Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Friday
Aug102012

Teleprompter, Everyone? No Thanks

 
Apparently Barack Obama is not the only politician who feels the need for a Teleprompter when he wants to convey a cogent thought to the electorate.
For years now, Manchester public access TV has been scheduling three minute speeches for candidates running for office.
In fact, it was my idea more than a decade ago, since I believe candidates should communicate their positions on issues to voters rather than rely on a maze of signs.
I sold the idea to station management; the tradition has been carried on, and whenever I run, I sign up for the three minute message.   (Only about half the candidates even both to do the three minutes spiel).
For the first time, when I arrived at the station yesterday I was asked if I had what I wanted to say written out.
No, I usually ad lib, I explained.
You know, I was told, we are offering teleprompter service this year, and most candidates are taking advantage of it.
Really, I thought. 
Yes, 80 percent have been reading from Teleprompters, I was told.
Really, I thought again.
There must be some art to using a Teleprompter.  It can't be the kind of thing one just excels at at first whack, but the station manager told me candidates were doing well reading.
No thanks, I said; I'll ad lib for three minutes, as always.
I did. 
I always find the ad libbing a better way to communcicate than reading.   In fact, there's a real art to deliver a written speech without making it sound like one is reading.
Back when I first began in elected office, I used to write speeches and read them. 
Now, I simply jot down notes of what I want to say and trust that I'll be able to find the right words to get a thought across.
No thanks, Mr. Teleprompter.
I just finished reading the biography Cronkite (not a short or easy read but a most rewarding book).  What set Cronkite apart from today's talking heads was the ability to ad lib.  Sure, he read a script most nights, but he could also communicate off the top of his head.  Not surprisingly, he was once a sportscaster (University of Oklahoma football) as was I.  It's a great training ground for ad libbing.
Bob Costas, as I've noted in another blog, was once a great ad lib sportscaster.  He's been reducing to reading from a Teleprompter these days, and I assume he's better at it than the candidates appearing on Manchester TV.
The three minutes spots will start airing shortly on Channel 22 (not to be confused with Channel 23, the public access station where The Liberty Express, another mostly ad lib effort, airs Monday at 10 p.m., Thursday at 9 p.m., Sunday at 6 a.m. and noon, always available at vimeo.com/channels/libertyx).
Having moved to the dish years ago, of course, I get neither channel.  It's true: I can't watch my own show without going to vimeo.
Friday
Aug102012

Whore House Harry And Other Embarassments

Having been in the great Northland last weekend, I got to hear Jerry Doyle, one of my favorite talk shows hosts (overnight on
WVMT, Burlington), go off on Whore House Harry Reid, the despicable Nevada senator who embarrasses himself, his party, and the entire Senate with his "dirty lies" about Mitt Romney on the Senate floor.
Whore House Harry is Doyle's epithet for Reid, based on the senator's childhood in a Nevada whore house (not that there's anything wrong with that), and a more fitting nickname would be impossible to come by.
I've been reading about the great Senate triumverate of Webster, Clay, and Calhoun, and just to think, this very Senate floor where Webster uttered those resounding words "liberty and union, now and forever" is the same place where Whore House Harry made up a story out of whole cloth that Mitt Romney hasn't paid any taxes in ten years.
In the New Hampshire House, such a comment would not be allowed (Paul Mirski came close to breaching the level of decorum by ranting against the Supreme Court).  It would be ruled not only inappropriate but irrelevant, but here we had the Senate Majority Leader not in some bar or in some back alley, but on the very floor of the Senate spread vicious slurs.
Even if it were true (and it clearly is not), how would this anonymous source have been able to tell Whore House that Romney had not paid any taxes.  Doesn't Whore House Harry realize that one's tax returns are private items between one and the IRS? 
Maybe Whore House Harry should release his own tax returns to show the world how he's become a multimillionaire many times over on a senator's salary.  Some say influence peddling has been involved, but none say that on the Senate floor.
Almost as silly as Whore House Harry has been the response from certain overzealous Republican spinmeisters who embarrass themselves and their party (albeit not on the Senate floor, usually in radio studios) by insisting that President Obama needs to release his college grades or that he needs to explain how he ever got a "Connecticut" social security number without living in Connecticut.
Has the political world gone mad?
I seem to remember a time when stupid comments from the likes of Whore House Harry or his Republican counterparts would not dominate the news?
Unemployment?
A $16 trillion deficit leading to the downfall of this country?
Who cares when we have the wild ravings of a United States senator and Republicans obsessed with college grades and SS cards.
Make it stop; make it stop.
 

 

Friday
Aug102012

Holy Myopia Batman, What's Happened To Costas?

