Friday, July 27, 2007

More Testosterone than Taste

The NH GOP is in deep doo. They lost big – lost almost everything last November. With their typical arrogance, they failed to take notice of the change in the direction the wind was blowing. They had held all of the power so long that they became complacent. They were entitled. And they got stomped on. The NH GOP really needs some money, in order to help finance the upcoming nasty, sexist, campaign against Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. Most folks still remember the awful Martha Fuller Clark ads that Jeb Bradley ran in 2002. The NH GOP is so bunched up about losing a seat to a woman that they’re ready to do anything to raise money to run a candidate with the proper equipment to navigate the halls of Congress.

They’re in the hole, because they were convicted and heavily fined for the 2002 phone jamming debacle. You remember – the GOP paid a Virginia telemarketing firm to jam phone lines at a phone bank where Democrats were calling for rides to the polls. The RNC paid millions of dollars in legal fees, trying to cover up and keep their scummy pals from getting wedged into orange jumpsuits. That’s right – they broke the law, and the consequences have caused a drought in their once overflowing coffers. Presidential candidates are flying in and out of state on a regular basis, so it’s not hard to attract one to almost any kind of an event. It’s a good time to rake in the shekels.

Fundraising, of course, is what political parties do. The Carroll County Republicans had a fundraising dinner this year, with Senator John McCain as their guest speaker. The Carroll County Democrats had a much larger affair, with Senator John Edwards as the headliner. Both parties have fundraisers all the time – from the swanky to the pancake breakfast – and everything in between. This year, however, the Manchester City Republican Committee hit on something completely different. They decided to have a machine gun shoot at a Pelham firing range.

Yesiree bob, a machine gun shoot! What a great idea! Since the first of the year, we’ve had two police officers killed by guns in the line of duty, we all watched the massacre at Virginia Tech unfold, where a lone gunman killed 32 people and wounded 25. Recently in Conway, three people were gunned down in the course of a robbery. A machine gun shoot is the logical follow-up. It’s hard to imagine, but there are folks out there who have been quite critical, who think this is in poor taste. Clearly these are people who aren’t familiar with the NH Republican party. Good taste isn’t in their repertoire.

The Manchester City GOP invited all of the GOP presidential candidates. All have declined. It’s hard to go anywhere without bumping into a candidate and the lesser known would attend just about any event in the hopes of boosting name recognition. Still and all, somehow Iowa looks more appealing than a machine gun shoot in NH. “I really tried to get Rudy Giuliani there,” said Jerry Thibodeau (chair of the committee) “Because I’ll tell you, this is a guy who can’t relax.” Great idea, Jer. Get a guy out on a gun range with a bunch of guys he doesn’t know and machine guns, and he’ll unwind quicker than you can scream, “AAARRRGGGHHH – he shot me!”

Thibodeau was also quoted as saying, “My first and foremost goal is that everybody who walks in walks out.” That’s something one doesn’t often hear in connection with a political fundraising event, no matter how bad the rubber chicken may be. The good news is that there will be 20 safety experts on site, and on-site instruction will be required for all participants. So much for natural selection. Jerry Thibodeau is quite excited about this. He said, “It’s a way of expressing yourself, I guess, we all have a little testosterone in us, right?” Indeed. That may explain a lot of things, including Ann Coulter’s overdeveloped Adam’s apple.

Manchester GOP City Committee executive director Kelly Hurst told the Union Leader that she carries a small pistol for personal protection, but went on to say, “I’ve never felt the need to carry a machine gun down the street with me.” Not enough testosterone, apparently. A day out on the range with the manly men may persuade her that it’s the right thing to do. This would be really perfect if they wore loincloths, and went out after a meal of rare roast beef, martinis, and Ted Nugent tunes. Thibodeau recently turned 60. Some guys opt for the mid life crisis red sports car – and some, apparently, opt for a machine gun. Good thing men don’t go through menopause.

The cost of this event is $25 per person. This doesn’t sound like a big money maker, especially without a presidential candidate. What these folks need to do is invite the Vice President. They need a big name – and who could be bigger than Dick Cheney? This could really put the Manchester City GOP on the map, and take a nice, relaxing, machine gun shoot to the next level. One wonders, however, why there are enough of them hanging around to even have this
event – shouldn’t they be firing machine guns in Iraq?

