Thursday, August 30, 2012

Voter Fraud/Water Fraud

The NH legislature pushed through a Voter ID law for our state, despite the absence of proof of any actual fraud occurring. There’s a lot of anecdotal talk of “busloads of people from Massachusetts” coming to the polls and voting, by people swearing they’ve seen it. Under questioning, however, they were remarkably passive in the face of massive voter fraud. Not a one of them ever so much as mentioned it to the cop stationed at the polls, nor did they tell moderator, call the Sec. of State or the AG’s office, or even take a picture with their cell phone.

Voter fraud has always been a solution in search of a bunch of actual election thieves, and thanks to ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) Voter ID laws were passed in a number of states over the last few years. A percentage of voters in each of these states have been disenfranchised. That was the goal: to make sure poor people, students, poor people of color, and old people weren’t able to vote. If they could only get rid of that pesky 19th Amendment, they’d be well on their way to the dictatorship they crave.

The US Constitution gives us the right to vote. It doesn’t mention cashing checks, flying, or entering government buildings. Just voting. When someone gives you all of those reasons as to why you should WANT to have Voter ID laws, feel free to bring that up. Bear in mind that you will be making that point to the same people who claim to love the Constitution more than life itself. None of their evidence of voter fraud holds up, even the attempt made here by Breitbart acolyte and faux journalist James O’Keefe who attempted to prove voter fraud in NH by asking for ballots of people who were actually dead. Well, some of them were dead anyhow. The living ones weren’t very happy. O’Keefe doesn’t dare to come back to NH, because he’ll be given a grand jury subpoena if he does, and he’s already on probation for attempting to bug US Senator Mary Landrieu’s office, while posing as a telephone repair man.

The biggest single incidence of voter fraud took place in Florida, in November of 2000. The GOP does not wish to discuss that.

In any case, the new state Voter ID law is available on the NH Secretary of State’s website: here in an easily printed and handed out pdf from the NH League of Women Voter’s site. The state primary election is on Sept. 11, and for that primary, nothing has changed. You will not be required to show ID to get a ballot. Ballot clerks will ask for ID, and give those who don’t produce one a handout on the future requirements of the new law. For the November 6 General Election, you will be asked to show ID. If you do not, you will be asked to sign a voter affidavit. The Secretary of State’s office will contact you to confirm that you voted. The list of acceptable ID’s is available at either of the above websites. Please share this information with your friends and neighbors, because a lot of incorrect information is being circulated. One local town clerk sent out a highly edited version of the law. It wasn’t dishonest, but it wasn’t 100% accurate, either. This matters. At a time when our voting rights are under assault by the corporate puppet masters of the GOP, it’s damned important that we pay attention, and know the exact letter of the law.

There’s a group called Commit2Vote2012 that is sending out voter registration packets in NH. This is a project of Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist religious group who apparently didn’t bother to do any research before they tried focusing on NH families. NH doesn’t have a motor voter law in place that allows third party voter registrations. If you sign the Commit2Vote forms, you will not be registered to vote, you’ll just be on their mailing list for life. Just say no to Focus on the Family.

In other local news, the Fryeburg water situation is rearing its ugly head again. This time, the Fryeburg Water Company (a privately held utility) is asking for a long-term commitment from Nestle/Poland Spring (the multinational corporation that is pumping water from Fryeburg and selling it at an enormous profit. Nestle would buy a guaranteed amount of water, and pay $12,000 a month in rental fees, for the privilege of taking that water. That adds up to $144,000 a year. Nestle’s profit on water sales in 2009 was upwards of $4.2 billion. The deal would be in place for 25 years. This new deal has to be approved by the Maine Public Utilities Commission. The Maine PUC made this information public just last week, and the period for public comment ends on Sept. 4. It’s worth pointing out that two of the three PUC commissioners have worked for Nestle in the past. In other words – this is being shoved through with great haste, and in hopes of little public attention.

