Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NH Senator Jeb Bradley Admits to Screening Questions at Ayotte Town Hall Meeting

Was there something up on the ceiling?

The fastest route to gun control

would be for women to begin stockpiling weapons.

The Gun Safety Crowd, at Ayotte Town Hall Meeting in Tilton, April 30, 2013

In the picture at the top, the woman with sunglasses and holding the Stop Gun Violence Now is Erica Lafferty. Her mom was the principal of the school in Newtown, CT, who died trying to protect some kids. Ayotte wanted as little to do with her as possible. 

Lynn Chong is holding a sign that advises Kelly to be Kelly, not McCain, Jr. A Republican woman commented to Lynn and I that she'd called Ayotte's office on a couple of occasions to say the same thing. She also pointed out to me that the "gun control" people had printed up signs from MoveOn and UNIONS, and that her side had home made signs, yet they get accused of being astroturf. I don't think that carrying faux homemade signs made by a special interest group qualifies as grassroots.

There's a lot to say about this town hall. In Warren, the questions were screened. In Tilton, Jeb Bradley admitted to screening out gun questions. "It wouldn't be productive," he said. (I'm hearing that in Church Lady's voice.)

Jeb was down right crabby. One woman in Tilton was having a hard time getting a question out and he berated her, "I hope there's a question in there somewhere." Ayotte stepped in and said, "I think I understand where she's going, and let the woman continue." Apparently Jeb's forgotten that he actually had to be pleasant to constituents when he was in Congress. Clearly, as a multimillionaire State Senator,  earning $100 a year, the former congeniality has gone on hiatus. 

If the rumors are true that he's thinking about a run for Jeanne Shaheen's US Senate seat, he ought to go back to charm school, quick. 

Gun Nuts for Kelly!

Some of the signs carried by Ayotte supporters. A big pile of "home made" signs, like the "We heart Kelly" and "We Support Kelly" were waiting for the Ayotte supporters when they arrived. The pro-Ayotte turnout was organized by Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, a non-profit headed by former NH Santorum fundraiser Mike Biundo. The group claims to be non-partisan, so that it can enjoy tax free status, but as you can see, non-partisan might be a stretch. 

The woman in purple later distinguished herself by screaming at a man in a wheelchair, that his support for gun safety "is a death penalty." He calmly explained that he was genuinely pro-life : from conception to death. OOPS. 

What I learned from these folks today is that the Second Amendment is the only one they're interested in. The First doesn't even enter into their thought processes. They are outraged that others have different opinions AND that they dare to express them in public. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Worshipping at the Altar of the Free Market...selectively

Granite Grok used to be a GOP blog, but in recent years they've devolved into a peppy little cheerleading squad for Teabaggers and Free Staters. They lost broad appeal after getting caught on air making homophobic slurs, so they've developed a niche for themselves with the angry white  guy wearing a tinfoil tricorne hat crowd.

Grokkers claim to worship at the altar of the free market, as one can see at the video at that link, which was posted by Skip, one of the head dudebros at Grok. In November 2012, Skip said that this video is from one of his favorite economists, Dr. Walter E. Williams from George Mason University. Skip expresses his admiration for capitalism, as opposed to the socialistic turn the nation is taking - hence posting this video.

One of the things Dr. Williams says in the video is: "The free market implies voluntary actions on behalf of human beings."

Now, the Grokkers are always wont to express their ire at gummint or anyone else telling bizness what to do. That's one of those things that freemarketeers get quite indignant about.

Except when they get mad at bizness for doing things that gore their tender little oxen. Skippy and the dudebros got all upset because a company made a business decision THEY didn't approve of. It seems that Williams Sonoma, purveyor of expensive cooking equipment made the decision to pull pressure cookers off their shelves, temporarily, in the days after the Boston Marathon bombings.

No admiration for business making their own independent decisions here! So much for voluntary actions! Instead Skip gets downright ugly, accusing Williams Sonoma of being "cowardly" and "Political Correctness junkies." (sic)

Apparently one need only worship at the altar of the free market when it is convenient.

h/t to Tom Tomorrow for Invisible Hand of the Free Market Man

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nucking Futz

The NH Tea Party Coalition coalition declares: We stand with Al Baldasaro!


Friday, April 26, 2013

The Company He Keeps

Former Speaker of the NH House, William O'Brien, who lost the speakership and very nearly lost his House seat in the last election, is undaunted - and is considering a run for Congress in NH CD-2. Here he is, speaking charismatically (as is his custom) at a press conference he called (since he refused a House committee assignment, he has plenty of time for media attention whoring) about the bill that would increase the state's gas tax for the first time since 1991.

Link to the video
(I had to remove the video itself, because it started automatically, which meant hearing O'Brien's voice every time I looked at the blog.)

The man immediately behind O'Brien without a tie is Rep. Al Baldasaro, one of O'Brien's strongest supporters, and a notable loon. Over on the far right, in the back, with mostly only a fuzzy little head of dark hair showing is Rep. Stellaaaaaaah!!! Tremblay, another O'Brien acolyte.

As the 2014 election possibilities unfold, remember, these are the folks that O'Brien has chosen to surround himself with.

h/t to Tony Schinella/Nashua Patch for the video.

Loons vs. Agenda 21

Our friend Zandra at Granite State Progress sent out an email today with a video that shows State Rep. Al Baldasaro testifying at a hearing on SB 189 , a bill to phase out and prohibit lead fishing sinkers and jigs. Why would we want to eliminate lead sinkers and jigs? Lead kills loons, as a study done by the Loon Preservation Committee found. As this graphic shows, half the loon deaths documented by LPC between 1989 -2011 were caused by lead fishing tackle. 