“I’m surprised Dick Cheney loves to hunt so much. The five times the government tried to give him a gun, he got a deferment." Jay Leno

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Overheated, Overpopulated, and Underwatered

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report this week, titled “Confronting Climate Change in the US Northeast.” This is a follow up to a report released last fall that used climate modeling to determine how greenhouse gas emissions could change NH's climate. The new study gave a worst case scenario, a look at what is likely to happen if we do nothing, and the better case scenario, that looks at what is likely to happen if we at least make a cursory effort at change. It's not a pretty picture either way, but better is always...well, better.

Anyone who has lived here for a few decades and pays attention is aware that our winters are not what they once were. It's why snow making was invented. There was no snow making when I was a kid, not because we were technologically behind – but because we didn't need it. We had snow. This lack of snow affects our tourist economy, and the lack of snow melt affects our water supply. Most business people here grasp this – the MWV Chamber of Commerce is working with the Carbon Coalition. Chambers of Commerce are not known for being liberal organizations full of wet-brained hippies. They're pretty darned conservative, yet they understand that the future of our local economy is at stake.

The worst case scenario in the UCS report looks at how the growing season, the crops, and the plant life could be changed. Apples and potatoes are cool weather crops. Cranberries and blueberries require cold weather periods in order to bear fruit. Maple syrup requires cold weather. Cows produce less milk when it's hot, and fewer calves. We currently experience about 10 days per summer with temperatures over 90 degrees. That would increase to 70 days per summer, with 25 days topping 100 degrees.

This change in temperature will change our landscape. An insect called the wooly adelgid that has wiped out stands of hemlocks as far north as southern NH. Scientists believe that they've stopped there because the cold winters kill them. With warmer winters, the pest will likely move north, killing the hemlock trees. Warmer temperatures will bring other pests, and require more pesticide use. Those pesticides wash off, and travel into the water table. A warmer climate will have a negative impact on our hardwood trees - the maples, beech, and birch. The logging industry would disappear, along with the spruce and fir trees. The worst case scenario predicts a two month winter season by the end of this century. That means no more skiing in NH, and very little snowmobiling.

The report also pointed out that we don't have to get to the worse case scenario. Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases will lessen the injury to our northern climate in the future. We have choices to make. The hysteria from the flat earth society “no such thing as climate change” is dangerous, and needs to be ignored. There are a few ways this can play out – the “good thing we did what we did, because look what's happening,” scenario, the “oops – I guess we didn't have to do all that,” scenario, or the “oh-oh, we didn't do anything, and now look at the mess we're in,” scenario. Which one do you want your descendants to be living in?

We have an opportunity to plan intelligently for the future, something that we've seldom been guilty of in Happy Valley. I've been following the proposed development of a municipal water supply over on the West Side Road with a watchful eye. This is not something that should be done in haste, because this doesn't just impact the folks on Birch Hill. A municipal water supply affects everyone in the area. A private company can always be sold. Who will own the water? Will Nestle, or one of the big water companies be able to buy the water and sell it in bulk overseas? Without the snow melt we have had in the past, the water supply is compromised. What will this mean to the people living along the Saco? Pennichuck may say it won't pump water out of the proposed Saco well site – but who is to say Pennichuck won't be sold?

Water is the oil of the future. As we now seem to believe that oil under the sands of other countries actually belongs to us, we will likely be invading our neighbors in Canada to reclaim our acid rain from their lakes. If the Union of Concerned Scientists worst case scenario takes place, we'll have 70 days a summer with the temperature over 90 degrees. Imagine facing that with a limited water supply. There will be more insects, which means more pesticides going into that precious water supply.

One thing the report didn't talk about is human migration. If northern NH is having summers of the sort the southern states NOW have, what kind of summers will they have? Those overdeveloped areas will empty, and all those folks will head north. We'll be overheated, overpopulated, and underwatered. Sounds great, doesn't it? We had better plan wisely.

“The longer we wait to reduce our climate related emissions, the more costly it will be to adequately address these problems.” Thomas Burack, State Environmental Commissioner