Meanwhile, the Fryeburg Water District is considering going inactive. The Fryeburg Water District is an independent municipal board that was originally created by the ME legislature in the event that Fryeburg Water Co. decided to sell. That was before Nestle. A couple of remarkable coincidences are taking place. First, FWD trustee Dick Krasker took some time off from the board. He was reelected in June, and within a week made the motion to put the district in inactive status. The other Big Remarkable Coincidence is that this is happening right now, when the Nestle/Fryeburg Water Co. deal is going down. Making the FWD inactive would mean an end to any sort of public oversight over the whole issue of water in Fryeburg. It’s not exactly rocket science to understand why Nestle wants the FWD to go away, and Nestle has proven to be remarkably efficient at getting its way in Fryeburg.

Folks in East Conway should be paying attention to this, since it’s your water, too. In fact, we should all be contacting our legislators and asking them to push for the PUC to extend the comment period and do a thorough examination of the Nestle/Fryeburg Water contract. The financial health of the Fryeburg Water Company should also be scrutinized. We should also all be asking PUC Commissioners Welsh and Vannoy to recuse themselves, due to conflict of interest. They’ve both worked for Nestle (one as a lawyer, one as an engineer) in the past.

The unseemly haste and lack of transparency that is transpiring here should serve as a warning sign that something is wrong with all of this, and will almost certainly be to the detriment of the town of Fryeburg and all area water users.

“In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.” Rachel Carson

© 2012 sbruce
This was published as an op-ed in the August 31, 2012 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.
h/t to Mother Jones Magazine for the voter suppression map.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Candidate Who Has the Financial Resources?

Earlier this month, the NH NEA endorsed former NH State Senator Maggie Hassan for governor. Their statement was posted at Blue Hampshire. The end is the interesting part:

When one of the Republican candidates states that he will be like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker “on steroids,” everyone who cares about seniors, women’s rights, the middles class, civil rights , and our public school children better take notice and then support the candidate who has the organization, financial resources, and platform to win in November. That candidate is Maggie Hassan.

Organization, resources, and platform. Clearly the NEA was placing great value on financial resources.

A few days ago took a look at campaign finances:

Hassan said she had raised $930,000 with $239,000 coming in since June 19. She reported about $100,000 on hand.

That looks good at first glance - until you stop to think that Hassan's spent $800,000 and she's not winning. She's neck and neck with the other Democrat, Jackie Cilley, who is running her campaign on a wing and a prayer. $800,000 is a big honking chunk of cash - and she ain't winning. James Pindell in the latest Political Standing:

Maggie Hassan: You have to analyze her finance report that she basically spent $800,000 of the $900,000 she raised this way: Looking back it’s horrible. She has spent far more than anyone running for governor and she is neck and neck to win her primary against someone who is running a campaign on a shoestring. Looking ahead in the short term it’s devastating. The whole argument over the summer is that while Cilley was coming on strong Hassan would just overpower her in the closing weeks. This report shows she can’t do that. In the long term it is no big deal. If Hassan makes it through the primary she will have all the resources she needs.

It's been clear all along that Hassan was the anointed establishment candidate, and that the big money was going to be behind her. Now that the staggering amount of cash she's burned through has been made public, one wonders how the big endorsers are feeling about her "resources," her political savvy, and her chances.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hassan Bails on Stoddard, Goes to Obama Event

Two days before the NH presidential primary in 2008, a number of women (prominent NH Democrats) signed a letter on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign that was emailed out to supporters and undecided voters, misrepresenting Barack Obama's position on choice. This created a rift, ably documented by writer Alec MacGillis in the Washington Post.

From the letter:
"The difference between Hillary's repeatedly standing up strong on choice and Obama's unwillingness to vote 'yes' or 'no' is a clear contrast, and we believe the voters in New Hampshire deserve to know this difference," the e-mail stated. "We support Hillary Clinton because she never ducked when choice was at stake."