Don't get me wrong.  I was a big fan of Bob Costas back in the days when he actually worked for a living, back when he did baseball play by play with the great Tony Kubek as his color man, back when he actually had to ad lib rather than read from a teleprompter, back when he was covering live events rather than shilling for pre-recorded pablum, back when he interviewed important people rather than bantering with sports wannabes like Ryan Seacrest, back when his back account was tens of millions of dollars less stuffed.

Costas is the perfect example of how once mighty NBC has fallen when it comes to Olympic coverage.  We get a minute highlights of the fantastic U.S. women's soccer victory over Japan, and then Costas turns to Ryan Seacrest for a five minute segment on social media surrounding the games; at least I'm guessing it was five minutes.  In all honesty, I turned the channel the moment Seacrest came on, just as I did the previous night when Costas intruded on the late night coverage b y silly bantering with Jimmy Fallon.
Hey NBC, these are the Olympic games, a quadrennial exercise in excellence which you are demeaning with your inane coverage.
But back to Costas.
Monday or Tuesday, I couldn't follow a word he was saying, so entrance was I by looking at his face.  Has he pulled a Joan Rivers and undergone massive botox treatments, I kept wondering.  He looks so unnatural.  NBC should fire whoever is doing his make-up, I thought.  The guy looks like he's one step away from become a female impersonator (transvestite).  We know decathlete champ Bruce Kardashian  (excuse me...Jenner) and Sir Paul have come to look like old women, but I didn't know Costas, whom I once considered one of the greatest baseball announcers ever, had fallen into the same genre of man who look like women.
Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought Costas was looking mighty strange because last night, he'd ditched the look in favor of the strangest glasses (googles) since Kukla, Fran, and Ollie.  Aha, it wasn't botox treatment, I thought; Costas was obviously in pain by wearing contact lenses which made him look unnatural.  Not that he looked real with those glasses, but it was an improvement, and it engendered somewhat of a sympathy factor.
One would think that NBC, having spent hundreds of millions to ruin the Olympics, could spring for a few extra bucks for an eye doctor and pair of decent lenses for its prime time host.
Like Costas, Al Michaels was much better at play by play (the 1980 hockey moment) than he is as a studio host, but it seems that NBC puts so little importance on the actual events of this Olympiad that they insist on putting their supposed back as studio readers.
Boo to NBC.
My favorite announcer is the great hockey play by play man, Doc Emmerick, who seems to have taken to water polo real well. My favorite for color commentary...and I can't even remember her name...is the diving analyst who never hesitates to tell us how a diver blew the entry.  She's fantastic...of course, none of what she's telling us is live.  I've started watching more diving just to see if I can concur with the judges.  I've actually gotten pretty good at it, and that just goes to show that we shouldn't put much credence in any sport (gymnastics, diving, figure skating, silly synchronized swimming) which requires judging rather than verifiable winning--a knockout, more goals, a faster time for example.
That beach volleyball announcing clown needs to tone it down several decibels; this isn't the end of the world; it's four women hitting a ball back in forth over a sandy patch.
I expect the closing ceremonies to be as disappointing as the Sir Paul/Mr. Bean opening, and I fully expect Costas and company to shill by trying to convince us they are as spectacular as Beijing four years ago.
As I was watching NBC's inferior coverage of the greatest event of all, the decathlon, last night I couldn't help but think back to Jim McKay's coverage in 1968 when Bill Toomey won in what will always be one of my favorite sports moments ever.  Maybe I'm just a bitter old man reliving the past, but I'm convinced that while the athletes weren't better then, the coverage sure as hell was!
NBC sucks, and Costas should go back to doing real sports play by play...although it would undoubtedly require a multi-million salary cut.  At least, he's abandoned the female impersonator look for the Kukla, Fran, and Ollie look, a vast improvement.
Friday
Aug032012

A Dilemma For Quebec Civil Libertarians

Apparently the spring protests, which picked up again this week in Montreal, were more widespread than I had previously imagined, even quite violent.

They were so bad that Jean Charest`s Liberal government rushed through Bill 78 which limits protests and poses a dilemma for civil libertarians (and that would include me were I a citizen here).

Bill 78 requires that any protest involving more than 50 people file notice of its intended marching route at least eight hours in advance with police.

Now that an election has been called for September 4, some fear the bill will be used to quiet political speech.  The Montreal Gazette weighed in with an editorial pooh poohing such fears today, but the spectre of cracking down on free speech is always troubling, something we in New Hampshire learned first-hand this year with the heavy-handed tactics of House Speaker Bill O`Brien.

At last check at least, the Charest government had not banned any media from his press conferences like O`Brien did to the Concord Monitor.  However, there`s word in the Gazette today that Charest is beefing up security at his campaign stops, perhaps in an attempt to avoid having to answer tricky questions.  As many as six of those men (we would call them Secret Service) were seen around him at a stop yesterday as Charest once again warned Quebecers that there are two ways to get a separatist referndum, either vote for his opponent Pauline Marois of the PQ or stay home in protest of his own government`s corrpution.

