Thursday, December 18, 2008

Exhuming the Past

The NH GOP suffered severe losses in the November elections. Not only did most of their candidates lose, they also lost in the area of voter registration. For the first time, Democrats outnumber registered Republicans. Obviously, this is a bitter pill to swallow, and the sour grapes they’re using to wash it down with don’t seem to be getting the job done. Instead of looking at why this is happening, the NH GOP prefers to blame the elusive liberals from Massachusetts who are migrating here in vast flocks. There is no basis for this theory, but it’s better than self-reflection, apparently.

Poor Fergus Cullen, the chair of the NH GOP has also been getting plenty of blame. Fergus seems to have spent too much time trolling blogs and not enough time actually working to get his candidates elected. As his fellow Republicans readied the torches and pitchforks to call for his ouster, Fergus was saved by the Ghost of NH Past. Former NH Governor John H. Sununu decided that his position as the hog reeve of Hampton Falls just wasn’t enough any more, he was ready to rise like a zombie from the political graveyard he was consigned to after “voluntarily” resigning his position as White House Chief of Staff to President George H. W. Bush.

John H. Sununu served 3 terms as Governor of NH. In 1988, he served as Chairman of the National Governor’s Association, where he led the fight to ease requirements to amend the US Constitution. He was also known for having a bad temper. Sununu wasn’t afraid to scream at people in the State House. Governor Sununu left office claiming a $10 million budget surplus. A few days later, newly elected Governor Judd Gregg projected a $13 million budget deficit, and directed state agencies to cut spending by 3 percent. This, even after Sununu quietly transferred $5 million from the capital reserve fund to the general fund in order to help achieve the “surplus.” The Democrats called it the “Sununu Deficit.” Judd Gregg kept to the GOP code of omerta by not criticizing Sununu for leaving him in that position. The Sununu deficit was especially ironic, given that Sununu had been so critical of presidential candidate Governor Michael Dukakis for his budget woes.

Governor Sununu was rewarded for all of his hard work on the Bush 1 campaign by being named White House Chief of Staff. He brought his trademark arrogance to Washington, where he began to distinguish himself right away. Sununu cut salaries, from senior staff on down, while his own salary steadily increased. He was abusive to the senior staff, who called him the “fat little pirate” behind his back. Sununu’s abusive behavior led one senior staff member (speaking anonymously to Time) to refer to him as the “Saddam Hussein of bureaucrats.” Sununu also alienated the press, frequently telling them that not only they were wrong, but that they were stupid.

Anyone as arrogant and abusive as Governor Sununu needs to be above reproach. He was not.

In a 2-year time span, Sununu took 77 flights that cost over $500,000. He claimed 49 were official business. The twin-jet C-20 Sununu frequently used cost taxpayers $3,945 an hour. Sununu paid $17, 578 for his and his family’s flying, political supporters were billed for $53,000, while taxpayers were stuck with the rest of the bill – about $400,000. . Official business included ski trips to Colorado, apparently. He also took trips home, and to the dentist that cost the taxpayers about $30,000 per trip. Even after this story went public, His Arrogance directed his government paid chauffer to drive him to NY, to a stamp auction at Christies, where he spent $5,000 on rare stamps. He sent the chauffer home alone, and hitched a ride home on a private jet.

What is most ironic is that Sununu didn’t break any laws, and all of it might have slid under the radar, except that he made so many enemies. He was hoist by the petard of his own arrogance and vindictiveness. In 1991 he resigned, saying he didn’t want to be a drag on Bush 1’s reelection campaign. No one begged him to stay.

This is the man that NH Republicans are choosing to lead them into the future. Sununu has already called John Lynch “the worst governor NH has ever had.” Apparently someone took the Craig Benson chapter out of Sununu’s history book. While addressing the Belknap County GOP, Sununu said, “We need a loud, strong voice to fight back against the politics of personal destruction, which is the hallmark of the Democrats.” In the field of psychology, this is called projection; attributing one’s own unacceptable behavior to others. Given that Sununu is a devotee of the Lee Atwater/Karl Rove school of politics – it’s a wonder lightening bolts didn’t strike him where he stood.

Once again, the NH GOP seems determined not only cling to the past, but to exhume it, while the rest of us are moving into the future.

“Your conduct is arrogant. It is rude.” Senator Robert Byrd, speaking to White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu in 1990. During deficit-reduction talks, Sununu put his feet up on the conference table and read newspapers while others negotiated.

This was published as an editorial in the Conway Daily Sun on December 19, 2008

If you're wondering about the picture, the fellow in the light gray suit is John Sununu, picking his nose as President Bush speaks. h/t to blaque_jacques at flickr.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Dear Santa

President Goofus and President Gallant - see the highlights:

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I'd make somebody pay

Writing the editorial about the expanded "rule of conscience" put me in a bad mood that's lasted all day. Good thing I don't have a rocket launcher.

Government Small Enough to fit in Women's Underpants

In the final days of the lamest duck administration ever, President George W. Bush is planning to announce an expanded “right of conscience” rule permitting medical facilities, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care workers to refuse to participate in any procedure that they find morally objectionable. This would include abortion, contraception, and possibly artificial insemination. It would also include Plan B, the emergency contraception pill also known as “the morning after pill,” which is often given to rape victims.

Plan B is already being denied to rape victims. In 2007, a Tampa woman was raped, then arrested and held in prison for 2 days on charges of an unpaid fine. A worker with religious objections prevented the rape victim from taking the second dose of Plan B that had been prescribed by the ER physician who examined her after the rape. In 2006, a rape victim in PA was denied Plan B by the ER doctor, who said it went against his Mennonite religious beliefs. In 2005, a Tucson rape victim made over 50 phone calls to fill her prescription for Plan B. She finally found the only pharmacy in the area that stocked it, only to be refused by a pharmacist who refused to fill the prescription, citing his religious/moral objections to the drug. No word on whether any of these upstanding moral and religious men have any objections to the crime of rape.

According to HHS, this expanded rule would apply to any entity that receives federal funding. This would include approximately 4,800 hospitals, 234,000 doctor’s offices, and 58,000 pharmacies. Apparently the lines aren’t drawn very clearly. In hospitals that receive federal funds, workers could refuse to do parts of their jobs on religious/moral grounds. This attack is aimed at women, but there’s nothing to stop the rules from applying to the GLBT population, people with mental retardation, mental illness, the elderly, and people who are dying. The American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association have asked HHS Secretary Leavitt to drop this proposal, no doubt fearing the havoc that is likely to ensue in hospitals, but Leavitt has stated his intent to adopt this rule change before Obama takes office. This is a two-fold attack – it’s a perpetuation of the war on women, and it’s going to mess with the new president. Republicans everywhere should be really proud of themselves for this dirty little business.

Some of this is, of course, already occurring. Just this week, a woman in CA attempted to fill a prescription for an ADHD drug, and was denied by a CVS pharmacist, who not only refused to fill the prescription, but also did not offer her other options. In Yakima, WA, a pharmacist refused to fill a prescription for pre-natal vitamins because it came from a women’s health clinic. The clinic performs abortions, and the pharmacist apparently told the woman she didn’t need the vitamins if she wasn’t pregnant. The anti-choice folk aren’t able to grasp the concept that “women’s health clinics” are involved in care other than abortion. Anesthesiologists have refused to assist in sterilizations. The rule change being enacted by HHS/BushCo will result in even more of this kind of action.

A woman soldier serving in Iraq is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than to be killed by enemy fire. Women soldiers are denied abortions at US military hospitals, even if they pay for them themselves. This would seem to be a violation of their Constitutional rights, the ones they are fighting to defend – but in the global war on terror, apparently women are also the enemy.

I certainly agree that anyone who objects to abortion should not have to perform or assist in the procedure. Beyond that, no one has the right to impose his religious beliefs on anyone else. Pharmacists are not doctors. If they want to decide what drugs people should take, they should go to medical school. Beyond that, it is their job to fill prescriptions written by physicians. If they are not willing to do so, they should find other work. These brave religious and moral folks don’t seem to have any moral objections to filling prescriptions for Viagra. Viagra is regarded as necessary treatment for a “medical condition.” Apparently impotence is not God’s will. These same folk don’t seem to grasp another simple truth; that by not filling prescriptions for Plan B or contraception, they’re likely to be causing a hike in the abortion rate. According to a 2008 report by the Guttmacher Institute, the US abortion rate is currently at its lowest number since 1974, continuing a rate of decline that began in 1990.