The Clinton campaign has made the same charge repeatedly over the past year, including a couple weeks before the Iowa caucus. The Obama campaign had rebuffed it by invoking statements by an Illinois Planned Parenthood official, who said the "present" votes were part of a deliberate strategy to protect other pro-choice legislators, other than Obama, in vulnerable districts.

After the primary another email went out urging women to hang together and not be divided by the initial Clinton email. Some of the same women who signed the Clinton letter signed on to the new one:

The other two Clinton supporters who signed both the critical e-mail and the conciliatory one stood more strongly by the initial one. Sen. Hassan said she, too, was unaware of the Illinois Planned Parenthood defense of Obama at the time she signed the critical letter, that she had only been told by the Clinton campaign that the Illinois chapter of NOW had cited concerns about Obama's present votes. She said it was wrong for anyone to suggest that Obama was not pro-choice, and that she was sorry about the upset that the letter had caused.

But Hassan stood by what she said was the main point of the initial e-mail, that Clinton was the most staunchly pro-choice Democrat. "All of the leading Democratic candidates are strongly pro-choice but I think Hillary's record is unparalleled. I stand by what I signed before the election and don't think it's inconsistent with" the new e-mail stating that Obama is strongly pro-choice, Hassan said. "Everybody's going to interpret these letters and e-mails as they want to."

Senator Hassan signed the dishonest Clinton letter, and is unrepentant about having done so - then and now. Alec MacGillis did a follow up story last year.

I've already written about Hassan's early endorsement (and paid campaign manager) from Emily's List. Emily's List was a huge supporter/funder of the Clinton campaign.

In July, Hassan was paid back for her loyalty, with an in-person endorsement from Bill Clinton. Concord Monitor.

Clinton didn't wait last night to be asked why he's endorsing Hassan over her Democratic rivals, former state senator Jackie Cilley of Barrington and Bill Kennedy of Danbury. He cited press reports that noted Hassan's past support for the Clintons and said. "There are worse reasons."

But he also said he watched Hassan when she served in the state Senate, where she was chosen by her colleagues to be majority leader and worked well with the other side. (In praising Hassan, Clinton mispronounced her last name at least twice.)

While mispronouncing her name, he basically admits that this is payback. At least he's honest. But he's not running for president, and neither is his wife. So, when this story came out in the Union Leader:

Democratic candidates for governor Jackie Cilley and Bill Kennedy met with a friendly crowd at a Stoddard Democrats event at Lakefalls Lodge on Saturday afternoon to speak about the issues in the race and eat a bit of blueberry cobbler.

The absence of fellow gubernatorial candidate Maggie Hassan was duly noted by the other candidates, members of the Stoddard Democrats and other attendees, who said her snub didn't reflect well on her.

Richard Whitney, chairman of the Stoddard Democrats, said Hassan was lured away by the arrival of President Barack Obama in the Granite State this weekend for a recently announced campaign stop.

Even though Hassan had promised to attend the Stoddard event two months ago, she backed out at the last minute, he said.

I couldn't help but wonder - fence mending? Outright ass kissing?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Built It Myself

The Republican Party has adopted a new meme for the 2012 campaign (based on an edited Obama quote) the “I Built This Company Myself” theme that is cropping up everywhere. A couple of weeks ago, former NH GOP Chair, Fergus Cullen had an op-ed piece in the Union Leader, where he extolled the virtues of Marion Noronha, who immigrated to the US from India. Noronha’s story, as told by Cullen, is tailor made for a Frank Capra movie.

Mr. Noronha came to the US in 1977, with nothing but six dollars and a degree in engineering that he earned in India. He worked for free for a VT company that was working at Dartmouth College. In Hanover Noronha became a Christian, and met the woman he would marry. His next job was with a shoe manufacturer that used CAD (computer assisted design). He and other Christians he met in the Hanover area moved to Madbury to start a church at UNH.

Mr. Noronha fiddled with CAD in his spare time, designing new prototypes and products. He bought a milling machine and set up a shop in his basement. He sold his first part to GM, and by 1993, had opened his own business, Turbocam, and had 23 employees.

