Guest Blogs

Sunday
Jan212007

SHEA-PORTER’s FIRST 100 HOURS

by Peter Bearse Ph.D.

What should one expect of a new Representative who has been elected by the media, aided by their relentless onslaught regarding Bush and Iraq? Should one expect a proactive approach, like introducing a House bill to deny financing for a “surge”?, or mobilizing Congressional District (CD) constituents for anti-war demonstrations? Or voting like the previous go-along, get along Congressman, like a good Party regular? Or playing to the media to give people the impression that one is doing things for them?

The answer? -- the last two – the sorts of Congressional activity that has given the U.S. House of Representatives a bad name. Here in New Hampshire’s First C.D., a least, the 2006 Congressional elections have provided another round in the game of musical chairs. The music goes on but nothing has really changed. How sad -- voters sold another bill of goods by a media-made Member of Congress!

The evidence? Look at the Democratic Party’s “First 100 Hours” of accomplishment, including Rep. Carol Shea-Porter’s votes to approve:

Ø new ethics rules

Ø implementation of several 9/11 Commission recommendations

Ø an increase in the minimum wage

Ø increases in federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research

Ø letting the government negotiate the price of prescription drugs under Medicare

What do these votes represent? Let’s look at each one.

The “new ethics rules” are a gloss or band-aid to cover the gaping, fundamental corruption of Congress. They try to lend a new aura of respectability to an institution that is still “the best Congress that money can buy.” Big money continues to dominate Congressional politics. Corporate lobbyists were buzzing around the heads of the Republicans. Now they’re buzzing around the heads of Democrats. Democratic fund raisers that include lobbyist invitees are already going on to pay off 2006 campaign debts and gather funds for 2008 reelection campaigns. The House is the house of big donors, not “the people’s house.” Nancy Pelosi and Carol Shea-Porter are peddling a false populism.

The 9/11 Commission Report was “dead on arrival” at the White House. Passage of a resolution to urge the “implementation” of the Report’s recommendations is nothing more than political posturing, especially since the Democrats had no plan for Iraq to present before, during and after the 2006 elections. A marker as to real performance by Rep.Shea-Porter on the Iraq issue? -- Call and ask whether she has introduced or co-sponsored a bill like that introduced on the Senate side by Ted Kennedy – a bill to withhold funding for the President’s “surge” of additional troops to Baghdad.

The “Yes” vote to raise the federal minimum wage also represents show and tell rather than a meaningful move. First, only 2.5% of the nation’s hourly workforce is affected and 1/4 of these are youth. Second, the attention paid to the issue obscures the fact that the Democratic majority has assigned lower priority to the far more important issue of another adjustment affecting the incomes of many more people – the “COLA” for Social Security payments to reflect true increases in senior citizens’ cost of living.

Shea-Porter and her fellow Democrats also postured on the issue of embryonic stem cell research. They seem to pretend to voters that their left-over good intentions are on the right side. They and their media allies overlook the fact that the vote insulted the moral sensitivities of many others, for no good reason. Scientists have found that stem cells to generate remedies for most major diseases can be extracted from many, non-embryonic sources, including placentas and amniotic fluids.

Asking the Federal Government to negotiate drug prices is another hypocritical farce, playing to the seniors’ gallery while providing nothing but fodder for media editorialists and talking heads. Leave it to Democrats to deny market forces, especially when the “force” they point to, the Federal Government, is not the one buying the drugs in question. Federal bureaucrats as price setters? Next stop: price controls?

Fellow economist Robert Samuelson calls all of this “The Politics of (made for media) Symbolism…mostly about gestures…long on self-promotion...not about hard choices.” So, people may well ask: When is the Congress going to stop playing the media game, move beyond ‘Reality TV’ and start producing real solutions to real, hard problems? When are Nancy Pelosi, Carol Shea-Porter and other Democrats, who now claim to be promoting a “people’s House” in Washington, going to inform and empower us rather than themselves?

Wednesday
Jan172007

PRESIDENTS HOOVER & EISENHOWER DEPORTED MILLIONS OF ILLEGALS

by Tom Sutliffe

I did not know of this until it was pointed out to me, that back during the great depression, President Herbert Hoover ordered the deportation of all illegal aliens in order to make the jobs available to American citizens that desperately needed work.

Then again in 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower deported 1.3 million Mexican nationals called Operation Wetback in order that returning American WWII and Korean veterans had a better chance at jobs.

It took 2 years, but they deported them! If they could deport the illegals back then, they can sure do it today!!

If you have doubts about the veracity of this information, just type Operation Wetback into Google and confirm it for yourself.

Reminder: Don't forget to pay your taxes.....12 million illegal aliens are depending on you!

Monday
Jan152007

Candidates and schools

By Robin Read  (former State Rep. from Portsmouth)

The normally sensible Portsmouth School Board didn't enhance its reputation in its discussions last month on former Sen. John Edwards' campaign's request to rent Little Harbour School to formally announce his candidacy for president.

