Thursday, December 27, 2012

Representative Rude

Last week, a Facebook event page was created to encourage people to go to the state house with their guns hanging out, to a meeting of the House Rules Committee. The Rules Committee intended to reassess the rule change made by the GOP during the last biennium to allow guns in the NH State House.

The FB page disappeared quickly, probably because of some of the questionable commentary. William Tucker of Miscellany Blue got a screenshot of one comment, made by a fellow named Gary Vago, who said: “I say march in peacefully with open carry and remove these people." One can only imagine the sort of hue and cry that would ensue if Democrats threatened to march into anywhere with guns. 
(Or the trouser defacating that would occur if liberals began stockpiling weapons....but I digress.)

The folks at Granite State Progress sent out a press release that pointed out that the language used on this FB page was a form of political intimidation, and the language used was really unacceptable given the recent gun massacre in Connecticut. 

GSP created a form letter that folks could use to contact the state representatives who "liked" the page, to suggest they tone down their rhetoric. I used the form letter. This is the letter:

Dec 21, 2012

Dear Representative

This week you signed on in support of a Facebook event that encouraged
people to attend the House Rules Committee in opposition to some of the
proposed changes. On that event page, one man posted: "I say march
in peacefully with open carry and remove these people."

Allowing this kind of rhetoric to go unchallenged is dangerous  and
could lead to severe and horrible consequences in New Hampshire.
Encouraging people to brandish guns and forcibly 'remove' people from a
committee room is anything but peaceful. You have a responsibility as
an elected official to push back on statements or plans like these
before they develop into something destructive.

NH voters sent a strong message to the NH GOP in November. We the
people didn't like the kind of rhetoric that emanated from the NH House
during the last biennium. As a consequence, we voted a number of you
out of office.

It's time to listen to ALL of the people. Sure, you can only listen to
the kind of knee-jerk partisans who support your questionable behavior
- but you represent your entire district, not just the people who agree
with you. It's time for all of you to make a commitment to speak and
behave like responsible adults. Not a one of you said boo when Speaker
O'Brien cleared the visitors gallery last year and closed it down.
Don't be hypocrites.

NH was the butt of jokes for the last 2 years. We the people sent a
clear message with our votes - we don't want any more of these antics.
If you aren't capable of adult behavior, please do the right thing and
resign immediately.

I ask you to publicly disavow this comment and to commit to doing the
same with any future remarks of that nature. I also call on you to
support the reasonable policy changes up for a vote on January 2nd that
will end the controversial Redress of Grievances Committee -- which had
upset community members and victim advocates for discussing
confidential family court documents in a public setting -- and to
restore the ban on guns on the floor of the State House and in the
gallery where our state's fourth graders spend school field trips.

Sincerely,  Etc. Etc

The three paragraphs that are boldened were my addition, not part of the GSP form letter. Don't blame them! 

I heard from only 2 of the 4 legislators this went out to. Pamela Tucker and JR Hoell did not respond. 
Jordan Ulery's response:

From: Jordan Ulery
Subject: RE: Please Commit to Challenging Dangerous Rhetoric
Date: December 22, 2012 8:33:49 AM EST
To: Susan Bruce

If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t
believe in it at all.
-- Noam Chomsky

The information transmitted is intended only for the person or entity to
which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or privileged
material. Any review, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or
taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by persons or
entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you received
this information in error, please contact the sender and delete the message
and material from all computers.
"A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should
have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence
from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their
own government." -- George Washington 

Not especially clever or interesting - but at least he wasn't rude. Guess who was???

Just in case you're having trouble reading that screenshot, he says:

I signed on many sites that invite me whether I can't make an event or I will be there but I have not read any posts and I have no clue what is written nor do I have any control over peoples post.

I would think you should go after the person on what site your talking about or are you trying to turn it towards me politically because you have nothing better to do.

I would recommend you get a life rather than email a bunch of BS that I have no clue about.

Merry Christmas,


Rude. That's really the only word for it. I know I don't live in his district, but even so, it's not very smart for any elected official to be rude to any NH voter. Clearly Baldasaro isn't interested in (or capable of) toning down his  rhetoric. 

Maynard Thomson: Delusional Egomaniac

Maynard Thomson is up to his old  tricks. His latest diatribe in the Conway Daily Sun is the usual mix of insult, reading comprehension failure, and creepy stalkerish invitation:

Ms. Bruce:  I heard you, I’m your Secret Santa, and your wish is granted — let’s have that conversation. Shall we call Valley Vision together?  This could be riveting TV.  Or we’ll find a space and invite the public to join us for a calm, respectful and data-driven discussion.  I’ll await your call.

He must think the public is going to be calm and respectful, since his letter proves he's certainly incapable of it! Was this letter intended as some sort of enticement? Five paragraphs of insult, and I'd be jumping at the chance to meet up with him? What planet is this sad, delusional egomaniac from?

A brief history of Thomsonia, including his past forays into creepy stalkerism:

Maynard Thomson Again.

There You Go Again Maynard.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rep. Burt Cares, He Really Cares

William Tucker at MiscellanyBlue has a piece about NH State Rep. John Burt, who had a cartoon on his Facebook page today, showing a teacher "loving and defending our kids" with a gun. He also had this to say:

Then Burt went a step further. He accused parents who support banning guns in schools of not caring about their children. “I wish the ones removing our guns from the sane people would care about our children as much as I do,” he wrote. “But they don’t.”

Representative Burt's deep concern for children was evident during the last legislative biennium, when he voted for these (and other) bills:

To repeal major sections of HB370 , an anti-bullying law.

To repeal coverage of children's early intervention therapy services, as well as diagnosis and treatment of autism or developmental disorders;  HB309.

For weakening judicial oversight of child welfare cases; HB1365.

Against banning BPA in baby food products; HB1182. (The FDA warns that BPA may be hazardous to fetuses, infants, and small children.)

Representative Burt went on to care a little bit more about our children and their families by voting to reducing the lifetime limit for TANF cash assistance that needy families can receive, from 5 years to 3 years. HB0263.