It’s a great story – an immigrant realizing the American dream. Cullen makes a point of telling President Obama that Noronha did this all by his lonesome, with no help from the evil gummint. Except that it isn’t true.

Noronha got an education in engineering in India, where he very likely went to a publicly funded university. He came to the US on a Visa, granted to him by the US government. Noronha became a Christian, in a country where the government grants him freedom of religion. He lived and worked in Hanover, a town with public roads, bridges, water, sewer, and plowing; the infrastructure paid for by the tax dollars of the residents of this civilized community. Noronha wasn’t exactly Pa Ingalls out on the prairie, cutting down trees, clearing his own pasture, and building a barn. The infrastructure Mr. Noronha needed was already in place. For some reason, the GOP deems it necessary to turn this into a story of rugged individualism.

A visit to the US Government Small Business Administration’s site shows that Turbocam is one of the SBA 100 – companies that have hired at least 100 employees after receiving SBA assistance. From the website:

“Turbocam grew from a modest beginning in Dover, NH. The company has used SBA-guaranteed loans on seven occasions to provide more than $5 million dollars to help support its growth between 1992 and 2009. During this time the number of employees grew from 18 in 1992 to over 250 in 2009.”

Oh, dear. Guaranteed loans from a government program? That sure sounds like government assistance to me.

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney ran an ad featuring a NH businessman, Jack Gilchrist. Gilchrist is the owner of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating Company in Hudson. The ad features the highly edited Obama quote being spread by the GOP, and it features Jack Gilchrist talking about the company built by his father. He’s portrayed as the rugged individualist who did this all on his own. Another Pa Ingalls.

A little research provides some conflicting information. The company benefitted from $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds to set up a second plant and purchase equipment. Bond buyers don’t pay federal taxes on the interest, so the interest rate is lower than a bank loan’s interest would be. Last year, Gilchrist got two US Navy sub-contracts. In 2008, they had a US Coast Guard sub-contract. In the late 1980’s, Gilchrist had a US Small Business Administration loan for around $500,000. Gilchrist has also received matching funds from the New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, which is federally funded. And again, Hudson has public water, sewer, roads, bridges, schools, libraries, and parks - all the amenities of a civilized community, all paid for by the residents.

These stories illustrate a couple of things. First and foremost, these are the stories of men who have worked hard to make their businesses succeed. They are both SMART businessmen, who took advantage of programs that were available to them to help their businesses grow and flourish. That those are government-funded programs doesn’t diminish their success in any way. That’s what those programs are there for: to help businesses. succeed. Isn’t that a good thing? I’m at a loss as to why the Republican Party is at such pains to disconnect from the same government they’re all desperate to be part of. This bizarre myth of “rugged individualism” is going to continue to bite them, because no one who is a success got there without having some help and support along the way.

This was something that Mitt Romney did understand at one time. At the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in 2002 he said:

“You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power. For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them.”

Every one of us benefits from being part of a community, a community that has infrastructure in place to help us succeed. Schools, libraries, parks, recreation, roads, and bridges are all things we rely on, and we take for granted. If we didn’t have these things, we’d be a very different nation. Republicans bleat about US exceptionalism, while denying everything that has contributed to making the US an exceptional nation.

What this should be telling you the voter is pretty simple: they think you’re stupid. They think they can manipulate you by creating dishonest scenarios, and chanting slogans.

Anyone who tells you how bad government is, while simultaneously trying to become part of it, is someone not worthy of your vote.

This was published as an op-ed in the August 17, 2012 edition of the Conway Daily Sun.
© sbruce 2012

This is an expanded version of a piece that was published at Blue Hampshire, the Daily Kos, and of course here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Bill Kennedy, NH Dem Candidate for Governor Does Not Support Choice

Dear NH friends:

There are 3 candidates running for governor on the Democratic side: Jackie Cilley, Maggie Hassan, and Bill Kennedy. Some are claiming that all three share similar views on social issues. It's important for everyone to know - and share a very fundamental difference on the issue of choice.

