Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Speaker Jasper Shortchanges Republicans On Finance

Either New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, is mathematically challenged or we are seeing the first sign of payback to House Democrats for supporting him in the bizarre win in early December.

With 26 members on the Finance Committee, simple arithmetic (based on members of the House in each party) would dictate a split of 16 Republicans and 10 Democrats, yet Jasper has given Republicans only 15 seats on the committee and Democrats 11.

Admittedly it's a close call and some rounding will be involved, but follow along with me.

Republicans captured 239 seats in the House.  239 is 59.75% of the 400 seats (239 divided by 400).

59.75 percent of 26 Finance Committee seats is 15.535.  That would be rounded up to 16 unless Jasper had cut some kind of underhanded deal with Democrats.

Look at it the other way.  Democrats captured 160 seats.  That's exactly 40 percent of 400 seats.

26 times 40 percent is 10.4 seats; anyone not trying to pay back some type of deal would round that down to 10, not up to 11.

Even if you Democrats the benefit of the doubt and credit them with the lone undeclared member for a total of 141 seats, the percentage is only 40.25.  40.25 times 26 is 10.4572 which again should be rounded down to 10, not up go 11.

This fact should be all the more horrifying for Republicans since Finance Committee members are supposed to be able to deal with numbers, and these are the simplest of arithmetic calculations.

How someone like Chairman Neal Kurk or Vice Chairman Lynn Ober did not pick up this mathematical error is beyond me.

Even more alarming is the alternative theory, that they were smart enough to pick up Jasper's mathematical error and he simply pooh-poohed their concerns.

I can't believe I'm the only one who has caught this error and shudder to think how many more errors, either intentional or unintentional, to which the new Speaker will subject Republicans and the people of New Hampshire..

It appears the 11th Democratic seat (to the extent one can judge such things) has gone to former Finance Committee Chair and Marjorie Smith, D-Durham.  I feel compelled to point out that I both like and respect Rep. Smith a great deal.  Way back in 1999, she and I sat next to each other on the Finance Committee. That fact, however, does not negate the fact that the laws of math--or make that simple arithmetic--were violated in Jasper's creation of this committee.

A difference of 16-10 versus 15-11 could in fact mean a great deal since committee recommendations always carry a great deal of weight on the House floor.  The fact that the error occurs in the House's most important committee seems a tragedy which could lead to far more liberal measures being passed.  Although I like and respect her a great deal, Rep. Smith is certainly far more liberal than a 16th Republican on the committee would be.

Just in case you don't trust me, here's proof of the 15-11 split.


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    Outdoor Smoking Banned; Forced Sick Time For Vermont?

    From Vergennes, Vermont

    I'm still reporting for the Socialist State of Vermont, solid Republican when I was growing up here in the sixties, solid Socialist now.  At the risk of giving New Hampshire legislators any silly ideas, here are two more examples of how Vermont has been taken over by left wing loonies.  

    Banning indoor smoking is not enough for the City Council of Burlington.  By an 11-3 vote, they decided to ban smoking even outdoors on Church Street, probably the most famous street in the state.  The ban passed in November and has already taken effect with a $50 fine for first offenders; $100 for second offenders; and life in prison for the third offenders (whoops! I made that last penalty up; the devil made me do it).

    When my brother told me about this bit of nanny state intrusion into lives of citizens, I was so incredulous that I googled it for proof.  Sure enough, signs have already gone up on the street and ash cans have been removed, and get this--while e-cigarettes (those vapor thingies) are still allowed indoors, they are part of the outside ban.

    Only in Vermont.

    Oh yes, my cousin Kurt Wright was one of the three votes against the ban, calling the move "more a solution looking for a problem."  Good for Kurt!   He has run for mayor twice and just barely lost both times, based on the weird automatic runoff in place in Burlington.  If no one gets 50 percent, they don't have a new election, they simply count second choices (and third choices) which people are persuaded to mark on their original ballots.

    Only in Vermont.

     A ban in parks may be next (story below).

    Channel 3 Burlington is reporting tonight that the Legislature will try again this year to force every business in the state to provide sick leave for all employees.  The bill failed last year with the explanation that the Legislature was focusing (successfully) on raising the minimum wage.  The Socialist Senators think they have the votes to pass this new intrusion this year; they cringe that 20 percent of Vermonters don't receive sick leave.  At least Channel 3 provided equal time for businesses fighting this new infringement on our capitalist system.

    Only in Vermont.

    Next Thursday, the Vermont Legislature will elect the next governor.  Forces for Republican Scott Milne, who finished one percent behind Peter Shumlin, are running dozens, if not hundreds, of commercials on Channel 3.  I suspect they'll backfire and Shumlin will win again.  The Legislature was forced to choose him in 2010 as well; that's what happens when more than a half dozen fringe candidates are on the ballot; no one reaches 50 percent.

