Thursday, June 22, 2017

Grade A Bunkum

By the time you read this, NH may have a budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. It’s also possible that we may not.

The budget process begins with the Governor, who presents his budget to the House and Senate. It contains his priorities, the things he would like to see funded in the next biennium. The House Finance Committee then uses the Governor’s budget as a blueprint for the budget they design. There are hearings where every government agency lists their needs, and public hearings where residents can express their budget priorities. Eventually they finish it and it comes out of committee, and goes to the full House for a vote. After passing it goes to the Senate Finance Committee, where they tinker with it. The House flies blindly, without revenue projections, but the projections are in by the time it gets to the Senate. When they finish tinkering, the bill comes out of committee and goes before the full Senate. If it passes, it goes back to the House, where it is sent to a Committee of Conference, where members of the House and Senate work out their differences, agree to concur, the budget is voted on by both bodies, and then prances off to the Governor’s desk.

This year, the budget process has been a disaster from the very beginning. For the first time in recorded history, the House failed to pass a budget. The creation of a budget became the responsibility of the Senate. The Senate Finance Committee had the same hearings with various government agencies, interested parties, and a public hearing for voters. Once they finished, the committee voted it ought to pass, and then it went to the full Senate for a vote. The Republican Party has control of the Senate, so the votes fell along party lines. The budget went back to the House for concurrence but there was no concurrence to be had, so a Committee of Conference was put together so that both bodies could work out an agreement. They have. The only Democrat on the Committee of Conference was removed when she refused to sign off on the CoC report. The House and the Senate will each have voted on this budget by the time you read this column.

Opinion pieces by the majority party are springing up like mushrooms (and you know what mushrooms grow in) in newspapers around the state. There is much chest thumping about “living within our means, “business tax cuts,” and “job creating.” The writers assume you won’t put two and two together. If the last round of business tax cuts were such a tearing success, why are we running the state as if it were impoverished? They claim the tax cuts will allow businesses to hire more and keep young people here. That’s pure grade A bunkum they’re selling.  

The state fails to invest in higher education, infrastructure, and affordable housing. Even if young people wanted to stay in a state so unwilling to invest in itself, there isn’t any place for them to live. This week there are four and a half pages of help wanted ads in the Conway Sun and 6 apartments for rent. It’s the same all over the state. Rather than wake up and smell the future, thanks to The Pledge we continue to elect people who perpetuate the foolishness that it’s still 1975.The business tax cuts just mean that the burden will continue to be shifted to the homeowner in the form of property tax.

Attaching keno to the full day kindergarten funding is being touted as a “compromise” instead of the poison pill that it really is. The education of our children should not be attached to uncertain gambling revenues, and, again, if those business tax cuts are working so well why is this necessary? A cynical person might wonder if this weren’t the plan all along. Our Trump supporting governor made himself sound human on the campaign trail by touting support for full day kindergarten. If the kenogarten bill fails, he can blame Democrats AND not have to cough up state money for education, something Republicans in this state are profoundly opposed to. It’s a win-win for him.

The Republican Party is fighting an internal war, between the regular old right wing and the far extremist right wing of the party.  The self-styled Freedom Caucus thinks the regular right wing is spending too much money, and doesn’t hurt enough people. The Democrats don’t think the budget spent enough money. The regular right wing probably could have negotiated with the Democrats, to pass a budget, but they didn’t want to, because this isn’t about what’s best for the state. This is about ideological purity, and party loyalty. To negotiate with the Democrats would be seen as weak. They’d be called RINOs. They’d be primaried in their next elections for not being hard core enough. The Republican Party has abdicated its responsibility to NH voters, and chosen ideology over New Hampshire.  

Published as an op-ed in the June 23 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

NH Voters Get Hinched

The NH legislature passed a so-called fetal homicide bill in haste and are now repenting, and scrambling to rewrite it and pass it without any public hearings, or even a trip to the House floor. 

Story in the Concord Monitor

State lawmakers are scrambling to fix a fetal homicide bill that critics say has serious unintended consequences, including letting pregnant women kill people with impunity.

