Guest Blogs

Tuesday
Sep302014

Derek Dufresne - Opinion: Would the Shea-Porter of 2006 oppose the Shea-Porter of today?

As seen in Foster's Daily Democrat's Sunday edition 

It has been said that money and success don't change people; they merely amplify what is already there. Regardless of whether this is true or not, here in New Hampshire, we have firsthand proof of how radically the power and financial gains of Washington D.C. can alter someone. For us Granite Staters, there is no better example than Carol Shea-Porter. Carol's transformation has been so dramatic that it is now fair to ask whether the 2006 populist version of Carol Shea-Porter would actually primary the elitist establishment Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter of 2014.

 

Carol was first elected to Congress about eight years ago. Then, she was an outsider, even within her own party. She was an ultra-liberal community activist in Strafford County who had never held public office before. Other than some local fame for being escorted by law enforcement out of a George W. Bush rally adorning a "Turn Your Back On Bush" T-shirt, few New Hampshire politicos had heard much about her. Regardless, Shea-Porter bucked her own party's establishment, and while I vehemently disagreed with her on many of her beliefs, I respected the fact that she was a renegade. In order to win the Democratic Party's primary in 2006, she harnessed support from the grassroots of her party, and despite being outspent by her Democratic opponent and Washington power brokers by a 10-1 radio, she beat the front-runner by 20 points on election night. Months later, Carol rode a national Democratic wave and went on to win the general election in November of that year.

 

Once Carol's ticket to Washington D.C. was stamped, during her first two terms in Congress, the anti-elitist who once bucked her own party slowly began her transition into just another puppet of the Washington establishment. She quickly became a loyal foot soldier for then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, voting with her agenda on almost every occasion. When asked about her blind allegiance to her party's ruling class by a Concord Monitor reporter in 2007, she actually said "and so far, I have voted I think, 100 percent of the time with (Democratic leaders) because frankly, I think they're 100 percent right." Her new devotion was quickly repaid. Despite originally promising to not accept money from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Carol reneged on that pledge, and nearly $2.4 million in ads where used to bolster her campaign during her first reelection. After one term in D.C., it was clear: Potomac Fever had hit Mrs. Shea-Porter. Unless her campaign slogan, "for the rest of us," referred to her and new buddies in on Capitol Hill, the days of Carol as gritty populist were starting to fade in the rearview mirror.

 

When it came to town halls, the liberal activist also began her metamorphosis. Carol once made a career out of relentlessly following former Congressman Jeb Bradley to his many public forums, but as congresswoman, she made a political calculation to become far more isolated. She did decide to hold some town hall meetings in 2010 after incessant pressure from the local and national media, and headlines in Politico such as, "Has Washington changed Carol Shea-Porter?" However, many of her forums were held in small rooms and were heavily controlled. Ironically enough, the woman who was once escorted from a Bush town hall began having those who disagreed with her thrown out of her own public forums. She even had her security toss an elderly retired police officer from one of her meetings in Manchester.

 

After Carol Shea-Porter lost the congressional seat in 2010 and regained it in 2012 due to the Obama re-election wave, one might have thought she would have returned to her populist roots, but that wasn't the case. In fact, Carol went further in the opposite direction. During the 113th Congress, Mrs. Shea-Porter has continued to vote lock step with her party on almost every issue. Her office hasn't hosted a single real town hall meeting, and at the couple of events she advertised as "public," there is video proof of Congresswoman Shea-Porter banning cameras and removing those who disagree with her.

 

When it comes to fundraising, Shea-Porter continues to embrace the millions of dollars she gets from the DCCC and their lobbyists, and she is quick to campaign or fundraise with Nancy Pelosi and party leaders at any opportunity. She even traveled all the way to Napa Valley, California last month to wine-and-dine with elites and mega-donors like billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer. That's right, she was one of only a handful of representatives chosen by Nancy Pelosi to join her at this swanky Villagio Inn and Spa to woo donors into investing in her re-election. I'm sure very few of Carol's grassroots primary supporters in 2006 would have been excited to join Team Shea-Porter if they had a crystal ball to see her bantering in a vineyard with the wealthiest individuals on the west coast in August of 2014.

