Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Friday
Nov212014

This Week's Trivia--Megan Marshack And The Dead American

Meet Megan Marshack. She's the force behind this week's trivia question which I discovered in the course of wading through a new 850 page biography. If I were to name the bio, the answer would be all too obvious.

The question is--With the death of which famous American will Ms. Marshack be forever linked?

Hint--The first four words of the biography, by Richard Norton Smith (I saw him on CSpan), are "On His Own Terms".

 

Was the famous American?

 

President Abraham Lincoln

 

President John F. Kennedy

 

President Warren G. Harding

 

Vice President Nelson Rockefeller

 

General George C. Patton

 

Don't be confused by the reference to Patton (with Bill O'Reilly's bestselling pop culture book). After all, take all of O'Reilly's books together and you don't get all that many words.

 

In fact, author Smith worked 14 years on the book "On His Own Terms, A Life of Nelson Rockefeller".

Of course, I'm probably not the only one who began with the last chapter, death of Nelson Rockefeller. That's where we meet the 26 year old media wannabe Marshack whom the former New York Governor and Vice President was most assuredly screwing (is bopping a more refined word?) at the time of his death by a massive heart attack.

I thought everyone knew that, but apparently I was wrong.  When I told someone the story, the response was, "So he died happy."

"No, no," I said without missing a beat.  "Happy was his wife, the woman he was cheating on."

But that would require many more words of explanation. 

The book is sensational, and by that I most assuredly do not mean that Nelson Rockefeller is sensational. As a 12 year old seventh grader in 1964, I recall going through the halls of Vergennes (Vermont) elementary school saying, "In your heart, you know he's right," Barry Goldwater's slogan. Then before he became a crook and a big government enabler, I was a fan of Richard Nixon.

 

Rockefeller was never my cup of tea, and after reading (parts of) this book, I'm even less fond of him. He was a typical tax and spend Republican who never met a bloated program he didn't like. He was among the first in the country to fund something government should not be involved in at all, cultural affairs.

 As a human being, Rocky was the worst sort of womanizer (he would put JFK and Clinton to shame) who had no respect for women, either those he married or those he screwed. He was also a bully and a wheeler dealer.

Yes, the book is great, but Rocky was a despicable human being and leader; it's kind of like the Woodrow Wilson bio I read earlier this year, a great book about the racist who was our worst President ever.

 But I come here to bury Rocky not to demean him. Let Smith's words do that.

Here's a brief passage from page 710 of the book. (Paturas was a medic called to the death scene). Be forewarned--you may learn more than you care to know...and I don't mean about Dom Perignon.

 

"Paturas's eyes were drawn to the profusion of paintings and sculptures throughout the room. He glimpsed unfinished boxes of Chinese food and a bottle of Dom Perignon. And sprawled on the floor next to the coffee table he saw an apparently lifeless man, nude, bluish in color, without pulse or respiration. The man exhibited all the signs of full cardiac arrest. He had thrown up his last meal, complicating efforts to insert a plastic oxygen tube into his lung. Traces of his vomit clung to Megan's outfit, variously described as a black evening gown and a caftan, fully zipped."

 

Great book, horrible man...and let's not even get into the deaths he caused by inept handling of the Attica uprising.

 

Here's one more story, one regarding the 1964 New Hampshire primary which Rockefeller and Goldwater both lost to write-in Henry Cabot Lodge. Later in the year, Rocky met Paul Grindle, the man who had organized the Lodge write in. Let's go to page 443 of the book (not interested in a history of the Rockefeller family, I admit to having skipped to the political stuff).

 

"They (Rockefeller and Grindle) met at Margate, the Scranton estate outside the Pennsylvania mill town of which the family had given its name. Amid these baronial surroundings, reminiscent of Pocantico (one of Rockefeller's estates), Rockefeller relaxed sufficiently to ask Grindle what it would have taken to bring about a withdrawal from New Hampshire. 

