Sunday, May 31, 2015

I'm Angry Still

Dr. George Tiller was murdered by a terrorist on May 31, 2009.

I was angry then. I'm angry still. Dr. Tiller was murdered inside his church on that Sunday morning by an anti-abortion terrorist named Scott Roeder. Roeder didn't have a job, yet somehow he managed to drive around Kansas gluing clinic doors shut and staying in hotels. Someone was supporting his work. 

In his car was the phone number of a woman named Cheryl Sullenger who is second in command at Operation Rescue. Sullenger is a convicted terrorist. Operation Rescue claims they didn't know anything about this. 

Someone was bankrolling him. And that's one reason why I'm still angry. To the best of my knowledge, there's never been any real investigation into what was very likely a conspiracy. For years, that ignoranus Bill O'Reilly brayed on his fake news program about "Tiller the killer." No one took that seriously, because FREEDUMB. Just like no one took the terrorist website that had photos of Tiller and his family, their address, and the address of their church. 

I said it in 2009, and I say it still - this is a murder that was allowed to happen. This was a murder that was "investigated" in the sense that they arrested Roeder outside the church. There were witnesses. That appears to be the extent of the investigation that was conducted into Tiller's death. 

I'm still angry. 

from 2009

from 2012

from 2013

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ideology Over Ethics

Remember the government shutdown of 2013? Ted Cruz and his fellow Tea Party types obstructed the appropriation of funds to run the government for the fiscal year 2014. They were all bunched up about the Affordable Care Act, and used it as their excuse to put some 800,000 federal employees out of work and leave a million others wondering when they’d ever see a paycheck. They also used it as an opportunity to puff up their manly chests.

This is why I tell you that elections have consequences. When we elect people who say they hate gummint to BE the gummint, then this is what we get. A bunch of aging adolescents more interested in chestal puffery than doing the serious work of governing.

One of the consequences of the shutdown came at the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). What is the FEC?

From the website: In 1975, Congress created the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to administer and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) - the statute that governs the financing of federal elections. The duties of the FEC, which is an independent regulatory agency, are to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of Presidential elections.

The FEC came about as a direct result of Watergate. The FEC publicly discloses where the campaign money comes from and where it goes.

Because of the government shutdown, all 339 FEC agency employees were furloughed. Months earlier, an independent auditor warned that the FEC’s information systems were at high risk for infiltration. And infiltrated they were. Chinese hackers launched an attack shortly after the shutdown. They crashed all of the computer systems – the computers that had all that information about where the money comes from and where it goes. There was nothing to prevent this from happening. No one was on duty, thanks to the folks who brought us the shutdown.

The FEC has been systematically defunded. The agency’s funding has been flat for five years. They have fewer staff now than in the last 15 years – despite the explosion in political spending. The analysts who read disclosure reports to check for compliance have a near quarter of a million page backlog. There are over 250 unresolved enforcement cases.

That’s why it took so long for the FEC to determine that Frank Guinta had broken campaign finance laws with his magic bank account and five years of ever changing lies. That’s why Frank Guinta was elected twice, in the face of those lies. We watched him stand in front of television cameras and accuse Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter of being a liar. There is no accountability or penalty for that kind of blatant dishonesty, far from it. The O’Brien rump caucus has lined up in support of Guinta. They never cared for him before, but now they figure if gummint says Frank is bad than Frank is good. We saw it in the responses to the Teletalk question “Should Frank Guinta Resign?” A number of people said no, because HILLARY. Ideology over ethics. Ideology over intellect.

Regulatory failures happen over and over. The environmental agencies that are supposed to look out for us have been pillaged and underfunded. The Upper Big Branch Coal Mine in Kentucky exploded and caused the death of 29 miners. This was after over a decade of safety violations that should have closed the mine down. The Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and spewing oil into the ocean for 87 days. The Deepwater Horizon had a spotty inspection record. None of the safety mechanisms in place to prevent the explosion or the oil spill worked.