Yes, nothing says "I care" like weapons.  Thank you Representative Burt.

A big H/T to Tuck and Granite to State Progress for their legislative report card.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Please Prove Me Wrong

My daughter began telling me that she was never going to have children when she was around eight years old. As a teen she worked in the restaurant business, which only served to strengthen her resolve. When she was in her twenties, she asked if I’d be upset if she never produced a grandchild. I told her that I wanted her to be happy and have the life she wanted, and that she certainly didn’t need to reproduce to please me. That was the end of the discussion for a decade. 

When my daughter turned 34, she decided to have just one. Into my life came Lucy, the unexpected grandchild. She’s been a source of constant delight. I was a teenaged mother (by choice; it was 1974) and I was scared all the time. This time around, with my granddaughter, I don’t have the fear of dropping her or doing the wrong thing. Still, I do have a new set of fears. She’s growing up in a fairly rural place where she is beloved in her community. But she was born into an unsafe world, with climate change, environmental problems, pollution, war, and violence. 

School shootings were not a common occurrence when I was a student in the 60’s and 70’s. There are those who insist that school shootings occur because we eliminated forced prayer from our schools. That elimination came in the 1960’s. It certainly took God an awfully long time to get ticked off about it. As a society, we haven’t really progressed much beyond cave men grunting at eclipses and inventing reasons for them. 

The recent massacre in Connecticut brings all of the excuse makers out into the world of public commentary. A recent writer to the Conway Daily Sun insisted that though she was saddened by this tragedy, the answer to gun violence in schools is more guns. This kind of logic could supply us with many answers to societal woes. Clearly the answer to teenaged pregnancies is more sex! The answer to drunk driving is more booze! 

These pronouncements seem come from the same people that think we pay our incompetent union thug teachers far too much money – but now, suddenly we want them to be armed.  There’s a reason that Joe Average has never stopped a spree killing. Joe isn’t trained in combat, or how to handle himself in a firefight. Should a firefight spring up around Joe, he’d be quietly messing his pants in the corner with everyone else – as he should be. Who will pay for teachers to go to combat training on an ongoing basis? There’s a discussion that will liven up town meeting considerably. It’s also a deeply stupid idea, and one that only serves to make the gun fanatics look like …gun fanatics. 

Sadly, we are a bunch of immature jerks who are incapable of having the kind of multilayered conversations required to even look rationally at the problem of spree shootings, which do happen in other countries, but not in the kind of numbers in which they occur in the US. Instead, we want to quickly blame video games, movie and TV violence, and of course the lack of  “family values.” 

Detroit had 358 homicides this year. Sister city Windsor, Ontario had 1. Same basic area, same TV, same video games. The difference? We are a country shaped by violence from our inception. We came from Europe and set about killing the natives. We brought slaves from Africa to build the wealth of the nation, while beating, raping, and killing them. We selectively worship the Wild West, while giving little attention to some of the greatest atrocities like Sand Creek, Wounded Knee, and Mountain Meadows. Violence is in our national DNA, and we’re in denial. 

When a big spree killing happens, the fanatics come out. It should be a deep source of national shame that one special interest group has so much money and power that they control a number of our elected officials. The fearful bleat MORE GUNS because they are so afraid that the NRA will not give them money, and/or fund an opponent. We have lousy gun laws. We need to accept that, and do something about it. My car is a transportation machine. To use it, I had to get a driver’s license. This meant that I had to take a written test, and demonstrate a level of proficiency behind the wheel, and pass a vision test. Periodically I must update my driver’s license. To own a car, I must register it in my state, and it must pass a motor vehicle inspection. A gun is a killing machine. There is no license required, no demonstration of proficiency, written test, no registration, and no inspection. Just about any idiot can own one. I’ve applied for food stamps, and I’ve applied for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Getting the permit was a breeze. Applying for food stamps is an incredibly onerous process, despite the complete lack of any food stamp massacre in our history. Guns should be regulated. 

We have little concern for the treatment of mental health problems in this country. Spending on mental health treatment is always on the chopping block. In NH, we’ve chosen (to a large extent) to use our jails and prisons as de facto treatment centers for the mentally ill. We can do better. 

Our media feeds us a constant diet of anger and fear. We are a nation at constant war, spending more on defense than the rest of the world combined. While we don’t balk at spending trillions to kill people (including children) in foreign countries, we are outraged at the thought of providing health insurance for all. The anti-abortion crowd loves to bleat about the sanctity of life – but that doesn’t extend to the born. They aren’t out in front of the White House protesting the use of drones. The increasing number of homeless children in the US doesn’t outrage them. The alleged pro-lifers are completely silent on the subject of school shootings. The US needs to get out of the global military imperialism business. 

I don’t think we’re even close to being able to have the kind of conversations that need to be had. Instead we’ll do what we’ve always done. We’ll shed a few crocodile tears, and say there’s nothing we can do about this, because: OUR FREEDOMS. 

Please prove me wrong. For Lucy’s sake. 

I wish us all peace on earth and good will toward one another. 

"One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. 

Thirty one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulations of guns" ~ John Oliver

© sbruce 2012  
Published as my latest bi-weekly column in the Conway Daily Sun newspaper, in the December 21, 2012 edition. 

Happy Birthday Billy Bragg!

NWPA (No Power Without Accountability)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Northern Lip Service

Governor-elect Maggie Hassan recently announced the creation of a "north country team" to help her reach out to local communities to learn what their priorities are. The story was in Wednesday's Conway Daily Sun .

I find I'm not high minded enough to refrain from pointing out that this is the same Hassan who spent little time in the north country prior to the election, and was quite clear that this isn't where the votes were.

It comes as no surprise, then, that she's packed this "team" with supporters and elected officials either past or present. No regular working stiffs, no food stamp recipients, and no one scraping by on $10 an hour in a resort area and living in their car because they can't afford the outrageous cost of living. None of the folks who work at providing NH's tiny safety net.