Many of the people who claim these sorts of moral and religious objections would undoubtedly tell us that they don’t believe in “big government.” Yep, they want to shrink the size of government so that it’s small enough to fit in your bedroom or your underwear.

Conway Daily Sun editorial on December 5, 2008
h/t to for the picture.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

reasons to be thankful

We won't have to see him doing this next year. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Moving Forward

The US is in a world of hurt, economically speaking. We’ve learned (at least temporarily) that deregulation isn’t such a great idea for financial institutions. The national unemployment rate is the highest it’s been since 1992 – and that is based solely on claims filed by people for unemployment benefits. Many of the jobless aren’t eligible for employment benefits. In NH, the jobless rate is up to 4.1 percent, and counting. It seems that an economy based on paying some people vast sums of money to shift pieces of paper around, while the rest of us are expected to endlessly buy things isn’t really working out so well for the nation. The service economy isn’t a great economic engine. When the bad financial times hit, the first things people forego are things like vacations, eating out, or buying things they don’t actually need. It’s going to be hard times in this area - the Reagan years revisited.

A recent livable wage study released by the Carsey Institute at UNH finds that 70% of NH jobs don’t pay enough for families with only one working parent. About half of the jobs in our state pay enough for a family with both parents working, provided they only have one child. The livable wage is defined as covering: rent, food, utilities, transportation, phone, clothing, household expenses, child care, health care, and a small allowance for personal expenses. This isn’t the high life. This does not include savings or debt. Carroll County has the lowest percentage of livable wage jobs in the state.

Our state’s population is increasingly older. Our young people don’t come back here after college. Given that NH college grads have the second highest student debt in the country, it’s no wonder. If they do come back to NH, they can’t get good paying jobs or affordable housing. Thanks to our regressive tax system, and over-reliance on property tax, we’ve turned children into the enemy. This isn’t news. On a local level, every time the debate on affordable housing goes public, there are the same old arguments about welfare queens moving in from out of state. Given the attractive climate, the local economy, the many amenities for the poor, and the availability of public transportation, one wonders why we aren’t being inundated already. (Warning – don’t fall into the sarchasm)

In October, the Mount Washington Valley Housing Coalition screened the documentary “Communities and Consequences,” which takes a look at how housing problems are shaping the population and growth of our state. The film is not political, nor does it offer solutions – it just clarifies some of the problems we face as a state with changing demographics. It should be shown to everyone who participates in local government, on any level.

The economy of our area can’t grow in a positive direction if there aren’t workers here. Expecting low-wage workers to commute long distances isn’t the answer. A strong, vibrant community is only possible when most of the citizenry is invested in building that community – and that can’t happen when the workforce is commuting from out of town.

The film is based on the book by the same name by Peter Francese and Lorraine Stuart Merrill. Both the film and the book can be ordered at the website: . Both are excellent resources as communities contemplate and plan for the future. It’s especially important for areas like ours, which rely on volunteer fire departments and emergency squads. If we don’t have young people and young families – who will be manning those fire trucks? Who will be answering the emergency calls?

We’re at a turning point, in our state and in our nation. We need to think about the future of education, transportation, agriculture, jobs – everything, really. We’re entering what will probably be a long period of economic hardship, and that hardship should be shaping our plans for the future. Community building is essential to our future, especially if we intend to continue forward with a citizen legislature. All of our problems are fixable, as long as we have the courage and creativity to make the necessary changes.

”Some experts say that the United States has to fall back on more protectionist policies. We can't run a nation on a service economy. We used to insist that if you wanted to sell something here, you had to make it here. That policy was diluted over the years, and then abandoned. The GM-Ford-Chrysler meltdown may remind even our thickest legislators that people need jobs, and capitalist nations need industries. 

This is so obvious that even the communists have figured it out.” Jeff Danziger, in the Rutland Herald.

This was printed on 11-21-08 in the Conway Daily Sun

Monday, November 17, 2008

out of Joementum

Let's not forget that Joe was defeated by Democrat Ned Lamont in the Connecticut primary in 2006. Rather than accept the judgement of the CT Democrats, Joe decided to run as an "independent Democrat." Defense contractors and Republicans helped fund his campaign, which he eventually won, with the help of all those out of state interests.

Why a non-Democrat was given any kind of chairmanship is a mystery to me. As the chair of the Homeland Security Committee, Joe has done nothing. Lieberman promised to investigate Katrina, during his 2006 campaign. He has not made good on that promise. A cynic might surmise that since the GOP helped him hold his seat, in exchange, he gave up the investigation.

Lieberman should be stripped of all of the perks of seniority. If he wants to caucus with the Democrats, fine. The Senate should not cave in to his threats of caucusing with the GOP. Let the little weasel go, if he has so little integrity. No negotiating with blackmailers and hostage takers.

Kick Joe to the curb. He's a huge liability.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Blue Hampshire

The election is over; most of the results are in and overwhelmingly across the country folks voted for change. Here in NH, voters proved that the elections of 2006 were not a one-time thing – that NH has become a blue state. Instead of acknowledging that, the NH pundits are busy explaining that this election was ANOTHER reaction to our absentee president, George Bush. It will be interesting to see what they blame it on in 2010. Anything to avoid taking a look at the root causes.

“Voters are angry,” I heard John Sununu, Sr. say to a very sympathetic WMUR reporter who kept patting his shoulder on election night. He waggled his big head and said folks shouldn’t vote in anger. Apparently it never occurred to him that maybe the voters were angry with his son, and that’s why they voted him out. Young John E came up with a plan to privatize Social Security that was even scarier than the one Bush was floating, he told business owners worried about health insurance costs to “stop complaining” – and his father wonders why voters were angry? We didn’t like the phone-jamming thing, either, Papa Sununu.

Those who aren’t blaming Bush are blaming Obama. It seems Carol Shea-Porter and Jeanne Shaheen rode to victory on the coattails of Barack Obama. In 2006, Shea-Porter beat Jeb Bradley, and that was explained away as voters hating Bush and being angry about the war. Two years later, she stomped Bradley again, and now it’s being explained away as riding the Obama wave. The same old tired pundits don’t take a moment to think that perhaps we voters like our Congresswoman, and we approve of the job she’s doing for us. Even though she’s been elected (quite handily) to a second term, the punditocracy of NH is still dismissing her as a “fluke.” Jeb Bradley’s two terms were not written off that way. He wasn’t described as “riding the Bush wave.”

NH has changed. One has only to look at voter registration numbers. The number of registered Republicans has been slowly declining while the number of registered Democrats has been slowly growing. This is a sign of change, but one that is ignored by our pundits and pollsters, who seem unwilling or unable to grasp the idea that things can change in NH, never mind that they already have. I don’t expect anything better from the Union Leader, but the rest of the chattering class, including UNH pollster Andy Smith, really need to wake up and smell the coffee. They’re still drinking instant, when the rest of the state is moving on to freshly ground.

The marriage of the GOP to the Christian right has proven to be unpalatable to many. The spawn of that marriage are rabid, intolerant, ideologues – people like Sarah Palin. They appeal to the basest of the GOP base, the kind of Republicans who march in lockstep to whatever they hear on hate radio and TV. Meanwhile, the smart, thinking, and intellectual members of the GOP are jumping ship. The moderate members of the party feel as though they’ve been left behind. It’s time for the Republican Party to have a makeover, especially in NH. The days when having an “R” next to your name on a ballot guaranteed a win are over. De-regulation failed. Trickle down economics don’t work, no matter how many times you try it. If cutting taxes were the answer to job creation, no one would be out of work right now. The unfettered free market doesn’t work, either. Hate and intolerance are not family values. It’s time for the GOP to accept homosexuals. (Hint: it will lead to fewer sex scandals if you accept the closet gays within your own party.) Time to get over your white male selves, and leave women’s bodily autonomy alone. You don’t have to like abortion – no one does. Abstinence only sex ed doesn’t work. Move into the real world, and find ways to ensure abortion seldom happens. Forced incubation should not be a “value.” If you really are in favor of smaller government, then get out of bedrooms and doctors offices. Be what you say you are.