 

It's no secret that I disagree with Carol Shea-Porter on many issues. However, that isn't the point. Regardless of party, Granite Staters, like most Americans, are fed up with elitist politicians. They are tired of dealing with elected officials who care more about their cushy careers and Washington power brokers than connecting with their constituents or representing their interests. Crazy as it sounds, I actually believe the populist Carol Shea-Porter of 2006 would agree with me on that point - so much so that she likely would primary the blind party puppet she has become today.

 

Derek Dufresne of Manchester is a partner and co-founder of RightOn Strategies, a national conservative political consulting firm.

Monday
Sep222014

Jeff B Willis - "Americas' Forgotten Could Swing 2016 Election

Forwarded to NHI via email

Much has been written about America's "working poor." Yet it seldom went further than some "brushover" condolences and vague statistics. Do we know who these Americans truly are?

Henry Olsen evidently does! In his June 6th, 2011 National Review article, "Dangerous Dissaffection," he introduced the "Dissaffecteds."

According to Olsen's research, 77% are white. 89% do not have a college degree. Two-thirds are classified as "Independents." Most have leaned Republican in recent times. Pundits often describe them as the "blue collar swing vote."

The majority of these Americans earn less than $30,000 per year. 44% are parents. 63% of their households were impacted in a major way by the recession. 71% had a household member unemployed in the past year.

Per Olsen, 28% gave favorable ratings to Barack Obama. Only 22% had said that they would vote to re-elect him. This was at press time of the article. Could something have changed between May 2011 and November 2012?

It certainly wasn't the perception of the two parties. Republicans are viewed favorably by a wide margin over Democrats. In that same survey only 14% of those polled indicated their satisfaction with the federal government. Only 19% said that they "trusted the government to do the right thing always or most of the time."

At first glance, these voters would appear to be firmly in the Republican camp. However, negative vibes toward the left, doesn't necessarly translate to "staunch conservativism." Republicans discovered this in 2010; when they experienced election losses in some solidly Republican districts. So, what makes these people tick?

Perhaps it amounts to a better understanding of what they deem important! Most staunch conservatives see "a balanced budget through the elimination of government programs" key in economic solidity. Not so with these voters! Most would rather keep their programs and see a balance budget as a lessor priority. Primarily because, their perception of our political leadership is cynical at best! They need and count on their Social Security and Medicare! When any politician hints of entitlement reductions, they assume that they will be taking most of the brunt!

Opposition to entitlement reform isn't necessarily consistent with oppostion to lower taxes. Most side with Republicans on the need for both lower taxes and less liberalism. But conservative support does not extend to being the world's commissary! In layman's term, "taking care of Americans here at home, first!" As in, "charity begins at home!"

Olsen's findings revealed that while 59% of staunch conservatives seek program cuts, only 17% of Disaffecteds do. Only 34% of staunch conservatives wanted a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes, 65% of Disaffecteds did. And get this! Only 15% of "Disaffecteds" polled wanted to cut Social Security and Medicare for the purpose of deficit reduction. This was the smallest percentage of any of the Pew typologies. It was actually eleven points lower than voters classified as "solid liberals."

Here is another hint. Disaffecteds are not wild about free trade! New York-26 reflected as much when Tea Party alternative, Jack Davis made it an issue. These same voters swung several traditionally Democrat districts to Scott Walker in Wisconsin in 2010, only to do "a 180" and back Democrat candidates in a Supreme Court election the following year.

Is Disaffected synonymous with the Tea party? No. In fact, 67% have no opinion of the Tea Party, highest of any Pew group. While 72% of staunch conservatives supported the Tea Party, only 19% of Disaffecteds did.

Indications are that Disaffecteds have a slightly more favorable view of labor unions as compared to staunch conservatives. This is further reflected by the tally of 57% who indicated that "free trade" agreements were bad for America.

In short, Disaffecteds can be classified as "somewhat conservative," but not "very conservative." They decidedly find more common ground with conservatives than liberals. But, they are wary. Talk of "austerity measures" amounts to "what little they have will be taken from them." Or, as Olsen phrased, "Republicans cannot reform entitlements if they are seen as motivated by money or as imposing their abstract vision on hard-pressed Americans'reality."

Amazingly enough, Disaffecteds have been pretty much ignored by both parties. In spite of the fact that these "blue collar whites" make up 40% percent of the electorate!