    Only in Vermont.

    Church Street smoking ban gets final approval

    April Burbank, Free Press Staff Writer11:12 p.m. EST November 10, 2014
    -BUR 0623 smoking church C2.jpg_20140623.jpg
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    Burlington's Church Street Marketplace will prohibit smoking, following a vote from the Burlington City Council on Monday and support from Mayor Miro Weinberger.

    Councilors expressed concern about the health effects of secondhand smoke, though a few wondered whether the new ordinance would be too restrictive. The ban passed by an 11-3 vote.

    The measure prohibits the use of lighted tobacco products, as well as "tobacco substitutes" like electronic cigarettes, at all times on the Church Street pedestrian walkway between Main Street and Pearl Street. A first violation carries a $50 fine; subsequent offenses after a warning will be fined $100.

    It was unclear what date the new smoking ban will take effect. City Attorney Eileen Blackwood said Monday night that she was looking into the question.

    Prior to the vote, councilors heard a public forum dominated by supporters of the proposed smoking ban.

    Joe Harig said he likes to visit Speeder and Earl's Coffee on Church Street with his wife every Sunday.

    "We can't sit for a 10-minute span without gagging on someone else's secondhand smoke," Harig said. "I start to get a headache, I start to get a sore throat, I start to get a tad bit irritable."

    "In my opinion, a vote against this ordinance is a vote for Big Tobacco," said Eli Lesser-Goldsmith, a member of the Church Street Marketplace Commission, which unanimously supported the Church Street smoking ban.

    City Councilor Jane Knodell, P-Ward 2, was one of three councilors who opposed the measure, with Kurt Wright, R-Ward 4, and Max Tracy, P-Ward 2.

    "It does send a message that smokers are not welcome on the Church Street Marketplace," Knodell said. "I think it will reduce the diversity of people who feel like the Church Street Marketplace is a place for them, too."

    Wright called the smoking ban "more a solution looking for a problem."

    City Council President Joan Shannon, D-Ward 5, spoke personally about secondhand smoke on Church Street.

    As someone with asthma, Shannon said smoke makes it difficult for her to sit outside at a Church Street cafe. Banning smoking would target behavior, not people, she said.

    "I want to be able to enjoy the marketplace," Shannon said.

    Also during public forum, several people spoke in favor of banning smoking in city parks — a separate resolution considered by the City Council for the first time on Monday.

    "One's right to clean air supersedes anyone's right to smoke in a public park," said John Bossange, a member of the Burlington Parks and Recreation Commission


    Sabato--Republicans Have "Clear Edge" To Keep Senate

    The Crystal Ball, web site of University of Virginia political guru Larry Sabato, my favorite of all gurus, is just out with lengthy new analysis basically confirming what I wrote here a week ago, that Republicans are favored to maintain control of the United States Senate in 2016 despite having to defend 24 seats as opposed to only 10 for Democrats.

    Sabato (his staffer Kyle Kondik actually) has no seats likely to change control, but his analyst agrees with me that three Republican-controlled states, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, start out as toss-ups.

    The Crystal Ball has Nevada as leans Democratic but notes that it would quickly flip to leans Republican if popular Governor Brian Sandoval decides to challenge Harry Reid.  Democrat Michael Bennet is also slightly favored in Colorado, and I would agree with that.

    However, I disagree with The Crystal Ball in thinking that Kelly Ayotte is in any kind of trouble here in the state I know best, New Hampshire.  Kondik's analysis doesn't seem to take into account victory margins in 2010 at all; Ayotte won by 23 points against a popular sitting Congressman (Paul Hodes), and unlike in bigger states, a Congressman represents half of the entire state here in small New Hampshire..]

    Kondik also appears to underrate Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman; he seems like a sure thing for re-election in my book.  I would also rate North Carolina and Florida as somewhat safer for Republicans (although that sentiment tends to come across in Kondik's separate detailed comments).

    Kondik also colors Washington a darker shade of blue than I would considering how close Senator Patty Murray came to losing in 2010.

    The Crystal Ball, a highly respected service widely read by insiders, should help put to rest the rumors that wishful thinking Democrats are spreading that they have a good shot at retaking the Senate in 2016.  Kondik summarizes Democratic chances (see below) at "significantly less than 50-50."   He also uses the words "clear edge" for Republicans to keep control.  

    Another way of saying that, at least as I parse words, is that Democratic chances are not all that good, certainly less percentage-wise than Republican chances were throughout all of 2014.  Keep in mind that it took a wave election for Republicans to turn those numbers around, and on one (at least not yet) is looking at a Democratic wave come 2016 (run, Liz, run!).

    The best news for Republicans is that most, if not all, incumbents seem intent on running for re-election.

    I would stand by my initial prediction of a gain of two seats for Democrats leaving Republicans with a 52-48 advantage in the U.S. Senate come 2017.

