Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pants Ablaze

After reading David Brochu’s recent “you kids get off my lawn” piece about Facebook in the Sun, I am only slightly chagrinned to admit that not only do I have a Facebook page; I also have a Twitter account. I tweet, but mostly I follow (or read) the tweets of others. Some of the folks I follow on Twitter are NH state legislators. None of them are from Carroll County. In the past, our local legislators were barely able to access their email accounts, but times have changed. Laurie Pettengill, Norman Tregenza, and Frank McCarthy all have Facebook accounts! I thought I’d found Frank on Twitter, but upon reading further, I decided that “Frank McCarthy: Sailor Dude and Wireless Broadband Hero” was probably not our local legislator.

Some legislators are prolific tweeters. State Representative Al Baldasaro is a frequent tweeter, and from his tweets, I have learned that he spends nearly every weekend in the state he came from: Massachusetts. Instead of sending us a thank you card for providing cheap booze and cigarettes, Massachusetts prefers instead to send us their lunatics, misanthropes, and malcontents.

NH House Majority Leader DJ Bettencourt is a frequent tweeter. On February 4 he tweeted: “GOP House Agenda ‘12: Focuses squarely on getting the 38,000 of our friends and neighbors who remain unemployed back to work.” I was glad to read this. It warms the sclerotic cockles of my hard little heart to learn that AFTER the NH GOP House finishes up with their social engineering agenda (repealing marriage equality, making kids stand for the pledge of allegiance, guns for abusers, ensuring that women are barefoot and pregnant, taking over the judiciary, and privatizing our jails and schools) that they intend to engage in that laser like focus on job creation they promised us back in 2010.

The promised laser has yet to materialize. Freshman State Rep. J.R. Hoell is sponsoring a whopping 26 bills (that’s approximately $39,000 worth) this session. One would think that at least one would be related somehow to job creation, but one would be wrong. There are 6 gun bills and 3 that are related to deadly force. There are 6 anti-education bills, 2 anti-women bills, and the rest is a mixed bag. HB 1342 would prohibit state and local governments from using funds to employ a lobbyist. So much for local control. In fact, fans of local control would do well to pay attention to this legislature, because they’ve filed a number of Big Brother Bills.

One bill that has received the kind of derisive national attention NH should be getting used to is HB 1574, which would eliminate the requirement that an employer give an employee a lunch break after 5 hours on the job. Apparently in randworld all employers are just warm fuzzies who insist on coddling their employees, so there’s no need for actual RULES. In defense of this bill, Rep. Hoell is quoted as saying, “If they are not letting people have lunch, they could put it out though the news media, through social media I don’t think that abusive behavior would continue, the way communications are today.” I appreciate Hoell’s enthusiasm for social media, but he’s being awfully optimistic. After all, there has been tons of ridicule heaped on the GOP controlled NH House, and they haven’t resigned en masse.

Laconia Rep. Harry Accornero’s bill requiring students to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance has just cleared the Constitutional Review Committee, and will be voted on by the full house. One may well wonder how this bill passed through any committee, never mind a Constitutional Review committee. It’s a poorly written bit of nonsense, that doesn’t stipulate any kind of penalty. Will the treasonous teens that refuse to stand be carted off to Guantanamo Bay? Rep. Lawrence Kappler says, “Standing is a sign of national patriotism.” Certainly there’s no better way to teach patriotism than the use of force. As a side note, the US is the only democracy that requires students to swear a loyalty oath every day.

In other legislative related news, a new report from the N.H. Center for Public Policy Studies finds that as state funding decreases, the reliance on property tax is increasing. In other words, all of those taxes and fees that have been either decreased or eliminated (like the tobacco tax) may sound pretty, but the end result is that your property taxes are going up. The Center found that property taxes comprised about 60% of city, town, and school spending. As the state continues to eliminate revenue sources at every opportunity, you can be sure that your property taxes will continue to increase exponentially. Perhaps in time, even the most knee jerk party supporters will begin to understand that the GOP mantra of “NH doesn’t have a revenue problem” is being uttered by people whose pants are ablaze.

Speaking of pants on fire, Speaker of the NH House, William O’Brien should be at the Shriner’s Burn Hospital right about now. Last year GOP Rep. Susan Emerson accused O’Brien of screaming and swearing at her because he objected to her amendments to the House budget bill. Because of that incident, Emerson and a bi-partisan group of legislators filed HB 1533, a bill preventing bullying in the state house and legislative office building. In a recent interview with Kevin Landrigan of the Nashua Telegraph, the Speaker denied that this ever took place. In fact, the Speaker accused Rep. Emerson of fabricating the story and being “emotional.” Ah, those silly girlies – always so emotional. Sadly for the Speaker, the state trooper who served as the Senate sergeant-at-arms last year, and the chorus director for the school chorus singing the national anthem that day have both acknowledged that Susan Emerson is telling the truth. That means the Speaker of the NH House, a man who has brought nothing but shame to our state, is also a bold faced liar.

Be sure to ask your local state reps why they aren’t asking for O’Brien to step down. Remember, Laurie Pettengill was a strong O’Brien supporter, and Gene Chandler is a member of the O’Brien leadership team.

Is this what you voted for?

© sbruce 2012

Published as an op-ed in the February 17, 2012 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.


Anonymous said...

Susan, how many of these far-right bills do you think are the work of free staters?

Anonymous said...

This is precisely what the mindless right voted for and worse, what they want. They demand prayer in school, standing for the Pledge, religious Christian fanatacism and a return to slavery for all those "not white like us", all thinly veiled under the guise of democracy. Most of these individuals haven't read the Constitution or Bill of Rights lately, they also haven't read their own history and the making of this nation, and get all their info. from Fox. We are dealing with a voting citizenry that is wholly ignorant, frighteningly dangerous and completely uneducated. They will end up with exactly what they fear without ever knowing it. A right wing dictatorship headed up by Norquist et al.

susanthe said...

It's impossible to tell how much input the Free Staters have, since most of them aren't even honest enough to admit that they are Free Staters. I don't know of a single one who was open about it while running for office. For that reason it's hard to know how many of them there are. Of course Seth Cohn is widely known as a member of the FSP, and he's pretty intent on getting his name up in lights at every opportunity. There are the McGuires: Dan and Carol. Andrew Manuse. The rest of them (and there are somewhere between 12-20) are managing to stay under the radar. It helps that they were elected at the same time as a bunch of teabaggers, and of course the John Bircher contingent, which is rumored to be about a dozen.

If you look at the list of bills sponsored by Andrew Manuse, you can see the REAL Free State agenda at work; trying to eliminate the judiciary, eliminate even more funding sources for NH govt. Their goal, as stated by Jason Sorens, FSP founder in his original manifesto:

"Once we've taken over the state government, we can slash state and local budgets, which make up a sizeable proportion of the tax and regulatory burden we face every day. Furthermore, we can eliminate substantial federal interference by refusing to take highway funds and the strings attached to them. Once we've accomplished these things, we can bargain with the national government over reducing the role of the national government in our state. We can use the threat of secession as leverage to do this."

That's their vision for NH, and no matter what they say publicly, that is what they are working toward.

susanthe said...

Anonymous2: Precisely. And as one of my friends is fond of saying, "Serf's up."