"A bribe," Grindle said deadpan.

 

"How much?" asked Rockefeller. 

"For ten thousand dollars, you would have seen the back of me."

 
"Oh, my Christ," sputtered Rockefeller. "And I spent three million."

 

 I repeat—this is a great book…about a very bad man. He may not have bedded as many women as Wilt Chamberlain, but then the Big Dipper never died, ever so famously as minions tried to cover it up, while bopping a woman named Megan Marshack.

As for the reference to Harding, that's due to an even better book I'm reading, "One Summer--America 1927" by Bill Bryson.  Along with Lindbergh, Dempsey-Tunney, The Babe, Sacco and Venzetti, and an inside story on the evils of Prohibition (not unlike Reefer Madness), we're treated to the story of Harding, yet another President who couldn't keep it in his pants, and Nan Britton...and what she did after Harding died mysterioulsy...another time perhaps.

If you read nothing else this holiday season, check out Chapter 12 of the Brisson book and Chapter 26 of the Rocky book.

 

Wednesday
Nov192014

Media Watch--Concord Monitor Hits Rock Bottom

William O'Brien is back as Speaker of the House after winning election Tuesday.

Bill O’Brien named Republican speaker of the House

Here's how the Concord Monitor reported Bill O'Brien's win in the GOP caucus yesterday, slightly better than the print edition which stated flat out (and wrongly as Democrats have brought to my attention) "O'Brien chosen as speaker"

                 Not since the days in the 18th century when a New Yorker named John Peter Zenger went on trial for freedom of the press in colonial America has a newspaper so abused what Zenger fought for as the Concord Monitor here in New Hampshire in recent weeks.

                This paper, which pays its reporters so little that it’s become a laughing stock, a sort of revolving door, has been so wrong that one truly must wonder whether it can be trusted on anything.

                The day after the election, I noted more than a dozen major errors in the paper and have been saving them for a suitable time to report.

                With a whopper of an error day, I can ignore this paper’s incompetence no longer.

                In fact, for those who ask me what I plan to write about now that I won’t be in office much longer, my immediate answer is that I’ve always shortchanged writing about the media which is becoming more and more incompetent in our state all the time.

                The Monitor is the most incompetent of them all, and expect more media stories in this space in the coming year.

                With reporters turning over on a regular basis, the Monitor lacks those with an institutional knowledge, an attribute all too often downplayed.

                Of course, the Monitor’s editorial position is so extremely left win that it’s often difficult to tell if it’s reporting mistakes are simply due to simply incompetence or out and out malice.

                There’s evidence to believe that both come into play.

                Let’s start with today’s banner headline across the top of page one.  “O’Brien chosen as speaker” the Monitor would have us believe. 

                That’s simply not true.  While O’Brien may in fact be elected Speaker, that won’t come until December 3, and the Union Leader’s correct front page headline puts the Monitor to shame.

                “O’Brien wins GOP nod as speaker” the Union Leader accurately reports.

                Monitor bosses might choose to object to the difference as picky-picky, but it’s really much more than that, the kind of shorthand no legitimate paper should be found guilty of.

                But it goes beyond d the erroneous headline.  In the story, the Monitor quotes unnamed sources as saying, “The contest largely boiled down to a difference in leadership styles, representatives said.”  If the Monitor was so sure of that contention, then certainly it could have sited an elected official.

                But the assertion itself is absurd.  The Monitor may wish O’Brien’s choice is a matter of style, but as I reported here in great detail yesterday, O’Brien’s victory in the GOP caucus was due to issues, not style.  Repeatedly in the past session, O’Brien has been with the majority of Republicans while Chandler and his leadership team were out of synch with the majority of their own caucus.

                That’s why O’Brien won the GOP nod yesterday, a fact you’d never know if you got your news from the state’s least informed paper.

