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.