This is what happens when we take away the funding and the fangs of the regulatory agencies. Corporations do not police themselves. They will do anything to avoid paying for their mistakes, especially those that require a huge cleanup. Their interest is in making money, and the occasional environmental disaster shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with that pursuit.

Very few politicians regulate themselves.  With the influx of money generated by the Citizens United decision (because free speech is mighty expensive) involved in the political process, we should all be concerned about the intentional (for what else can it be?) dismantling of the FEC.

It’s easy to dismiss the concerns about money as a federal elections issue. Trickle down economics has been an abysmal failure, but trickle down campaign money is proving quite successful. As we all know, the NH House is populated with 400 “volunteer” legislators. They earn a stipend of $100 a year and mileage reimbursement for their service. It used to be that a run for the NH House meant raising somewhere between $500 and $1000. Candidates needed signs and handouts for voters. Those days are over, as we learned during a recent special election for the NH House, in Rockingham District 32.

The special election was needed because the guy who was elected went to work for Frank Guinta (KARMA!) before he was ever sworn in. Former State Rep. Maureen Mann was uncontested in the Democratic primary. The GOP primary came down to two college students. One was arrested for violating a protective order shortly before the election. The other candidate, Yvonne Dean-Bailey, won the primary. Miss Dean-Bailey is a student at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She’s one of the angry young libertea Republicans given special attention because she puts the rare female face on that brand of ideology.

Miss Dean-Bailey’s campaign for the NH House was amazingly well funded. She was the beneficiary of over $10,000 in PAC money alone. A young libertarian millionaire from Texas has a PAC that provided over $4,000 for mailings. He has no ties to NH. He is, however, more than willing to help buy a fellow ideologue a seat in a volunteer legislature.

Special interests expect a return on their investment. We should be concerned about that on every single level of our government. We need regulatory agencies to police those who lack integrity, but have plenty of cash. Pay to play is not democracy.

If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United. I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

This was published as an op-ed in the May 29, 2015 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Governor Hummer Still a Bummer

The NH Senate has decided that the best thing we can do for our economy is to slash state spending on infrastructure and education, then give tax cuts to business. 

Today in a Senate hearing: 


Planet Fitness officials say they will move their headquarters out of state to avoid paying high taxes when they go public.
Senate Republican leaders today propose and a panel endorsed a tax break for any firm in the same position.
The change would exempt the ownership of a limited business partnership from having to pay taxes on profits from the sale of shares made when it took the company public.
Backing the Planet Fitness bid at a public hearing on the tax break was former Gov. Craig Benson.
Benson failed to mention he had served on the company’s board and recently was described in published reports as "one of the leading Planet Fitness Club owners.”
Craig Benson was so unpopular and corrupt during his only 2-year term that he failed to be reelected. 
This is a guy who had brilliant ideas like closing down the notches in winter, so that we wouldn't spend so much on plowing. That those are the ONLY access roads to the north didn't seem occur to him. He got stuck in traffic one day, so he shut down the Hampton toll booth. He illegally dredged in front of his oceanfront house in Rye. 
For a Republican governor not to get a second term in NH is telling. 
Senate President Chuck Morse says any elected leaders should be responsive to this request.
"Any citizen who called and said they were moving 500 jobs to another state, myself, the governor, the speaker would have reacted,’’ Morse said.
The CEO of Planet Fitness is threatening to move his HEADQUARTERS out of state. It seems unlikely that 500 people work at the headquarters. 
The state of NH should not negotiate with hostage takers. Tell Governor Hummer he's still a bummer. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

NH House Republicans Fail to Support Nursing Mothers

This week in NH, we saw Republicans congratulating themselves on being "women friendly" because 19 year old college student Yvonne Dean-Bailey was elected to the NH House in a special election.

At the same time, this week the House Commerce committee voted to retain SB 219, a bill that would require businesses to provide a space other than a toilet stall, for nursing mothers to express breast milk. 