                But then you’d never know that I am currently serving my ninth consecutive term as a State Representative.  The day after the election, the Monitor reported that I was in my fifth term, a strange error since only four days prior to that, the same paper had reported, thanks to information from House Clerk Karen Wadsworth, that I was the last person elected as a Libertarian, back in 2000.

                It doesn’t take a genius reporter or editor to realize that from 2000 to 2012 is not five terms, but seven, and from three it would be a short step to checking to find out that I had also been elected kin 1996 and 1998 thus making the number five, not seven.

                Small potatoes, you say.

`               Out of such potatoes comes the integrity of a newspaper.

                However, while we can chalk up that mistakes to simple incompetence, the Monitor is fond of playing a game which verges on malice.

                In the same post-election story, the Monitor reported that I did not return a request for comment, their standard boiler plate for attempting to slur someone.  In fact, as soon as I learned of the paper’s request for a comment, through an email the next day, I immediately returned a lengthy comment; I told the reporter to refer to the lengthy comment I had posted in my blog.

                The Monitor apparently deludes itself into thinking it’s godlike enough so that everybody in the state should stay tuned in to its email requests 24 hours a day, but any real paper, instead of trying to slur someone with its slant, would properly have reported, “The Monitor was unable to reach Rep. Vaillancourt for comment last night.”

                Clearly, the Monitor has fallen out of the ranks of a real paper.

                On the same day, November 5, it reported that Republican Senator Forrester had lost to challenger Mello by 2013-852 in Meredith.  Now can that be right, I thought.  Forrester is from Meredith, a Republican town in a Republican year.  Of course, it wasn’t right.  The Monitor got it wrong.

                Are you keeping a running tally of these errors?

                The Monitor had Mello winning Bristol 767-335.  Wrong.

                The Monitor had Mello winning Hill 240-116.  Wrong.

                The Monitor had Mello winning Sanbornton 813-497.

                The Monitor had Mello winning Tilton 709-457.

                If you had believed the Monitor, you would have thought that Senator Forrester was in big trouble; in fact, she won all those towns enroute to a 12,689-7543 win overall.

                But the Monitor’s cavalcade of errors didn’t end there.

                The Monitor had Republican Senator San Cataldo losing to Leonard 1533-860 in highly Republican Alt6on.  This just can’t be right, I though.  Of course, it wasn’t right; Cataldo won Alton. 

                The Monitor had Leonard winning Barnstead 939-695.  Wrong.

                The Monitor had Leonard winning Gilmanton 856-567.  Wrong again. 

                In fact, Cataldo won every town and every ward in the distrcit (except Rochester Ward 6) enroute to a 9882-7640 landslide win.  If little ol me could find that out, why couldn't the Monitor editors and reporters?  Incompetence or malice?  In fact, as I reported here last election, had it not been for Alotn, newly added to the district with redistricting, Cataldo would have lost.  Clearly, he was never in any trouble in 2014...unless you were to believe the Concord Monitor's reporting.

                Who knows how many more errors the Monitor foisted upon its readers in a single day? 

                Not I said the cat because I follow this rule that once a paper totally loses its credibility, it should be totally ignored.

                That’s how the Monitor lost its credibility with me in a single day.

                Oh, one more thing.  It quoted prospective Democratic House leader Steve Shurtleff as saying his party had lost six seats but picked up two other seats.  I realize, election results are in a state of flux the day after an election, but Shurtleff was off by a factor of nearly ten to one (closer to 60 seats than six), a rather important fact which would have eluded Monitor readers.

                Was it simple incompetence, which abounds at the Monitor these days, or a deliberate attempt to downplay the magnitude of Democratic losses?

                Either way, the Monitor with its slipshod reporting should now and forever forfeit any respect which might have been afforded it.            

                Even a few days after the dust had settled, and any legitimate paper would have had its numbers in order, the Monitor reported that Republicans had captured two seats in Bow when any cursory glance at numbers would have shown the Monitor’s reporters and editors that Republicans had swept all three seats in Bow.

                I trust that this is only the tip of a very large iceberg of errors which have seen the light of print in the Monitor in recent days.