I'd like to have seen some dissenters - folks who do NOT support the GOP tax pledge that Hassan took at the earliest opportunity. I'd like to see folks who work for fuel assistance or food stamp programs, or local health clinics. I'd like to have seen Governor-elect Hassan use some creativity. Instead she's created a group that will almost certainly provide her with exactly the sort of echo chamber she's looking for.

By taking the pledge, she's already ensured that nothing will change in terms of infrastructure or education. There weren't enough votes here for candidate Hassan to pay attention to, which means there aren't enough people up here to waste much time on. This is the same kind of lip service we're used to seeing up here in the area between Concord and Canada.

The beat goes on.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Today's Mailbag

This guy is sending me an email a day, because apparently nothing says "rebuttal" like rewriting history. It's a teabagger "fact" that the Democrats founded the KKK.

Actual history shows otherwise. It was a group of confederate soldiers who founded the KKK, and that's according to KKK history - from their own website.

Nice try, pgkdexja. Don't believe everything you read on the websites for angry white male dullards.

                                             KKK Field Day in Hampton, NH in 1925.

Friday, December 07, 2012

NH Tea Party - Pitiful Clowns

I was wondering where the commenter on Strange Brew came from, and what he was whining about. Apparently the thin skinned tea bagger scaredy cats  are prowling the web, leaving bizarre commentary.

Here's what they posted on their OFFICIAL Tea Party site:

These are the rantings of a self-admitted drunk – Susan Bruce.The tea party is NOT funded by the Koch Bros, is not now, and has NEVER been.
And this is not the first time she’s taken part in calling tea party members ‘white supremacists’. She and her cohorts over at boo-hoo hampshire have called people that before.

Comments are closed.

It's kind of pathetic that after that big brave announcement that they had to close the comments.

This reveals a couple of things. One: lack of reading comprehension skills. I did mention a white supremacist, in this week's editorial, but it was a Bircher, not a teabagger.

Two: Idiocy.  "The rantings of a self admitted drunk? I make no secret of the fact that I used to have an alcohol problem. My last drink was 23 years ago. One would think that Republicans, who love to talk about personal responsibility and pulling themselves up by their bootstraps would applaud my sobriety.
Instead, they prove that they're the kind of self-serving hypocrites I've always said they were.

That's the thing. I stopped drinking. These clowns aren't ever going to stop being stupid.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Strange Brew

They tried. They really tried. Despite all of the efforts of the last state legislature, NH only came in third place in a recent Mother Jones story about the worst state legislatures. Tennessee and Oklahoma took the coveted first and second place titles. In Tennessee there was a bill to outlaw saggy pants and one that defined miscarriages as murder. There were more, so many more, including the state rep who sent out an email warning constituents that President Obama was planning to stage a fake assassination attempt to prevent the 2012 election from happening.

Oklahoma had GOP state Senator Ralph Shortey’s bill to ensure that human fetuses didn’t get into food products, in “their search for artificial flavors.” He had no evidence that any company was doing this, or intended to, but he just wanted to make sure no one was going to have ramen noodles with fetus flavoring.

If you’re thinking that those made the Magna Carta bill and the WARNING signs at the NH border bill sound almost sane, you’re right. Ilya Gerner of Comedy Central described NH as: "a bunch of part-time real-estate agents throwing monkey feces at a wall." As Mother Jones points out, that’s not entirely fair. Some of them are lawyers, too.

NH’s newly elected legislators were sworn in on December 5. A number of last session’s worst offenders were not re-elected, but some were, and some new ones were added. Former Speaker of the NH House, Bill O’Brien barely squeaked out a win in a district gerrymandered to keep him in office. He was photographed sitting (ignominiously) in the rear of the House chamber on swear-in day. The former speaker should take heart, though. Gene Chandler was voted to be the House Minority Leader, proving that scandal and malfeasance have a short half-life in our state.

Newly re-elected Rep. Dan McGuire, a Free Stater from Epsom is bringing back a bill that went nowhere last session. HB 1400 allows the DOT commissioner to sell the naming rights (not limited) to bridges, overpasses, exits, and state buildings. There’s a doctored picture of the Albany covered bridge making the rounds on the Internet, wearing a McDonald’s sign. The companies would pay some sort of annual fee for this privilege, and they’d be responsible for putting up the signs and maintaining the signs. Why not have the “Budweiser NH Dept. of Safety Building”? From my past as an instructor of the state’s DWI program, I know that their products have a role in the commission of drunk driving offenses in our state.

This bill comes from the same Free Stater who tried to get a bill passed to divert the Suncook River back to where it was before a big storm:  in front of his house. Rep. Grifter’s river diversion bill would have cost the taxpayers of our state over $4 million. Dan McGuire is the ultimate poster boy for the FSP. He doesn’t want to pay his taxes, but he’ll happily use yours to feather his own nest. In the mind of Free Staters, everything is for sale, and there should be no such thing as public property. Next up: Mount Walmartshington!

NH has a new legislature, but we still have the same NHGOP, comprised of Tea Partiers, Free Staters, and John Birchers. At first glance, these may seem like disparate groups, but they are all interconnected. In fact, their origins can all be traced to the same place. Koch Industries. The Koch Brothers are the financial engine behind the Tea Party. Fred Koch was a founding member of the John Birch Society, and Free State Project founder Jason Sorens is an affiliated scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The Mercatus Center is a think tank funded by the Koch Family Foundation. On the FSP web forum just last month, Sorens was huffy about being portrayed as having ties to Mercatus. Evil forces, apparently, are making this all up. His bio on the Mercatus Center website must have just landed there by accident. We are all defined (to some extent) by whom we take money from. He’s a guy who hates all things public, who teaches at a taxpayer-funded university.  Sorens is no stranger to hypocrisy.

Many folks are surprised to find that the John Birch Society still exists. They associate the JBS with commie scares and being anti-fluoridation. These days they’ve turned their sights on the UN. Apparently the UN is the purveyor of all that is evil, and is just waiting to turn us into “one world” where we all join hands and sing kumbaya together. Or something. It was rumored that there were 12 Birchers in the last legislature. The only one to publicly acknowledge it was Norm Tregenza, whose re-election bid was unsuccessful. The others weren’t brave enough to come out as Birchers. The same is true for the Free Staters, most of whom do not acknowledge their ties to the FSP. Why? Both groups are unpopular. They also wish to avoid scrutiny. It wouldn’t help the FSP at all to have their ties to the JBS uncovered and discussed.