If you know anyone who is thinking of voting for Bill Kennedy, it's important that you let them know that he doesn't believe women are capable of making their own choices on abortion.

Bill Kennedy is in favor of the 24 hour waiting period. He supports forcing a woman to wait 24 hours for a LEGAL medical procedure. He told me that he believes women are often coerced into having abortions. I told him that he needed to make a decision: either women are autonomous, equal human beings or we are chattel, who need men to make our medical/personal decisions for us. I also pointed out that this places a financial hardship on women, forcing them to take at least 2 days off, unnecessarily. He chose to avoid that aspect of the conversation, as you can see from his comments on Blue Hampshire. You can read his comments at Blue Hampshire.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Friday, August 03, 2012

He Did it Without Help...Except for all the Help He Got

Today's Union Leader has an op-ed by former NH GOP Chair Fergus Cullen. Fergus is going with the silly "I did it MY WAY with no gummint help" that our friends in the GOP clown car seem stuck on. It's a silly meme that is going to continually bite them in the buttocks - but hey - what's wrong with that??

Fergus tells us the tale of Marion Noronha, an immigrant from India who started a business:

Today Noronha is president of Turbocam, the Barringtonbased manufacturing company that employs 550 people in 10 countries, 325 of them in Barrington and Dover. The company has 14 current job openings and plans to add 200 more at a new facility in Barrington.

It's a great story. Noronha came to the US with about $6 (and training as an engineer), and parlayed that into a global business empire. His first job was a volunteer position with a company that was working at Dartmouth College. There he met his future wife, and became a Christian.

After his Dartmouth job ended, he was hired by a shoe manufacturer using CAD (computer aided design) and moved to Madbury with a group of Christian families, to start a church at UNH.

Meanwhile, Noronha kept tinkering with CAD, designing prototypes and renting machining time at plants in Massachusetts at night. Turbocam started in his basement in 1985. He bought his first milling machine in 1987 and rented workspace in Dover a year later.

He sold his first part to General Motors, hand polishing it in the back of the car while Suzie drove to deliver it. By 1993, Turbocam had 25 employees.

Then there's this:

If Noronha had help building Turbocam, it came from a higher office than any found in Washington. Turbocam's mission is stated plainly: “Turbocam exists as a business for the purpose of honoring God, creating wealth for its employees, and supporting Christian service to God and people.”

“The company is an expression of God's blessing on us,” Noronha explains. Forty percent of the firm's revenue goes to salaries, and Noronha is justifiably proud of all the families who have bread on the table because of Turbocam.

“That's a bigger contribution to the community than all the government grants and programs,” Noronha observes.

Fergus makes a point of telling President Obama that Noronha did this all by his lonesome, with no evil help from the gummint.
Except that Dartmouth College is in Hanover, NH - a town that has public water, sewer, plowing, roads, bridges - the infrastructure that we all enjoy, paid for by our tax dollars.

Noronha moved to Madbury to start a church. The US Constitution (the foundation of our government) guarantees Mr. Noronha the right to freedom of religion. That same government also gives churches tax exempt status, so that they can stretch their dollars into doing the work their religion calls them to do - and gives their members the option of making tax deductible contributions. In other words, the government is supporting Christian service to God and people.

Noronha sold his first part to General Motors. Luckily, he can continue to sell parts to GM - thanks to government assistance, GM is alive and well.

Mr. Noronha has 325 employees and intends to add 200 more. Unless he's built his own infrastructure, his employees drive to work on the same roads and bridges that his products travel to market on. Roads and bridges built with our tax dollars. A large number of his employees were undoubtedly educated in public schools and colleges. Some of those employees may avail themselves of our public libraries. Some of them may even engage in recreational activities in our local, state, and national parks.

Mr. Noronha didn't have to cut down trees, clear a pasture, and build his own barn. He wasn't Pa Ingalls out on the prairie. The infrastructure that is part of his success was already in place, thanks to the local, state, and federal government.