                I look at it this way.  If I catch an error by reading just a smattering of words in the Monitor, more than likely then times that many errors elude me.

                It’s like when I go into the Second Cup Coffee Shop (where I’ll likely be blogging from next around the first of the year).  When I notice some people that I saw there three months ago, sitting in the same places, would it be proper to think those people are only three when I am?

                Of course not; the more prudent assumption would be that they go to the coffee shop of a regular basis, even though I do not.

                Any sentient human being would have to conclude that if he or she notices dozens of errors in the Monitor, more than likely there are hundreds if not thousands of errors in actual print.

                It’s enough to make John Peter Zenger roll over in his grave, wherever that may be.

 

Image result for john peter zenger

 

Wednesday
Nov192014

Election Kills Death Penalty Repeal Chances

A great wag once said, and now we can all borrow the phrase without attribution, "Elections have consequences."

One of the consequences of the 2014 New Hampshire election is that an attempt to repeal the death penalty will most likely either not even be filed or will arrive dead on arrival.

No, I didn't hear this in the halls of the State House, but rather at Shaw’s Market last night.

That's where I ran into one of the most ardent supporters of the death penalty repeal (no names please, but insiders would certainly recognize it).

Before I could even explain how his forces might be able to get repeal through the House but never the Senate, he told me exactly the same thing.

This past year, repeal passed by a two to one margin in the House but failed due to a 12-12 tie in the Senate.

Elections have consequences, and two anti-death penalty senators appear to have been replaced by two who would favor keeping the penalty on the books. Republican Bob Odell, a last minute conversion to the anti-death cause, didn't run again and was replaced  pro death Republican Jerry Little in District 8. Republican Kevin Avard defeated Peg Gilmour in District 12, so it's tough to see how advocates of repeal could cobble together more than ten votes in the new Senate.

If you can't get to 13, why even go through the long, arduous, and painful (for both sides) process in the House?  Besides, the 2016 election is not that far away (the next election is never all that far away) and whle most people don't vote on the issue of death, support for repeal could hurt on the margins.  Republicans used it against Distict 18 State Senator  Donna Soucy and other pro repeal Democrats this past year, and why risk that again if you can't win anyways? 

Projected new House Speaker Bill O'Brien is pro death penatly, and one of the few Democrats, other than Senator Lou D'Allesandro, to be pro death is long time party chair Ramond Charles Buckley...hey, hey, hey, Buckley and O'Brien together again!

Of course, any one of 424 Reps and Senators can file a repeal bill, but chances of success appear to be close to zero.

Last year's prime sponsor, Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, barely survived his election. He was tied for the fourth and final spot in Hampton and won by four votes in the recount. Actually, last thing I heard, that race was headed for the Ballot Law Commission Monday, so we're not 100 percent sure Cushing will be back (odds are he will), but my guess is that he's realist enough not to even file a repeal bill next year.

If he needs reinforcement in that thought, he should hang out at Shaw’s (I always meet the most fascinating people there, from lobbyists trying to bet me a steak dinner on an executive council race to a former Supreme Court justice...twice).

 

Tuesday
Nov182014

16 Year Old Portsmouth Student Pleads For Decrim

As promised in another posting, here’s my response to a 16 year old Portsmouth student who wrote me an eloquent plea for decriminalization of marijuana last week.  I won’t reveal his name or the names of other pro-decriminalization Reps here, but all is as exactly as I sent it.  I mention Rep. Adam Schroadter, R-Newmarket, because he will be filing the decrim bill and Larry Gagne, R-Manchester, because it’s my guess (and it’s only a guess) that he could be Speaker O’Brien’s choice for Criminal Justice Chair.

Ironically, the letter arrived within a day of New York City announcing that it was no longer arrest anyone spotted with less than 25 grams of marijuana (slightly less than an ounce).  It’s truly a step toward sanity that such people will, in the future, not be arrested but merely ticketed.  That’s the good news.  As David Letterman joked, the ticket will be to a New York Jets game.  Funny stuff…here’s my letter.