Those who are concerned about the loon population are supportive of this bill. Sadly, that's not everyone. As this AP story in the Portland Press Herald informs us:

Lead fishing tackle continues to kill loons at an alarming rate, supporters of tighter restrictions on the gear told a House committee Thursday, but opponents warned that such a move would make most fishermen's equipment obsolete and hurt the state's lucrative tourism industry.
and further
But changing tackle would be prohibitively expensive for many fishermen, said Rep. Laurie Sanborn, R-Bedford.
Hmm. It seems to me that deliberately allowing a species of birds to die off might have an even more negative impact on the state's tourist industry. If we're really concerned about our tourist industry, we might invest in our state parks and re-open all of the closed rest areas. But - that's an entirely different rant. 

Back to Al Baldasaro.  Al has bypassed the loons altogether, and gone full on loony, as is obvious in this video

 Transcript: “If you take a look at other areas, uh, what’s going on around the country under Agenda 21, this isn’t get – the nose is already under the tent. This now is pushing the foot under the tent, to slowly get the fishermen off the lake. That’s what this is gonna do.” – Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry)

Agenda 21? For real? The UN wants to interfere in the tackle boxes of NH fishermen? The UN's nose is under your tent? Is that a euphemism?


The tinfoil tricorne hat brigade needs to get their message coordinated. Former State Rep. Norman Tregenza of Conway admits in this story from the Conway Daily Sun to being a Bircher (member of the John Birch Society). He brought movies and speakers about Agenda 21 to Conway. No one is wearing a bigger tinfoil tricorne than Norm. BUT - Norm is extremely concerned about the loons. The Sun asked Norman for his goals for the NH House if he were re-elected (he wasn't):

"5) A bill for the gradual phasing out the use of lead sinkers and jigs to protect the loon population. The bill would give three years to continue selling the lead, and then another three years of use. The lead is ingested by loons and it kills them. This gives businesses and fishing industry related folks time to adjust. Loons are a Threatened Species, a Carroll symbol, and, for two consecutive years, in decline.
Al Baldasaro invents his own facts every time he opens his mouth. I was at the hearing when he announced that the State of NH sells babies to gay couples - a statement he was later forced to retract. During a presidential debate when a gay soldier asked the candidates about the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, the audience booed. Al Baldasaro, by then announced as a supporter of Rick Perry (told ya the guy has problems! ) said he thought the booing was great.  There's a video at the link that allows you to have the full Baldasaro experience. From the transcript:

KEYES: What did you make of that moment in the debate when they had the gay marine asking a question and there were a few in the audience who were booing him?BALDASARO: I was so disgusted over that gay marine coming out, because when he came out of the closet. Bob won’t say it because they’re scared to get in trouble, but their brothers and sisters – brothers especially- that are there, they’ll start getting away from him. They’ll start ignoring him. He doesn’t realize it, but when the shit hits the fan, you want your brothers covering your back, not looking at your back.KEYES: Did you have an issue with the audience reaction?BALDASARO: Oh no, I thought the audience, when they booed the marine, I thought it was great.

Al's a Marine. And a homophobe. And a legislator with a very tenuous grasp on reality. 


NH State Rep. Stella Tremblay has been condemned by her party leadership and asked to apologize for saying the US government was responsible for the bombing in Boston. She's steadfastly refused to apologize. Rumor has it that NH GOP Chair, Jennifer Horn, told Stella to hush up. She hasn't. Yesterday, Stella got an email from an admirer on the tinfoil hat circuit - and she felt compelled to share it with everyone. She's NOT THE FIRST NOR WILL SHE BE THE LAST TO ASK QUESTIONS! 

From: Tremblay, Stella [mailto:Stella.Tremblay@leg.state.nh.us]
Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:42 AM
To: ~All Representatives
Cc: ~Senators
Subject: FW: Boston Bombing False Flag Info

FYI.   There are many other e-mails I have received, of which I gave a sample.  This will be the correspondence on this subject.  Mr. Lucas II is not correct, I am not the first neither will I be the last to ask questions!!

From: James E. Lucas II 
Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:22 AM
To: Tremblay, Stella
Subject: Boston Bombing False Flag Info
Thank you very much for speaking what a lot of us do not have the forum to say.  You are the only public official I have heard bring this possibility up.  Please view the following information and share with whoever you can in your ranks as I feel it is very undeniable information as to the fact that something sinister is going on.  In the very least, the media (CNN in particular) is refusing to show what was shown late Thursday night/Friday morning in their coverage of the shootout with the Boston bombing suspects.  Either the person in this clip is the most unlucky person in the whole world for just happening into a shootout with the most wanted men in America along with looking just like one of the suspects.  Or, the FBI is hiding a witness or worse yet possibly had him killed to shut him up.  Please keep this going as America deserves answers.  Just because you are a state legislator does not mean you cannot be the one to demand those answers.  It is sad that the following is aired on national television coverage and the press has absolutely failed to in the very least demand answers as to who this individual was they were putting in a police car.

Stellaaaaah's fame has spread far and wide. As my friend Tuck at miscellany: blue learned, Stella's developing a big fan base in Iran. 

This is certainly a conundrum for the NH GOP. She won't apologize and she won't stop talking. How will they solve a problem like Stelllaaaaaaaaah? 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

NH Senate Rule Change Allows Avoidance of the People's Business

The doughty Republicans of the NH Senate found a way to avoid dealing with anything that might make them a little uncomfortable - by passing a rule change that allows them to avoid discomfort. A new rule requires a 2/3 vote to introduce or hear certain resolutions.

