Friday, November 26, 2010

We're The Indians Now

Thanksgiving is the time for giving thanks, and showing compassion, or so tradition dictates. The natives helped the struggling Pilgrims so that they didn’t starve to death during their first winter in New England. Their crops had failed, and they relied upon socialist Indian handouts to survive. Of course we know how the Indians were repaid for their generosity. The voters who enthusiastically supported the recent red tide are likely to have a similar experience.

The NH portion of the federal fuel assistance budget may be cut by as much as fifty percent. Last year NH received $40.8 million in fuel assistance. This year, the budget may be cut to $19.7. One of the problems here is that Congress has not passed a budget yet for fiscal year 2011. Given the obstructionist climate, it seems likely that this could continue into the new year. The Energy Information Administration projects that New England will pay 15% more in home heating costs this winter than we did last winter. Senator Jeanne Shaheen has written to Secretary Sibellius of HHS, urging her to release full funding for the program. At a time when unemployment and poverty are rampant, it would be nice if poor folks didn’t have to freeze to death this winter. I can say from experience that poverty in northern NH means being cold. Very cold. Will the newly elected Teabaglicans tell us we must live, freeze, and die, or could, perhaps, the war budget be trimmed instead?

NH food pantries are seeing as much as a 50% increase in need. The Eagle Tribune reported on NH food pantries in early November. A representative from the Kingston food pantry commented that many new faces were being seen, many of them elderly. This saddened her, because in her experience, elderly folks traditionally don’t admit to needing help. Not only will our low-income seniors be cold this winter, they’ll also be hungry. These are folks who worked hard, served in the military perhaps, brought up families, and now are getting the Indian treatment from an ungrateful nation.

Meanwhile, we’re starting to learn a little more about our newly elected officials. New Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland ran almost exclusively on repealing the evil “Obamacare,” the health insurance bill that means (in part) that insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Andy Harris wants to make sure that most of us will continue to find health insurance costs beyond our reach, and apparently Maryland voters agreed. One of Rep. Harris’s first acts was to have a little snit when he learned that the government health care he is entitled to, as a Congressman won’t take effect for 28 days. He was outraged at having to wait so long. What if something happens? Of course, in the real world, the average wait is often 2 months, and more if you happen to be on the wrong end of the waiting period. In the even realer world, you can’t afford health insurance at all. Shouldn’t someone who campaigned so earnestly against “gummint health care” be refusing to accept it for himself? Is new Rep. Guinta planning to accept this socialist benefit? What about Congressman Bass? Senator Ayotte? I hope all of you Teabaglican voters will be urging our new delegation to just say no. After all, you wouldn’t support hypocrites, now, would you?

I was pleasantly surprised by the very gracious letter that Frank McCarthy had in the paper recently, where he thanked Representatives Buco and Butler for their service to our state. As gracious as that letter was, however, before the next legislative session is done, McCarthy will vote to eliminate Ed Butler’s marriage. Thanks, Ed – but it’s Squanto time. Rep. Dino Scala of Wakefield was refreshingly honest in his letter. He announced that he has no intention of working with the minority party, because the voters didn’t elect him to be cooperative.

Speaking of which, the red tide in NH is producing some interesting fallout already. State Rep. Gene Chandler seems likely to lose his bid for Speaker of the House to Bill O’Brien of Mont Vernon. It’s an interesting day in NH, when far right Chandler is considered too liberal by his colleagues. O’Brien is a rabid nutcase, who spent the summer sucking up to the new Teabaglicans who now comprise most of the freshman class in the NH House. People like Laurie Pettingill from Bartlett, a fluent speaker of Sloganese, and Norm Tragenza of Eaton and also of the John Birch Society. These folks talked about taxes all the time – but taxes aren’t their concern. O’Brien and his new cohorts have a far right regressive social agenda that is their real goal. They want to repeal the NH marriage equality law, amend the NH Constitution to ban gay and lesbian citizens from marrying, make it more difficult for women to get abortions (which, in case you’ve forgotten are legal), and they want to expand the death penalty. They also intend to repeal mandatory kindergarten, and mess with education funding again, so that we’ll return to the era of Claremont style lawsuits. They’re just getting warming up to show us what a REAL nanny state is.

I’ve written about the death penalty expansion before. The NH Judicial Council finds that expanding the death penalty will add costs upwards of $5 million a year to the NH budget. None of the supporters (including sponsor Jeb Bradley) have come forward to explain how this will be paid for. We heard “cut spending” from these budget peacocks all through the campaign. Adding $5 million and more to the budget for the purpose of killing people is NOT cutting spending. Where will this money come from, Laurie Pettingill? Norm Tregenza? Jeb Bradley?

I suspect that some of you voters will be learning (quite unpleasantly) through the law of unintended consequences, that we are all Indians now.

“An asylum for the sane would be empty in America.” George Bernard Shaw

© sbruce 2010

This was published as an op-ed in the November 26, 2010 issue of the Conway Daily Sun

1 comment:

DissedBelief said...

What an outstanding piece Susan! I am outraged that the sanctimonious teabaglicans are quietly withdrawing and making excellent use of their socialist benefits. Hypocrites one and all with not a grey cell among them. So happy crooked Tom DeLay has been convicted! Too bad the rest of them can't be held accountable for their wheeling and dealing. The fact that Ayotte was voted in regardless of her clearly political posturing exemplifies the absolute stupidity of the voters. But then again, due to redistricting which is being visited again, there is no one man one vote. Americans ensured apartheid South Africa gave way to true democracy, but ironically, it's unavailable here.