Republicans produced a 2012 ticket that combined "Mr. Grey Poupon" with "right wing social engineering." It might explain how Barack Obama jumped from 22% to a second term!

Conversely, Disaffecteds aren't impressed with Democrats' promise of a "$10 minimum wage and a handout." Smart money suggests that they will not favor a Hillary Clinton Presidency, unless the Republicans revert to the type of nominee produced in 2008 and 2012.

Much to the chagrin of Democrats, Obamacare may not make the cut with these voters. At best, it's seen as a "wash." Most, however, view it as a "backdoor" cut to Medicare, thus a deal breaker.

Indications suggest that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Democrats in general don't have "their back." That's why they are open to Republican alternatives. The key will be to assure them that they won't be left holding the bag; on the short end of the stick!

Specifically, "make Social Security solvent and protect Medicare from expected pillage resulting from the Affordable Care Act." If Republicans can convince Disaffecteds that they mean business regarding these two concerns, they're in!

Any promise of "returning jobs to American shores" scores points with Disaffecteds. Pew polls suggest that while they may have protectionist leanings, they might be open to cuts in the corporate tax, if it produces more jobs. Any measures that reduce offshore outsourcing are greeted with applause!

Any talk of good paying jobs, such as energy sector jobs, not requiring a lot of education hits their hot button! Reducing a bloated federal government payroll will be applauded by these voters. Most become outraged when informed of the public to private wage/benefit disparities.

These Americans need a champion, a president who they can relate to. Ronald Reagan described them as "ordinary people who did extraordinary things." His was based on genuine empathy for the average guy.

Do we have any candidates who can make that kind of connect with this critical, yet seemingly forgotten segment of America? For starters, what differentiated Ronald Reagan from the four Presidents who have since served in the White House?

Disaffecteds are obviously not "blue bloods." Thus, Ivy League credentials don't impress them. If anything, a President like Reagan lacking such a pedigree might be seen as a plus!

Immigration reformers should be especially careful with these Americans. "Across the board Amnesty" is seen as a greenlight for increased competition for what few jobs have been available to them.

While Olsen's research reveals a mild oppostion to "overseas military adventures," it is suspected that many Disaffecteds are veterans. No doubt a lot served in Desert Storm and Viet Nam, not to mention Irag and Afghanistan. Reagan's explanation of "peace through strength" was understood and largely supported.

Republicans can win the 2016 Presidency, if they can connect with these oft-forgotten Americans. The questions are "how" and through "whom?"

In a personal way, Reagan presented a message that linked peace and prosperity to Federalism. When he proclaimed that "government, not people had lived too well," they listened. When he proposed to "reduce the cost of government," they correctly linked that reduction to wage cuts and layoffs for federal workers, not entitlement cuts. When Reagan talked about inflation as the "most cruel of taxes," they put it all together.

Defining Jeffersonism, then differentiating it from Democrat and Neo-Con Hamiltonism might be considered "too cerebral." It will depend on the messenger. The message itself is fairly cut and dry.

Hamilton was for the Patrician. He believed that decisions of government were best left to the rich, powerful and the well educated.

Jefferson was for the common man. He concluded that the best defense against an American nobility was decentralization.

Today's Democrats and Republican "New Conservatives" share the Hamitonian paradigm. In a nutshell, it's either "you're not significant" or "we know what's best; so do as you are told."

It effect, the key to winning the hearts, minds and votes of America's forgotten may be as simple as reminding them that they are not forgotten. That's why mandated voter I.D. cards experience a near universal "thumbs up!" Solvent Social Security and Medicare, affordable college tuition and real health insurance reform likewise top their wish list. Also included are accessible money for mortgage financing and the basic services such as fire and police protection.

The Jeffersonian argument that "all can be better handled at the state level" is welcomed and supported by Disaffecteds.

Closing the deal with Disaffecteds will be as easy as "believability." As with Reagan, they must first like the candidate. Then, they must be able to relate to the candidate. Finally, they must see evidence of a candidate's previous success. As Dizzy Dean phrased, "it ain't braggin', if you've done it!"

Disaffecteds are not "low interest" voters. While overly cynical, they are more familiar with issues than one might think. When they conclude that a candidate can "walk the walk," as well as "talk the talk," they will happily jump on the bandwagon!