They are currently using that rule to avoid hearing:

  • HCR 1 - urging Congress to fund the development and implementation of a comprehensive health care delivery system to enhance the level of specialty care for New Hampshire’s veterans.
  • HCR 2 – requesting Congress to begin the process for a constitutional amendment establishing that human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights.
  • HJR 1 – directing the joint legislative historical committee to acquire and display a portrait of suffragist Marilla Marks Ricker.
I'm surprised by HCR 1. Given how willing the Republican party is to create veterans, it's rather shocking that they aren't willing to even hear a NON BINDING resolution that addresses taking care of our NH veterans. 

HCR 2 is no surprise. Citizen's United is a golden goose for the GOP. 

HJR 1  is also not a big surprise. We're all more than a little familiar with the kind of contempt that the Republican Party has for women. Given the recent international scandal of Rep. Peter Hansen and the "vagina's" you'd think  that the dunderheads might want to hear this resolution, if only to make women feel a little bit better about them. 

You can use the Senate Roster to find contact information for your senator, and let them know how you feel about this sorry little bit of cowardice.

April 18, 2013 press release:

CONCORD – Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen released the following statement after the Republican Senate Majority refused to allow the introduction of 3 House Resolutions.
“It’s an outrage to the citizens of New Hampshire that the Senate Republican Majority today blocked the introduction of HCR 1, HCR 2, and HJR 1,” said Senator Larsen. ”It sets a bad precedent for the Senate to refuse House Resolutions, regardless of their subject matter. On every bill and resolution passed by the House, the Senate should be holding a public hearing and then vote as a whole on matters passed by our 400 member House of Representatives.”
Earlier this year, despite the objections of Senate Democratic members, the Republican Senate voted to establish a new rule requiring a 2/3rd vote to introduce or hear certain resolutions. This is the first time in the history of the NH Senate that a super majority is required before bills go through the regular process. Three House Resolutions have been caught in this super-majority limbo.
“Today was a sad day in the New Hampshire Senate. These Washington-style tactics are what we have come to expect from Congress, where they regularly block pieces of legislation before they can even get an up or down vote,” said Senator Larsen.  ”But here in New Hampshire, the voters of our state were counting on us in the Senate to debate such important issues as Veteran’s Health Care and a popularly supported reversal of the Citizens United decision. Because of this gag rule, we cannot address Congress on some of the most important issues of our day,” Larsen concluded.
“We were elected to debate the issues before us and we cannot do that if we have a Senate Rule that blocks certain pieces of legislation from being heard unless there is a super-majority vote.”
Below are the titles of the House Resolutions:
  • HCR 1 - urging Congress to fund the development and implementation of a comprehensive health care delivery system to enhance the level of specialty care for New Hampshire’s veterans.
  • HCR 2 – requesting Congress to begin the process for a constitutional amendment establishing that human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights.
  • HJR 1 – directing the joint legislative historical committee to acquire and display a portrait of suffragist Marilla Marks Ricker.


Tuck, over at Miscellany Blue found a message on Glenn Beck's FB page posted by NH State Rep. Stella Tremblay, where she calls the Boston marathon bombing a "terrorist attack by the US government. You can read all about it here.

Let me just throw a little extra emphasis in here - Stella Tremblay, an elected state representative here in NH, is calling the Boston bombing a terrorist attack by the US government. The oath of office for a state rep:
I, ___ do solemnly swear, that I will bear faith and true allegiance to the United States of America and the state of New Hampshire, and will support the constitution thereof. So help me God.

Stella isn't exactly bearing faith and true allegiance here. More like perfidy. Perfidy with no factual basis. Glenn Beck is not firmly tethered to the world of the sane, never mind the world of the factual.  

Stella Tremblay was first elected to the NH House in the red tide of 2010. Apparently her brand of nuttery was overshadowed by the antics of other, louder legislators during the last biennium. 

Her  email to Secretary of State Bill Gardner last year concerning a YouTube video wherein President Obama admits he's not an American didn't attract much attention, save for the sharp eyes of Tuck at Miscellany Blue. It turns out that video comes from a parody site. Oops. 

But hey, let's give credit where credit is due. She may not have stood out during her freshman term, but she's certainly stepping up to the plate this year. 

Rep. Tremblay hasn't met a conspiracy theory she isn't willing to embrace. Once again, Miscellany Blue points out another great moment in Stella's version of history, the conspiracy of the missing Thirteenth Amendment.

One of Rep. Tremblay's go-to guys for history is David Barton, the Christian Revisionist historian, whose work has been thoroughly debunked. His book "The Jefferson Lies" was yanked off the shelves by the publisher after numerous complaints of factual errors in the book.

Her other go-to history guy is someone named David Johnson from NH, whose day job seems to be posting crank commentary on news sites and blogs around the state.

Her view that Woodrow Wilson Agreed with Hitler on the superiority of the Aryan race is especially peculiar given that Wilson died in 1924, and probably had no idea who Hitler was.

Rep. Tremblay is an example of why we should reconsider the 400 member volunteer legislature.

Stella Tremblay shares her views on the American Bar Association.

Stella Tremblay on Black History Month and William Lloyd Garrison. Factually incorrect.

As always, a big, admiring h/t to Tuck

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Fun Never Stops in Arkansas

From Raw Story:

The author of a county Republican Party newsletter in Arkansas says that he and other conservatives in the state “most likely won’t try to kill” Republican lawmakers who voted to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health care reform law.
In the April edition of the Republican Party of Benton County Newsletter, Chris Nogy argued that “this betrayal deserves a quick implementation of my 2nd amendment rights to remove a threat.”
“I don’t feel the same way about the Democrats as bullet backstops as I do about the Republicans who joined them,” Nogy wrote. “We need to let those who will come in the future to represent us [know] that we are serious. The 2nd amendment means nothing unless those in power believe you would have no problem simply walking up and shooting them if they got too far out of line and stopped responding as representatives.”

