Do About It” in 2008. The book pointed out that NH’s population is aging, and essentially unfriendly to young families. The reverse migration is proof.

NH begrudges every dime it spends on education. Why would anyone move here (or stay here) with a young family, knowing that education is hated here because of our regressive tax structure? Then there’s higher education. NH spends less on our public colleges than any other state in the union. We’re so far in last place that if we tripled what we spend, we’d still be in last place. Last year a lot of states made cuts to their university systems. NH may be in 50th place for investing in our colleges, but we’re number one in spending cuts! NH cut 41% of the state funding to our colleges. The closest other state was Arizona, who cut a measly 25%.

Our students leave here with the highest burden of college debt in the country. It’s why the best and brightest students of NH don’t stay here when they graduate. There aren’t enough jobs for them, and the potential for opening their own businesses in a state that doesn’t invest in infrastructure is very, very limited.
Our state’s 27,000+ millionaires seem to be failing in their role as “job creators.”

Speaker of the NH House, William O’Brien, announced this week that he wants to eliminate a further $400 million from the state budget next year, if voters are foolish enough to send him back. The last budget shaved some $30 million off the DOT budget, in a state that has the 11th worst infrastructure in the nation. Folks will recall that the DOT planned to deal with these cuts by cutting back on plowing snow on some secondary roads. Rep. Gene Chandler, ever mindful of covering his own political heinie, charged in and “fixed” the situation, just as he’s doing now with the East Conway Road. Lucky for the Speaker Pro Tempore, we had a light winter, and some of those unspent DOT funds are being used to patch up East Conway Road. There’s certainly not enough money to actually fix it – nor will there ever be as long as we vote for the new, even more offensive breed of Republicans who are currently running our state. Don’t forget for a moment that Chandler is part of the O’Brien junta’s leadership team. He’s defended O’Brien, shilled for the dreadful budget passed in 2011, and will do the same, if voted in for another term. In past years, Chandler made sure a whole lot of money went to straighten and “fix” roads in Bartlett that really didn’t need fixing, while doing nothing for roads in other towns. If Conway voters send Gene back to Concord, they’ll continue to get exactly what they deserve. In the meantime, be sure to ask him for a look at the Speaker’s plan to cut $400 million more from the state budget.

It’s difficult to imagine why young families don’t want to move to a state that hates education and infrastructure, isn’t it?

In other legislative news, once again the clown car that is the NH GOP is providing us with more entertainment. NH state legislators have an email system. They can send and receive emails from constituents, and they can send out group emails to their fellow legislators through this system. State Rep. Jerry Bergevin of Manchester has been sending out some questionable commentary recently to all of his fellow legislators. Bergevin, you may recall, is the same fellow who filed a bill to create a “Terry Schiavo Day” in NH, and an anti-evolution bill. Bergevin wanted to teach evolution as a theory, but also to ensure that children were taught that the people who came up with the theory were atheists. He told the Concord Monitor that the Columbine school massacre was the result of teaching evolution. Another of Bergevin’s bills would have provided a “religious” exemption for those who wanted to refuse to provide services to gay folks. In other words, legalizing his own brand of bigotry, with a side order of piety.

Bergevin’s latest hobbyhorse is medical marijuana, and he’s been sending emails out to his colleagues calling them “Potheads” for exploiting the sick and trying to legalize “dope.” He mentions that he’s experienced pain from health problems, but only taken prescription medications. Bergevin predictably found a way to insert some ugly anti-gay commentary into his email. Best of all, however, were his comments on the upcoming elections. Here’s a direct (unedited) quote:

“RHINO republicans Hunting season is about to begin and I Love hunting 
these its going to be a Great Kill this year !”
Given the quality of his prose and his level of punctuation, those prescriptions he touted haven’t yet expired. The Speaker of the House and his Charlie McCarthy (aka Majority Leader DJ Bettencourt) have so far made no comment on Bergevin’s offensive, and vaguely threatening commentary, so one is left to assume that Bergevin’s comments are supported by his colleagues and the House leadership.

Once again, the Freebaglican legislature proves to be nothing but an embarrassment to our state. Despite their claims to be focusing on job creation, instead, they’re creating a climate that virtually ensures that businesses will be fleeing the state. The state’s unemployment rate has increased since the O’Brien junta took control.
Decent roads, bridges, and communications infrastructure are vital to the economic future of our state. Will we vote for the future in November, or will we continue to cling to the failed policies of the past?

Fun Fact: William Loeb – the dead Republican who still dictates NH policy from the grave, lived in a mansion in Pride’s Crossing, a wealthy enclave in “Taxachusetts.”

© sbruce 2012

This appeared as an op-ed in the May 11, 2012 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

NH Gets a Yeast Infection

A few days ago, Emily's List announced that they were endorsing Maggie Hassan in the NH gubernatorial race. This is noteworthy because EL supports pro-choice women candidates. There are two of them running for governor in NH. Candidate Jackie Cilley is also pro-choice, with a similarly distinguished pedigree. The filing period hasn't opened yet, and the primary is not until September, yet here we have Emily's List choosing sides.