In other words, Charest appears to be saying--hold your nose and vote for me.

Such is the state of Quebec politics.

As for Bill 78, the Gazette says it is needed to allow police to plan for the proper response to protest marches.  It was propmted by a May riot in  Victoriaville when, according to the paper, "hard-core troublemakers arrived from out of town with genuine violent intentions."

It`s always a tough line to draw between the right to protest and the need to preserve a peaceful society.  I suspect most of my Libertarian friends would come down against Bill 78; I suspect I would as well were I a Quebecer, but then in the closest analogy I can think of, I voted in favor of Speaker O`Brien shutting down the gallery in the House when protests broke out during the budget debate. 

Disrupting a legislative body cannot be tolerated.  Whether or not an eight hour notice when 51 people plan to get together is needed or not...well, you decide.

I only ran across a smattering of the pots and pans protesters last night, not as many as 50, but protests are continuing.  Student leaders are ina  quandary; they fear that should violence break out, there will be a reaction in favor of the Charest government the students are trying to defeat.

What fun.

Thursday
Aug022012

Snap Provincial Election Called In Quebec

From the Grand Bibliotheque in Montreal

The weather isn`t the only thing heating up in Quebec.  Just as I arrived last night, I heard word that Quebec Premier Jean Charest has called a provincial election, and unlike American election which seem to take forever, this one will be held September 5.

Charest`s government is riddled by scandal, and voters haven`t kept the same in party power for more than nine years since 1960, and this is Charest`s ninth year.  However his Liberals are only two points (33-31) behind the separatist Party Quebecois in the latest polls.  A third party polls 21 percent, and a fourth party (described as Marxist by the Gazette which is already providing excellent election coverage) comes in at seven percent.

That Marxist party could prove to be Charest`s salvation since it also favors Quebec leaving Canada.

Charest`s Liberals trail by 15 points among French speakers, but they get nearly all the votes from English speaking Quebecers, and the Premier is warning the English today that if they don`t get out to vote (for his party), they can expect another separtist vote.

Interesting, the national parties are staying completely out of this Quebec.  Steve Harper`s Conservatives would probably prefer the Liberals to win (there is no Conservative option in Quebec; the ultra Liberal NDP swept the province in the most recent national elections).

Politics is even more fun in Quebec than back in the U.S.

For example, PQ leader Pauline Marois (Quebec has never elected a woman premier) notes that Canada`s first four medals in the Olympics were all won by Quebecers, yet another reason for Quebec becoming its own country.

I don`t follow the logic, but then I`m not a Quebecer.

Charest is counting on what he calls a silent majority to return him to power.  The streets are hardly quiet here.  Ten were arrested as riot police were called out just last night as college students resumed what is known as a pots and pans protest.  They`ve been taking to the streets for more than 100 days protesting an $1800 rise in college tuition.  At the border, I menitoned the "riot" to the woman who was checking my papers.  "Oh yes, they`ve been doing that since March," she responded as if it was no big deal.

The PQ is siding with the students; Charest hopes voters will go against them.

As in England, elections are not set in stone in Canada.  Charest has until Decmeber of 2013 to call one, but apparently he`s afraid a probe into scandals will worsen his position in coming months.

There will be three debates on Quebec TV in August, a round robin with the three major candidates squaring off in a a series of one-on-one encounters.

Interesting.

The fourth candidate, the Marxist (apparently) Amir Khadir is his his party`s only member of the legislature.  He was recently arrested for blocking traffic during a protest.

That sounds like a rather minor offense compared to charges against Manchester politicians like Mike Garrity and Russ Ouellette.

I brought a camera with me and hope to get some good riot footage tonight.

Wish me well.

The Gazette, by the way, is available at montrealgazette.com.  It`s far superior to any New Hampshire paper, and I dare say, to any American paper anywhere.  "BATTLE WILL BE FIERCE" was today`s headline with a subhead "Quebecers are in a dark mood and analysts say the elction is too close, too volatile to call."  It reports that Charest starts with 30 seats (from English areas) but getting the majority (there are 125 seats in the legislature here) is no done deal.

Prior to nine years of Liberal rule, the PQ was in power for nine years.  My guess is that even if the PQ wins, separatism will not happen.

By the way, the Gazette featured nearly a half page obituary of Gore Vidal including the tidbit (from his memoir) that he had sex with more than 1000 people, presumably men.  The paper doesn`t say he was gay but it notes he was never married and lived with a long-time companion in Italy.  He also didn`t believe in the afterlife.  "There is nothing else.  This is it," he said.

Great paper.