And there you have it, folks. Today's GOP. If you don't like the way your elected officials vote, in NH, you file criminal complaints against 189 of them.

In Arkansas, you just start shooting.

Arkansas is determinedly bringing the stoopid these days:

"I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?"

-- Arkansas State Rep. Nate Bell (R), on Twitter.

Charlie Pierce had my favorite response to that:

Go put on a pair of shoes and fry me up some squirrel, Gomer.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Losing the Primary

Last month, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote an opinion piece that portrayed the NH and Iowa first in the nation primary status as a problem for the Republican Party, since neither state represents the GOP as a whole. Cohen thinks both Iowa and NH lean too far to the right, and that candidates who do well in these states go on to do poorly elsewhere.
I disagree with most of Cohen’s premise. I don’t think NH is further right than any of the states in the south or the Bible belt. That said he might be on to something.

The Republican Party has a big problem. Rabid ideologues were allowed to take over the party. Their course of action is obstruction. Their only plan is cut taxes and cut spending, a strategy that has been proving to be ineffective since the Reagan administration. The GOP is filled with old, angry white guys who are out of touch with the nation and the world. They have nothing but contempt for women, and their dinosaur crusade against marriage equality is becoming reminiscent of the men of my father’s era donning Beatle wigs to mock the fad of rock and roll.

The NH GOP is going to be the reason that NH loses the first in the nation primary. Some high points of the last legislature include the hijinks of Martin Harty, Speaker O’Brien, DJ Bettencourt, the Magna Carta, warning signs at the MA border, and kindergarten leading to a life of crime. All that caused the GOP to lose control of the NH House. That hasn’t cowed the minority party. They’re still behaving as if they were in control, and the Democrats (terrified of losing the majority) are allowing them to get away with it.

The NH House has an internal email system that allows voters to email legislators with our concerns and allows legislators to communicate with one another. As the whole world has learned this past week, it can also be used to send out questionable ideological material.

The House recently passed a bill to repeal parts of the Stand Your Ground bill that was passed in 2011by the laser like focus on job creation GOP majority legislature. Rep. Steve Vallaincourt made a dramatic floor speech in support of the repeal bill, and with characteristic modesty posted it to all members. Rep. Peter Hansen of Amherst responded with a missive that pointed out that Vallaincourt’s stories of travel were those of a solitary male, and what was missing from them were “children and vagina’s”. Rep. Rick Watrous responded by asking if Hansen was “really using vagina’s as a crude catch-all for women?” Hansen came back with: “Having a fairly well educated mind I do not need self appointed wardens to A: try to put words in my mouth for political gain and B: Turn a well founded strategy in communication into an insulting accusation.”

As it turns out, Hansen was wrong about his “well founded strategy in communication.” When the emails went viral, it turned out most people disagreed with his characterization of women as “vagina’s.” Most people were also highly critical of his inability to properly pluralize a simple noun.
Women, it seems, were quite offended at being reduced to the sum of their parts.

Hansen has made the typical GOP journey from refusing to apologize, to issuing a fauxpology, “If anyone was offended, I apologize,” to issuing a full apology, after his remarks were condemned in public by NH GOP Chair Jennifer Horn, and House Minority Leader Gene Chandler. NARAL NH and other women’s groups around the state are calling for Hansen to resign, but he told WMUR that he will not. Rep. Chandler appears to find the apology sufficient, and is now attempting to sweep the matter under the rug.

Peter Hansen is an elected official. For 2 days he insisted he’d done nothing wrong. That is undoubtedly what he really believes. A guy who would send that email out to the full House didn’t know or care that he was expressing contempt for women. He’s contrite now because he wants to keep his seat, and the NH GOP is desperately afraid that if Hansen resigns, and a special election is held, they’ll lose that seat to a Democrat. If they were smart, they’d force Hansen to resign, and use him as an example of the higher expectations they have for GOP legislators. They aren’t smart.

This story will be rehashed for the next year and a half, and will (hopefully) cost Hansen his seat, if he doesn’t resign. Media outlets around the world have picked up the story. Once again the NH GOP has made our state the butt of worldwide jokes.

That is why NH will lose the first in the nation primary. We used to be seen as a feisty but practical state filled with no-nonsense voters. Now, thanks to the NH GOP, we’re seen as a state full of lunatics. That makes it easy for to marginalize the state.  The first in the nation primary is a huge source of revenue for our state. Jobs are created. Media, real estate, restaurants, hotels – everyone gets a piece.

In a state where fiscal policy is dictated by a couple of dead guys, losing our primary status should be taken with the utmost seriousness. NH has long been unwilling to raise sufficient revenues to actually run the state properly. What will we do when all that primary money goes away?

It’s only a matter of time. Other states have been trying to discredit us for years now, saying that NH is too small and too white, and doesn’t accurately reflect the changing face of the nation. Every 4 years the jockeying for primary position begins anew, and so do the attacks on NH.
It’s inevitable that NH will lose that cherished spot. Who knew that the NH GOP would be working so hard to make it happen?

 © sbruce 2013  Published as a biweekly column in the April 19, 2013 edition of the Conway Daily Sun Newspaper

Romeo, Romeo: Wherefore Art Thy Humanity?

This week, we learned that Rep. Romeo Danais used the House internal email system to broadcast a lesson in what he claimed was irony, to his fellow House members.

On Apr 15, 2013, at 11:31 AM, Romeo Danais <romicf@yahoo.com> wrote:
Who is the dependent?               