Fortunately the same government that is considered unimportant by Mr. Noronha also provides him with the First Amendment, that allows him to criticize that government, without any repercussions. He can say any fool thing he wants, and Fergus Cullen can write piously about it in the Union Leader.

Truth can also rear its ugly head.

Turbocam is one of the US Govt. Small Business Administration's SBA 100, one of the business that has created over 100 jobs since receiving SBA assistance.
Assistance? From a government program??? Oh, say it ain't so! From the SBA website:

Turbocam grew from a modest beginning in Dover, NH. The company has used SBA-guaranteed loans on seven occasions to provide more than $5 million dollars to help support its growth between 1992 and 2009. During this time the number of employees grew from 18 in 1992 to over 250 in 2009.

This just illustrates the point the president was making. None of us succeed in a vacuum. We aren't in this together alone. Mr. Noronha had a great idea, and he used the resources available to him to parlay that idea into a very successful business.

This story illustrates why this is a silly GOP meme that will continue to bite them in the behind. I'd suggest that Fergus and his pals stock up on Neosporin - except that it's produced by a government subsidized drug company. Better stock up on leeches, Fergus.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Freedumb and Libertea

The NH Dept. of Education released a report this week on the Status of Higher Education in New Hampshire. Those who believe in higher education and wish to keep our young people in our state will find much to be concerned about in this report. Those who abhor every dime spent on education and believe that colleges are seething hotbeds of liebrulism won’t bother to read the report, and wouldn’t be able to understand it if they did.

One surprising bit of information from the report is that NH’s high school dropout rate has continued to decrease, reaching a low of nearly 1%. I was skeptical of Governor Lynch’s plan to keep kids in school when they didn’t want to be there, but clearly, the plan is working. A high school diploma is essential these days, and so is some form of higher education or training, if one wants to be able to live indoors.

As I’ve written before (endlessly) NH ranks in last place for state funding of higher education. That was true before the last biennium when the Freebaglicans cut the already embarrassingly low level of funding in half.
Tuition at our two and four year colleges is amongst the highest in the nation. NH may be in 50th place for state funding of higher education, but we are number one in student debt. Yay! We’re number one!

The report shows that 5% fewer NH students are staying in state for their education than did a decade ago. In other words: our young people are going out of state for their education in increasing numbers. When they do, they are unlikely to come back. Good jobs are scarce, and our state’s over reliance on the property tax means they can’t afford to buy a house and start a family. And if they did, they’d still have to contend with the ongoing circular drama of how NH Republicans hate education spending at every level. It makes sense in a way. Educated folks have a harder time buying into the constant stream of GOP propaganda. Today’s Freebaglican Party counts on a populace that will repeat the endless sloganeering, without bothering to think an issue through.

A recent letter to the editor of this paper was full of breathless talk of how the Freebaglicans protected our individual liberties and freedoms in the NH legislature over the last biennium. It’s true that the legislature was deeply interested in protecting the rights of white, male, heterosexual gun owners. Women, on the other hand, got a heaping helping of “your uterus belongs to the state.” The writer also repeated the big lie about the $900 million deficit that the Democrats allegedly left behind. It’s a myth. There was stimulus money that the state used during the worst of the depression. It was one-time-only money, and everyone knew it. They knew they’d have to make cuts in the next biennium. The Republicans have spun that into whole cloth, to manufacture a huge “deficit.” Be sure to ask one of ‘em about the $11 million surplus that was left behind that they wanted to move into the state’s Rainy Day Fund in 2011. Then ask yourself how a legislature can have a huge deficit AND a surplus at the same time. As our friends on Sesame St. are fond of singing, “One of these things is not like the other.” The purveyors of freedumb and libertea are counting on you NOT to think.