As thrilled as I was to receive all of the local GOP mailers – especially Gene Chandler’s attempt at looking studly by the woodpile – the days of mail order campaigning are over. The NH GOP has no ground game. For the first time ever, I saw a few local Republicans in front of the Conway office holding signs. They may have been attempting to compete with the highly visible groups of Democrats who were out that day, but it was a beginning. Like all beginners, they required a reminder from the Conway PD, who came by to tell them to get out of the street.

The NH GOP messages throughout the campaign were the same one they’ve been using for a century. “Cut taxes, cut spending,” and “NH doesn’t have a revenue problem, NH has a spending problem.” Again, it’s time for the NH GOP to move into the real world. Craig Benson told us that families sat around kitchen tables making decisions about cutting out the things they couldn’t afford in their budget. It’s a typical GOP pronouncement that fails to acknowledge a simple fact. There are only so many cuts one can make. When one can’t afford basic services, it’s time to go out and get a second job. The myth of the tax and spend liberal is just that. George Bush gave us a far bigger government, and borrowed us into near bankruptcy. NH Democrats don’t want to spend foolishly. At the local candidate’s forum, I was struck by how often Gene Chandler said he was against legislation. Maybe, it’s time to start attempting to work with the majority party instead of just bellowing no.

The challenges of the 21st century require different attitudes and solutions. If the NH GOP can’t move into the present, they’re condemning themselves to sliding even further into irrelevance. That goes double for the NH punditocracy.

“Last night wasn’t just a victory for tolerance; it wasn’t just a mandate for progressive change; it was also, I hope, the end of the monster years.” Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, on election night.

This appeared in the Conway Daily Sun on November 7, 2008

It's the end of the world as we know it....

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

First Votes!

In the tiny NH town of Harts Location, voting begins precisely at 12:01 AM on Election Day. By agreement, all of the voters are present to vote, and as soon as they are done, the voting is closed. NH law allows very small towns to do this. Harts Location was the first NH town to begin the practice in 1948. The other NH town to vote at midnight is Dixville Notch, which gets more attention, because Harts Location stopped midnight voting in 1964, but picked it up again in 1996.

Over the years, the voting has taken place in a variety of places in Harts Location. Some years, the voting was done in the dining room at the Notchland Inn. Some years it was done in Harts Location Town Clerk Marion Varney’s basement. A few years ago, the Appalachian Mountain Club was getting rid of a couple of small huts, so an enterprising resident snagged them, and they were put together to make the 2 room town hall where the voting now takes place.

It’s a social event – folks begin gathering at around 11:15, munching on coffee and cookies. Tonight, for the very first time, there was actually a visibility event out on the street. As voters came in, they were greeted by a dozen or so enthusiastic folks holding signs for Obama and other Democratic candidates. The voters didn’t seem to mind, any more than they mind the presence of a variety of media, including a number of Canadian reporters and photographers. Tonight there are 29 voters present, and 11 absentee ballots.

At 11:58, the voters queue up in alphabetical order. At midnight, the countdown to 12:01 begins. Everyone counts the last 10, Moderator Les Schoof bangs the gavel, and Marion Varney is the first voter. Voting is swift, efficient, and over in 4 minutes. The youngest voter was Aron Dindorf, who turned 18 in August. As he said, “it’s pretty awesome.”

After the voting was finished, and declared closed by the moderator, the counting of the ballots began. In many small NH towns, voters still vote on paper ballots, marked with pencils, and counted by hand. Harts Location is one of those towns.
A lot of young volunteers who are up here in NH to help us with grassroots GOTV wanted to witness this. They’ve read about the midnight vote, and this was an opportunity to see it. Their excitement was infectious – and suddenly it hit me – it’s finally Election Day! This is it!

In Harts Location, in Carroll County, N.H., the results are in:
Obama – 17
McCain – 10
Ron Paul – 2 write ins.

Lynch - 15
Kenney - 14

US Senate:
Shaheen- 14

Shea-Porter - 13
Bradley - 16

Executive Council:
Burton - 15
Cauble - 13

NH Senate:
Gallus - 15
McLeod - 13

NH State Rep:
Butler - 16
Buco- 11
Funicella - 10
White - 10
Chandler - 12
Umberger - 11
Wernette - 13
Bacon - 10

Registrar of Probate:
Monet - 10
Hall - 14

County Commissioner:
Solomon - 14
Albee - 15
Okkola - 10
Cools - 9

Go vote!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Joe the Plumber

Joe the Plumber

I finally figured out who Joe the Plumber reminds me of:


Rebels, mavericks, non-conformists - the real ones - never claim the title.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Mannerly Candidate's Forum

It was good to see so many local folks turn out for the NH House District 1 candidate’s forum at the MWV Economic Council/Granite State College. Given how divisive the presidential race has become, it was an absolute pleasure to see all 75 or so in attendance behave with decorum, and generously applaud all candidates, despite political affiliation. Moderator George Epstein has good instincts, and despite his mild manner, one senses he would brook no foolishness. This was local politics done well.

All of the candidates for the NH House were present. There are 3 incumbents for the 4 seats: Democrats Tom Buco and Ed Butler and Republican Gene Chandler, all hoping to return to Concord. Five new candidates: Democrats Gino Funicella and Syndi White and Republicans Karen Umberger, Daniel Bacon, and Sue Wernette are all hoping to snag the empty seat, or oust an incumbent.

The first question asked was “Does it matter who gets elected given the economic circumstances?” Unsurprisingly, everyone said yes. In the only moment of questionable civility, Karen Umberger called Tom Buco a liar. Ed Butler reminded us that the legislature could not have predicted the downturn in the economy over the last year, and promised responsible cuts to the state budget. Sue Wernette voiced concern about the increases in education spending. She believes that education is crucial, but that the amount we spend is not directly proportional to the quality of education. (Tell that to the folks who send their kids to Phillips Exeter.) Gino Funicella said that cuts to the budget should not be made to programs for children or the elderly, saying, “They should not be thrown out like a bag of rubbish.” Syndi White agreed, saying that we must look at our needs, and prioritize, putting people first. Gene Chandler said we should go back to the budget number from the budget 3 years ago. No word on how to return costs to that same level.

The possibility of adding a sales or income tax was posed as a question. All of the candidates seemed opposed to the idea, although Daniel Bacon seemed a little confused, saying he would not “raise a sales or income tax.” A discussion of adding casino gambling to the state resulted in only Gino Funicella willing to a casino at Rockingham Park in Salem, if it was done right. Sue Wernette pointed out that gambling money might not be a reliable source of income in a tough economy. She’s right, an over reliance on vice money coming in could bite us right in the budget.

A discussion of funding education by means of property taxes pretty much went along party lines. Ed Butler pointed out that it is the system we have, and by all means we should continue to discuss it. Daniel Bacon seems to think renters get out of paying their fair share. I refer him to the classifieds for a look at rental costs vs. wages. On the question of the increase in the minimum wage, Gene Chandler said he was against it, because of the increase in tipped employee wages. Those tipped employees now make $3.25 cents an hour. Apparently it hasn’t occurred to Rep. Chandler that tipped employees seldom have employer-based health care, and not every shift brings in the big bucks – or any bucks, for that matter. A study just released by the Carsey institute at UNH finds that 79% of NH jobs do not pay a living wage. The service economy is a real treat during a lengthy recession, as those who were here in the 80’s can testify.

The topic of civil unions came up, and when asked if the candidate supported civil unions, the answers fell along party lines. Buco, Butler, Funicella, and White all supported the civil union law. Karen Umberger gave a vague answer that I’m interpreting as a no. Bacon, Wernette, and Chandler all said no, they didn’t support civil unions. This was especially interesting, given Sue Wernette’s oft-repeated promise to “protect individual freedoms.” Apparently that means she’ll protect the individual rights she agrees with. Perhaps someday the Republican Party will get over their desire to shrink government so small that it fits right in your bedroom.

Two Internet questions were posed. Should the Internet be treated as a utility? Should we require vendors to offer it everywhere in the state? Sue Wernette said no. Gene Chandler said the free market is doing all right, and will take care of itself. Gino Funicella pointed out that the telephone didn’t get to northern NH till 1938, even though it was invented in 1876. It is the present, and the future, he said, and we need it everywhere, now. Syndi White said that we cannot have a strong economy without a strong infrastructure.