Here is a short lesson in irony:   
The Food Stamp Program (aka SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), administered by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps over to 47 million people this year.   
Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of Interior, asks us "Please do not feed the animals." 

Their stated reason for the policy is "The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves."               

This ends today's lesson in irony. 

This lead to an exchange by a number of representatives about the intent of the email and the meaning of irony. 
Representative Danais,

This is offensive on many levels, but perhaps most concerning is that we already all received this "lesson" from a NH resident via an All Rep's email earlier in the day. Not only did you not see a problem with it coming from her, but you felt the need to copy and paste it into a new email as if you were the original and proud sender of the sentiment included. I can't see any reason why an elected official would see the need to send on something like this to our whole body that was so obviously intended to be inflammatory. It is hard to imagine "working across the aisle" when this lack of respect for people who have been hit hardest by the difficult economy is exhibited from among our own ranks. 
Betsy Burtis

NH State Representative
Rockingham District 6
Now we know that Rep. Danais found this missive that had already been sent out to all reps so very droll that he felt compelled to send it out again, on the same day.

Rep. Jordan Ulery wades into the fray:

On Apr 15, 2013, at 11:45 PM, <jordanulery@myfairpoint.net> wrote:
Rep Burtis;
The so-called "lesson" has absolutely nothing to do with the circumstance in which one finds them self. For me, it takes very little to see the irony in the original post AND the apparent lack of ability to comprehend that irony in subsequent comments.
The lesson is about "government" understanding that giving a living creates dependency in the fauna but failing to understand the exact same behavior is believed to not have the exact same effect on you or me, also fauna.

 Representative Burtis retorts:

From: Burtis, Betsy
Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 12:09 AM
To: Ulery, Jordan
Cc: Burtis, Elizabeth; Danais, Romeo; ~All Representatives
Subject: Re: a short lesson in irony
I think the irony is actually that 1) you think we have missed the intended irony and that 2) the dripping sarcasm of the responses was somehow misconstrued as a failure to "get" the intended point. 

We see the point that was intended, we think it is wrong at its core and subsequently offensive and not ironic in the least. "This ends today's lesson in irony."


On 4/16/13 8:48 AM, Emerson-Brown, Rebecca wrote:
Let's just call it for what it is; Poor people (or gay or women or non-white) are less human in their eyes.

Much like the national GOP and their message, you can't rebrand your way out of hate. No matter how nicely you deliver the message, the content is still appalling.

Rep. Rebecca Emerson-Brown
N. H. House of Representatives
Rockingham 27

And that led to this unique outpouring:

You all should be ashamed of yourselves.  First, whoever started this thread should have known better.  Did you really think that it would lead to a productive conversation?  The worst though part of all of this though, is the offensive, narrow-minded, racist post by Rep. Emerson-Brown below.  Are you a mind reader?  Can you really hear a policy argument and gaze into our souls, discerning what our motivation is for anything?  If you are some kind of super-being, I apologize.  If instead, you are human, how dare you accuse anyone of hate?  Your group assumption is exactly what racism is.  You assign characteristics to an entire group of people based on a  false stereotype.  Pot, meet Kettle.  Will all of you please start acting like you deserve the honorarium "Honorable"?

In case I'm not being clear, Rep. Emerson-Brown, let me give you an example from another topic that people like you routinely use disgusting racial tactics in regards to.

(I hope you're bristling a bit about me lumping you in with some group and assigning motives to your arguments... if you are, you just might understand this)

I take a pretty hard line against illegal immigrants.  I don't think that they should be given anything.  While discussing this position, on more than one occasion, I've been called a racist.  Resorting to the hate/race argument really calls out the ignorance of the person doing it.  My grandfather, Raphael Diaz, was born in Cuba.  He began working the sugar fields when he was 8 years old to help support the family.  When he was in his 20's, our family was fortunate to come here, to be Americans.  He worked hard, took classes, learned English, and after 6 years became a citizen.  He was ineligible for military service during WWII, so he served painting ships in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  The greatest man I ever knew died at 59 years old as a result of a lung disease from the lead paint.  After his hard work and sacrifice, and always trying to do things the right way, I can not stand giving away what he fought so hard for.  For me, it cheapens it.  I accept that many disagree with me.  I've stated my reasons though, and people should accept that.  My grandfather married a German woman, so I don't look Hispanic.  Nonetheless, ignorant rabble rousers call me racist when I object to a soft line on illegal immigrants.  I submit that they are so consumed by their own hate and bigotry that they are unable to understand the rational arguments for and against.  I submit that they are incapable of seeing me as an individual.  Their bigotry causes them to see me only as a part of some fictitious predefined group.  Sound familiar?

Embarrassed to serve with some with you,

Rep. Steven Smith

And finally: 

Twas a poor lesson in irony since the stated "example" is actually not ironic at all. 
I typically don't get involved in these emails and instead spend hours deleting these SPAM emails while searching for valuable communication from our constituents but I found this email particularly offensive. 

This "lesson" seems to be more of a comparison (a metaphor to be exact since there is no use of the words "like" or "as").  Sadly, it compares humans on welfare to wild animals.  

Irony will be when this email trail, which was intended to get a laugh out of fellow republicans at the expense of those fallen on hard times, makes its way to local newspapers and media outlets and helps increase our democratic majority in 2014...that is truly an example of irony.

Jeremy S. Dobson
NH State Representative
Hillsborough District 43
Manchester Wards 4, 5, 6, 7

Now there's a man who understands irony.

The bottom line is that this is a mean-spirited meme that's been circulated around by conservatives for the last year.  In a criticism of  the new budget, Rep. Neal Kurk was eager to point to the fact that some 40,000 NH residents are out of work. The number of underemployed residents would make that figure explode. I'm genuinely curious - how is it that conservatives can express concern for the unemployed on one day, and be blaming them for it the next?

