Friday, October 30, 2009

Poland Spring flyers contain wrong polling hours |

Poland Spring flyers contain wrong polling hours |

WELLS — The town scrambled Oct. 27 to inform residents of the correct polling hours for the Nov. 3 vote, after two Poland Spring mailers gave the wrong time.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Wells High School, according to town officials

Poland Spring/NESTLE are advocating that the town pass and ordinance that would enact regulations on large scale water withdrawal.

The Poland Spring mailer advocated that residents pass an ordinance that would enact regulations on large-scale water extraction operations.

It stated the polls opened earlier and closed earlier than the correct time frame.

Opponents of the ordinance claim, if enacted, the change would open the town to large-scale water withdrawal operations like that of Poland Spring.

Poland Spring/NESTLE is, of course, saying it was an honest mistake.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Medical Marijuana Bill Veto Override Fails in NH Senate - Medical marijuana veto override fails in Senate - Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009

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"The Legislature failed today to override Gov. John Lynch’s veto of a bill that would have allowed seriously and terminally ill patients legal access to marijuana. It takes a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to override a veto."

During the legislative session, Governor Lynch refused to meet with chronically and terminally ill patients who were lobbying on behalf of this bill. Yep - he refused to meet with these constituents. He fobbed them off on some "advisors." I know - I was there. My husband (who died in August) had multiple myeloma. I was the public face of David's support for the medical marijuana bill, since he couldn't travel. I'm certain Lynch would have given an insurance company lobbyist a private audience, but he refused these people.

These are not people who are going to sell drugs to schoolchildren. These are people who use marijuana to relieve pain, anxiety, and for appetite stimulation.

I won't be supporting or voting for Lynch again. This is not the only reason why, but call it the twig (seed, bud, bong) that broke this camel's back.

My state Senator, John Gallus, whom I seldom agree with, was a co-sponsor of the medical marijuana bill. Thank you Senator Gallus.

Senator Betsi DeVries was the only Democrat who voted against the bill initially, and then the sole Dem to vote against the override. I sure hope she never has to watch someone she loves die of a long, lingering, painful, and debilitating disease. The kind where you would do anything, anything to stop them from suffering. It will be a terrible way for her to learn compassion.

Friday, October 23, 2009

AHIP Pollster Interrupted By Singing Troupe Of Protesters

AHIP Pollster Interrupted By Singing Troupe Of Protesters

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From Sam Stein at Huffington Post:

Republican pollster Bill McInturff was the keynote speaker on the final day of the America's Health Insurance Plans's state issues conference on Friday morning.
But his speech on how the health care reform debate was playing among the public was interrupted before it even began. A group of protesters began aggressively cheering McInturff for the work he has done for AHIP (he's a hired pollster for the private insurance lobby and, most infamously, was the force behind the 'Harry and Louise' ads in 1994)

Then they start to sing. This is brilliant! This is just the kind of clever protesting we need to be doing:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pants on Fire

Ah, New Hampshire. This year we had a long, cold, wet spring; a cold, wet summer, and a glorious fall with spectacular foliage. It was a rancorous year in the NH legislature, with the budget being a particular thorny issue. Mel Thomson and William Loeb still dictate our tax policy from the grave, and Judd Gregg voted in favor of rape. It was a year blissfully free of electoral politics for most of us, but the end of the year is drawing near. Next year we’ll be voting for 2 Congresscritters, one US Senator, the entire NH legislature, the Executive Council, and the Governor.

The NH GOP is unhappy about losing their divine right to run our state. Despite steady losses in the last 4 years, they have not been able to come up with a new message. They’re still saying “no taxes and cut spending.” It was a great message in 1910. In 2010 the reality is somewhat different. Things cost more, an elementary concept that the NH GOP is unable to embrace. Sure, there are ways to spend less money. At a time when many states are eliminating the costly death penalty as a way to save millions, NH is the only state looking to begin executions. The budget for lead paint testing has been cut recently, but we’ll be building a death row and an execution chamber.