For those who don’t remember, the JBS opposed the Civil Rights Movement. Their president, Robert Welch, called Eisenhower a communist and a traitor. Their new hobbyhorse is the UN’s Agenda 21, and they sent a known white supremacist to Conway, to lead a discussion on a film about it.

In fact, the Northeast Regional Field Director of the JBS, Hal Shurtleff, has been turning up on the Sun’s op-ed pages and FB page. I owe my thanks to Mr. Shurtleff for his vociferous defense of a former state rep and Free Stater, which inspired me to dig for the connections between the groups. These two groups may have some surface areas of disagreement, but they speak at each other’s events and conferences. They share members. They’re two peas swimming in the same cup of libertea that the Tea Party has been brewing.

It’s not a brew that has the best interests of our state at heart. It’s a selfish, Randian brew, and one that bears watching.

© sbruce 2012
This was published as an op-ed in the December 7, 2012 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thin-skinned John Bircher

Apparently I've gone and ticked off the John Birch Society. Check out this poorly written screed, filled with a lot of interesting assumptions on Mr. Hal Shurtleff's part about what I "have no problems" with.

The writer is Hal Shurtleff, a regional field director for the John Birch Society. The conversation I've been having with him is beginning to cause him to unravel. This is one thin-skinned employee of a hate group:

Conway Daily Sun

Here's a video of Hal dispensing some agitprop to his flock:

Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, really? It's just such a silly, and unimaginative lie. Obama isn't nearly interesting enough to have been friends with them. He's a very conservative centrist Democrat. The right wingers have worked damned hard to persuade the mouth breathers of the nation that Obama is  a Commie, a socialist, a pinko, - when in reality, he's less liberal than Richard Nixon was.

But, for the JBS, any port in the storm to try to discredit the guy in the White House. That the guy  happens to be black is surely just a coincidence, where the JBS is concerned.

A little Carlin to cleanse your palate:

Thank You, Have a Nice Day

On November 8 (the day after the election), the NY Times had an article in their style section titled: “NH’s All-Mother Congressional Delegation (and Governor),” written by KJ Dell’ Antonia. Ms. Dell’Antonia writes about how NH has become the first state to send an all female delegation to Congress. Both of our US Senators, and now both of our Congresspersons are all women. So is our new governor. Not only are they women – they’re all mothers. OMG! Imagine that!

It’s clear that we haven’t come a long way, baby. Not when women are writing stories for the NY Times with awful headlines, focusing on how all these women are mommies. If we’d elected an all male delegation, it would not have been a story, just business as usual. And no writer would have commented that all of these men are daddies, wondering how that might impact their decision-making.

Switzerland has had four women presidents, including one that served two terms. Finland, Iceland, Ireland, and Argentina have all had female leaders. Right now there are 20 women around the world serving as leaders of their countries – the most ever women serving simultaneously as leaders of their countries. Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Kosovo, Costa Rica and Slovakia are some of those countries.

Here in the US, we still appear to be light years away from a woman serving as our chief executive. Instead, we have the NY Times breathlessly praising an all female Congressional delegation, 92 years after the passage of the 19th Amendment. Make no mistake: I’m delighted that NH is making history. I know that Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster will be fine Congresspersons. At the same time, I also know that women in the United States earn less than their male counterparts, and are underrepresented politically. So, yes, this is an outcome worth noticing and praising, but it’s also worth keeping in perspective. In other words - it is indeed a big deal, but the fact that it is noteworthy only underscores how very far behind we are.

Some history: Marilla Ricker paved the way for all women who run for office in NH. Marilla was widowed (and financially independent) before she was thirty and spent the next 50 years working to ensure women got the right to vote. She was the first woman in NH to try to vote, arguing that since she paid property taxes, she should have the right to vote. In 1910, a progressive Republican named Robert Bass was running for governor. Marilla decided to challenge him. She ran on a platform of property tax reform (Basses and property tax – nothing ever changes in NH) and voting rights for women. The secretary of state wouldn’t put her name on the ballot because, he said, she wasn’t a voter, so she couldn’t be governor. Nine year later NH became the 16th state to ratify the 19th Amendment.

The next year, NH women voted. They ran for office, too. Two of them won. The first women to be elected to the NH legislature were Jessie Doe, a Republican from Rollinsford and Mary Farnum, a Democrat from Boscawen. Jessie Doe served one term after her election in 1920, and then ran (and won) again in 1930. In 1932 she was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. UNH named a residence hall after her in 1964.

Mary Farnum was a physician who graduated from the Boston University School of Medicine in 1900. She was elected to the NH legislature in 1920. She served as the vice president and secretary of the NH Association of Women Legislators during her term. Dr. Farnum only served one term, but in 1922, three more women were elected to the legislature. In 1924 more than a dozen women were elected, some in near unanimous votes. At long last there were women voting and women holding office. Eventually there were women in leadership positions in our state.

Eventually, there may be a woman serving as president of the United States. That is, if we continue to have a United States. One of the more amusing outcomes of our recent election has been the number of states bleating about secession. Texas has revived their desire to secede. I say: let ‘em go. Before they head out the back door, however, they have to take their share of the federal debt with them. Oh, and no more gummint contracts and no more defense dollars. Thank you, and have a nice day.

Meanwhile, secession talk (and petitions) are underway in Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, both Carolinas, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Are you seeing a theme yet?

It’s sad when you think about it. These people were so desperate to oust the black guy from the White House that they chose the whitest, least charismatic Republican they could find - and now they’re so miffed that he lost that they want to leave the union. Seriously, they couldn’t find anyone better than Romney? I say, let ‘em go. Of course, it would mean no more red state welfare. All of those states (save for Texas) get back more than a dollar for every tax dollar they send in. Mississippi is in second place, getting back $2.02 for every tax dollar. No more red state welfare, no more gummint contracts, and take your portion of the debt with you. Buh-bye.