Applying for food stamps is not fun. There are many, many hoops to jump through. At best it's unpleasant. At worst it's demeaning. One in four children in Coos County benefits from the food stamp program. Is Rep. Danais calling these children of our state animals? Is he calling their parents animals? The unemployment rate in Coos is the highest in the state - and the odds of selling your house to move away are slim to none.  Are people supposed to just quietly starve to death, to please people like Rep. Danais, Rep. Ulery, and Rep. Smith?

The lack of humanity on display here is depressing.

The real irony is that the minority party has worked damned hard to ensure that NH's economy will continue to struggle. We invest almost nothing in education and infrastructure, thereby guaranteeing that more and more NH residents will fall into poverty. When it comes to letting their children starve, they're unlikely to go quietly.

These representatives are the perpetuators of a system they claim to despise. And they're as bereft of real solutions as they are bereft of humanity and decency.

h/t anonymous

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Feeding the Wild Animals Some Plagiarism

Photo from Citizens for a Free Pennsylvania, dated July 18, 2012. 

The NH House internal email system strikes again. Rep. Romeo Danais sent out a message to his all of his fellow legislators yesterday. In part:

Here is a short lesson in irony: 
The Food Stamp Program (aka SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), administered by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps over to 47 million people this year. 
Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of Interior, asks us “Please do not feed the animals.” 
Their stated reason for the policy is “The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.”

Representative Danais sent this out under his name, with his own yahoo.com address. It does give one the impression that he wrote this himself, since he didn't attribute it to anyone else.

He didn't write it. This right wing meme has been spread around the internet since last summer. If you Google "short lesson in irony" you'll find a number of forums where this has been spread around, from the loathsome toads at free republic to ChristianForums (??) to Smith and Wesson Forums which may well be where Rep. Danais found it.

I can't imagine why Representative Danais found this "lesson" amusing. According to the Children's Defense Fund, last year 44,000 children in the state of NH received SNAP benefits. Should we let those "little animals" starve? Have we no prisons, no workhouses?

And why in the world would Rep. Danais want to take credit for having written this? It's not at all  clever, and it's certainly not humane.

Big h/t to Tuck at Miscellany Blue.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Vagina's and Children First!

The NH House recently passed HB 135, a bill aimed at repealing parts of the so-called Stand Your Ground law that was passed by the last legislature.

A great deal of hysteria has ensued. One would think that the many urgent problems that beset our state (JOBS,infrastructure, tuition costs, housing) could all be solved with guns.

That hysteria has spilled over into the NH House internal email system. This system exists so that all 400 of them can send and receive notices and share information. Sometimes the sharing can get a little ugly. Rep. Rick Watrous wrote about a rule change instituted at the end of last year by former Speaker William O'Brien:

"Electronic media cannot be used for knowingly transmitting, retrieving, or storing any communication that is: 1. Discriminatory or harassing; 2. Derogatory to any individual or group; 3. Obscene, sexually explicit or pornographic; 4. Defamatory or threatening.  In addition, also prohibited are jokes . . . or any other non-legislative work activity that is not allowed on government computers." 
O’Brien warns that “there will be zero tolerance for any violation” of the language section of the policy. Upon any House member violating that section “his or her legislative email privilege will be immediately terminated.”

Has this strict policy been adhered to?

Not so much.

Rep. Steve Vallaincourt gave a lengthy and dramatic speech from the House floor before the vote on HB 135. He posted that speech on the house internal email, resulting in this critique from a fellow legislator:

From: Hansen, Peter
Sent: Monday, April 01, 2013 8:32 PM
To: ~All Representatives
Subject: RE: HB 135 Speech
The Representative from Manchester blogged today his full speech from the well at last weeks vote on HB 135.

There were two critical ingredients missing in the illustrious stories purporting to demonstrate the practical side of retreat. Not that retreat may not be possible mind you. What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam? Why children and  vagina's of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and women and mothers are the potential victims. The presence of one or both ingredients demands that a potential totally different outcome might have prevailed and that is the factor which I believe was dismissed in the HB 135 debate and vote.

Rep. Peter T. Hansen
Hills. District 22 Amherst
ED&A Committee

I'm pretty sure that when the Titanic was sinking, the captain's instructions were "women and children first, not "vagina's and children first." That the representative chose to describe women as "vagina's" is certainly an affront to half the population. That he failed to properly pluralize the word adds insult to idiocy.

That email resulted in the following exchange:

From: Watrous, Rick
Sent: Monday, April 01, 2013 9:12 PM
To: Hansen, Peter; ~All Representatives
Subject: RE: HB 135 Speech
Rep. Hansen,

"Children and vagina's"??!! Are you really using "vaginas" as a crude catch-all for women? Really?

Please think before you send out such offensive language on the legislative listserve.

--Rep. Rick Watrous

 On Apr 2, 2013, at 3:30 PM, "Hansen, Peter" <Peter.Hansen@leg.state.nh.us> wrote:

Rep Watrous,
Having a fairly well educated mind I do not need self appointed wardens to A: try to put words in my mouth for political gain and B: Turn a well founded strategy in communication into an insulting accusation, and finally if you find the noun vagina insulting or in some way offensive then perhaps a better exercise might be for you to re-examine your psyche.

Rep. Peter T. Hansen
Hills. District 22 Amherst
ED&A Committee

Here we learn that referring to women as "vagina's" is a "well founded strategy in communication" coming  to us from a "fairly well educated mind."