 

November 14, 2014

Dear ____,

Thanks for your letter.  While my term is ending in a few weeks and I will not be back as a State Rep, I remain committed to reforming our marijuana laws, first with decriminalization and hopefully with full-scale legalization in the near future.  Most likely any new bill will begin in the Criminal Justice Committee.

Unfortunately about a dozen Reps most committed to the cause will not be back.  However, I trust new Reps will take up the cause.  Obviously I agree with everything you say in your letter.  The time is coming (all opinion polls show a dramatic shift) to reform our laws, but work still needs to be done.

The race for Speaker will indeed matter, and from all past indications, Bill O’Brien would be better for the cause of decriminalization than Gene Chandler who not only has been an opponent in the past but is surrounded by at least two people (Shawn Jasper and David Hess) who have been among our biggest opponents. 

I will pass your letter on to some of the Reps who will be back and in the forefront of the reform effort in the coming year.

Among these are:

Adam Schroadter who sponsored the decrim bill this past year and most likely will again.  PO Box 564, Newmarket 03857.

Larry Gagne (who was on the Criminal Justice Committee and could be the chair next year, depending on who is elected Speaker), 126 Lakeside Drive, Manchester 03104

[Here I enumerate several other decriminalization supporters for the young man to contact]

Sadly among our opponents last year was one of your Portsmouth Reps, Laura Pantelakos who chaired the Criminal Justice Committee.  She will be back.

Thanks again.  I wish I were your age again.  Make every moment count and hopefully ours will be a better world by the time you get to be my age.

Sincerely,

Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, 161 Faith Lane, Manchester, NH 03103

Tuesday
Nov182014

The Race For Speaker--5 Theories On Why O'Brien Won

                When you win by only four votes out of 228 votes cast, anything could be said to have meant the difference.

                That’s where we stand tonight as former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien defeated former House Speaker Gene Chandler 116-112 for the Republican nod to become the new Speaker.

                Republicans hold a 239-161 edge after all the recounts have been concluded.  Democrats won two of the three tie-vote recounts, and the Independent elected in the Concord-Hopkinton area has decided to caucus with Democrats.  However, I personally know of two Democrats (no name please) elected in Manchester who, like Tim O’Flaherty and Michael Garcia this past year, are really true Libertarians and can be expected to vote with Republicans 8-90 percent of the time.  

                Be prepared  to hear all kinds of crazy conspiracy theories in the next two weeks how anti-O’Brien Republicans will unite with Democrats to deny O’Brien the Speakership.

                In fact, one theory has already surfaced that Laurie Sanborn, R-Bedford, didn’t really drop out of the race due to her husband’s illness, but so that she could surface again as a candidate come December 3; apparently Republican candidates for Speaker had agreed that they would not continue to run if they lost in their party’s caucus.

                Anything, of course, is possible, but most likely O’Brien’s win today means that he will in fact be the next Speaker, so we can return to the question of what made the difference.

                Here are five quick theories, all of which are valid.

                Theory 1--Word is out that Salem Representative Bob Elliot, of gambling-happy Salem, switched his vote from Chandler after O’Brien assured him he would support gambling.  In fact, when O’Brien was Speaker two terms ago, his Ways and Means Committee passed a gambling bill with a favorable recommendation to the House floor where the usual alliance of anti-gambling Republicans (like Chandler) teamed up with Democrats to defeat it.

                Theory 2—An Republican Rep inside the caucus told me what I’ve suspected all along, that Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, cost Chandler a handful of votes, certainly enough to cost him the election.  Many Republican rank and file are still angry with Jasper over his speech on the House floor attacking O’Brien and other Republicans on the gas tax increase last year.  I tried to tell Chandler that he needed to jettison both Jasper and David Hess, R-Hooksett, from his leadership team, but he refused to listen, and now there’s ample evidence that it cost him the election.  Having been defeated in the election, I didn’t have a vote today and was nowhere near the State House when Republican caucused (I was actually listening to the debate on the XL pipeline—I’m no fan of either Bernie Sanders or Barbara Boxer for sure), but I was on record as opposed to Chandler simply because of the “folks” he surrounds himself with. 