Meanwhile, the NH GOP is trying out some new messaging, akin to throwing stuff at a wall to see what sticks. In September, former NH GOP Chairman Wayne Semprini wrote a letter to the Portsmouth Herald, accusing Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter of being a hypocrite for criticizing disruptors at town hall meetings. Semprini claimed that in 2005, at a Bradley town hall meeting he moderated, that Shea-Porter and her supporters wore waffle hats and continually disrupted the meeting.

The GOP lost both Congressional seats in 2006, but they took the loss of the CD 1 seat much harder. They’ve never gotten over losing that seat (which had been comfortably occupied by multimillionaire do-nothing Jeb Bradley) to an upstart, grassroots candidates. That the upstart is a woman is the angry frosting on their cake of rage.

Semprini tried. He thought he’d get the party faithful all wound up, and soon the villagers would be out with pitchforks and torches, yelling “kill the witch.” Poor Semprini, it didn’t work out the way he’d planned. The trouble with telling lies in the Internet era is that anyone can look up stuff in newspaper archives. A story about that particular town hall meeting, published by the Portsmouth Herald in 2005 was quickly unearthed. There was even a picture – a picture that showed a hatless Shea-Porter. The newspaper told a different story of the events than the one Semprini was attempting to tell.

That’s another problem with lying in the digital age. News travels fast, and immediately the recollections of folks who were at that town hall meeting began to contradict Semprini. I was one of the contradictors. In 2005, I was working for a non-profit that was fighting Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. Former Congressman Jeb Bradley had run for office saying he was against privatization, but after BushCo began twisting his arm, his once strong stand was turning to Jell-O. I was there with a group of folks who were pressuring Bradley to stop waffling – hence the hats. I made those hats. Our theme was “Leggo my Social Security.”

Carol Shea-Porter was not part of my group. I met her for the first time a few weeks later. She was not there with a group of supporters – she didn’t decide to run for office for another 8 months. She was present, as a citizen, asking questions, as she did a number of times. I was at the same meetings. Carol was always friendly and polite to the Congressman, even as she asked hard questions and wouldn’t let him off the hook for the answers. My waffle crew was not disruptive. We did not want rudeness to be the story – we wanted Bradley’s waffling on Social Security to be the story. We were not at all like the tea party disruptors at town hall meetings in 2009. Wayne Semprini has never apologized to Congresswoman Shea-Porter for his accusations, which tells me that this wasn’t a memory lapse. Maybe he’s still putting the fire in his pants out.

That try at a GOP message got thrown out, contradicted quickly, and didn’t stick. This week, a story at suggests that Shea-Porter has “gone native,” and become a “Washington insider.” Nashua Telegraph reporter Kevin Landrigan was quoted as writing, “The irony is, of course, that Shea-Porter used to be a ‘tea-bagger’ on the left.” The real irony is that Kevin Landrigan used to be a decent reporter. Now he’s just another right wing mouthpiece, spouting this silly, debunked meme. The Politico story tries to muster up all kinds of outrage about a grassroots activist turned insider. Jeb Bradley is quoted as saying, “I think she’s gone to Washington and forgotten that she’s New Hampshire’s representative in Washington.” This comes from a guy who was fired by the voters from his job as Congressman, failed to get re-elected, and was reduced to the NH State Senate, where he earns $100 a year. He would do ANYTHING to get back inside Washington. The real prize goes to GOP stenographer Jennifer Donahue, of the NH Institute for Politics, who said: “She’s not really viewed by most people as an activist or an outsider. “She’s part of the establishment, and I think she faces more scrutiny than before.” Carol Shea-Porter got elected and went to Washington to do her job – oh, the horror!

The desperation of the NH GOP is palpable. One would think that in the face of the changes in the political climate in our state, and the failure of their party in the last 2 election cycles, that they might do some navel gazing. One would be wrong. The strategy seems to be to continue to keep selling the same, failed message they’ve used for the past 100 years – and to keep telling lies, hoping something will stick.

“One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat only has nine lives.” Mark Twain

This was published as an op-ed in the Conway Daily Sun on October 23, 2009

© sbruce 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

cause and effect - a lesson never learned by the GOP

Local GOP county committee member Maynard Thomson has been writing letters to the editor for years, and has finally been rewarded with columnist status. As a result, he gets to bore us all at even greater length.