The female voters in his district (Amherst) may disagree.

h/t to anonymous source

Friday, April 12, 2013

Freebaggers Get Ready to show NH Senate Who's The Boss

What are the priorities for NH residents at this very moment in time? It's likely to be a long list: the economy, jobs, the cost of living, property taxes, affordable health care, affordable college tuitions, roads, bridges,  and so on. Would guns be at the top of the list? Probably not. But guns are where a number of NH's reactionary right wing legislators have chosen to make a stand, as I learned from my friend Tuck at his blog:
Miscellany Blue: Emergency Petition for Redress - filed by Representatives Al Baldasaro, Lenette Peterson, and John Hikel have sponsored this petition, demanding that 189 legislators be removed from the NH House. 

Miscellany Blue Criminal Complaint  Rep. John Hikel has filed a criminal complaint with the Hillsborough County Sheriff alleging that 189 legislators violated their oaths of office, and conspired to deprive him of his constitutional rights by voting to repeal HB 135 - the so-called Stand Your Ground bill. Other members of the freedumb and libertea squad are filing similar complaints: disgraced former NH GOP chair Jack Kimball, and Rep. JR Hoell of Dunbarton. 

It's important to note that HB 135 cleared the House but has not been voted on by the NH Senate. 

Clearly this pageant is being enacted to make sure the Senate obeys the dictates of the lunatic fringe that has taken over the NH GOP. 

In 2010, when the red tide swept the NH House, the newly elected GOP majority promised a "laser like focus on job creation." What we got instead was a budget that eliminated thousands of NH jobs, and raised the unemployment rate. 

We also got a bunch of legislators who really put NH on the map. The map of global ridicule and mockery. 90 year old GOP freshman legislator Martin Harty had to resign after telling a constituent that it was too bad we couldn't send all the people with disabilities to Siberia to freeze to death. House GOP Majority Leader DJ Bettencourt called  Catholic Bishop John McCormick a "pedophile pimp." (That was before DJ had to resign for cheating in law school.) Free Stater/Republican Rep. Jennifer Coffey filed a bill to put up warning signs at the NH/MA border. GOP Reps. Bob Kingsbury, Lucien Vita, and Tim Twombley filed a bill that would have required relevant quotes from the Magna Carta in each new piece of legislation. It was a 2 year clown show, and one that resulted in big losses for the NH GOP in 2012. Many of the most visible were voted out,  but not all of them. Far from being chastened, the remaining faction seems determined to send the remaining clowns out into the glare of the public spotlight. 

The rubber nose brigade loves to bleat about taxes. Their mantra for decades has been: "NH doesn't have a revenue problem, NH has a spending problem." Their deep concern for NH taxpayers is on parade, as they file nuisance lawsuits that will be paid for by......NH Taxpayers. The same NH taxpayers subsidizing their re-election campaigns by paying for all those roll call votes. 

They're also having a big rally at the taxpayer funded NH State House. The HONOR YOUR OATH RALLY is taking place on Saturday the 13th. This rally is the inspiration of Jack Kimball, who is desperate to regain credibility and power. Oh, the wailing and gnashing of teeth!  A bill was passed  by the House that would return NH's gun law to where it was when it was  signed into law in 1972  by well known liberal Meldrim Thomson! Oh, the injustice of it all! 

Will Stand Your Ground create jobs? Will it repair NH's failing infrastructure? Will guns ensure affordable housing? Will SYG bring down health insurance costs? Will it bring down tuition costs at UNH? Will Stand Your Ground remove any of the 300 bridges from the list of 300+ bridges with structural impairments? Will SYG improve our telecommunications infrastructure? Will it adequately fund our state park system?

Not so much. 

What it will do is give a bunch of angry white guys a chance to wave their guns and their fists in front of the NH State House. This clown show is intended to show the NH Senate who is boss. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

SB 190 Hearing, NH House, April 9, 2013

Notes on SB 190 Hearing, Resources, Recreation and Development Committee, at LOB, April 9, 2013

Bill introduced by lead sponsor Senator Nancy Stiles, of NH Senate District 24, a district that includes much of the seacoast.

Stiles: “If we expect our parks to run on fees, we have to eliminate these groups allowed to use the parks for free.” Her first iteration of the bill proposed that veterans should get in free, and seniors pay half.

Senator Stiles is clearly a retired individual, and clearly one that is not eating cat food in her senior years.

The projected revenue for this bill is $300,000. There was no fiscal note attached to the bill.


Rep. Aguilar: Where did that estimate come from?
Stiles: The Parks Dept.

Rep. Webb: Was there ever a compromise discussed for low-income seniors, like means testing?
Stiles: No.

Philip Bryce, Director of NH Parks and Recreation Division:

Supports the bill, encourages legislature to examine the fee system. $300,000 is the cost of running 4-5 medium parks. It’s also the projected estimate for revenues generated by passing this bill.

Rep. Mullen: How many total visitors get charged park fees?
Bryce: 735,000 paid day entry fees last year. There were 96,000 comps, including 21,000 seniors. There were 1.2 million visitors altogether (day passes, camping, etc.)

Mullen: If you raised the entrance fee a dollar for everyone, wouldn’t that suffice?
Bryce: Yes, but we’re trying to keep our access fees down.

Rep. Beaulieu: What about some kind of raffle or giveaway for seniors who won’t be able to afford this?
Bryce: We haven’t dealt with the issue of inability to pay. We hope libraries and businesses will buy passes and loan them out to seniors.

Chandley (chair): Shouldn’t we think about looking at all the steps before we go ahead with this?
Bryce: No, we need this now. This should have been done in 1992. The self-funding model was passed in 1991, with a budget deficit already in existence.