Other issues broke, tiredly, along party lines. Competition does not solve our health insurance problems, Gene Chandler. We tried that. If the free market were the answer, we wouldn’t have a health care crisis to begin with, would we? Chandler was the candidate to deliver the familiar GOP mantra, “NH doesn’t have a revenue problem, NH has a spending problem.” It sounds good if you don’t stop to analyze the slogan. As most of us are aware, the cost of everything has increased dramatically. We can cut our budgets to the bone, but we’re going to reach a point where we can’t cut anything else out, and then we have to find a way to bring in more cash. I’m not in favor of spending foolishly, or raising taxes, but I am in favor of dealing with reality, something the GOP is loath to do. We can’t live in the past. NH is changing, and as much as some want to drag their feet and pretend otherwise, it’s just not possible.

To meet the challenges of the future, we need to elect people who aren’t stuck in the past. NH must have a communications infrastructure to bring all parts of the state into the 21st century. The retirement system for state employees has to be straightened out. Our roads and bridges must be safe. The education issue has to be solved. The Republican legislature ran away from solving the problem for over a decade. NH has a whole lot of state agencies, some of which are a drag on taxpayers. They must all be looked at, and evaluated
realistically – including the sacred moose of Fish and Game.

Don’t base your votes on tired old slogans. Valley Vision taped the forum. Watch it, and make your decision based on solid information. See which candidates were prepared, and which ones were woefully unprepared. This is a critical time for our state, so use your critical thinking skills before you vote.

“One-hundred and forty years of GOP leadership, and we haven’t gone anywhere.” Gino Funicella (speaking of the prior makeup of the NH legislature)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Michelle Bachmann channels Joe McCarthy

Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota:

Chris Matthews tries to get tough with this crazy woman - who wants us to take a look at members of Congress to find out if they are pro-America or anti-America. Is Ann Coulter working as a speechwriter these days?

Since her appearance on Hardball, Bachmann's opponent, El Tinklenberg, has received over $1 million in contributions.

They feel our pain

From Politico:

The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.

According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.

The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.

The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August

And local folks were outraged when we learned the county sheriff paid for a new wardrobe on our dime. He was a bargain shopper in comparison.

Right from the beginning, we were told that Sarah Palin was one of us - a hockey mom, a good ole girl - pallin' around with Joe Six Pack. Well, for what it's cost to clothe and spackle her for 2 months, Joe could buy 20,000 six packs. Maybe I'm just a pinko commie socialist, but spending more on clothing in 2 months than the average family spends in 80 years, at a time when REAL Americans are losing their jobs, and worrying about feeding their families is crass. The vulgar hypocrites of the GOP would have us believe that they "understand" us regular folks, while they don their $2500 jackets, $520 loafers, and head off in the private jet.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

villagers with torches and pitchforks

This footage comes from a Palin rally in Bethlehem, PA on October8

I particularly enjoyed the fellow who suggested that a woman who was raped should be killed. The guy who seemed to think that Obama and ACORN were the reason for the recent economic collapse was also interesting to hear - a product of 20 years of hate radio and TV.

A recent Sarah Palin rally in Strongville, Ohio

The racism is particularly charming.

Just for fun - the FACTS about Obama and Acorn

From Honor to Disgrace

There is nothing pleasant in watching the public disintegration of a man who has always been called an American hero. The media mythos of John McCain; war hero, straight talker, maverick – it’s all falling apart, right before our eyes. To see him attempt to do to Barack Obama the same thing that was done to him by Karl Rove in 2000 is sickening. There is no honor left in John McCain, if indeed there was any to begin with. The media has done an amazing job of creating and protecting Senator McCain. Only now that the wheels have come off the Straight Talk Express are any questions being asked.

We’ve had months and months of the media trying to unearth unsavory details about Barack Obama. Who is this guy? Where’s he from? Is he fit to lead the country? All of it hashed and rehashed endlessly. That same media didn’t share with the nation the details of McCain’s past. After all, he spent 5.5 years in a POW camp – what else do we need to know? And so, the details of McCain’s past have gone unquestioned, and the details of the present have gone largely unreported.

John Sidney McCain III was born into a military family. His father and grandfather were both admirals. John was an indifferent student who graduated 5th from the bottom of his class at the US Navy Flight School, and during his short career crashed 5 planes. A pilot without a 4 star admiral as a father might not have gotten as far as the 5th plane. John was rebellious, hotheaded, and desperate to earn the respect of his father. For the last 8 years, we’ve seen the Bush Oedipal drama unfold, with poor dim George trying to earn the respect of Poppy Bush. John McCain’s psychodrama is exactly the same, with the added fillip of having been a POW. The media has never questioned why such a bad pilot was able to keep flying. How much did that nepotism cost the US taxpayers? A slumbering media has never bothered to ask.

John McCain married an ex-model before he went to Viet Nam. She was in a serious car accident while he was gone. When he came home, she’d lost 4 inches in height, gained some weight, and was on crutches. His response was to start fooling around with other women. Somewhere in the fool around period, he met the next Mrs. McCain – a much younger former beauty queen, who had the added bonus of being an heiress. He took out a marriage license for the next wife while he was still married to the first. This is hardly honorable conduct; yet, it is seldom mentioned in the press. In fact, it is often defended. I heard Sean Hannity bellowing one night that McCain spent 5.5 years in a POW camp; therefore he should not be criticized.

The new Mrs. McCain’s family money launched John’s political career. He moved to Arizona and ran for office. (You may remember the media calling Hillary Clinton a carpetbagger for doing the same thing.) McCain served 2 terms in the House, and then in 1986 he was elected to the US Senate. During those early years in the House and Senate he got involved with a man named Charles Keating, who donated heavily to McCain’s campaign and flew the whole McCain family to lavish resort vacations. Keating was the chairman Lincoln Savings and Loan Association that was the subject of a regulatory investigation. The investigation was halted, due to the interference by 5 US Senators. In 1989 Lincoln S&L collapsed, costing the US taxpayers $2 billion dollars. Given that Charles Keating had donated substantially to all 5 senators, there was an investigation. McCain was cleared of improper conduct, but found to have been guilty of bad judgment. A number of Savings and Loan institutions collapsed, due to poor regulation, during the 80’s, and we the people paid the price, approximately $160 billion. This was of course directly linked to the economic recession of the late eighties and early nineties. Sound familiar?

It should. Deregulation has once again brought the US economy to its knees. One of the steadfast proponents of that deregulation was John McCain, who apparently learned nothing from his Keating 5 experience. McCain, who has never met an issue he couldn’t change his mind about, is suddenly preaching the gospel of regulation, and pointing the big blame finger at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while the media fails to note that McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis was on the payroll as a lobbyist for those very institutions, right through August of this year.

Cindy McCain’s drug addiction and criminal behavior (having a doctor at her nonprofit write prescriptions to feed her addiction) go unreported, as well. It seems likely that Senator McCain used his influence to ensure that his wife was not arrested, the way any of us would have been. A great deal goes unreported, including an incidence of Senator McCain’s abusive treatment of his wife, which took place in front of 3 reporters. That’s how secure he is that the press is in his pocket. Poor old guy, he’s really struggling now, because suddenly the press has turned on him, and begun to rear up, however slightly, to begin asking questions. He’s been very testy about it. His legendary short fuse and decades of questionable judgment are still not fodder for the national “elite” media, however.

We’ve seen Senator McCain refuse to look at Barack Obama during the last 2 debates. He can’t even bring himself to make eye contact with Obama. In the last debate, McCain referred to Obama as “that one.” As if Obama was a lamp at Pier One. McCain, and his attack dog running mate are now trying to make Bill Ayers a campaign issue once again. They’re trying to breathe new life into the Jeremiah Wright issue. At Palin’s rallies, people have been heard to shout, “kill him” in reference to Obama. A black cameraman was called “boy” at one of Palin’s rallies. It seems that the former war hero is so desperate to become president that he will stop at absolutely nothing, including enabling the kind of racism most of us thought we’d moved beyond. It’s ugly. There is nothing honorable about it. McCain has moved beyond honor into the ugly land of the disgraced – yet the so-called elite media is strangely silent.