This week, Mr. Thomson chose to entertain us with a piece on political discord, and just how sad it is that we all can't get along. I trust the irony of the writer's political affiliation won't escape you. Instead of reflecting honestly on the racism and bigotry inherent in today's GOP, Thomson chose to present himself as a world weary, superior individual, who is above all of this silliness.
In fact, he went as far as to say this:
"Meantime, I’ve written two local critics, suggesting our insult swaps needn’t preclude friendly relations. Regrettably, both responded churlishly. This bespeaks a lack of confidence, or a destructive conflating of personal and political."

I confess. I'm one of those churls. Mr. Thomson did send a missive to me in the spring. This was my reply:
May 29, 2009

Dear Maynard Thomson,

Thank you so much for your very entertaining letter. I can’t think when I last received a missive that insulted my intelligence, threatened me with a lawsuit, and then invited me out for coffee with an offer of friendship. I don’t believe I’ve had anything comparable since my last stalker, and that was over a decade ago. Your comedic timing (intentional or otherwise) is amazing.

Over the years you’ve called me stupid, accused me of lying, and in once memorable instance, berated me for not having traveled sufficiently. In fact, your constant droning responses to my columns over the year have shown that you possess a lack of basic reading comprehension skills, snobbery, elitism, and an overweening ego.

I urge you, Maynard, to make good on your rather thinly veiled threat of a lawsuit. Please – sue me for defamation in my May 8 column. You could give me no greater gift than to make your claims public. You would be revealed as the thin-skinned buffoon that you are, attempting to threaten me into silence, on a bogus claim. I would enjoy every minute of this action, so please, I implore you - go forth and sue.

I’m not apologizing for anything, Maynard. You might go back and reread my May 8 column. I’d be interested to hear where it was I mentioned your views on abortion or marriage equality, seeing as how I didn’t. I referenced the views of your political party, and if you weren’t such a reactionary dolt, looking to take offense at the flimsiest pretext, you might have figured that out. Years of your letters to the editor, however, have shown your utter inability to comprehend what you read.

Sadly, I am certain you’ll be surprised that I have no interest in meeting you. I don’t willingly meet up with those suffering from narcissistic personality disorder – there are too many chances to meet them randomly.

With the utmost sincerity,

Susan Bruce

Lack of confidence? Destructive conflating of the personal and political?
Nah. I just don't voluntarily associate with assholes.

Military Rape Awareness Week Starts At Times Square Recruiting Station; Recruiters Shut Out Retired Officer |

Military Rape Awareness Week Starts At Times Square Recruiting Station; Recruiters Shut Out Retired Officer |

One in three women in the military in Iraq is raped. We need to say this over and over and over again until it sinks in. Over half of the federal discretionary budget goes to defense. Our tax dollars are paying for rape and the covering up of the crime. None of our elected officials are strong enough to stand up against this, and force the military to change. It's up to us.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Judd Gregg's Family Values

Jamie Leigh Jones went to Iraq in 2005, to work for Halliburton’s then subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown, and Root. When she signed the contract, she was shown pictures of a small trailer where she would live with other women. The reality was quite different. She found herself assigned to a huge barracks full of men. She complained to the company. Nothing happened. Four days after her arrival, she was socializing with some coworkers. One of the male firefighters handed her a drink, while making a comment about “roofies.” Ms. Jones was 21, and believed that she was working with people who were all on the same side. She thought he was joking. She remembers taking a few sips. After that, she has no memory.

Ms. Jones woke up naked and in pain. She’d been gang raped and sodomized. One of the men was still there, passed out. He wasn’t worried about the repercussions, you see. The men had learned that there would be no repercussions. She reported the attack to the company. A doctor examined her, and a rape kit was done. It was turned over to KBR officials, and has never been seen since. Jamie Leigh Jones was locked in a shipping container with no food or water. She was told that she needed to “get over it.” She eventually convinced one of the guards to allow her to use his cell phone. She called her father, who called their Congressman, and she was rescued, and brought back to the US. She had to have reconstructive surgery on her breasts.
Halliburton/KBR took no action against her attackers. The military, and the US Dept. of Justice did not prosecute. The contract she’d signed forced her into mandatory, binding, arbitration with the company. Halliburton would hire the arbitrator, the proceeds would be secret, and Jamie Leigh Jones would have no right to appeal if she lost. Halliburton had only lost 3 arbitration cases.