    With the exception of a decision from Sandoval in 2015, we may well have to wait at least a year until we know much more about these races, so political junkies, having devoted this, should get something of a reprieve.

    Here's the Crystal Ball map followed by a few pertinent paragraphs summing up the situation.

    The entire article is much lengthier and goes into individual races in much greater detail.


    Conclusion By Kyle Kondik (The Crystal Ball)

    "Republicans really helped themselves by running up the score last month in the Senate.

    The importance of netting nine seats in 2014 as opposed to, say, seven or eight, is clear when one looks at the 2016 contests. If the Republicans were at only a 52-48 edge — a net gain of seven — then Democrats could get to a 51-49 majority in 2016 just by holding all of their own seats and winning the three Toss-ups, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The chances of that combination happening wouldn’t be 50-50, but they would be fairly close to even, and control of the Senate would be very much up in the air to start.

    But because the Democrats need to net four or five seats to take control, depending on the party of the next vice president, the Democrats’ opening odds to win the majority are significantly less than 50-50. In order to capture the Senate, Democrats will have to put some currently leaning or likely Republican seats in play, along with winning their own seats and the three GOP-held Toss-ups. That’s certainly possible, but the GOP starts with a clear edge as the cycle begins. However, our opening assessment is that Democrats are well-positioned to end the cycle with more seats than they will hold starting in January (46, including the two independents who caucus with the Democrats).

    Of course, history — very recent history — raises questions about even that modest opening evaluation.


    This Week's Trivia--"No Matter How Bad It Is"



    This week's trivia question is from the new book "Clinton Inc--The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machines" by Daniel Harper. Truth be told, it's one of those quick tawdry books that you can read in a day and might--just might--feel guilty for having read it.  For example, Halper spends quite a bit of space being critical of Chelsea Clinton.

    However, there's one quote too delicious to pass up.  Hey, someone has to wade through this trash to come up with this juicy material for you.

    In expressing doubt that BIll Clinton could forget having sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky, who said (page 110 of the book)?

    "A man might forget where he parks his car or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is."

    Now I have to come up with some intriguing multiple choice options,

    How about?

    James Carville

    Joan Rivers

    Rush Limbaugh

    Barbara Bush 

    Craig Ferguson

    Bill Maher...or

    Jimmie Kimmel

    By way of an answer, let me just say that I had considered making all of the options Bushes.  Most likely, then you would have picked out Barbara.  According to the book, even as Geroge H.W. Bush became charmed by Clinton, Barbara was less impressed.  

    Here's a typically gossipy passage from the book.

    "I was surprised by the fact that I liked him, truthfully," Barbara Bush added.  "And I do like him a lot."

    Privately, others have heard a different view.  "I expect she didn't fall for him for one second," a Bush family observer says.  According to sources, a former Clinton aide and a person with high-level connections to the Bush family, Barbara Bush not only dislikes Bill Clinton, she despises him.  "What's Clinton call Barbara Bush?" a source asks.  "His second mother?  It's so crazy.  The funny thing is she hates him."


    I'm not recommending the book, but how could one not appreciate the quote?.


    15 For 2015--15 Predictions For The New Year


    Normally I limit predictions to the political front, but since there's no election in 2015, I thought I'd delve into some finance, justice, sports and cultural predictions as well.  Just call me an unencumbered Renaissance man.   I have some extra time hanging out New Years Eve at my brother's house in Vermont, so I've included more than the usual share of graphics. 

    1.  No, No, No, No In New Hampshire--The the extent that the same old stuff surfaces again in Concord, expect the New Hampshire Legislature to once again say no.  No to expanded gambling once again.  No to right to work.  No to the death penalty repeal (if it even gets filed), and thankfully, with Republicans in control of both House (14-10 in the Senate and 239-160-1 in the House) no to new layers of nanny state government such as cell phone restrictions while driving, parental notification for tanning, or a tax on paints, all of which were pushed by Democrats last year.  Sadly, it'll probably also be no to the attempt the just plain silly ban of ballot selfies passed last year.

    2.  Police Cams Everywhere--Based on the incident in Ferguson, Missouri and other horror stories involving police, expect police helmet cams to pass across the land this year.  Republican Kyle Tasker has filed such a bill in New Hampshire.  It should pass easily, the only question being about the cost of these modern devises.  I look at it this way--the cameras will actual prove that good cops are doing a good job, so only bad cops should fear them.

    3.  Decriminalization Yes, Legalization No--Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I have to believe that while not yet ready to pass full legalization of marijuana, the New Hampshire House and Senate will pass (and Governor Maggie Hassan will find a way to sign) some modified version of a decriminalization bill. It's ridiculous to think this libertarian-minded state, this live free or die state, would remain the only state in the Northeast to treat this harmless drug more harshly than we treat truly dangerous drugs.  Of course, full fledged legalization, regulation, and taxation is the only real long-term solution.  That's the only way to get drugs out of the hands of street pushers and for the state to realize a share of the profits.