"You know that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran? Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran." John McCain, at a VFW in S. Carolina, April 2007

the picture is courtesy of blogger BackGr0und N05e @ daily kos

This was published by the Conway Daily Sun as an editorial on October 10,2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

That WON

In the last debate, there was a great deal of commentary about the fact that McCain didn't look Obama in the eye, or even in the face. When McGrumpy came out last night and looked at Obama as he shook his hand, I figured his handlers had engaged in enhanced interrogation techniques to get him to do better. I was wrong.

That one? That one? Really, Senator McCain?

I'd be inclined to ignore this if McCain were one of his running mate's six-pack buddies. John Sidney McCain III is not an average Joe. He's been in the US Senate for a hundred years, a place where they refer to one another as Senator So and So, or "the distinguished gentleman" from Illinois. So, either McCain forgot Obama's name, which is a problem unto itself, OR, he was saying that one with the same kind of oozing contempt racists use when they refer to minorities as "those people." I'm going with seething contempt.

Only last week, McShame was all excited by Palin's performance at her "debate" with Joe Biden:

Given all that bizarre yet enthusiastic honking coming from McCain, I was surprised to find that he didn't mention his running mate once last night in the "debate." Weasely Joe Lieberman was mentioned 3 times, but Sarah Hunnnhh! Palin didn't rate a single mention. Surely it's too soon for buyers remorse?

Finally, I hope you didn't choose "my friends" as the category in the McCain debate drinking game. Given that Senator McPain used the phrase "my friends" SEVENTEEN times in an hour and a half, you must be nursing one hell of a hangover today.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Good news in NH-01

A recent Survey USA Poll
shows incumbent Democrat Carol Shea-Porter with a definite lead over GOP candidate Jeb Bradley.

In New Hampshire's 1st, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) led ex-Rep. Jeb Bradley (R) 50 percent to 41 percent.

NH is changing. No longer are we the one party state I moved to, twenty-five years ago. NH is becoming a blue state. In 2006, we saw the Democrats sweep NH, taking the NH House, the NH Senate, retaining the Governorship, and sending 2 Democrats to the US House. This appears not to have been a fluke. NH is changing - and the Republican Party is stuck in the past. Jeb Bradley was wrong on the war, wrong on privatizing Social Security, wrong on Real ID, wrong on civil unions, and wrong on the minimum wage. Jeb still believes that cutting taxes on the wealthy is how jobs are created. If that were the case, after the last 8 years we should be swimming in jobs - yet the opposite is the case. Jeb has shown himself to be out of touch on the issues NH residents care about.

I met Carol Shea-Porter before she decided to run for Congress. I was impressed by her intelligence, her grasp of the problems facing working families, and her ability to talk to anyone of any political persuasion. I still am impressed with those qualities, and many more. Carol displays a generosity of spirit that one doesn't often see in a politician. She understands NH, and she understands her constituents. I've felt fortunate indeed to be represented by Carol Shea-Porter, who hasn't been afraid to stand up to leadership. She voted against the odious FISA bill. She voted against the odious bailout bill - twice.

I spoke of my concerns on a variety of issues to Jeb Bradley when he was my Congressman. I never felt as though he was listening to me. I've always been sure that Carol Shea-Porter was listening.

Friday, October 03, 2008

You betcha we'll talk debate

As long as Palin showed up sober, she was going to be declared a winner by the listeners of hate radio and TV. The bar of expectations for her had been placed roughly at the earth's molten core, so it would have been hard for her not to meet it.

The brave new feminist GOP had made sure the format of the debate was changed, so that Palin wouldn't be "on the defensive." This is what passes for equality in the GOP, along with making sure to label every tough question aimed at Palin "sexist." I've been doing it wrong all these years! Why didn't Gloria Steinem explain to us that feminism means the boys change the rules, lower the expectations, and then protect you from the big bad media?

Essentially, Governor Palin was strapped into the comfy chair, and allowed to dictate her own terms on how the debate would proceed.

Biden was very proper and didn't put his foot in it, despite Palin's cheesy attempts at goading. Her line about the white flag of surrender was an insulting thing to say to a man whose son is going to serve in Iraq.

Palin was riding the straight talking points express. She was very confident as long as she knew the proper talking point answers. She got folksy when she didn't know the answers. She didn't answer any questions directly, and offered no substance.

She didn't make the case as to why she and McCain are different from the Bush administration.

She has no grasp of how to behave in public. The fans of hate media may find it charming that she wants to be so familiar and folksy "can I call you Joe?" but I find her behavior rather frightening.

Can't you just see her meeting with someone like Putin, smacking him on the arm and saying, "Doggone it, Vladimir - there ya go again?" She could make Bush's groping of Angela Merkel look like the epitome of stiff upper lip diplomacy.

She doesn't think she's gonna win this one, but - doggone it, you betcha she's setting herself up for a run in 2012 - without Grumpy Grampy.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wimpy, Wimpy, Wimpy - Jeb Bradley on Social Security

In 2002, when Jeb Bradley ran for Congress, he said he was against privatizing Social Security. A funny thing happened after he went to Congress. He went from being a moderate Republican state legislator to a conservative Republican Congressman. In 2005, after being elected to a second term, President Bush decided that Social Security "reform" would be the centerpiece of his legacy. Apparently invading a country that was no threat to us, or creating the largest deficit in US history wasn't enough for him. Bush now set his sights on privatizing (destroying) Social Security. He set about getting the faithful aboard the privatization train. Jeb Bradley wasn't leaping on board fast enough, so Bush came to NH for a hit and run visit at Pease International Tradeport. Both of our US Senators were there. Jeb Bradley wasn't invited - to a presidential visit in his district.

Big snub.

The event was billed as a town hall meeting, even though no one was allowed to ask any questions. The event was limited (in true George Bush style) to the party faithful, to ensure no dissent. White House description of the "town hall" meeting to discuss strengthening Social Security. Strengthening is a euphemism, just as privatizing is. What Bush and his cohorts have in mind is dismantling and destroying the most successful anti-poverty program in our nation's history. Jeb Bradley got the message behind that big snub, and began to change his tune about Social Security. At town hall meetings, he discussed the need to have all the options on the table. The only option ever mentioned was Bush's plan. It was hugely unpopular. I know, because I was at most of those town hall meetings. Bradley refused to take a position on Bush's plan. He would not, despite the best efforts of thousands of constituents say whether or not he would protect Social Security from being destroyed. He refused to take a stand, right up to the bitter end. He was on the NHPR show, The Exchange" about a week before election day, and would not make his position clear, even in the face of uncharacteristically strong questioning by Laura Knoy.

The plan to privatize Social Security proved to be extremely unpopular with the voters. Many excuses have been made as to why Jeb Bradley lost the election to grassroots candidate Carol Shea-Porter. The unpopularity of the war, the unpopularity of Bush, etc. I believe that one of the great unsung reasons for the Bradley loss was his non-stance on Social Security. Carol Shea-Porter ran a better, stronger campaign that flew under the wire. UNH poll meister Andy Smith never gave Shea-Porter a chance. On election day, he was on NHPR predicting a big victory for Bradley. You may have noticed his polling shows the same kind of results this time. I'm not sure why we should take any poll with a 6% margin of error very seriously.

Bradley's been off the radar for the last two years. During that time, NH has voted in a civil union law (Bradley was against any kind of legitimizing for same gender relationships), voted to refuse to participate in the REAL ID program (Bradley voted for it). Things are changing in NH. Has Bradley learned from his loss? Has he listened to the winds of change?

This video: WMUR Commitment 2008 may provide an answer to that question. The video is both of the NH-01 GOP primary candidates answering the question, "What will you do to protect Social Security?" Bradley doesn't tell us. We learn that his children will be of retirement age when Social Security goes bankrupt. Given Jeb's multi-million dollar stock portfolio, it's unlikely that the kids will be worried about eating cat food or living under bridges when they're old. What Jeb tells us is not his position on protecting Social Security. Instead of taking a stand, he tells us we need to have a discussion on increasing the returns of the money we put into Social Security. What a wimp. What a wimpy, fraidy-cat answer. Bradley isn't brave enough to take a stand in favor of privatization, knowing how unpopular it would be with voters - so he wimps out on answering at all.

Imagine if Bush and company had gotten their way, and turned the Social Security Trust Fund over to Wall St? How might things be looking today for NH seniors?

