Friday, October 19, 2018

Vote to Amend?

November 6 is Election Day. This year on the ballot there will two proposed amendments to the NH Constitution. They are CACR 15 and CACR 16.

Every year a number of potential amendments are filed. Some are filed every biennium, despite their lack of popularity. That’s what you get with a 400 person volunteer legislature. In order for a CACR to advance to the ballot, the bill must receive a three-fifths vote in the House and again in the Senate. In order for the state constitution to be amended, two-thirds of the voters must vote in favor of the amendment. 

CACR 15 is titled, “relating to legal actions. Providing that taxpayers have standing to bring actions against the government. This means that anyone eligible to vote would have the standing to sue over the government’s use of revenues, without having to prove they were harmed by the expenditure in question. In the past courts have dismissed cases on the grounds that the person doing the suing wasn’t personally injured by the expense. The example used most often is the 2012 case of Duncan v. New Hampshire, which concerned public funds for state education going to private religious schools, which is a violation of the state constitution. If this amendment had been in place, that suit would have gone forward. 

That’s the upside. The downside is that New Hampshire is filled with libertea-loving miscreants who think paying any taxes is illegal. This amendment would give the malcontent crowd an opportunity to sue cities, towns, and the states. The sponsors of the bill claim this isn’t so, that there are adequate protections against nuisance suits. Former NH Supreme Court Justice Chuck Douglas is a supporter of the amendment. In a recent radio interview, he was unable to guarantee that there wouldn’t be a barrage of lawsuits about taxation.

No one has proven to my satisfaction that this won’t be a disaster. Those lawsuits come at a high cost, which is seldom reported on. The money to respond to those lawsuits comes from our tax dollars, which means that something important isn’t getting funded, while Joe Free Stater’s lawsuit about how taxation is theft at gunpoint will get the money instead.

Be sure to read the text of the amendment. At the NH General Court website, there’s a box on the left side of the page where you can look up a 2018 bill. Type CACR 15 (or 16) into the box. When the bill comes up, click on “Bill Docket” and you’ll be able to follow the history of the bill from the beginning. At the top of the page you can click on “Bill Text” and read it. 

CACR 16 concerns privacy.  The text of what would be added to the constitution reads, “An individual's right to live free from governmental intrusion in private or personal information is natural, essential, and inherent.” 

I have problems with the language. What does this even mean? It sounds good, but how does this translate into legal interpretation? Don’t we have enough trouble with interpreting the word “domicile” in this state? How about the vague language of Second Amendment to the US Constitution?

It’s a laudable goal, trying to shore up an individual’s right to privacy from the government. I applaud the intent; it’s the language that is problematic. This is a good idea that needs a lot more work. At this point, there is no way to know how this will be interpreted in the context of other amendments to both our state and federal constitutions. It’s also worth noting that this barely passed in the House and Senate. It was one vote that secured the three-fifths needed in each chamber.

This bill also guarantees a surfeit of nuisance lawsuits. There will be those that think the DMV has no right to know if they wear corrective lenses. Again, responding to those suits costs money, and we’re already spending a boatload of tax dollars on lawsuits already in progress. Also, to be clear, this proposed amendment does not address the right to privacy from companies, who can buy, sell, and publish our personal information without fear of reprisal.

Both amendments are well intentioned. I don’t believe either is ready for prime time. The online news publication, Manchester Ink Link has two pieces on the amendments, one written by State Representative Timothy Smith of Manchester, and one by reporter Laura Aronson of Ink Link. Smith’s piece is in the opinion section, and Aronson’s is in the news section at 

There is still plenty of time to read up on these amendments and research the candidates you’ll see on your ballot on November 6. Amending the NH Constitution is serious business, and it is our civic duty to be well informed when we vote. 

Rep. Tim Smith in Manchester Ink Link

Laura Aronson in Manchester Ink Link

The Attitude with Arnie Arnesen, October 5  - the interview with Chuck Douglas starts at about 29 minutes in. 