They voted to retain the bill because they lacked the courage to kill it outright. They knew it would be seen for what it is - a failure to support women and children. A failure to live up to their own oft-touted family values. They knew it would be seen as another instance of the GOP war on women. 

This is the party that loudly proclaims to speak for the unborn - yet here we see how little interest they have in providing even a modicum of support for even the newly born. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Meter is Running in Rockingham 32

The newly purchased elected State Representative from Rockingham Dist. 32 sent out an email today to humbly express her gratitude to her new constituents, and promise to do a fine job of representing them. 

Well, no, not exactly. The Beholden lets all of her contributors know that the meter is running, so kindly keep the money flowing. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Yvonne Dean-Bailey is all PAC'd Up

This is Yvonne Dean-Bailey. She's from Northwood, NH. Last year she graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy. She's a freshman at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA.  

Ms. Dean-Bailey is running for the NH House, in a special election being held in Rockingham County District 32. She thinks she'll transfer to UNH. Otherwise the commute might be a mite onerous.

A special election is being held because Brian Dobson, who won the November election went to work for Congressman Frank Guinta before he was ever sworn in. (Great career move, Brian!!) The 4 towns of the district now have to pony up roughly $20,000 each for the special election. They should send Guinta the bill. Of course with the $355,000 he has to pay back in illegal campaign funds and the $15,000 fine to the FEC, unFrank isn't exactly rolling in dough. 

Dean-Bailey won the GOP primary against another college student, Brian Stone, who attends UNH. Brian was arrested for violating a protective order shortly before the primary. The Democratic candidate is Maureen Mann of Deerfield, who has served two terms in the NH House. 

Rockingham 32 consists of the towns of Candia, Deerfield, Northwood, and Nottingham. The special election is being held on Tuesday, May 19. 

I spent some time wading through both candidate's online receipt and expenditure forms at the NH Secretary of State's website. 

Yvonne Dean-Bailey is a remarkably well financed candidate. She is running for the NH House of Representatives, where she hopes to be one of 400 "volunteer" representatives who will earn the princely sum of $100 a year.  A candidate for the NH House typically raises about $1000. 

Dean-Bailey is the beneficiary of $3,050 in outright cash donations from PACs:

The NH Federation of Republican Women gave $200
The NH Liberty Alliance gave $1000
House Victory PAC gave $1000
Friends of Regina Birdsell Pac gave $100
NH Avantage PAC gave $250
Kelly PAC gave $500. 

The State Republican Committee spent $733.31 on a mailer for Dean-Bailey and $1980.00 on live and robo calls for the candidate. 

The Liberty for All PAC has spent $4,301.46 on mailings for Dean-Bailey. This PAC was founded by a young glibertarian guy from Texas named John Ramsey. He inherited millions and created his PAC to help libertea Republicans get elected across the country. His interest in or ties to Rockingham 32? Zero. 

That's a a little over $10,000 in PAC money alone. For a NH House race. 

Dean-Bailey has also received many individual contributions. Many of them came from places like:

Erie, Colorado                 
Whitefish, Montana
Iowa City, Iowa
Blairsville, Georgia 
Washington, DC
Plant City, Florida
Ankeny, Iowa
Downers Grove, Illinois
Alexandria, Virginia
Glastonbury, Connecticut
Chicago, Illinois
Chesterfield, Virginia
Midlothian, Virginia
Lima, Ohio
Dallas, Texas 

Her March 11 disclosure form alone lists 56 donations. Of those 56 only two came from her district. A total of 9 residents of Rockingham 32 have donated to Yvonne Dean-Bailey thus far. 

It seems that there is little support for Dean-Bailey within  her district - but a whole lot of outsiders and outside special interests are deeply interested in purchasing a seat in the NH House. 

This makes a mockery of the reasons we have volunteer legislature. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Do You Spell Apology?

I told you so.