One thing is certain. We can't rely on Jeb Bradley to protect Social Security. We can't even rely on him for a straight answer.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Shea-Porter Statement on Financial Bailout Vote

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter released the following statement after voting against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act:

“Our economy has been battered by eight years of a financial wild west on Wall Street. There was no oversight and no accountability. I thought it was a mistake for the Administration to ask Congress to vote on a $700 billion bill to bail out Wall Street with only a single week to consider the proposal and a single day to review it. The Administration asked Congress to give up its Constitutional power of the purse and hand over a blank check for $700 billion. Congress said no.

“While I believe it is essential to address our credit and liquidity crisis, I voted against the Bush Bailout. I could not support the bill because it did not address the fundamental problem in our economy that caused the crisis in our financial institutions.

“I voted against the bill because it gave the Secretary of the Treasury -- a political appointee -- unfettered control over the execution of the bailout program. If the bill had passed, the Secretary of the Treasury would have had absolute authority to decide which securities to buy, from whom to purchase, and how much to pay. The Secretary of the Treasury would have also had absolute authority to decide who he would hire to manage the assets he purchased.

“More than four hundred economists, including three Nobel Laureates, appealed to Congress to slow down and make sure we got this right. Congress took about 8 months to draft and pass the legislation establishing the Resolution Trust Corporation -- and this only involved about $100 billion of taxpayer money. Certainly, Congress needs more time than one week to invest $700 billion of taxpayer money in a bailout.

“American taxpayers need a better bill, a better plan, and better protection. That is why I voted to stay in Washington and continue working on this bill. That is why I voted against this bill.”

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Campaign Insanity

Last week, John McCain assured us that the fundamentals of the economy were basically sound. This week, he’s suspending his presidential campaign to ride his white steed into Washington to save the US economy. One thing is certain; a McCain presidency wouldn’t be dull. No Canadian bacon at breakfast? Bomb Canada!

McCain is suspending his presidential campaign to deal with the financial crisis that he and his cronies helped create. Despite his near miss with the Keating Five, McCain has been shilling for deregulation for years. We just never learn. Sure we learned for a little while, after the Depression, but no matter how many times the free market zombies are slain – they keep coming back to life to tell us that the market works, and deregulation is the key. Now we the taxpayers are being told that we’re going to bail out the financial sector – bail out companies that are failing. We can’t have single payer health care, because that would be socialism – but bailing out Goldman Sachs? We have to do that to “save the economy.” In other words, corporate socialism is essential to our nation. Single payer health care, however, would be the end of us all, it would be….socialism, the next thing to godless Communism.

McCain is suspending his campaign, and has asked to postpone the first presidential debate, because of the financial crisis. Barack Obama has said that now, more than ever, the American people need to hear from the candidates, seeing as how one of them will be responsible for cleaning this mess up. One wonders if, at the first sign of multiple crises would McCain suspend his presidency?

We are looking at a very old man who wants to be president. An old man who has had serious health problems, yet won’t release his medical records. This should tell us something. This old man has recently hired a makeup artist who works on the TV show “American Idol”. He’s paid her over $5,500 for makeup so far. The media that raked John Edwards over the coals for a $400 haircut is surprisingly quiet about McCain and his makeup. Of course when he’s on TV without makeup, he looks a decade older, and shockingly unhealthy. Somehow I’m certain that 5.5 years in a POW camp is the answer to any questions about all that spackle.

It’s long past time to question McCain’s judgment. The Keating Five. The joke he told about Chelsea Clinton. The joke he told about a woman enjoying rape. The cover-up of his wife’s criminal behavior when she was stealing drugs from her non-profit. The angry insults he snarled at his wife in front of reporters in 1992 (too obscene to print). The endless flip flopping on everything he ever held dear, just to become president. In the middle of the Democratic Convention, he panicked, and picked Sarah Palin, a completely unqualified woman, to be his vice president. Now, in the face of a debate, he’s suspending his campaign and bailing out on the debate. It’s clear that the Senate doesn’t need his help – he’s missed 60% of the votes this year. He told us himself that he “didn’t know much about the economy” only a few months ago. Running away from the debate seems to be motivated solely by fear. We are a shallow people. The contrast between a calm, young, tall, elegant man and a frenzied, old, short, stumpy man won’t be pretty. Still – if he’s going to single-handedly turn the economy around, why not send his running mate to the debate? Is this a man who has the judgment and temperament to be president?

We are told that Sarah Palin is ready on day one to be president – yet she isn’t allowed to speak with the press or hold press conferences. Palin is a gift that keeps on giving: the pregnant teenaged daughter, Troopergate, the road to nowhere, the bridge to nowhere, and now Thomas Muthee, the minister who hunted witches in Kenya. There is footage on YouTube (footage that was scrubbed from the Wasilla church website) of Muthee praying over Palin, imploring Jesus to put her in the governor’s mansion, and get her all the money she needed to get there, and to keep her safe from witches. The Palin family is a traveling episode of the Maury Povich show.

One can only imagine the media frenzy that might ensue if there were footage of Obama with a witch doctor. On Fox every night, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are still trying to turn Obama’s acquaintance will Bill Ayers into something, still trying to eke out a little more interest in the Reverend Wright story – even though both were played out months ago. Oddly, despite their claims of fairness and balance, a lot of information is missing from their “news” programs. Earlier this week, a kid who was kicked out of school for wearing a tee shirt calling Obama a terrorist’s best friend, was on Hannity’s show, with his father. Hannity went into a tirade and started questioning the kid about Obama and Bill Ayers, even though it was obvious the kid didn’t know what he was talking about. The good news is, that if Obama wins in November, Hannity’s head may explode and put us all out of his misery.

"We should be able to deliver bottled hot water to dehydrated babies." –John McCain, Kenner, Louisiana, June 3, 2008

This was published as a Conway Daily Sun editorial Sept. 26, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Gender Card

Raising our Expectations

The seemingly endless presidential campaign has taken on some real wackiness in recent weeks. The Democratic National Convention sent McCain into such a panic that he decided to pick a running mate on the basis of gender, which certainly shored up his sagging old white guy campaign. It’s also created a level of media hysteria from the right that would be amusing if the future of the country weren’t at stake.

The Republican Convention was quite an event. Every speaker that got on stage told the story of John McCain and his 5.5 years in a POW camp. This is a story that the media had led me to believe that McCain was reluctant to talk about, so it came as something of a surprise to me to find that he only talks about it whenever he opens his mouth. After days of hearing the story, John McCain got on stage on the final night to tell us his own version of his experiences with enhanced interrogation techniques.

There were endless speeches about hating public education, hating socialism, hating the taxing of the wealthy, hating Social Security, hating anyone who thinks about changing our health care system, hating “Democrat elites” and in particular, hating community organizers.

Rudy Guiliani and Sarah Palin both sneered contemptuously about community organizers. Right wing blowhard Sean Hannity seethes with rage about community organizers every night on his “news” show. NH’s own Fergus Cullen, the head of the NH GOP has jumped on the anti-organizer bandwagon. Who are these loathsome people, these….organizers?

Without community organizers, Sarah Palin would be home chained to a stove and birthin’ up an even bigger family. From the Declaration of Sentiments at the Senecca Falls Convention to Alice Paul and the National Women’s Party, women organizing in their communities and states are the reason that women have the right to vote today. Community organizers in Montgomery, Alabama fought for the end of segregated buses in 1955, when the bus boycott began. This was a triumph of community organizing. It took a year, but they won. I have worked as a community organizer. In 2004, I was one of many who worked to get unregistered voters in NH to register and vote. I knocked on doors all summer in Berlin. In November of that year, Berlin had a 92 percent voter turnout. I don’t accept the contempt of Sarah Palin or Fergus Cullen. Their snide comments about community organizers should enrage every person who organizes a blood drive, a soup kitchen, or a walk for cancer. Those who sneer at community organizers are themselves elitists.

The GOP attempts to position itself as the party of the REAL people, which is why so much was made of small towns, as though people from small towns are wrapped in a special kind of American flag painted by Norman Rockwell, that ensures they are brimming with apple-cheeked wholesomeness. It’s the “Democrat elites” we have to fear. One almost has to admire the bold mendacity of the GOP, turning a guy who was brought up in a single parent family, a man who exemplifies the Republican bootstrap meme, a man who put himself through college as being some kind of elitist. Yet the man who had everything handed to him on a silver family platter and married his way into the rest is presented as being a regular John. A week before the GOP convention McCain couldn’t remember how many houses he owned. His wife wore an ensemble to the convention that was valued at $300,000 – but we’re supposed to believe they’re just regular folks. It’s that uppity arugala eater who is the REAL elitist.