Naturally NH wouldn’t be left out of the fun. Someone named “Kevin A” from Conway has filed a petition at to secede. A new group calling themselves the Foundation for NH Independence has secession as their goal. This is also the goal of the Free State Project. Some of the (all male) board members of the Foundation for NH Independence are Free Staters. In Manchester, two Free Staters who are roommates ran against one another for a state rep seat. One ran as a Republican and one as a Democrat. The Democrat, Tim O’Flaherty won. He’s said on his Facebook page that he’s in favor of secession. Next month, he is supposed to swear an oath to uphold the NH and the US Constitution. Will he be honest enough to refuse to swear the oath? Or will he just cross his fingers behind his back? Isn’t running for office under false pretenses considered election fraud?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Free State Project Loses One of Their Own

Remember Frank Szabo? He was a candidate for sheriff in Hillsborough County, who gained global attention for announcing that he would use deadly force to prevent doctors from performing abortions.

In an interview on Wednesday with local television station WMUR, Szabo said he believed sheriffs were granted special powers under the Constitution. That means, he said, he would be empowered to arrest or even use deadly force against doctors for providing legal abortions for women.
“I would hope that it wouldn’t come to that, as with any situation where someone was in danger,” Szabo said. “But again, specifically talking about elective abortions and late term abortions, that is an act that needs to be stopped.”

He refused to drop out of the race, even after he was criticized by folks like Speaker O'Brien. Even the strange simmering stew that comprises today's NH GOP wasn't nutty enough to own up to supporting Szabo. At least not in public. He was trounced in the primary.

Poor Frank. Some guys just slither off into the shadows when they lose an election. And some take their ball and go home. From the Concord Monitor:

On Sunday night, Szabo announced on Facebook that he had left the United States. He didn’t name his destination, though other recent posts indicate he’s in the South American nation of Chile.

He didn't stay long:

Szabo, an aspiring organic farmer who moved to Goffstown from Pennsylvania in 2011 as part of the Free State Project, ran as a Republican for county sheriff, losing in the Sept. 11 primary to incumbent Sheriff Jim Hardy.

Apparently not being able to shoot doctors was a sign that Frank was never going to see "liberty in his lifetime" and he decided to leave the country. I think he made a brilliant decision, and hope that more of his Free State brethren choose to follow his example.

Bye Frank!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

It's a Fine Line

Any business putting up political signs is walking a fine line. During this past election, a chain restaurant that is new to the area put up nearly every GOP sign that was available. They hedged their bets before the primary, with signs for both Ovide and Kevin Smith. 

Those signs sent me a message, loud and clear. The signs told me that the owners shared the views of Smith and Lamontagne, notably the desire to regulate female reproduction. Those signs were themselves a sign. A sign that I would not spend a dime of my low income in their restaurant. 

Leavitt's Bakery allows any candidate to put up their signs. That's smart. 

These signs, put out by a local business were not smart:

( Photos courtesy of Gary Montford, and used by permission) 

The decorative details on Obama's collar points are little hammer and sickles. 

Then there was this banner, on the front of a shed that was not readily visible from the road:

(photo by susanthe)

What business was making these rather inflammatory statements? Our local Kawasaki dealership in Albany: 

(photos by Gary Montford, used with permission)

A complaint was made to the Kawasaki home office about the banners (not by me!) and they were subsequently removed. The Lewinsky banner on the shed was the only one that stayed, as you can see:

(susanthe photo) 

The Obama banners were certainly obnoxious, dishonest, and not without a tinge of racism. 

The "Lewinsky" banner is equally offensive. Women are the fastest growing segment of the motorcycle buying population. Monica Lewinsky was a young woman who made a number of really poor decisions. Those decisions were broadcast all over the world. She became the butt of jokes made by every comedian. Monica Lewinsky got a public shaming on an unprecedented level. 

Dredging that up, and mocking this woman AGAIN, to make some kind of coarse sexual/political joke sends a strong message to women, though not perhaps the message the owners intend. Something along the lines of: "Hey women, we don't want your business." 

What's your sign?

Seen on Election Day in Madison, NH 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Ousting Extremists

 Well, we had us an election.

Once again, NH has surprised me. In 2010, when the Tea Party/John Birch/Free Stater contingent took over our state it was a surprise. A lot of respected legislators were ousted, and replaced with people in possession of varying degrees of competence and sanity. The new majority promised a laser like focus on job creation, yet created policy that cost our state jobs, and increased unemployment. They turned the laser on social issues, and worked tirelessly to regulate ovaries, homosexuals, and poor people. They cut revenue streams, ensuring that NH would continue to be unable to afford the kind of investments in infrastructure and education needed to move our state into the future.

Thanks to the last legislature, NH became fodder for comedians on late night TV. We went from being a small state that no one paid much attention to until presidential primary season, to being a national and even international mockery. The volume knob on NH crazytunes was turned up a little bit higher each week that the legislature was in session. That probably wasn’t what most of you were hoping for when you cast your ballots in 2010.

You were probably hoping for property tax relief. You didn’t get any. Instead you got Free Stater Jennifer Coffey filing a bill to put up warning signs at the MA border. The voters in her district firmly ousted her. You got birthers – state legislators using their status to attempt to prove that President Obama is not a US citizen. Local birther Laurie Pettengill was gerrymandered right out of her seat by her own party. Harry Accornero was not given a second term by the voters of Laconia. You also got a bill to put quotes from the Magna Carta in new legislation, and a bill calling for vegetarian diets in our prisons and jails. Sponsor Robert Kingsbury was ousted by his constituents in Laconia.

Rep. Gregory Sorg last year chaired a committee aimed at ensuring NH received no federal aid for anything. In his report, he decried weatherization and fuel assistance programs, saying that NH residents should arrange their affairs so that they required no such assistance. As I wrote at the time:

“In short, we must all manage our affairs so that we do not get old, do not develop a serious health problem, do not lose our jobs, and do not suffer from sudden poverty caused by the destruction of the US economy. Based on these findings, Rep. Sorg should be expecting 3 ghosts to visit him on Christmas Eve. “

Apparently the voters in his district concurred. Rep. Sorg was voted out.