Published as an op-ed in the October 20, 2018 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper 

Thursday, October 04, 2018

I Believe Her

Brett Kavanaugh must have the most inept handlers in the history of handling. His story could have been spun as the mistakes made by a young man who had a troubled relationship with alcohol. A young man who realized he was in trouble, and changed his life, leaving him with profound regrets. He would apologize to anyone he had wronged, and added a tearful, personal apology to Dr. Ford. If he’d done all that, he’d be sitting next to Clarence Thomas right now. 

But he didn’t do that. Instead, he showed us the kind of rage that an entitled scion of privilege can summon up when he’s held accountable. Here’s a guy who has had (despite his protestations of working his butt off) everything in his life handed to him. The idea that he might not have this latest prize handed to him was so unacceptable that he had a tantrum on national television.

Imagine going to a job interview, where you shouted, cried, gulped water as if it were straight vodka, and talked obsessively about beer. Think you’d get hired?

Climb into the wayback machine with me and travel to July of 2009, when hearings were held on the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor. Senator Lindsey Graham expressed concerns about her judicial temperament. In a story by ABC news, he said, 
"She's a terror on the bench. She's temperamental, excitable, she seems angry. She's overall aggressive, not very judicial.”
Poor Judge Sotomayor. Who knew that the key to impressing Senator Graham was screaming, crying, and talking about beer? 

When women ask tough questions, they’re angry and aggressive. When men are denied what they feel entitled to, they have tantrums that are justified by other men. Women don’t get to have public hysterics and then get lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court.

At this point in time, our country is so dysfunctional that sides are being chosen. Either you believe Dr. Ford, or you think she’s lying. I asked a guy why the evil Democrats didn’t do this to Neil Gorsuch. His response? “They hadn’t thought of this tactic then.” It’s far more likely that Neil Gorsuch, though he may have traveled in similar elite circles of prep schools and fraternities, managed to avoid engaging in constant drunkenness and attempted rape.

What do we know about elite prep schools? We know that that rape culture was alive and well at St. Paul’s, Phillips Exeter, Horace Mann, and Milton Academy. We know that these future captains of industry, after being groomed at pervy prep go on to Ivy League colleges to finish their development. We know there’s a troubling culture at Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, and pretty much any school where there are fraternities.  

Donald Trump warns that it’s a very scary time for young men in America. Womp womp. It’s been a scary time in America for young women for forever.  In the US, 90% of adult rape victims are female. It is estimated that at least 63% of rapes are never reported. The percentage of false rape accusations are somewhere near 2%, and even that may be inflated. Remember, this warning comes from a man who was caught on camera boasting of his proclivity for sexually assaulting women.

On Tuesday night, at a reassurance rally in Mississippi, Trump mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who testified that a drunken Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her. This is the president of the United States, a position we once believed should involve dignity and statesmanship.

This sends a message to your daughters - that when they are raped or assaulted, they will not be believed. It sends a message to your sons – that it’s okay. Boys will be boys, and that means that white boys get to rape girls without fear of reprisal. The dull witted men who wonder why she didn’t report it are the reason that she didn’t. Girls and women who report are seldom believed and frequently harassed. Only one in every thousand rapes ends in jail time.

Brett Kavanaugh is a lawyer who has never tried a case. He was one of Kenneth Starr’s Clinton sheet sniffers. GW Bush put him on the bench to reward his years of partisan service at the White House. His testimony before the Judiciary Committee was unquestioningly partisan (and self pitying), which calls into question his future ability to be impartial. We’ve already seen his lack of self-control. This is a privileged white guy failing upward. It will mean that 20% of the Supreme Court is comprised of sex offenders. It will also mean the Court no longer has legitimacy.  

If you think you don’t know anyone who has been raped, it means they don’t trust you enough to tell you.

The 24-hour sexual assault hotline: 1-800-277-5570. 

This was published as an op-ed in the October 5, 2018 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper

Check out  I Believe Her  by Emma's Revolution 

                                     I believe her. I am her.