We Americans spoon that stuff down like ice cream. We wouldn’t think of hiring a neurosurgeon who was a “C” student – but we elected a president who was proud of being average. Sarah Palin is presented to us as a hockey mom, which is supposed to reassure us that even though she’s one of us, she’s qualified to be the leader of the free world. So what that a month ago she asked what the vice president does – she can field dress a moose! Yeah! Turn Putin over to her! Yeah! Drill, baby, drill! USA! USA!

In 2000, the Supreme Court appointed George W. Bush president. In 2004 he was elected for his second term. We were told that Americans thought he was the guy they’d most want to have a beer with, as though that were a good reason to vote for him. (Think about everyone you’ve ever sat next to in a bar – would you vote for them?) In those two terms, Bush has invaded a country who didn’t attack us, borrowed billions to finance an endless war on a vague concept, justified torture, justified secret prisons, justified wiretapping of US citizens, allowed thousands to die in New Orleans, has not kept his promise to help rebuild, has destroyed the US economy, cut spending on alternative energy sources at every opportunity, and besmirched the reputation of United States in countries around the world. That’s what the C student, the average guy did for us – and the GOP is telling us to repeat that behavior by voting for John McCain.

John McCain is selling the same failed policies of the Bush administration, the same failed policies he’s supported for the last 8 years. He’s trying to tell us that even though he’s pushing the same agenda, the results will be different with him at the helm. We’re also supposed to ignore the fact that even though Republicans claim to hate affirmative action, they’ve just engaged in the most blatant affirmative action promotion in recent history! Sarah Palin is not ready for prime time, and we all know it. The next president is going to have a lot to shovel for the next four years, trying to clean up the mess Bush and his henchmen are leaving us with. We need to aim higher – to expect better than average for our country. This is no time to settle for less.

“The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” Winston Churchill

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Dear Sarah,

September 4, 2008
An open letter to Sarah Palin,

Dear Sarah,

Congratulations on becoming the Vice Presidential nominee for the Republican Party in the upcoming election. It is a great thing to see a woman on the GOP ticket. Your candidacy is a truly historic event.

Still -let us not mince words. You were selected because of your gender. The GOP decided that you would appeal to female voters, especially middle aged white women. Women like me.

I watched your speech last night. You emphasized your small town experience and lifestyle as part of your appeal. I’m from an even smaller town than you are. I’m a wife, and a mother. We have some things in common.

You lost me when you ridiculed Barack Obama’s experience as a community organizer. I’m a community organizer, Sarah. I spent much of 2004 knocking on people’s doors in NH, to get them to register to vote. It was a non-partisan effort. Much of my work was in the city of Berlin, NH, which has a population of approximately 10,000 people. In 2004, Berlin’s voter turnout was 92% in most wards, thanks to community organizers. I don’t view the work we all did to ensure participation in the democratic process as being something that you, or your party should dismiss as unimportant, or contemptible.

Community organizing has a long, proud tradition. Community organizers started the Civil Rights movement. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a triumph of community organizing – and done without modern technology. The people of Montgomery met at night after work, in churches and planned their strategy. After a little over a year, they won the fight, and buses in Montgomery were no longer segregated.

Another triumph of community organizing is responsible for you being where you are today. Without the women’s suffrage movement, you would never have even been Mayor of Wasilla. You would be home, having babies, with no right to own property, no right to sign a contract, and no right to vote. You would be chattel. Beginning with the Declaration of Sentiments, that proclaimed “all men and women are created equal” to the very end, where Alice Paul and the National Women’s Party ensured the passage of the 19th Amendment, you owe your presence on the national stage to those women. Some of those women were jailed and tortured to win you the right to vote. Those women -those community organizers you spoke of last night with such seething contempt.

I don’t accept your contempt, Sarah. I don’t accept your glib premise that somehow community organizing is a sport for elitists. I’m betting that the community organizers of the Red Cross would agree.


Susan Bruce
Jackson, NH (population 835)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

McCain advisor solves health insurance crisis!

In 2004, the Bush administration hit on a novel idea for coping with the loss of manufacturing jobs. A simple reclassification of a well-known service job, and voila, assembling a fast food burger becomes a manufacturing job.

It is in that same spirit of creativity that McCain advisor John Goodman has solved the health care crisis:

"So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American - even illegal aliens - as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.
"So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."

This is the kind of innovative thinking that has gotten the GOP where they are today!

The US Political Olympics

The end of the Olympics this year meant the beginning of the US political Olympics, the Democratic National Convention this week, to be followed by the GOP convention next week. At the Democratic Convention the traditional media has worked hard on pushing the meme that there is a great deal of dissent within the party, that Hillary supporters are going to vote for McCain, and so on. There is a group calling itself PUMA, who have received an inordinate amount of media attention, given that they are a relatively small group of people who don’t come across as particularly informed when questioned. They are found where the media is, hovering over Chris Matthews in particular, much to his glee. The fabrication of “splitting the party” is so much more fun than telling the actual truth. These women claim to be all about supporting one woman, yet will vote for McCain, who would do his best to eliminate reproductive choice, and do nothing to ensure equal pay or justice for all woman. A man who has called his wife abusive names in public. We’re supposed to take these malcontents seriously? Only the PUMAs themselves and the corporate media do.

The Democratic Convention seems to have accomplished what it intended to. Michelle Obama had a chance to make a very good speech, that may allay the fears of some who seemed to envision her in the way she was portrayed on the New Yorker cover. Senator Clinton was given her due, and made a terrific speech about her candidacy, and her support for Obama. She walked a fine line with grace and good humor – and set herself up for a future run for the White House. President Clinton was given his due, as was Joe Biden. Biden was a tad overshadowed by the emotional introduction given by his son Beau. Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana rocked the house on Tuesday night, with his energetic call to action. It was thrilling to see NH Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter on stage with a large group of Democratic women leaders.

One of the great moments of the convention was the speech given on Wednesday night by New Hampshire’s own John Hutson. John Hutson is a retired Rear Admiral, former Judge Advocate General, and Dean and President of the Franklin Pierce Law Center, in Concord. Dean Hutson has been a critic of the Bush administration’s policies on torture, on rendition, on treatment of detainees, on habeas corpus, and the Geneva Conventions. He’s testified many times in front of Congress, notably in 2005, in opposition to the appointment of Alberto Gonzales as US Attorney General. Hutson has also appeared in two documentaries, The Ghost of Abu-Ghraib, and Taxi to the Dark Side. The latter movie focuses on the death of an Afghan taxi driver named Dilawar. In 2001, Dilawar was arrested by the US military, and brought to the prison at Bagram Air Base, where he was tortured and beaten to death. He was arrested on a tip from some men who claimed Dilawar had been part of a rocket attack on the US military. It was later revealed that the men who framed Dilawar were the real attackers. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary of 2007.

Last summer, when working for the Kucinich for President campaign, I had the honor of being present while Congressman Kucinich met with a group of retired generals and admirals assembled by Dean Hutson. These men and women questioned Kucinich at length about his views on the military and the future. It was remarkable to be in the presence of so many powerful men and one woman who have thought deeply about the future of the US military and the rest of the world.

John Hutson isn’t always in front of a Congressional committee. He visited Carroll County on a Thursday night in March 2005, where he spoke in Tamworth about military prisons, torture, Abu-Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and how the US torture of prisoners might affect our own troops. Approximately 150 people turned out that night to hear Dean Hutson. It was an event that drew people from all areas of the political spectrum.

Dean Hutson gave his speech at the Democratic Convention during prime time on Wednesday night. His speech came between those of President Clinton and Senator Joe Biden. When Hutson announced he’d been a lifelong Republican, he was greeted with boos – but those boos turned to cheers when he announced that he was there as a proud registered Democrat endorsing Barak Obama. Hutson said: “Why? Because the Republican Party I once knew has become something different, something I no longer recognize. The "Grand Old Party" is no longer grand. It's just old. The same old, failed policies.”