And the Herald was negligent in not reporting further on the meeting, the potential implications of the board's action on future similar requests, and the comments of board members and city officials.

To its credit, the board approved the campaign's somewhat last-minute request to rent the school for the event. But the board also voted to require that future requests from candidates be submitted at least 30 days in advance. Asking a presidential campaign to know 30 days ahead when and where it wants to hold an event is like parents attempting to require a teenage son or daughter to tell them in July their plans for New Year's Eve. For a variety of reasons campaigns are basically incapable of making decisions that far in advance, particularly in the last month or two before an election. The policy could seriously limit opportunities for Portsmouth students and residents to see and hear candidates and participate in the democratic process.

Also, Foster's Daily Democrat reported that at the meeting City Attorney Sullivan said that allowing one political group to rent the school would require the board to rent to other groups like the KKK. This is no reason to deny candidates or someone representing them access to public buildings. (Should the city have prohibited First Lady Laura Bush from reading to children at the Portsmouth library during the 2004 campaign on the chance that the spouse of a Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon might ask permission to do the same?). A policy can be developed to handle such contingencies. In addition, board member Nancy Clayburgh was quoted as saying, "What if you get some kind of radical group that wants to come in next week?" Who's going to define what groups are "radical" and by what criteria?

The Herald reported that Board Chairman LePage said that this is the first time a Portsmouth school has been "rented for such a purpose." This may be true if he's speaking of a candidate using a local school to formally announce his candidacy. But, fortunately, Portsmouth schools have been venues for presidential campaign events in the past. A few examples: President Carter held a political event at Portsmouth High School in 1979 at the start of the 1980 presidential primary campaign. Candidate Jesse Jackson spoke at events at Portsmouth schools before the 1984 and 1988 primaries. In 1988 Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign even rented the Portsmouth Middle School as headquarters for a weekend door-to-door canvass. Presidential candidate Bill Bradley hosted a forum in 1999 at Little Harbour School with students, teachers, and school administrators.

Ironically, on Dec. 26, a few days after the School Board meeting, the Herald published a long, complimentary Associated Press article on how the administration, faculty, and students at Concord High School, presumably with the consent of the Concord School Board, have been actively recruiting candidates for president to come to the school since 1988. Two have appeared at forums at the school in the last few months. In 2004, four presidential candidates visited Winnacunnet High School and Gen. Wesley Clark visited Somersworth High.

New Hampshire schools have hosted presidential campaign events since the first modern New Hampshire presidential primary more than 50 years ago without, to my knowledge, any serious problems with the KKK or any other group. And, thankfully, candidates for other local, state and national offices often visit our schools.

Finally, the Herald should report on the opinions of other Portsmouth residents, educators, legal experts, and public officials on this important issue.

The School Board is obviously justified in requiring candidates to pay rent up front, pay for police, clean-up, etc. (Also, such rentals do provide some much-needed income to the school system). Board member Clayburgh was correct to say, according to the Herald, that, "It could be very exciting to have a potential president make his announcement at one of our schools."

To increase the chances of that happening the 30-day advance notice policy should be re-examined. The board also could review the policies of Concord and other districts before finalizing its policy on candidate events at schools. And it should go on record as encouraging candidates for president and other offices to hold forums and other events in our schools, not discourage them.

Sunday
Jan142007

Know Your Government

by Tom Sutliffe

QUESTION OF THE DAY:

Question:

Do you know what the taxpayers of the State of New Hampshire provide in premium costs / per employee for family health care benefits?

Answer: $22,500.  That's right Twenty-two thousand five hundred dollars anually is paid by you "the very generous taxpayers of New Hampshire" for each state employee who is on the family plan for health care benefits.  Fortunately, this is approved by your State Represenatives, who are always looking out for your best interest!  Municipalities are you picking up on this?

Saturday
Jan132007

An Open Letter to Governor John Lynch

By Marshall Cobleigh

First of all, congratulations on your re-election by such a historic margin and the taking control of both houses of the General Court and the Executive Council. You now have a great opportunity for unprecedented leadership.

There are many paths you may choose to take. You can continue to follow the Mandy Grunwuld philosophy of coming out repeatedly and strongly against those things in the polls people despise, and address but don't do anything about the problems people really care about facing New Hampshire. After all this approach of smiling often, promising bi-partisanship, emphasizing ethics and incessantly attacking sexual predators (incidentally do you know anyone who is for sexual predators) worked well during your first term.

Or you can take the promise I made in my inaugural address to the House (which I can't believe was 38years ago) when I told the legislature "I do not subscribe to the credo of Boston's notorious mayor James Michael Curley, who used to love to say "there go my people, I must follow them because I am their leader." "The problems confronting us require well considered, vigorous, bold and progressive action. They shall receive it, to the extent I can provide it."