    4.  Jody Arias Lives--Arizona is currently doing its best to put Jody Arias to death. After being found guilty in an especially brutal slaying of her boyfriend Travis Alexander last year, the jury was hung on the death penalty.  The prosecution gets only this second try, and it will fail again thus meaning that Jody will live out her life in prison.

    5.  Aaron Hernandez Guilty--A Massachusetts jury will find former Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez guilty on at least one count of first degree murder.  Since the Bay State doesn't have the death penalty, the tattooed "superstar" will simply spend the rest of his days in prison.

    6.  Guilt But No Death For Dzhokhar--If the trial ever gets under way, Boston Marathon bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev will be found guilty and although the jury might well want to put him to death, problems will arise in coming years.  While a federal death penalty exists, a very real question exists as to whether someone can be given the death penalty for an act committed in a non-death penalty state.  The very prospect of the challenge being out there will Tsarnaev alive for a very long time.


    Is this the face of a man you'd like to spend an hour with every night?  Me neither.  It's the face of James Corden, Craig Ferguson's replacement for the Late, Late Show on CBS.

    7.  Late Night Failure For CBS--Neither James Corden,replacing Craig Ferguson in March for the Late Late Show, nor Steven Colbert, replacing David Letterman for the Late Show come fall, will prove to be a ratings success.   Undoubtedly they'll both be around at this time next year, but don't expect them to make it through 2016, especially  .  Of course, I readily admit-- I'm rooting for a return of Craig Ferguson!

    8.  A Foxy Oscar--Movies on the big screen don't interest me all that much; the last one I saw was Lincoln, but I plan to see the Fox I'll predict that either Steve Carrell wins best Oscar for his portrayal of millionaire John duPont who recruited the wrestling Shultz brothers to train Olympic athletes...or even that the movie wins best picture.

    9.  Down Goes Obamacare--In his second chance on striking down Obamacare, Chief Justice John Roberts will not fail.  He will join Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy in deciding the case currently wending its way through the court that Obamacare as we know it will for all intents and purposes be dead. 

    10.  Supremes Uphold Gay Marriage--Now that two lower courts have come forth with opposing ruling on gay marriage, the Supreme Court will be forced to take a case in the spring.  Expect the decision in favor of gay marriage to be more than 5-4 (with Kennedy once again writing the majority opinion).  I get the feeling Chief Justice Roberts would like to be on the right side of history on this one; and after he flips on the Obamacare case, this will come as a bone thrown to more progressive types.  Hey, is that really the way the court operates?

    11.  Gas At $1.50--Now that gas prices have fallen below $2 a gallon in much of the county (it's about $2.25 on average as I write this on New Years Eve...albeit closer to $2.90 in Burlington, Vermont!), why stop there?  Expect the price to be below $1.50 in most of the country by summertime (except probably not in Burlington).

    12.  A Strong U.S. Dollar--It's not really that the United States economy is doing all that well, but we're certainly heading in the right direction and stronger than much of the rest of the world, so expect the U.S. dollar to continue to move forward throughout 2015.  I was looking for $1.20 Canadian ($1 U.S. gets you $1.20 Canadian) and 1.20 for the Euro ($1.20 U.S. gets you a Euro), but with the dollar already up to $1.16 Canadian and the Euro down to 1.23, let's look for $2.25 Canadian and 1.15 for the Euro some time in 2015.

    13.  Markets Up--Stock markets dipped late in the day January 31 to close at 17,823 for the Dow, 4736 for the Nasdaq, and 2058 for the S. and P.  Look for Dow 20,000 in 2015--that's only a 12.2 percent gain; Nasdaq 5500, a 16.1 percent gain; and an even better move from the S. and P., up more than 20 percent to close approach the 2500 level.

    14.  Clinton/Bush Redux--Sad to say but by this time next year, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush will be poised to win our first in the nation primary even if they both should stumble in Iowa.  Don't expect either Mitt Romney nor Elizabeth Warren to enter the fray in 2015.  I fully intend to support Rand Paul, but my record of being with winners is not exactly stellar.

    15.  Undefeated Wildcats--Normally I stay far away from sports predictions.  After all, even Nate Silver (who picked Brazil to win the 2014 World Cup) learned that sports calls are much tougher than political ones, but as an out on a limb prediction, I'm going to go with John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats to not only win the NCAA basketball championship but to go undefeated in the process.  The question of a perfect season was being posed prior to the Kentucky/UCLA game a few weeks ago; I thought no, but then after watching the first half in which the Wildcats grabbed a 44-7 lead (they then went on to beat Louisville by eight), call me a believer in Team Calipari (I've never been a fan of Rick Patino or Louisville).