Gottling: Would you have people collecting these fees?
Bryce: We would have to consider hiring staff in some parks, and use “iron rangers” in others. (The fee boxes)

Merrow: Would this apply to all the parks?
Bryce: Yes.
Merrow all hung up on the issues of Cannon Mtn. and the tramway, for some reason. I doubt if low-income seniors from Salem are driving up to Cannon for freeloading purposes.

Smith: This proposed pass seems almost too good to be true.

Rep. Wazlaw: Would the fee eliminate seniors from coming to the parks?
Bryce: We don’t know.

Aguilar: How successful are the sales of individual season’s passes?
Bryce: Will have to get you that information.

Webb: The self-funded model is not a statute. Shouldn’t you be charging more for park entry fees?

Bryce: Wants to collect data on out of state visits, thinking about charging out of state people more.

Webb: What about means testing?
Bryce: No way to do that. Still hoping for libraries and senior centers to pick up the tab for low income folks.

Mullen: When was the last time you changed the rates?
Bryce: Last year we increased the fees at high use parks; like lakefront parks where we have lifeguards, and increased the meter rates at Hampton. It raised $300,000 for the park system.

Holmes: If there were 96,000 comps and only 21,000 were seniors, if you eliminated the other comps, you’d generate over a million dollars.
Bryce: Not sure what the comps are – we have agreements with some towns and organizations for free park use.

Aguilar: Did it come up that all seniors are not poor?
Bryce: The sponsor is certainly one example.
Aguilar: Did you consider limiting senior access to parks to midweek?
Bryce: Thinks seniors visit parks on weekends with their families.

Jeff Gilbert from the State Parks Advisory Council – lives on seacoast, is a businessman, speaking on behalf of SPAC.

SPAC views this is a very good step forward. It’s leveling the playing field. Free access is a SUBSIDY! All of the other park users are subsidizing these seniors! Thinks entire fee structure needs to be rethought and brought into line with value received.

Webb: Could the state park system be considered a service to the people of our state?

Roy Schweiger (I’m probably sorry about the spelling) pointed out that there was nothing to prevent affluent seniors from paying more. He also stated that he thinks active duty military folks are paid plenty, certainly more than average retirees. He thinks they’re looking at the wrong group to charge. People who ski at Cannon should pay more, but realistically, how many is that? He also suggested that free coupons could be left at welfare offices if the committee were really concerned about poor people and out of work people who aren’t yet seniors. Roy also noted that that parks charge the same fees all year round, even during the off- season when services are not provided.

The issue of out of work folks was raised after my testimony (which was just before Mr. Schweiger’s.)

This is much of what I had to say. I did some improv while reading it:

I’m going to quote directly from the amended analysis of the bill:
This bill changes the fees for admission to state parks and historical sites for persons 65 years of age or older by ALLOWING them to purchase a Granite Parks Pass at one third the cost of an individual season’s pass.
 That sounds so generous, doesn’t it? ALLOWING seniors to purchase a discounted pass. The thing is, those same seniors can access most of our state parks and historical sites right now for free.
 As we all know, NH funds our state park system entirely by user fees. This is a unique system – no other state in the union does it. The reason for that is simple. It doesn’t work, which is why this shameful bill sits before you today. The NH park system runs at about a $400,000 annual budget deficit. Maintenance and repairs are long deferred, and park programs cut. In a state where tourism is our #2 industry, this neglect of the park system only serves to hurt our state’s economy.
 A season’s pass to the NH park system is currently available for $60. A third of that is $20, the fee that NH seniors would be “allowed” to pay. Maine and Massachusetts give their seniors free access to state parks. Vermont charges residents aged 62 and older $2.00 for lifetime passes. For ten dollars, a US citizen aged 62 and up can buy a lifetime pass to our national park system. That’s unlimited visits to the Grand Canyon, Acadia, or any of the 57 other parks - for the rest of their lives. Here in NH, the sponsors of this bill think it would be appropriate to charge seniors twenty dollars a season to access our state parks.
 Will gouging people on fixed incomes make a big dent in that annual $400,000 budget deficit? These are people who are trying desperately to hang on to their homes, as their property taxes rise every year. Seniors on fixed incomes are making choices about food vs. medication. A season’s pass to our state park system may well be beyond the reach of many of our senior citizens if this bill passes.
 The way we fund our parks doesn’t work. At some point, perhaps we will be able to acknowledge that simple fact, and come up with a new plan. This bill isn’t the solution. In fact, this bill is so mean spirited that we should all be ashamed that it was ever even written.
 I encourage the committee to find this bill inexpedient to legislate.

I did point out that this disproportionately affected women because we earn less over our lifetimes and thus have less retirement money.

I was asked about how I would fund the National Parks since they’re having financial issues. I said that if we cut the Pentagon budget in half there would be plenty of money to fix everything that needs fixing, it’s just a question of priorities. I was also asked how I’d fund the park system and the state, and I said I’d support an income tax, so that our 27,000 millionaires were no longer living here in tax free splendor, and would pull their freight.

I was also asked why I cared about this bill, why I was paying attention.

It makes a certain weird kind of sense if one thinks about it. Nearly everyone who testified has some sort of connection. The lead sponsor of the bill, Senator Stiles, is also on the State Parks Advisory Council. So are some members of the committee: Rep. Andrew Renzullo, and Rep. Christopher Ahlgren. This is the same committee that Jeff Gilbert was representing. Mr. Gilbert is a resident of Rye, and a former state rep. That I had no connection made me suspect. 

The real irony here is that Republicans are loudly opposed to all fee increases – yet here they are, (Renzullo, Stiles, Ahlgren, Gilbert) quietly and almost surreptitiously asking for one, hoping no one will notice.