The biggest problem facing both political parties today is reliance on political polls to determine policy decisions. Everyone is so eager to get re-elected that they worship at the alter of political polling. As you know a poll only tells you what was popular yesterday. A poll never tells you what needs to be done to solve a problem. A poll never tells you what the correct course of action is. It just tells you what is popular. Unfortunately today even the media is more apt to tell the people what the polls say, rather than what the governor says.

Political leaders of opposite parties often have conflicting views of how to solve the state's problems. However few students of New Hampshire's Constitution believe that our founding fathers really wanted basic tax policy and the fundamental laws making education policy to be determined by the Court rather than the Legislature. Yes the Court should reign in egregious behavior and devious interpretations of our Constitution. Failure to legislate and failure to adopt the judge?s most favored tax structures are not violations of our Constitution. The five sitting judges can dream up all the tortured reasoning at their command but "cherish education" does not mean the court should set education policy or determine what type of tax structure New Hampshire should have. Those subjects are and should be the province of the Legislature.

MY FIRST RECOMMENDATION: ESTABLISH A PANEL OF TOP NOTCH LEGAL AND LEGISLATORS TO HOLD A SERIES OF FORUMS TO DETERMINE HOW BEST TO AMEND ONCE AND FOR ALL NEW HAMPSHIRE'S CONSTITUTION TO MAKE IT CRYSTAL CLEAR THAT THE LEGISLATURE?S JOB IS TO LEGISLATE AND THE COURT'S ROLE IS TO INTERPRET. No matter what your real position on Education or broad base taxes is the Court and Legislative roles clearly need to be redefined.

You talked a lot about being bipartisan and you personally clearly spent a lot of time smoozing the Senate President and Speaker during your first term, but much of that effort was negated by having Kathy Sullivan and Ray Buckley constantly attack republicans with half truths, personal attacks and politically vitriolic rhetoric. THERE IS AN OLD SAYING IN POLITICS THAT YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.

IF YOU TRULY WANT A GENUINE BIPARTISANSHIP RELATIONSHIP, YOU MUST ESTABLISH CONTROLS ON YOUR PARTY'S POLITICAL ACTIONS. NO ONE RESPONDS WITH TRUE UNDERSTANDING AFTER YOUR SPOKESMAN KICKS THEM IN THE SHINS. With Kathy Sullivan?s resignation and the yet unproven charges against Ray Buckley, you have a real opportunity to get your party to focus on bipartisanship, ethics and morality, if that is what you truly want.

I am proud of the lifetime friendships that I had with the Democrat Leaders of my time; Governor John King, Senator John Durkin, House Minority Leaders Bill Craig and Bob Raiche, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Spanos. Yes, we differed strongly in political philosophy, but we maintained our friendly relationships by avoiding personal attacks, half truths and misleading personal attacks. Bob Raiche and I often shared one babysitter for our children after spending the day disagreeing on the approach to policy matters.

IT IS NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU TO BE THE GENTLEMAN THAT YOU ARE, IF YOU ONCE AGAIN CONDONE AND ALLOW YOUR PARTY TO GO BACK TO THE POLITICAL SLANDER AND MISLEADING POST CARD ATTACKS OF TYPIFIED BY RAY BUCKLEY AND HIS SYNCOPHANTS.(incidentally the most amazing aspect of the Buckley episode to date is his statement "I AM ANGRY BEYOND BELIEF THAT THE POLITICS OF PERSONAL DESTRUCTION HAVE COME TO NEW HAMPSHIRE" this from the man who started and specialized in just such attacks!

I am not talking about honest differences of opinion on how to best solve the problems facing you. These differences should be debated and decided on the merits of the arguments on all sides of the issue.

But when Buckley, for example, sends out thousands of post cards accusing an opponent of causing traffic jams and highway tie ups because of a vote opposing the funding of a railroad study funded by the gas tax after such a study was ruled unconstitutional by the NH Supreme Court, that is not a difference of opinion, that is dishonest. And you cannot ask for bipartisanship and ethical behavior when the spokesman of your party at the same time repeatedly utilizes such scummy tactics.

As the late President Gerald Ford said when accepting the 'Profiles in Courage' award from Senator Edward Kennedy, "Courage is not something to be gauged in a poll or located in a focus group. No advisor can spin it. No historian can backdate it. In the age old contest between popularity and principle, only those willing to lose for their convictions are deserving of posterity's approval."

Or as my favorite Governor Mel Thomson proclaimed, "I believe that leaders must in their pursuit of service to the people and in the development of a worthy heritage for our posterity, be willing to risk defeat at the polls."

I and the people of New Hampshire wish you well as you embark on your second term. I urge you to remember that to be truly bipartisan and ethically responsible IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO BE PERSONALLY PURE IF YOU DO NOT REIGN IN YOUR POLITICAL HENCHMEN.