For the last five years, I’ve been telling you that Frank Guinta was lying to us about his magic bank account. After an interminable FEC investigation, we learned this week that Frank DID break campaign finance laws by using his parent’s money to fund his campaign in 2010. He has to pay back the $355,000 he claimed he earned himself. He’s being fined $15,000. The Patriots are paying a million dollar fine for some deflated balls. Frank Guinta is being fined $15,000 for breaking campaign finance laws and betraying the public trust.

 In 2010, Frank Guinta, former mayor of Manchester, ran for Congress against incumbent Carol Shea-Porter. Over the course of the campaign, he loaned himself $355,000. It was done incrementally. In 2010 after one such incremental “loan”, a Nashua Telegraph reporter wondered, in print, where he’d gotten all that loan money. Twelve days later, Guinta filed a revised financial disclosure form that added a new bank account worth somewhere between $250,000 - $500,000. (The bank account had not appeared on previous disclosure forms.) He also altered the period of disclosure on the form, adding an additional 4 months. It seemed obvious that the account had been opened during that time, given his refusal to provide a bank statement.

When he was asked where the money came from, he said he earned it. He told the Union Leader that he’d begun putting money away in the mid-1990’s. The only problem was that his known assets and income – no matter how frugal he was – did not add up to him being able to save that kind of money.

In 2008, his parents sold a house in New Jersey for $820,000. It seemed obvious that they were the source of the mystery money, which he denied. For five years.

In July of 2010, Guinta’s campaign manger, Mike Biundo, said that Guinta had liquidated some of his stock market and mutual fund assets. Guinta said that Biundo had made a mistake, and he’d always had that money in a bank account he’d forgotten about. It’s so easy to misplace half a million dollars when you’re running for office.

In October, 2010 the Union Leader reported that Guinta denied accepting money from his parents to finance his campaign and that Carol Shea-Porter and the Democrats had stooped to a new low for implying he had.

Former GOP Congressman Jeb Bradley had been Guinta’s boss when Bradley was in Congress. He did not ever endorse his former staffer; in fact, he told Politico that if Guinta couldn’t account for the money he should withdraw from the race.

Fergus Cullen, former NHGOP Chair, wrote a piece for the Union Leader in August 2010, about the mystery money. He asked Guinta how he could have forgotten to list a bank account worth half a million in his previous disclosure forms. Guinta called it an “inadvertent oversight.”

He continued to insist that he earned the money, that his parents did not help him. A GOP activist filed the first complaint and later the NHDP also filed a complaint with the FEC. That complaint was filed in September 2010.

Guinta won the 2010 election, despite the questions about his finances. During the campaign he made a lot of noise about Congresswoman Shea-Porter abusing Congressional franking privileges. Frank went on to become the #1 abuser of the franking system for the 2011/2012 Congress, sending out big, shiny, multicolored mailers every week.  The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Guinta one of the most corrupt legislators of the year.  He lost the 2012 election.

In 2014 Guinta ran again. He ran an ad featuring his mother and his wife, who assured voters that Saint Frank would be there for all of us. He ran an ad featuring “real NH voters.” The last woman in the ad said, “He’s always been honest.” In October the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) ran a couple of ads asking where the mystery money came from.

On October 27, 2014, WMUR televised a debate between Guinta and Shea-Porter. I was there. When Shea-Porter asked about the money, Guinta said he’d been cleared by the FEC, in Dec. 2010, before he was even sworn in, and he had been exonerated. He accused Carol of lying about his record, and huffily announced, “The people of NH ought to know the truth.” 

Then his campaign ran an ad called “The Truth.” The ad accuses Carol Shea-Porter of lying about Guinta’s finances. The ad claims Guinta was cleared 100% by the House Ethics Committee on 12/14/10. Again, before Guinta was ever even sworn in for his first term. The thing is, the House Ethics Committee never investigated him. He approved that ad.

At the debate he said he’d been cleared by the FEC. In the ad he claimed to have been exonerated by the House Ethics Committee. He knew both of those things to be untrue, but he didn’t hesitate to trumpet them loudly. The people of NH certainly deserved the truth, but Guinta was the last person they were ever going to hear it from.