On the local level, Frank McCarthy was ousted. In a one on one conversation, Frank can be quite personable. His public persona, however, is probably what cost him the election. For two years he’s written bellicose diatribes to the newspaper, filled with inaccuracies and right wing propaganda. At the House candidate’s forum I attended, he didn’t need the microphone. His bellowing was audible in the next county. On the next planet.

Extremist Norman Tregenza was soundly defeated in his attempt to win the newly gerrymandered floterial district. Voters were apparently not won over by his laser like focus on the issues of Ron Paul and the John Birch Society – or by the ugly campaign he ran.

Ovide Lamontagne lost his second attempt at the corner office. In his concession speech, he complained that his positions on issues had been distorted. That translates as: they told the truth about me. The media was intent on presenting him as some sort of moderate, but his stance on social issues revealed him to be anything but. Lamontagne has now lost three elections because he’s just too extreme for NH. That’s the take away from this election. NH is many strange and wonderful things, but we aren’t a state that is willing to be governed by far right ideologues. 

On some level, I suspect that many local Republicans are aware that ceding their party to the extremists was a bad idea. They’ve paid a high price for allowing racists, homophobes, and misogynists to speak for them.

By far and away, the biggest mistake made by the GOP on every level (state and national) was the war on women. They might have gotten away with restricting abortion, but trying to restrict contraception proved to be a bridge to nowhere. GOP spokesman Rush Limbaugh called college student Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute for testifying before Congress about a mandate that insurance companies cover birth control. That was spun quite successfully and dishonestly as “taxpayer funded birth control.”

 By far and away the most damaging move made by the GOP was allowing itself to become the party of redefining rape. Missouri Congressman Todd Akin told us that in the case of “legitimate rape” a woman can’t get pregnant, because “the female body has ways of shutting that down.” Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock told us that a pregnancy resulting from rape is something God intended to happen. All over the country Republican men were telling women that a rape baby was going to be a little blessing for them – and one that they would be forced to bear. Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan was part of an effort to redefine rape, attempting to ensure that only victims of “forcible rape” would be eligible for federally funded abortions.

Women across the country proved that they have ways to shut THAT nonsense down. They voted Akin and Mourdock out. A record number of women will be US Senators in 2013. New Hampshire has made history with an all woman Congressional delegation: both of our US Senators and both of our newly elected Representatives are women. We elected a female governor. Record numbers of women will be serving in the US Senate and the US House.

There are women now serving in every single state legislative chamber. It’s shameful that it’s taken all this time to get there, but we are there now. The GOP would do well to take notice.

© sbruce 2012

Published as an op-ed in the November 8, 2012 Conway Daily Sun newspaper. 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Tregenza and the Mystery of the Unregistered PAC

My sincere condolences to Norman Tregenza, Jr. and the rest of the Tregenza/Lyman family on the loss of Norman Sr. Even when someone we love has been ill for a long time, we're still never prepared for that moment when they aren't with us any longer. Losing a parent is a big, big loss, and one that takes a very long time to grieve.

I'm truly sad for Norman.

But, sad or not, he's still running for the NH legislature. And losing his father doesn't erase the fact that he's run a disgusting, mean-spirited, and dishonest campaign against Ed Butler as they vie for the newly created seat in the newly gerrymandered floterial district.

Someone advised Norman. He's not clever enough to have thought to focus on the so-called "bathroom bill," a meme that is being used all over the state. That's straight from Speaker O'Brien and his pal Kevin Smith, formerly of Cornerstone Policy Research. I suspect he was told to go on the offensive and stay the course. It's not surprising. As we've seen in two weeks of newspaper ads, Norman doesn't have any legislative accomplishments to boast about. Norman focused on sponsoring bills asking Congress to return to the gold standard, asking Congress to withdraw the United States from the UN,  and affirming the state's powers based on the Constitution for the US and the Constitution of NH. Another bill he sponsored urged Congress to amend or repeal legislation expanding the constitutionally delegated powers of federal government. Then there was a bill urging Congress to withdraw the US from NAFTA, and  one urging the NH delegation to support bills requiring a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve. The UN withdrawal bill he filed in 2011 and again in 2012. In fact, a number of his do nothing bills were filed both years of the biennium: The withdrawal from NAFTA, the affirming state's powers bill, and the audit the Fed bill.

Each bill filed by a legislator costs taxpayers approximately $1500 - for researching and writing up by legislative services, publishing costs, etc.  Each of those bills norman filed twice cost us $3000. He wasted $12,000 on bills that had nothing to do with state government, and were absolutely meaningless, just to prove some Ron Paul/John Bircher point. And he has the audacity to speak of fiscal responsibility.

Because Norman is so bereft of accomplishment, someone decided that he should run an ugly and mean attack campaign. For a couple of weeks now we've been treated to the daily newspaper ad from his campaign, alleging that former Rep. Butler is aiding and abetting perverts. To fight perversion, Tregenza urges employers to cut out his ads and post them on bathroom doors. Apparently in Bircherville,  any pervert who catches a glimpse of Norm's Arayan youth photo in the ad will flee from the ladies room, never to be seen again.

The ads became unpopular. People started writing letters to the newspaper. It was apparent at the candidate's forum held at the VFW that Norman had nothing else to offer in his campaign. He wants to protect loons from lead sinkers in our lakes, which may be the only laudable cause he's involved in. He wants to fix our roads - or so he says - but he voted for a budget that slashed spending on roads and bridges. When asked about the bill in question, Ed Butler's response was so calm, so informed, and so adult that Norman was left with nothing else to say on that subject.