Did none of these brilliant minds actually READ the bill? Or were they too busy trying to tack on "life begins at conception" amendments? Yes, I'm looking at you, JR Hoell. 
Suddenly now, pearls are being clutched by the same damn people who voted for it. 

Here's where it gets really interesting:

Through what’s known as the “enrolled bills process,” Republican Senate leaders now plan to tighten the exemption and put the fix up for a vote June 22, Bradley said. It’s not yet clear how the revision will read.
“I don’t think anybody will have a problem with it, even at least, I hope, people who are opposed to Senate Bill 66,” he said. “Whether you are for SB 66 or against it, I don’t think anybody would support allowing manslaughter, murder, etc.” 

Okay, then. The Senate is going to change the content of the bill, but NOT have public hearings on it. 

Amendments at this late stage – once a bill has already cleared the Senate and House – usually consist of minor spelling or grammar corrections that don’t need another vote. Because changes to the fetal homicide bill deal with the legislative intent, Bradley said another vote is needed for transparency. 

Okay, then. The Senate is going to change the content of the bill, but NOT have public hearings on it. They are, in the name of "transparency" having a vote. 
Slightly more transparent than flannel, I'll give them that. 

The Senate, however is positively gauzy compared to the House:
The House plans to make the same fixes, but won’t seek sign-off from the full chamber, according to Republican Majority Leader Dick Hinch. 

Not only is the House not having a public hearing, they aren't even having a vote. 

Hinch is just going to ram it through.

Can you imagine how the Republicans would be howling if Democrats tried this kind of behind closed doors jiggery pokery?  Dogs on Mars would hear them. 

I'd say shame on  Hinch, but as he illustrated during the Fisher/Frost debacle, he isn't capable of feeling any. 

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Time For A Divorce

found at

For years we’ve been hearing Texas threaten to secede. NY City has threatened to secede from the rest of the state. In 1933 State Senator William E. Martin of North Dakota proposed that the 39 western states leave the US. The remaining states of Maine, NH, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey would be left as the union.

That was not a bad idea. Sadly, nothing came of it. The Free State Project, the armed miscreants invading our state with the intention of taking over and dismantling our state government would like to secede. Out on the west coast, the California Freedom Coalition has turned in a proposed ballot initiative calling for California to withdraw from the US. Spokesperson Cindy Sheehan said the state should stop subsidizing a federal government that is out of state with California values.

miguelcolumbia on reddit

We’ve held this huge, unwieldy country together for almost 250 years. That’s a long time. We’ve always been deeply divided (remember slavery?) and those divides have been glossed over, but never actually healed.

Racism is a huge divide. Religion, even though we’re increasingly non-religious, is a huge divide. The evangelicals have a death grip on the middle of the country. Anti-Muslim fear is a constant beat, drummed by people who wouldn’t recognize Sharia if it leapt up and bit them on the buttocks, but are sure that Sharia Law is already being enacted in the United States. We are divided by science and facts. A great many people who believe in Noah’s Ark deny that humans are having an impact on the climate. Anyone who doesn’t like the news they’re hearing feels free to declare it fake. We have wealth, poverty, gun, and education divides. We have an information divide. We are divided on whether women are fully autonomous beings or not. We don’t even agree what facts are any more.

Worst of all, most of this is tacitly accepted. We’ve somehow accepted living in the “post-truth” era, where alternative facts rule the day. Hardly anyone is bold enough to say that this is absolute nonsense, and if we can’t do better than that, we should get out of the nation business. 

Rob Beschizza on Boing Boing

Bottom line – a large segment of the nation voted for a dull-witted reality TV star with an incredibly embarrassing hair style at the last presidential election. A nation that once praised the virtues of statesmanship, went in the opposite direction, and chose a leader who is an acknowledged grabber of female genitalia.  He and his grifter family are now lining their pockets at taxpayer expense. This clan is hastening the demise of the US as a global superpower. Under Trump, we’re officially a rogue nation.