                Theory 3-There’s another reason I would have voted for O’Brien, a fact which might shock some in the main stream media considering our past history.  However, keep in mind that I have always placed issues ahead of personalities, and I tend to be much more in synch with O’Brien that Chandler on issues which matter most to me.  Yes, indeed the Concord Monitor was wrong once again (the Monitor is wrong more than it’s right, these days) yesterday when it ran the headline, “The choice for Republicans boils down to leadership styles.”  That’s totally wrong. For me (and I suspect many other rank and file Republicans), it was never about style, but about fidelity to Republican principles.  O’Brien’s ranking with the House Republican Alliance, was about 20 points higher than Chandler, Hess, and Jasper, and the HRA bases its scores on scoring on issues in the Constitution and the party platform.  No one could argue that O’Brien is “more Republican” than Chandler.

                Theory 4—When I saw last week that in a scenario which could well be termed “The Empire Strikes Back”, the good old boy Republican establishment was rallying to Chandler’s defense, my initial reaction was that this will not help Chandler; in fact, it’ll hurt him.  Kelly Ayotte, Steve Merrill, the Sununus, former Speakers Donna Sytek and Doug Scamman created more backlash than support by their ill-timed last minute letter.  Any Rep on the fence most likely resented being told how to vote by party “big wigs”.  The only person who might have been affected positively and I stress the word might was Rep. John Sytek, R-Salem, husband of Speaker Sytek.  But then, he was for Chandler anyway.

                Theory 5—And here I’m revealing a story I chose not to make public in this blog in advance.  As I’ve said before, I really did nothing to get elected this time because I had lost interest in most issues except one, decriminalization and ultimately legalization of marijuana, the number one issue when it comes to freedom of our time, not only for me but for at least a dozen Republicans, both old and new.

                Quite by coincidence last week, on the same day Laurie Sanborn dropped out of the race for Speaker, I received a pro decriminalization letter from a 16-year old Portsmouth student.  With that in mind, I reviewed decriminalization votes going back to 2010, and while the Concord Monitor, so fond of demonization O’Brien, will never tell you this, Bill O’Brien has been much more “progressive” on this issue than the likes of Chandler, Hess and the especially rabid Reefer Madness plagued Jasper.

                When he was Speaker and Republicans held a 298-102 advantage in the House, O’Brien could have killed a decriminalization bill by creating a tie, but he chose not to (the Senate ultimately killed the bill).

                While not in favor of full scale legalization, O’Brien has always supported decriminalization, a fact I pointed out to many Reps who, like me, I know care deeply about the issue.  In fact, I wrote a response to the 16 year old student (if you don’t believe me, I’ll reproduce it here) telling him that anyone who supports bringing sanity to our marijuana laws (my words here, not in that letter) should support O’Brien for Speaker.

                I suspect most of my contacs did, and in a four vote margin, that as much as anything was the difference.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

                But wait, just as I was about to post this, a Republican Rep, a pro Chandler Rep, popped in to say that “it’s not over yet” (as if to say he wouldn’t vote for O’Brien in two weeks).  I told him that if in fact 45 or so Chandler types decide to go against the party and oppose O’Brien on December 3, it would lead to utter chaos, he seemed to agree.

                I repeat, the four vote victory for O’Brien today should guarantee him the Speakership; even if he loses some Republican support, he would certainly pick up a handful of Democrats (decriminalization Democrats one would hope), but I doubt it will get that far. 

                You might hear a lot about a groundswell to stop O’Brien in the days before and after Thanksgiving, but my guess is it will be much ado about nothing.