In recent times, Republicans were evidently not paying attention to this huge voter contingent. "Why" is a question for another day and a different post. It might have something to do with party leadership.

Democrats may have taken Disaffecteds for granted. Or, maybe the real truth is, they don't fall under the auspices of one of the Dems' special interest groups.

In any case, these "ordinary people," could yield "extraordinary" results at the voting booths! The question becomes, "has America's political establishment become so far removed from America that they fail to see "who" truly is America?

Saturday
May172014

Mark Acciard - Get money out of politics, right?

The ever delusional Harry Reid wants to introduce a Constitutional Amendment to overturn CU, restricting, as he claims; "the ability of the Koch Bros. to buy elections". Of course last week he claimed they were "the main cause of Global Warming".

I never thought I would say this, But, Harry, I agree with you, and REPUBLICANS SHOULD TOO! YES! restrict ALL contributions, INCLUDING the 58 groups who donate vastly MORE than the Koch Bros.

But, Harry, you might want to think this one through, according to opensecrets.org 16 of the top 17 donors donate primarily to DEMOCRATS. Evidently THEY are the truly big money party.

So you want to limit the Kochs, You ALSO have to limit, ActBlue, SEIU, NEA, AFT, Teamsters, AFSCME, IBEW, UAW,National Trial Lawyers, etc. And for the UNIONS this means not only CASH, but "in kind" donations. The phone banks, bussing, canvassing, ALL OF IT!

In the 2008 campaign cycle, this would have CUT Obama's take by $563M. While only reducing Romneys donations by $233M. Go for it Harry!

This should be fun to watch.

Friday
May162014

Gary Lambert - The Politics of Tough Choices 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

 

The politics of tough choices

 

By GARY LAMBERT

 

Gary Lambert, R-Nashua, is seeking the Republican nomination for New Hampshire’s 2nd District congressional seat.

 

There is perhaps no sector of the economy more vital to sustained economic growth than American domestic energy production. To become more competitive in a variety of economic sectors – technology, manufacturing, transportation –we need affordable energy sources with stable pricing in order to compete globally and create more jobs domestically.

 

A reasonable person might expect that given the importance of a strong American energy sector, an 830,000 barrel-per-day pipeline would be a sure thing to be approved by an administration which has repeatedly asserted its commitment to an all-of-the-above energy policy.

 

A reasonable person would be wrong. After an exhaustive review by a multitude of executive departments, President Barack Obama has still not approved the Keystone XL pipeline. Democrats in Congress are perfectly happy with that outcome; it means embattled incumbents like Ann Kuster don’t have to face a politically tough issue in an election year.

 

Earlier this year, White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough had this to say about the president’s approach to the Keystone XL pipeline approval process: “What the President’s role is now is to protect this process from politics.” Judging by the other promises the president has made and broken (“If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” anyone?), we shouldn’t be surprised he broke this one too.

 

When the president last month delayed approval of the Keystone XL pipeline until after the November election, he gave up on any pretext that the delay was based on substantive issues about the pipeline’s environmental impact. Rather, President Obama basically admitted that there is only one reason why this project has not been allowed to go forward – politics.

 

The president does not want to give House Republicans, who have fought the administration’s delaying tactics at every step, a win in an election year. On the other end of the spectrum, liberal activists have fought the president at every step to delay, sabotage, and stop the pipeline project because it isn’t an energy source popular with the left – no windmills, I guess. To make matters even worse for the president, labor unions have supported the Keystone XL project from the beginning and now they are making their voices heard in favor of approval. So President Obama and Washington democrats like Ann Kuster are in a political pickle – trouble to the right and to the left.

 

No wonder people can’t stand Washington politicians. After statements flaunting “shovel-ready projects,” after a two-year re-election effort which highlighted the president’s “maturity” and “desire to get something done,” and after a 2014 State of the Union speech which declared a “year of action,” an item which satisfies all of those promises comes to the president’s desk for approval, and he takes a pass. He whiffs. He takes the coward’s way out.

 

As typical as that kind of “leadership” may be in Washington, I still find the president’s capacity to put the politics above the people absolutely astounding. It’s unacceptable leadership for a great nation and its unacceptable leadership for a trying time in America. We need better.

