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.