William O’Brien, Speaker of the NH House, recently appeared on NHPR’s call in show, The Exchange. It’s available to listen to online if you missed it. If you are one of those folks who thinks NHPR is a hotbed of liberalism, I’d encourage you to listen to this interview. Host Laura Knoy failed to ask appropriate follow up questions at every opportunity, failing to challenge O’Brien as he made a number of astounding comments and claims. The 2011 budget cut state spending on the university system almost in half, and O’Brien criticized UNH for increasing tuition. O’Brien finds UNH is “inefficient.” What that really means is that there’s an employees union. The irony here is that O’Brien began his own college years at Framingham State University in Massachusetts: a publicly funded college, with an employees union.

This interview failed on every level. It was most apparent when O’Brien stated that the legislature HAD to pass a “partial birth abortion” law. Knoy didn’t ask him the obvious question – WHY? What was the hurry? She just sat there, letting him spin an intricate guano web, without challenging any of it. It was an amazing performance, rivaling only the interview she did with writer E.L. Doctorow who asked her at one point if she’d ever actually read one of his books. NHPR is the NH GOP’s secret weapon. Everyone knows that the Union Leader is the propaganda wing of the party, but NHPR gets blamed for being biased toward the left, when nothing could be further from the truth.

NH media is a big, sucking, black hole, and O’Brien knows it, and uses it to his advantage. He refused to allow a reporter from the Concord Monitor into his last press conference, because the paper printed a cartoon that made fun of him. It had nothing to do with the reporter in question, but most short despots have very thin skin, and so he refused to allow a reporter into the press conference. All of the other reporters present meekly filed in (including NHPR’s political reporter) and didn’t stand up for a fellow reporter, or for freedom of the press. This never became a big story in NH. Is it because the other media outlets were embarrassed by their own behavior? Or is it because they function on some level as propaganda purveyors for the GOP? Given that this is the first in the nation primary state, we are remarkably ill served by our media. It can only be seen as intentional.

“No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free no one ever will.” Thomas Jefferson

This was published as an op-ed in the August 2, 2012 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.

© sbruce 2012

h/t to Jen Sorenson for the cartoon.

Tone Deaf, Dumb, Sexist, and a Shitty Husband

Over at Daily Kos, Markos has a diary that asks: what kind of man ditches his wife out of political fear? He's referring to Mitt Rmoney's attempts at distancing himself from his wife's dressage horse, Rafalca. Rafalca Romney survived being strapped atop the family wagon, driven to London, and is now competing in the Olympic games.

Last year Rafalca generated $77,000 in tax deductions for the Mittster. That's more than most of us made last year. And that, is the problem. Dressage ( a FRENCH term) is an equestrian sport, where horse and rider perform a number of movements that are sometimes (inaccurately) called "horse ballet." It's a highly skilled sport and one that is very costly. In other words - not something the rabble can pursue. The rabble being too busy attempting to keep roofs over their heads.

Mittens is deeply disconnected from the real world. His money insulates him from reality, and even when he and Ann attempt to make themselves sound empathetic, they just sound like they're broadcasting from the Let Them Eat Cake Bakery. When Mitt was a student, they had to * GASP * sell some of their stock portfolio in order to get by. These poor, struggling students couldn't entertain, because they were just getting by, and apparently couldn't afford service for 20 and a chandelier. Last year, Mitt showed how empathetic he is to the little people by telling waitresses at Mary Ann's Diner in Derry NH that he was "unemployed." Then he pretended one of them had pinched his behind. Tone deaf, dumb, and sexist! That's our Mittens.

And speaking of horse's behinds, Rmoney is on the record all over the place for having been very involved with his wife's dressage hobby. For him now to distance himself from it is typical Mittflopping.

Imagine if Mitt stood up and said, "Listen up, people - I know you think that dressage is a silly sport for rich people. I know that my wife's horse costs more than most of you make in a year, and that's a terrible thing at a time when so many people are struggling financially. What you need to understand is this: dressage is very important to my wife, and my wife is very important to me. That means I'm going to be there to support her while her horse competes in the Olympics - because I love my wife." Even a pinko like me would have to admire that.

Instead he says something wussy about how it's her thing, not his, and he won't be there. So not only is he tone deaf, dumb, and sexist - he's also a shitty husband.