In a desperate measure to look as if he'd done something good, he ran an ad about being a co-sponsor of a bill that renamed a bridge in Grafton County. The bridge was renamed after a young man who died  at age 17.  Norman failed to ask permission from the family to use their dead son as a tool in a political ad. They were outraged. Norman responded by taking out another ad:

He apologizes to the family, but whines that he was trying to do something positive in the midst of all the negative advertising - as if he'd played no role in the negativity. And in this ad, he not only exploits a dead boy for political gain, he also exploits his recently deceased father, telling us that he designed this ad while he was holding his dying father's hand. I know better than many, that grief can cause someone to be unhinged. This ad is proof. Then bizarrely he has a text box at the bottom to show inform us that HE isn't dead, it's his father who died. Weird. Really weird.

Today's ad was not as strange, but still out there. He informs us that he's STILL ALIVE, that it was his father who died (a plea for the sympathy vote) and then, after bleating the day before about negativity, he jumps right into phony outrage about bathrooms. And yes, it is phony outrage. Norman voted against women at every opportunity - so his oft professed concern about what transpires in ladies rooms  is as phony as it is hypocritical.

At the bottom of Norman's signs and his numerous newspaper ads is a statement about who is paying for the ads and signs. It reads: "This ad is paid for by Mt. Washington Valley Campaign Fund to Elect Tregenza, Lisa Hayford, fiscal agent, PO Box 205, Madison, NH 03849" In other words, a political action committee, or PAC, was formed to handle the contributions and expenses of the campaign. This is very common. The Secretary of State's website has plenty of them listed: Friends of Fenton Groen, Committee to Elect Gene Chandler, Friends of Jeb Bradley - you get the idea. The rules that these PACs must abide by are also listed at the Secretary of State's website, in the Election Division section of the site. The very first rule is:

Any political committee, except that of a political party, must register with the Secretary of State not later than 24 hours after receiving any contribution in excess of $500 OR before making an expenditure in excess of $500, but in no event later than 14 days after the formation of the committee. 

As I mentioned earlier , I was at the Secretary of State's (SoS) office yesterday going through candidate and PAC reports. These are, of course, a matter of public record. In the course of my research I learned that there is no "Mt Washington Valley Campaign Fund to Elect Tregenza" registered with the Secretary of State. You can see this for yourself on the SoS website, where all of the registered PACs are listed. I wanted to be sure, though, so I asked. This committee has never been registered with the SoS.

 I did find 2 candidate reports that Norman had filed. The first was received September 19.

This report makes no mention of the committee. This is his report for the primary segment of the election. He claims a total  for the primary of $4, 211. 07 in campaign receipts. (That means contributions) He claims $1095.50 in expenditures on this report, and $1,441. 55 in prior expenses. His campaign expenditures to this date total $2537.05, which leaves a reported balance of $1684.07.

Now, on to the itemizations:

As you can see, there are no itemized receipts (contributions), so we have no idea where the money came from. There is one expenditure, to Mt. Washington Graph-fix and Printing for signs, to the tune
of $1095. 50.

The only other report thus far is from the General Election, received by the SoS on October 17.

This report makes no  mention the Mt Washington Valley Campaign Fund to Elect Tregenza. Norman brings forth a balance of $1674. 07. (He's only off by $10, according to the last report.) He reports $950 in contributions thus far in the general election cycle, with $0 previously reported during the general election. Adding the balance brought forward and the new contributions, he claims a new balance of $2634. 02. This new balance includes the $10 he was previously off by.

There are 3 items in the receipt section. One donation from the Carroll County Republican Committee for $350.00. The second is a $200.00 contribution from Margaret Devine of N. Conway. The third is a donation of $100 from Barbara Jane Tupper of West Ossipee. Try as I might, I can only get those donations to add up to $650, not the $950 claimed on the front of the form. There is one expenditure, for $1000 to the Conway Daily Sun newspaper for advertising.

Let's just say that the math doesn't exactly work out - but there's no smoking gun in the math,  just a person who appears to be inept at filling out forms.

The smoking gun is the committee. Why do Norman's signs and newspaper ads refer to a PAC that is not registered with the Secretary of State? Why are thousands of dollars in donations not itemized?

What's really going on here?

Why in the world would we trust this guy with taxpayer dollars, if he can't be trusted to engage in honest record keeping?

There You Go Again, Maynard

Poor Maynard Thomson. He was the Chairman of the Carroll County GOP, until he had to step down because he filed faulty PAC reports. Since he stepped down on the same day that the cease and desist letter was sent by the NH Attorney General's Office, with the flimsy pretext that he was leaving to serve the Rick Perry for President campaign in some capacity.

I mentioned this incident in a recent column, since Maynard of the deliberately incomplete paperwork is now running for the NH House. He's counting on the fact that no one will remember what happened a year ago in 2011, or care. In fact, he was quite miffed at me for bringing it up, as one can see in his rather hastily penned letter to the editor that appeared in the October 26 edition of the Conway Daily Sun:

She’d also know that the state required me to re-file the forms because I’d done a sloppy, hurried job, and one of the local Democrats complained. There was no effort to conceal anything in the original filings — sorry, but the Carroll County Republicans were passed over when the sinister, right-wing billionaires were handing out the money — and no sanction for my errors, or any finding of wrong-doing.  The forms — originals, and corrected — are available for viewing on line.

As one can clearly see, Thomson admits to filing forms that weren't correctly filled out. As one can also clearly see, despite the oft sung GOP mantra of personal responsibility,  Thomson refuses to take any. He's not to blame for filing incorrect paperwork - a Democrat is to blame for reporting him.

What is interesting about this letter NOW, is that I wrote about his fall from grace on several occasions in 2011, and Thomson said nothing. In GOP Values on Display, which was published in the October 7, 2011 edition of the Conway Daily Sun, I wrote about Thomson's shoddy paperwork:

It seems that under the stewardship of romance novelist Thomson, the Carroll County GOP failed to properly report, itemize, and provide receipts for their expenditures during the 2010 campaign. It seems that some expenditures went on Chairman Thomson’s own personal credit card. According to the AG’s letter (which I have a copy of), the report that was submitted just lumped everything together as one big expense, without itemizing. From the letter: “Your conscious decisions to fail to report the committee’s expenditures for political advertisements until after the General Election and to lump them together with the committee’s cable bill violates RSA 664:6.” 