Ms. Jones realized, 5 months into the arbitration process that she wasn’t going to get anywhere. She went to court to fight the arbitration agreement, saying that the gang rape was not related to her employment, and should not be covered by the agreement. Two years later, the US 5th Circuit of appeals ruled in her favor.

There have been 38 similar claims made by women who were employed by Halliburton/KBR. Sexual assaults, rape, discrimination and groping were all charges made – and ignored by the company. If women complained, they were fired.

These contracting companies, hired by the DoD to work in Iraq and Afghanistan are not bound by military law. They are not subject to the laws of the countries they are working in, and they don’t seem to be subject to US law, either. Instead, these contractors live in some kind of a lawless empire, where women have no legal rights, and the men are free to rape and assault them without fear of prosecution or any repercussions.

These contracting companies are paid by US taxpayer dollars. Next time you’re watching Glenn Beck or Lou Dobbs work himself into a lather about ACORN, think about what else your taxpayer dollars are subsidizing. Next time you listen to some GOP Congresscritter get wound up about the way women are treated by the Taliban – remember, your tax dollars are subsidizing rapists and criminals.

Halliburton and KBR have been unrepentantly bilking the US taxpayers for years now. Halliburton overcharged the Pentagon for fuel delivery. In 2004, the GAO estimated that over $1 billion US taxpayer dollars had been wasted on overcharging by contractors. Nothing happened. KBR’s shoddy construction caused soldiers to be electrocuted in the showers. KBR served contaminated water to troops, and made them sick. Nothing happened. Both Halliburton and KBR are still working for the Pentagon. These contractors make ACORN look like boy scouts – but oddly, they’ve never been on the receiving end of the same operatic media scrutiny that ACORN gets.

Three years after being drugged, gang-raped, mutilated, and locked in a storage container, Jamie Leigh King has finally reached the place where she’ll be able to sue the company that protected the men who assaulted her. It will be years before she ever gets any kind of justice, but finally, she is on her way.

This week, the US Senate is working on the 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota introduced an amendment that would withhold defense contracts from companies “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery, and discrimination cases to court.” It’s unfortunate that this is even an issue, but surely, we the people don’t want our country to be represented around the world by rapists and criminals.

Apparently, this is not so. Senator Franken’s amendment passed, 68-30. There are thirty members of the US Senate who are just fine with rape. In fact, Senator Jeff Sessions spoke against the bill, calling it a “political attack directed at Halliburton.” All 30 Senators who voted against the amendment are Republicans, all who run on the issue of “family values.” David “likes to be spanked by hookers while wearing a diaper” Vitter voted against the amendment. So did Mitch McConnell, John Kyl, John Cornyn – from the state of Texas, where Jamie Leigh Jones is from – Jim DeMint, and of course our very own NH Senator, Judd Gregg. These men all decided that lawless military contractors are no big deal. The gang rape and mutilation that Jamie Leigh Jones experienced was not even worthy of consideration to them. Think about that, the next time you hear one of them nattering on about family values. What they really mean is that if it affects their family it’s an issue. If your daughter is raped, well, too bad. War profiteering is more important.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen voted in favor of the Franken amendment. Only Judd Gregg voted in favor of protecting these contractors. If it were up to Senator Gregg, the contractors hired by the Pentagon, and paid for by you and me, would be allowed to conceal their crimes, rape women with impunity, and continue to overcharge us. I have never been more ashamed.

h/t to LA Progressive for the "Dollar Soldier"

© sbruce 209 Published as an op-ed in the Conway Daily Sun on October 9, 2009

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Happy Birth Day Lucy!

"Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you've got a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies-"God damn it, you've got to be kind."
Kurt Vonnegut

Lucy finally arrived tonight - nearly 2 weeks late. She weighed in at 7 lbs. 3 oz. and is 21" long, and reportedly has big feet and a lot of hair. Lucy already has a chocolate birthday cake. I'll begin her political indoctrination on Thursday.

I can't wait to meet my first and only grandchild! This is an unexpected joy in a long, dark year.