This week, the FEC finally found him guilty of violating campaign finance laws. He has to pay the $355,000 back. He has to pay a $15,000 fine. He now claims that he had access to his parent’s account (which is in their names, not his) and had made deposits into it that exceeded the amount he “loaned” his campaign. He says he’s come to an agreement with the FEC so he can “end the distraction.” Those big, bold-faced lies he told during the WMUR debate? He’s trying to say he “misspoke.”

For 5 long years, Frank Guinta told us that he earned that campaign money; his parents didn’t give it to him and he put it in a bank account he forgot about. He accused Carol Shea-Porter of lying about his finances in a televised debate. He NOW says that he “inadvertently” made a mistake on his FEC forms. He NOW apparently “misspoke” when he accused Carol Shea Porter of lying about his finances.

How can he repay the voters of his district for 5 years of lying? How can he repay the state for stealing an election? How is it possible that NH Republicans are silent about this? Where is his apology to Carol Shea-Porter for those ugly, dishonest accusations he made?

There’s only one way out.  

For Frank Guinta, apology is spelled: R-E-S-I-G-N-A-T-I-O-N.

Frank Guinta "misspeaking" at the WMUR debate:

If you're wondering why the FEC took so long, read this piece from 2013 by Dave Levinthal from the Center for Public Integrity. The FEC has been systematically defunded and cannibalized. When we eliminate the watchdogs we enable the continued demise of our democracy. 

This was originally published as an op-ed in the May 15, 2015 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper. 

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Free Stater Wishes Death on NH Governor

Over at the NHPR Facebook page there's a discussion going on about SB 116, the bill to repealed the need for a permit to carry a concealed pistol or revolver.

The comment section is filled with gundamentalists making the usual arguments about THEIR RIGHTS. One of those gundamentalists had this to say:

For those of you who are unaware, Rich Paul moved to NH as part of the Free State Project, the group of armed miscreants who are moving en masse to NH with the stated goal of taking over and eliminating our state government, then threatening secession.

Rich Paul lives in Keene with the Free Keene cult. He's in his 50's, and spends a chunk of each year in the county lockup for marijuana related offenses or probation violations. He's unemployed and unemployable.

Rich Paul is regarded as a heroic activist in libertea circles because he smokes pot in public, and dares the police to arrest him. He was arrested for selling pot, which apparently also makes him a hero in the eyes of his fellow Free Staters. They wail about how he was "targeted" because he's pro-marijuana. Apparently it hasn't occurred to them that maybe he's just bad at being a dope dealer.

The Free Staters love to natter on about how peaceful and nonviolent they are. They claim to adhere to the libertarian "non-aggression principle." Here we have a "peaceful" Free Stater wishing death on our governor. Here we see how seriously they take that non-aggression philosophy.

It's clear that Rich Paul doesn't have even a slight grasp of how NH state government functions. Governor Hassan hasn't ever arrested anyone that I'm aware of. She didn't write the federal drug laws. The conceal carry permit statute has been in effect for a century without impacting gun ownership. He's not ever going to be considered one of the great thinkers of the FSP. And, at least he's only wishing death on Governor Hassan. So far. 

Some more of the greatest hits of Rich Paul:

He's a real man o' peace, that Rich Paul. 

This is what the Free State Project is bringing to our state. Phony peaceniks, armed to the teeth. 

The "he's only one guy, don't judge us all..." crowd will be coming by to comment. Thing is, he's NOT just one guy: 

Free Stater Muni Savyon murdered his son, then killed himself. 

Free Stater (kicked out for show) Chris Cantwell cheers on cop killers and wants to violently overthrow the government. 

Free Stater Vin Suprynowicz wrote a book attempting to turn NH mass murderer Carl Drega into a folk hero. 

Free Stater Darryl W. Perry is "not opposed to using force if neccessary" to "reclaim freedom." 