In an October 6, 2011 diary at the blog Blue Hampshire I was even more direct about Thomson:

As many of us know, political committees, just like candidates, must file expenditure reports as soon as they have taken in more than $500 before an election. Those reports must contain itemized receipts and expenditures.
According to the AG's investigation, Maynard Thomson's first report was filed on Sept. 22, 2010. It reported $10, 842.90 in receipts and $3,218.70 in expenditures. Unless they had a sudden windfall, Thomson was rather tardy in filing this form. About $1200 worth of tardy, in fact. None of the receipts or expenditures in the report were itemized.
The AG's office also learned that Thomson (on behalf of the CC GOP Committee) signed agreements with 2 radio stations to air political ads. He spent $879.75 at both stations. The bill went on Thomson's credit card, dated October 13, 2010. The fiscal reports from Thomson to the state on October 13th and 27th, 2010 do not list the expenditures.
The November 10, 2010 shows a lump expenditure of $6,215.30 for the CC GOP cable bill, advertisements in the Conway Daily Sun newspaper, and the advertisements on Mt. Washington Radio. No itemized anything. No receipts. The AG's office refers to  this as "conscious decision" to fail to report this until after the election.

At the time, Thomson told the Conway Sun that he had "no inkling" that anything was wrong with his reports. As anyone who has ever run for office knows, the reporting is pretty simple and straightforward. One reports the donations coming in, and one reports the expenses going out. Anyone who keeps a checkbook should be able to manage this. Maynard Thomson is an attorney. It's difficult to imagine that he had "no inkling" or that he was incapable of properly filling out the forms.

In any case, I wrote those two pieces in 2011, and Thomson undoubtedly saw both of them, yet he didn't write to the paper to correct me. He didn't send me a behind the scenes letter, or threaten to sue me, as he has in the past.

He's counting on the fact that voters have forgotten, if they ever even knew about his problems with the NH Attorney General's office. Being the stalker/misogynist he is, he feels compelled to attempt to discredit ME for reminding everyone of his borderline criminal actions.

It's fortunate for Mr. Thomson that the state doesn't enforce the rules of their rather shoddy reporting system.

But - as granny used to say, a leopard doesn't change his spots. I was in Concord yesterday at the Secretary of State's office, going through candidate reports, when I came upon the only report Thomson has filed since the primary. It seems that old dog is up to the same tricks:

This is Thomson's October 17 report. As you can see, he's claiming a sum of $3, 615. 37 as being brought forward from the donations he received during the primary, and this is listed as his total receipts  taken in to date, for the campaign. Receipts is the term used for contributions.

Thomson listed $655.27 in expenditures for this report. On the line asking for total of expenditures previously reported, he's claiming zero. The receipts and expenditures are supposed to be itemized. Under receipts he has a zero. Under expenditures  he has written: "see attached." There was no attached.  There you go again, Maynard.

There's also a rather epic math failure here. Instead of subtracting the amount of expenditures from the receipts, Thomson added the expenditures to the receipts, and listed the amount as a deficit balance. If he'd subtracted the expenditures (as he is supposed to),  he'd be reporting a surplus balance of $2960.10.

Thomson has been attempting to belittle my intelligence for years, and I'll confess I did fail remedial math once in high school, owing largely to a lack of motivation on my part. Thomson trumpets his education and experience proudly on his website:

 After graduating from law school, I became an Assistant Attorney General in Ohio. From there, I went to the Kennedy School at Harvard, where I got a Masters in Public Administration.
We then went to Washington, where I worked for the Federal Trade Commission. That was where I developed my enduring interest in the economics of health care, and my conviction that there’s almost no problem that won’t be made into a far larger problem by a well-intentioned, government intervention.

All that education, yet seemingly he can't subtract, and clearly he will not properly fill out a simple campaign finance report. Do you really want to have him working on our state budget????

Thursday, November 01, 2012 Should Engage In Some Self Reflection

This is the mailer I received from MoveOn yesterday. Should I feel all warm and fuzzy knowing that I'm an excellent voter? Thing is - I already knew that. Some poor tree died a redundancy induced death on my account.

As it happens, I went to the post office with an elderly woman yesterday. She got one of these, too. Here's the email I sent MoveOn, as a result:

Dear Move On,
I received my voter report card from you in today's mail. I am rated as an excellent voter, which is no surprise to me. I'm a writer and an activist, and I vote.
I'm also a part time caregiver for an elderly woman. I drove her to the post office today, and she got her voter report card. She's classified as a "good" voter, because she hasn't voted in the last few elections. In the last 5 years, she's had a stroke from which she's never fully recovered from. She was forced to close her business. She doesn't know what year it is most of the time. She has dementia - and she has no business voting.
You have no idea why people aren't voting. Sending out blanket report cards to everyone means that some people,  like my elderly friend are being hurt, needlessly, by your organization.
I have to tell you, I think this sucks. I've watched this woman go from being a successful artist and business owner to being someone who can't remember to get up to use the toilet. Every time we go somewhere, someone who knows her greets her effusively - and she's canny enough to fake it, but she can't remember who they are. Some days that really depresses her. She didn't need another reminder of what she isn't any more from Move On. My advice to you is simple: don't ever do this again.

Susan Bruce

Their response:

We're terribly sorry for sending our mailing to your client. Obviously, it's not appropriate for her situation.
Please accept our sincere apologies for the mistake.
Voter Report Card
Washington, DC

I guess I was hoping for a "yeah, we screwed up, we shouldn't have done this", or  a "we screwed up and shouldn't have done it this way." Or even a "we're going evaluate this project based on the mail we're getting." 

So much for my hopes. 

MoveOn lost me a long time ago. This was an organization that began in response to the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. In 2008 they endorsed Barack Obama for president, despite his campaign promise to escalate the war in Afghanistan. As an anti-war group they lost all credibility with that endorsement. 

I hope they hear from a lot of people who weren't thrilled to get that voter report card.