Rep Steve Vaillancourt


This Week's Trivia--The Vuvuzelas And Andres Escobar







Before we leave the World Cup behind...before we forget the Uruguayan bite...the broken back...the boring Netherlanders...the German rampage against Brazil...the record saves by American goalie Tim Howard...the majesty of the French passing game...the grace and power of James (pronounced Ha-Mez) Rodriguez...the underdog Costa Ricans...Messi's magnificent failure (will he ever equal Maradona?)....

Before we leave all that...or perhaps because of all that, I offer two questions this week from a great new book by George Vecsey, a New York Times Sports columnist for 30 years.  It's entitled, "Eight World Cups--My Journey through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer".  

One need not be a football (soccer) lover (I admit I am) to appreciate this book.  One need only love great writing.

Vecsey takes us on a personal tour of the eight World Cups he covered, beginning in 1982 when the Italians, his admitted first love, defeated the West Germans 3-1.

Along the way, we not only learn a great deal, the good and the bad, about soccer and why any American could very easily fall in love with the sport, but we also get to explore the culture and unique character of the eight host countries.

I could come up with a hundred questions, but let's settle for two.

I was going to ask what a vuvuzela is, but that would perhaps be too esoteric, so allow me to explain that it's a horn (as pictured above) and ask you in which World Cup it (they) were constantly heard.  Would that be?

Brazil in 2014;

South Africa in 2010;

South Korea/Japan in 2002;

France in 1994;

Italy in 1990;

Mexico in 1986; or

Spain in 1982.

While that's rather whimsical, producing far too much noise for author Vecsey as he journeyed to South Africa in 2010, here's a more serious question.

What happened to the Colombian defender (pictured above) Andres Esobar, two weeks after he scored an own goal (a goal against his own team) providing the United States with a 2-1 victory over Colombia in the 1994 World Cup hosted by the U.S.?


He committed suicide, hanging himself in a hotel room in Bogota;

He was actually honored with a parade since he scored a hat trick leading Colombia to victory in the World Cup finale;

He was driven from his home country, never to return;

He was murdered, perhaps by a drug cartel, in Medellin; or

His wife divorced him.

For the answer, listen to Vecsey from page 106 of this great book.

"Colombia had been the overwhelming favorite in this match; now it was out of contention because of the loss. But something worse would happen.  Two weeks later, on July 2, Escobar was shot dead outside a nightclub back home in Medellin. There were rumors that major drug dealers had bet heavily on the national team and were angry at their losses.  A driver for one syndicate was convicted and sentenced to 43 years in prison but was released after 11.  To this day, fans carry photos of Andres Escobar to matches of his former team."

The dark side of football (soccer) indeed!

Back to history next week.


Windham Police Displays Fascist Tendencies

Before you read my comments, born out of a genuine and deeply held sense of outrage, check out this report from Channel 9 tonight. 

  • Campaign volunteer says officer told her she had to registerarticle 2hr

  • Apparently, one Windham police officer needs to take a course in basic civics.  The Legislature enacts laws; the executive branch (that would include police) is empowered only to enforce laws passed by the legislative branch.

    Police are not entitled to dream up laws which they might wish to enforce and then go about harassing people with their view of what laws should be.

    When police enter that realm, we leave democracy behind and enter the state of fascism.

    In fact, police making up their own laws is the hallmark of my definition of the fasicst state.

    That's why I'm more outraged than usual that a Windham police officer would approach a Marilinda Garcia for Congress volunteer and tell her that she needs a police permit before she may go door to door distributing campaign literature.

    Of course, no such law exists, not in Amherst and nowhere else in this great state.

    The Legislature passes laws, and I can't imagine any Legislature, so dedicated to the principles of free speech and free association, ever passing a law demanding that campaign workers register with police.

    The entire idea reeks of fascism.

    Not only does the Windham Police Department owe an apology to the Garcia campaign worker, but the officer who chose to make up such a law and attempt to enforce it needs to be severely reprimanded.  

    Fired?  No.

    Suspended?  No, probably not.

    A more fitting punishment would be to require the officer to complete a basic course in American government.

    Way back in ninth grade, when I took civics, I learned that police simply cannot make up laws as they go along.

    Any policeman worth his or her salt should know the laws before he or she attempts to enforce them.

    Were I the Garcia campaign worker, I fear I would not have reacted as calmly as she did to the fascist police officer trying to tell her to register with police.  I would proably have expressed so much outrage, I would probably be writing this from behind bars (do they have wifi in county jails?).  

    I would have reacted with two words, actually with either of two sets of two words.

    One begins with an F and ends with a "you".

    The other two words are German and I would probably get in as much trouble uttering them to the fascist police officer as I did when I uttered the on the House floor two years ago.

    I was demonized for opposing totalitarianism then, but I stand by what I said.

    We must fight fascism wherever we find it, and clearly we've found it in Windham.

    If we fail to fight it, then the fascists can indeed, "Hail victory" (translate it yourself) for having quashed our democratic principles.

    Nothing I write here should be taken as an endorsement for Garcia; it's not even my congressional district, and I remain strictly neutral in that race.  I simply feel the need to oppose fascism whenever it rears its ugly head.


    New York Times Goes All In For Legalization

    Repeal Prohibition, Again

    It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

    The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

    We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.

    There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.

    We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.

    But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.

    The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

    There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide.