As I listened, I was struck by the loss to the Republican Party. Losing intelligent, articulate men like John Hutson should be a wake-up call to the GOP. I’ve heard the same kind of reasoning from others, including NH Senate candidate Bud Martin, who told me that he felt as though his party left him behind. The GOP doesn’t seem to be listening, just repeating the same familiar themes of the Reagan years. All they have to sell us is their vision of the glorious past, a vision that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. We can’t move forward into that past.

“From the invasion of Iraq to the devastation of Katrina, I see arrogance abroad and incompetence at home. And I simply cannot tolerate, and America simply can't afford, more of the same. “ Retired Rear Admiral John Hutson of NH.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hooray for Bloggers!

It's always a great day when candidates recognize the importance of the blogosphere. Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH CD 1) is one of those candidates. Today, she chose to preview her new TV ad at the Daily Kos.

Here's the ad:

Here's the link to Carol's first post at Kos

Stay tuned for live blogging with the Congresswoman at Blue Hampshire
I'll be posting the date and time soon.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Forward Into the Past

New Hampshire’s own US Senator, John E. Sununu has been to Conway twice in recent weeks. He is running for re-election this year, running against the same candidate he opposed in the questionable 2002 election, former governor Jeanne Shaheen. That was the election where the NH GOP jammed phones in Manchester – so that Democrats weren’t able to receive calls asking for rides to the polls in the biggest city in the state.

Sununu spoke to folks at the opening of the Carroll County Republicans office in Conway, attempting to make the case that the GOP ticket headed up by Senator John McCain is a strong ticket. He also tried to make the case that the Republicans are right on energy; that they understand the need for a balanced approach to our nation’s energy needs. No word on whether he was able to say that without blushing.

It’s hard to know where Senator Sununu has been for the last 8 years, but one thing is certain – apparently he hasn’t been paying attention to his own party’s energy policies. There has been absolutely no move to diversify our energy portfolio, quite the contrary. The lions share of tax breaks have gone to big oil and big nuke (often one in the same). Money for renewable energy has been cut at every opportunity. The GOP hasn’t even been able to show leadership on the most basic energy saver of all – conservation. Instead, CAFÉ standards have not been raised, and tax rebates for gas guzzling vehicles continued unabated. It’s not as if the oil crisis was unexpected. We all new it was coming. The GOP had 8 years to do something, anything – and all they did was shovel money at Big Oil. Now that prices have skyrocketed, the GOP mantra is drill, drill, drill – even though Big Oil holds 68 million acres in leases they aren’t using. If there isn’t any oil in that acreage, let the leases go. The GOP answer to our energy needs is STILL oil, oil, oil, with tax breaks for nukes, too. Uranium is a finite resource, and one that requires a great deal of energy, and water to mine, and leaves behind dangerous waste. On top of that the nuclear industry is heavily subsidized by taxpayers and ratepayers. I see no reason why we should have to pay, and pay, and pay for a dirty, and dangerous form of energy.

Senator Sununu also said (unblushingly) that the way to create jobs is by keeping taxes low. The Bush tax cuts lowered taxes on the wealthiest one percent. Has that translated into jobs? Not in northern NH. Not anywhere else, either. Unemployment is spiking up all around the nation. It’s the same foolish rhetoric Reagan spouted – and it didn’t work for him either. I’m sure I’m not alone in remembering what the Reagan years were like in this part of the state. Our Senator spoke of helping small businesses afford health insurance. The free market, the altar at which Sununu worships, has done nothing to lower the cost of health insurance, or make it affordable for many working people. Sununu said that helping small business is the Republican way. The Republican way isn’t working out so well for the uninsured. This is the same Sununu who told NH business leaders back in December 2006 that they should stop complaining about the cost of health insurance, since there was nothing that could be done about it. At the Conway Rotary, Sununu said that he’d support tax credits for individuals to buy insurance. Folks that are already dealing with the increasing cost of gas, oil, and food – not to mention college tuitions, will undoubtedly have all kinds of money left over to buy expensive health insurance.

The GOP ticket is headed by a 72 year-old man who doesn’t know how to get on the internet without help. He is a man of the past. Sununu isn’t offering anything new, or innovative. The Republican Party is offering a rehashed version of the kinds of policies that got us into the mess we’re in. Shame on anyone who thinks we should march forward into the past.

h/t to for the picture

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Who Decides?

John Edwards served one term as a US Senator from North Carolina. He was chosen as John Kerry’s running mate in 2004. He ran for president in the 2008 election, but failed to win the nomination. At this point in time, he is not a candidate, and he is not holding any public office. He is, however, being excoriated all over the media for having been caught cheating on his wife.

Edwards was an absolute idiot – visiting his ex-mistress and her baby of uncertain paternity, in a hotel in Beverly Hills, was the height of stupidity. As my little old lady friend Fran pointed out, “He should have gone to Omaha.” We can all agree that his conduct was reprehensible. Cheating on one’s spouse is never a good thing. When one’s wife is America’s sweetheart, Elizabeth Edwards, who has terminal cancer, it’s even worse. The thing is – since Edwards is not a candidate or an elected official, this story is being blown way out of proportion. If Willard “Mitt” Romney was caught cheating – would talking heads on CNN be saying that Romney “owes us” an explanation? And when did CNN become a Fox News clone, anyhow?

The media is so busy exploiting the Edwards family, it’s a wonder that there’s been time to cover the Olympics. It may explain why the conduct of President Bush at the Olympics hasn’t received so much coverage. Google up “Bush drunk at the Olympics” and take a look at the pictures, especially the pictures of five Secret Service agents “helping” Bush out of the stands. Shouldn’t we the people be made aware if the president is so frail that he needs five guys to help him out of the stands? Should we be informed if our president is so drunk in another country that he can’t stand up in public? Is the conduct of a sitting president more or less important that the conduct of a former presidential candidate? Who decides? How much do we have a “right” to know?

Predictably, right wing hate radio has had a field day with all of this. Rush Limbaugh was caught on video squirming in his seat like a ten year old boy getting ready to launch a spitball, as he chortled gleefully that perhaps the real problem was that Elizabeth Edwards talks too much. He didn’t stop there. He went on to say that if she’d spent more time doing something with her mouth other than talking, perhaps John wouldn’t have strayed. A tasteful commentary from a thrice divorced man, who was caught with someone else’s Viagra in his suitcase on his way back from Thailand, where child prostitution is quite common.

The hypocrisy of the right finally made the biggest patsy on Fox News finally grow a spine. Alan Colmes has long been the liberal foil to blustering, right-wing bully Sean Hannity on the Fox News show “Hannity and Colmes.” Hannity was blabbering on and on, and on about how cheating on his spouse would make Edwards unfit to lead, and the normally mild mannered Colmes pointed out that John McCain was an adulterer – which sent Hannity into a tizzy of epic proportions. From Hannity’s response, I gather that cheating on your wife after spending time as a POW is justifiable. Or more to the point – it’s okay when Republicans do it. Holmes didn’t back down as he customarily does – he pushed Hannity into loudly spouting his hypocrisy for all of us to hear.

For too long the dishonesty of right wing hate radio and TV has been unquestioned. Those days seem to be coming to an end. Hannity’s endless condemnation of Edwards was bound to lead into a discussion of John McCain’s adultery. Hannity just wasn’t smart enough to realize it. John McCain’s wife was injured in a car accident while he was in the POW camp. When he came back, she was on crutches, having lost 4 inches in height and having gained some weight. She wasn’t the model he married. So, he went out and played around, finally meeting his current spouse, the heiress whose money launched his political career. He dumped the wife who faithfully waited for him, and married the heiress. We don’t hear much about that, just as we don’t hear much about the Keating Five, or the unsavory ties McCain has to so many lobbyists. We also don’t hear much about the newer Mrs. McCain’s illegal (yet unprosecuted) conduct when she was stealing drugs from her non-profit.

How much do we need to know about a candidate’s life? Who decides? Who decides that we need to roast a former candidate and his wife over an open pit, while giving a pass to a current candidate who seems to have some serious problems in his history? We can all say that we don’t care what people do in the privacy of their own homes and relationships, but that doesn’t seem to be true. Somewhere out there, clearly many, many people care – because rather than discussing the ethically challenged current candidate, we’re far more concerned with the salacious conduct of a man who will never be a candidate again.

“Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.” Oscar Wilde

Hannity Loses His Mind

Rush Limbaugh is a scum sucking misogynist