 

If you send me to Washington as your representative, I’ll raise my voice and cast my vote as many times as necessary to make sure the Keystone XL pipeline is approved and construction begins as soon as possible.

 

I cannot promise you that I can fix Washington alone. I cannot promise you that you will agree with me 100 percent of the time. If I did, we all know I’d be lying. What I can promise you is this – I will never take the coward’s way out. I’ll step forward and take the tough vote, take the stance which is right and honorable and moves our country forward. I won’t represent you based on political polls and the punditry; I won’t make a decision which directly affects American jobs and economic growth based on politics. I’ll represent you on the basis of what is best for America, New Hampshire, and the 2nd District. If the career politicians don’t like it, so be it.

 

That is my campaign pledge, and it’s why I’m running for Congress. I want to serve. I did it for 35 years in the United States Marine Corps and I did it in good times and bad. Service is the same regardless of the circumstances – you have a duty to do what is best for others. If President Obama understood that concept and understood that what is best for him politically is not what is best for the country, the Keystone XL Pipeline would have been approved long ago.

 

Gary Lambert, R-Nashua, is seeking the Republican nomination for New Hampshire’s 2nd District congressional seat.

 

Wednesday
May142014

Ellen Read - Our State Senators are not listening to us

For the jaded among us this isn’t a surprise.  We’re cynical because we know our government is bought and paid for by the highest bidders.  Our legislators no longer have constituents, they have investors—groups not even from legislators’ districts with whom legislators spend 70% of their time fundraising, and who donate in order to obtain favorable policy.  A recent Princeton study showed definitively we no longer have a democracy, but an oligarchy—rule by the wealthy few.  It showed that public policy is dictated by the 0.000042% of Americans who give substantial contributions, not by the People, as we all believe.  But we don’t have to resign to apathy.

 

New Hampshirites, true to our independent spirit, are trying to restore government to the People.  Building on work of years past, this March resolutions were on 61 Town Warrants calling for a constitutional amendment that would:  1) guarantee the right of the people to regulate political spending, and 2) clarify that artificial entities such as labor unions, SuperPACs, and corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as actual human beings.  Out of the 61 towns, 48 passed the resolution —and most by an overwhelming majority. The people of New Hampshire have spoken.

 

Yet when this same resolution, SB307, came before our State Senate, twelve Senators rejected the original language, gutting it—although 32 of the 48 towns that passed warrant articles were in these Senators’ districts.  For example, Senator Forrester voted against the purpose of the bill, but seven of the nine towns in her district passed similar resolutions.  And although all five towns in Senator Bragdon’s district and all four in Senator Bradley’s district also passed these resolutions, both of them also voted no.  Why aren’t they listening to us? 

 

A UNH Poll revealed 75% of New Hampshirites, across all political lines, want a constitutional amendment to return control of government to the People.  New Hampshire cares about this.  A lot.  There is a movement building in response to government corruption, and it stems from our collective innate sense of what democracy is--from the wisdom of leaders from James Madison and Teddy Roosevelt to Warren Rudman and John McCain.

 

It’s tempting to be apathetic, thinking the system is rigged.  It is rigged; that is why we have to fix it.  SB307 is now passing the State House, so it will go back to conference with the Senate, where our senators may try to weaken it again.  We have to make our State Senators hear us, on this more than anything else, because this is the one issue that decides whether we have a say in any other.  No matter your politics or cause, if you want to have a say in it then we have to get big money out of politics.  No one should have to have money to have a voice--not in a democracy.

 

Ellen Read, Newmarket

Bob Martens, Bridgewater

George Blaisdell, Bridgewater

Max Stamp, Bristol

Nancy Dowey, Bristol

Maria Weick, Dorchester

Herb Moyer, Groton and Exeter

Pam Martin, Plymouth

Kenneth McKenzie, Eaton

Richard Devens, Sandwich

Penny Voyles, Wakefield

Michelle Russell, Hancock

Gerald Debonis, Sharon

Lucy Edwards, Northwood

Peter White, Nottingham

Scott Abercrombie, Salem

George Manos, Danville

Carol Croteau, Kingston

Evert Lamm, Stratham

Joseph Bagshaw, Conway (passed previously)

State Senator Martha Fuller Clark, District 21, Sponsor of SB307