Free State signer Larken Rose reads his essay "When Should You  Shoot a Cop" a video that is from the Cop Block website. 

Free Stater Bill Bochyinski owns the Twin Mountain Country Store. 

It's not just one guy. 

**** See Rich Paul's Rebuttal in the Comment Section! 

Friday, May 01, 2015

Cheese Whiz, Wisconsin

The US economy was destroyed for many of us in 2008. Since then, the jobs being created are low wage service jobs mostly. Poverty is on the rise, as are homelessness, and hunger.

That could only mean one thing to our right wing brethren - it's time to demonize the poor!

All over the country we've seen bills filed in state legislatures, attempting to tell food stamp recipients what they can and cannot eat. (Yeah, I know that SNAP is the supplemental nutrition assistance program, which is the formal name for food stamps. Everyone still calls them food stamps.) This is all based on mythology. Once upon a time some surfer dude in California announced he was buying lobster and steak with food stamps. He singlehandedly turned lobster into the new Welfare Cadillac. Then there are the stories we all hear, from indignant tax payers who have seen "those people" with a shopping cart FULL of soda and chips. Or steaks. Or ____ fill in the blank. EVERYONE has seen "those people." They have brand new iPhones, they have expensive purses, they have ......something other than sackcloth and ashes. 

It's eerily reminiscent of testimony I've heard at the NH House on voter fraud. Dozens of people swear they've seen a busload of "people from Massachusetts" go in to a NH polling place to vote. None of them have a photo or a license plate number for the bus. None of them went inside to speak to the officer on duty or the town moderator. But they saw it! They know! Them liebruls are coming to steal our elections!  I'm not sure how they square that with the outcome of our last election.

The average taxpayer spends about $36 of their federal tax dollars to support the food stamp program for a year.

The average taxpayer contributes $3,174 to military/war spending during that same year. 
The Pentagon can't pass an audit. The Pentagon can't account for at least $3 trillion. The Dept. of Homeland Security has never been audited either. Waste and fraud is epic.  Fraud in the food stamp program is about 1%.

Anyone who is more pissed off about food stamps than the outrageous defense budget is not paying attention.  Anyone who is more pissed off about food stamps than the defense budget is mad about the wrong things. 

Governor LeRamPage of Maine wants to dictate food choices to Mainers who receive SNAP benefits. He wants to ensure that those moochers can't buy prepared foods. Like pickles. Or spaghetti sauce. Easier than trying to bring jobs to Maine, I guess. 

Then there's Wisconsin, where Republican Rob Brooks wants to make sure the poors aren't eating shellfish. This guy has never seen shrimp on sale, one assumes. In fact, one further assumes he's never done his own shopping. His legislation even dictates cheese consumption. In Wisconsin. From the Chippewa Herald:

Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Milton, said the bill holds more questions than answers about rationale and implementation. 
To illustrate Democrats' opposition, Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, held a platter of four Wisconsin cheeses.
All four were cheddar. One was shredded and three were in block form. Three displayed flags that said "GOP Prohibited." One flag said "GOP Approved."
The approved cheese was a block of mild cheddar. Two sharp cheddars — one shredded and one block — were not approved. One mild cheddar was not approved because it was too large, Goyke said.
"The stated goals of this bill are nutrition and fraud," said Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit. "When you look at something like this cheese plate, there's no evidence of sharp cheddar fraud. People are not buying sharp cheddar in order to defraud FoodShare, and there's no nutritional difference. So if those are the stated goals, the bill is not accomplishing either."

As you might expect, there's some pushback:

A coalition of businesses and associations in the food and beverage industry are opposing the bill. A memo to lawmakers from groups including the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association, Wisconsin Agri-Business Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Kwik Trip, Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers and Wisconsin State Cranberry Association says the bill would harm their businesses, "dramatically increase government power" and place checkout clerks in a difficult position.

Cheese whiz, Wisconsin. This idea is no gouda. Only a muenster would pass this kind of legislation.