    There are legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains. For that reason, we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.

    Creating systems for regulating manufacture, sale and marketing will be complex. But those problems are solvable, and would have long been dealt with had we as a nation not clung to the decision to make marijuana production and use a federal crime.

    In coming days, we will publish articles by members of the Editorial Board and supplementary material that will examine these questions. We invite readers to offer their ideas, and we will report back on their responses, pro and con.

    We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.


    Democrats Demagogue DeMoulas Decision

    From the tenor of at least one angy email (see below), it's obvious that at least one person believes New Hampshire State Reps should weigh into the Demoulas family feud.  I restate what I wrote last week that while I personally support Arthus T, I do not believe it's proper for elected officials to weigh in on this.

    Frankly, I was ashamed when I saw Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, acting like a typical demagogue at a rally covered by Channel 9 over the weekend.  

    I need eggs; I need milk; I need bread; and frankly, I'm running out of canned goods, but I refuse to shop at Demoulas while this is going on; that's my personal choice.  (I guess ultimately a trip to Hannafords is in my future; I'll have to break down and pay more for milk...and other things).

    However, I refuse to place the impramateur of a State Rep behind my personal decisions.

    What does it say that most of the Reps who have signed this petititon are Democrats?  I guess I'm not surprised considering how Democrats tend to prefer expanded government reaching into all our lives whenever possible.  

    Each of us could write a 1000 word essay on that, but I'll pass and simply say again--this is not something that should concern legislators.

    Here's the email (sic) sent to all reps.

    I've read in the paper, and seen online, that a number of legislators have signed a letter supporting the employees of Market Basket going on strike to get their old CEO back.
    This is excellent. As a Republican, I'm glad to see this. It shows that not all “bosses” are bad people, some are even beloved by their workers (even if this one inherited his company rather than building it himself).

    So .. imagine my complete shock and dismay when I noticed that ALMOST ALL the legislators signing in support of the employees are all Democrats …. I was in disbelief …. so I went to facebook and saw that a few of my Republicans said they didn't want to sign on because “government shouldnt get involved with private business” or other similarly worded statements.

    The hypocrisy of this is way over the top! You are legislators! IT'S YOUR JOB TO “GET INVOLVED” ! !


    Of course, I shouldn't be as surprised as I am. For people who claim to be "constitutionalists" NOT ONE OF YOU upheld your CONSTITUTIONAL OBLIGATIONS under Article 83 this last term, and probably won't next term. 

    I've been saying it for years, and this is just more proof positive – Republican politicians give us Republican voters a bad name. Reagan would be ashamed of you people.

    Nikki in Pelham


    Should State Reps Weigh In On Demoulas Family Feud?

    From the very way I phrase the headline question, you can probably guess that my answer is no.

    Since I returned from three weeks away (most of the time I was in Vermont with my brother, but I managed some time in Montreal), New Hampshire State Representative email has been ablaze with various Reps insisting their names be added to support for Arthur T in this family spat over which Arthur is going to reign supreme at Demoulas Market Basket.

    Make no mistake, I'm a big fan of Market Basket.  You may recall that I wrote about how its prices were better more than a year ago, long before Demoulas landed in downtown Manchester and Bedford.  I used to shop at the one on Storrs Street in Concord and also the bigger one across the river.

    As the most fiscally conservative Rep in the state (except perhaps for Dan McGuire), I can appreciate a good bargain not only with government money but with my own.

    Market Basket has by far the best prices on a regular basis, especially on produce, deli items, bakery items, and especially milk (I keep thinking they'll have to raise the price on milk, but they never seem to).  It's no coincidence that Shaws and Stop and Save both went out of business a few months after the mega-Demoulas opened on Elm Street in Manchester last year.

    As a champion of free enterprise capitalism, I could see it coming.  After all, I'm not the only person interested in saving money on a regular basis.

    I only shop at Shaws if I happen to be in Concord on a Friday; that's when they run gimmicky sales.  Shaws is the only game in town in Vergennes, Vermont, where my brother lives, and he only shops there when absolutely necessary.  There are no Demoulas over there, but my brother often shops travels to Ticonderoga, New York to shop at WalMart.

    Shaws is a rip-off, and they got what they deserved.

    To the extent that Demoulas excellent price structure is the result of efforts or Arthur T, I certainly support him.

    However, as a State Representative, I don't believe I should be weighing in on this family feud.

    That's not our role and could prove harmful.

    We can always do things as individuals without providing the imprimateur of government behind our actions, so I would urge my fellow reps to hold your fire.

    While I was in Vermont, by the way, I followed the conflict on; it's readily available for free unlike the Union Leader, Concord Monitor, and Nashua Telegraph which now insist on charging for their on line news.  

    Rest assured, if I shop at Arthur T's Demoulas because of the low prices (and I do), I'm not about to pay media for their web sites. Politico also now insists on charging, but only if you log on in Canada (what's that all about?).

    Three cheers for Channel 9 for not charging us to get on-line least not yet.

    As for the DeMoulas battle, I really think we should know more details than I've been able to glean so far before jumping into the fray.

    Having said that, I do get the feeling that if Arthur T is ousted, prices will soar like those at Shaws.  I say that, mind you, as an individual and a blogger, NOT as an elected State Rep.

    In case this is all Greek to you, here are a few links (all free).


    About 14,600 results (0.37 seconds)