Or, if you prefer: out-of-state special interest groups choosing sides.

Emily's List would not endorse Carol Shea-Porter for Congress until the other pro-choice woman in the race for NH CD-1, Joanne Dowdell, dropped out. Yet here they are, choosing a candidate before the filing period even opens.

One wonders what this is all about. It's true that one of Hassan's staffers is a former Emily's List employee. But, what is the most defining difference between the two candidates?

The Pledge.

The NH "no income tax/no sales tax" pledge, as given to us by the late Union Leader publisher William Loeb and the late Governor Meldrim Thomson. The pledge is a Republican tool to ensure that there's never enough money in the coffers of our state to actually do anything that needs doing. The timid conservadems who run the NH Democratic Party are in favor of the pledge, because it ensures that they continue to consolidate NHDP power in Manchester, which is hardly representative of Democrats throughout the rest of the state. It's unlikely that Emily's List made this decision without input from the NHDP leadership.

This kind of thing is one of the reasons I'm not a registered Democrat anymore. Remember 2006, when Jim Craig was the anointed candidate (by the DCCC and the NHDP) to run against Congressman Jeb Bradley in CD-1? He may be a very nice man, but he was an unimpressive candidate. I heard him speak at a candidate's forum in Sandwich, where he told the assembled throng how happy he was to be there in "podunk." There were audible sighs from the people standing near me. Sandwich is a small town, it's true. It's a small town where a number of well-to-do college graduates live. Politically savvy and active folks. The kind of people you want on your side. He blew it with the opening line - and went on to cement his fate by having to ask his staffer for answers to questions. This was the guy that the party chose to go up against a multimillionaire Congressman.

Emily's List is deja vu all over again. Emily's List has just joined the Susan G. Komen Foundation in terms of relevance and status in my mental filing cabinet.

This action by Emily's List serves to rip open a wound inflicted during the NH presidential primary in 2008. A group of prominent NH supporters of Hillary Clinton sent out a letter that lied about Obama's votes on choice in Illinois - just before the primary. Those of you who know me will recall that I didn't have a dog in that fight; I was neither a supporter of Clinton or Obama. It was just dirty business, two days before the primary. It created a divide between women in this state, a divide and hard feelings that continue to this very day. I know a couple of women who carry around the email, and a list of all of the signers - in their wallets. To this day. There are still a lot of hard feelings about that letter.

My point? Maggie Hassan signed that letter, and remains unrepentant about having done so.

From the Washington Post:

The other two Clinton supporters who signed both the critical e-mail and the conciliatory one stood more strongly by the initial one. Sen. Hassan said she, too, was unaware of the Illinois Planned Parenthood defense of Obama at the time she signed the critical letter, that she had only been told by the Clinton campaign that the Illinois chapter of NOW had cited concerns about Obama's present votes. She said it was wrong for anyone to suggest that Obama was not pro-choice, and that she was sorry about the upset that the letter had caused.

But Hassan stood by what she said was the main point of the initial e-mail, that Clinton was the most staunchly pro-choice Democrat. "All of the leading Democratic candidates are strongly pro-choice but I think Hillary's record is unparalleled. I stand by what I signed before the election and don't think it's inconsistent with" the new e-mail stating that Obama is strongly pro-choice, Hassan said. "Everybody's going to interpret these letters and e-mails as they want to."

Some of the other signers have apologized for getting hoodwinked into signing the letter.

Deja vu.

Even Foster's Daily Democrat - generally a mouthpiece for the GOP, chimed in with an editorial on this subject.

As Cilley pointed out in a press release following the EMILY'S List announcement: "Whatever the reasons, Emily's List made its choice now, even before formal electoral filing dates and without a discussion with their members in the State."

But if what Cilley also noted is true, it casts a cloud over the endorsement that may cause Hassan more trouble than it is worth.

Cilley: "Only a few weeks ago EMILY'S List advised me that New Hampshire voters would have the chance to choose their preferred candidate at the Primary before any decision being taken regarding endorsement. At no time did we ever sit down and discuss my experience and commitment to women's issues, my campaign plan and the qualifications of my team."

Read the whole piece. Coming from Foster's it is especially remarkable.

I've heard that some women who have been very generous donors to Emily's List in the past have called them to express their ire, and taken the money they might have given EL and donated it to Jackie Cilley.

I do have a dog in the fight this time. I'm supporting Jackie Cilley. Some will choose to dismiss this as sour grapes - but it's all about ethics and interference. I'm sick to death of outside groups coming in to manipulate our elections - ANY groups. They think we're an insignificant state full of hicks who don't know anything.

We're pretty smart hicks, in my opinion. This was a bad decision, and one that may well backfire on Maggie Hassan.