Under Trump, we have reality TV government. He tweets incessantly, picking fights, blaming others, and just plain making stuff up. A large part of the audience cheers him on. That’s what they’ve become. An audience. There is nothing on the looms, but they swear they can see the fine fabric the Emperor is clothed in.

Nation States Forum

I’m not sure there’s any hope for unity, not after all this. If you were married to someone who was rude, abusive, and insisted on revising history and loudly trumpeting ignorance while calling it fact, would you stay with them? We should consider a divorce. A big national divorce.

The eastern seaboard down to Virginia is blue, and that includes New York. The west coast, Hawaii, and Nevada are blue. The rest is mostly red with some outcroppings of blue. Years ago I proposed creating the nation of New England – well, I wasn’t far off. We’d find a way to divide the country up equitably, with the red minded folks moving to the south and the center. They’d be able to have all the freedom they want from regulation, from taxes, from big gummint - from all the things that make them so unhappy. They could set it up any way they wanted:  monarchies, theocracies, dictatorships, or perhaps Randian enclaves with manly men doing manly things together with no government required.

The blue countries wouldn’t be picking up the tab for them any more, (or for a bloated military) so they’d have plenty of money for innovation, education, and infrastructure projects. High speed, cross-country rail could connect the blue coasts. No need for the red area to contribute. Or participate. The blue countries could set up their own social security systems, safety nets, and health care. The red countries could issue bootstraps, handguns, and hire bathroom police. Careful consideration would have to be given to missile silos, weapons sites, and military assets. All nuclear weapons will be destroyed. This isn’t going to be a quickie divorce.

The US is a superpower in decline. Ideology and willful ignorance divide us. There’s no way to come back from that.  We’re in an abusive relationship. We might as well accept it, split up, and move on.


Published as an op-ed in the June 9 edition of the Conway Daily Sun Newspaper

Monday, June 05, 2017

Silber Service, Tarnished

In NH, we have a 400 member volunteer House of Representatives. We have their contact information. We can call them. We can email them. We can email committees. 

They are our representatives. 

They get a lot of email. They hear from constituents. They hear from people all over the state who are concerned about issues. They also hear from lobbyists and special interest groups - from both inside and outside the state. They get paid $100 a year. It's a lot of work. 

They are our representatives.

That's why this exchange is so troubling: 

-----Original Message-----
From: Kimberly Meuse 
Sent: Monday, May 1, 2017 1:51 PM
Subject: No on SB3

Dear House Election Law Committee,

I’m very troubled by the solution-seeking-a-problem with our state’s SB3 bill. Our own Secretary of State has had to admit that there are no occasions where out-of-staters have come over our border to vote in our elections, and certainly his own claim of “perception” manufactured without evidence by some state reps isn’t enough to put this law into effect. The result would be limiting the ability for legitimate residents to vote based on fear-mongering and partisan gain. Town officials have no clue how to affect the requirements in this bill and pay for the staff to go door to door to fulfill the bill’s draconian measure of proof of domicile. Finally, the bill would require voters to pay a poll tax of $5000 if they don’t have proof of domicile within a small time frame. This isn’t about making our elections “fair”. It’s about recourse for the 1000 voter margin that put a Dem in the Senate.


Kimberly Meuse

             And the response? 

From: Norman J Silber <>
Subject: RE: No on SB3
Date: May 1, 2017 at 4:06:48 PM EDT
To: Kimberly Meuse 

Who are you and where do you live? Do you have anything intelligent to add to this debate- your email certainly indicates a lack of a realistic understanding of the issues.

Unhelpful emails such as your just clog my in box and will  be blocked in the future.

Norman Silber
Member of the NH House of Representatives Belknap County District 2- Gilford & Meredith

 Ms. Meuse didn't do anything to deserve this kind of a response. 

The arrogance and rudeness is astounding, coming from a freshman state representative. It seems Rep. Silber counts on that R next to his name to ensure his re-election, and not charming disposition or  his behavior toward voters who have the nerve to question him. 

A reminder from the House General Court Handbook, back in the days when it was still online - before the behavior of the majority party was so embarrassing that they took this down: