Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Friday
May112012

The Reading Room--Mitch Rapp Returns

Kill Shot (Mitch Rapp)

 

The Reading Room, in which we review books, is a semi-regular feature of this blog and on “The Liberty Express” which airs on MancheterTV23 Mondays at 10 p.m., Thursdays at 9 p.m., and Sundays at 9 a.m. and noon (always available at vimeo.com/channels/libertyx).  Fear not, while we haven’t been in the reading room for a while here, it’s not because I haven’t been reading.  In fact, I’ve declared this to be “The Summer of Baseball” and I’ve devoured more than a dozen wonderful books on the national pasttime (including looks at specific years from 1908 to 1975' 1967 of course!).  We’ll get to them later rather than sooner (maybe all at one) but today; it’s time for some escapist fiction at its finest.

             Vince Flynn, friend of Glen Beck (not that there’s anything wrong with that), is probably never going to win a Pulitzer Prize for literature, but I discovered him long before Glen Beck ever did, and I’ve enjoyed all 13 of his action-packed thrillers featuring CIA tough guy and anti-terrorism expert Mitch Rapp.

            Flynn seems to knock a new book out every nine months or so, and this latest is much better than recent entries, among his finest efforts ever.

            “Kill Shot” is probably best described as a sequel to a prequel.  Allow me to explain.  Flynn introduced Mitch Rapp several years ago ("Term, Limits" as I recall), but in his last book, Flynn took us back to the very beginning of Rapp’s career, thus a prequel.  “Kill Shot” is a great follow-up to that book which I considered the weakest in the series.

            To say that Flynn’s characters are either pure evil or pure good, with very little shading of gray, might fail to do him justice.  There’s always pure evil without a doubt; what else would you call terrorists who are out to kill thousands of innocent people?  However, none of Flynn’s characters—not even the good guys like super killing machine Mitch Rapp--are totally without flaws.  And this time, the bad guy (Victor) is not a terrorist at all but one of ours, an intriguing twist.

            Midway through this book, I realized that it was so good precisely because even the good guys were often conflicted.  This book is better than recent ones because he focuses more on the good guys than on the terrorists.  Of course, some of the supposed good guys turn out to be really, really bad guys.

            Flynn is at his best when he mixes macho action with political intrigue.  There’s plenty of that in this book, and unlike some of his recent books in which we journey to some of the world’s true hell holes, we spend much of this book in the City of Lights.  Mais oui, Paris.

            The plot is convoluted, but it comes together nicely about three-quarters of the way through the book (386 pages).  Although we’re left to wonder whatever becomes of the Secretary of State (good or bad?), all the other threads come together nicely.

            There’s even the pre-requisite love scene (not overly graphic) between Rapp and a Swiss Miss who is essential to the plot as she is to the sexual undertones.

            It’s that kind of book, no Pulitzer Prize for sure, but truth be told, I never miss a Vince Flynn book.  Sadly like other confections, they don’t last long.

            Don’t think you need to go back and read the other dozen books first; this stands up just fine on its own.

            Author Flynn, I believe I heard, was ill; hopefully he’s better because I can hardly wait nine more months to see Rapp in action again.  Undoubtedly, the Secretary of State will resurface.

            Here’s a rather typical paragraph from the book (page 360--Stansfield in the CIA director of operations).

            “Stansfield turned his eyes back to Rapp and Greta.  It was not lost on him that Greta had reached out and was holding Rapp’s arm.  They were a couple.  More than that, they were in love.  One of his best friends, one of the most powerful, civilized men he knew, was going to have to be told that his precious granddaughter was dating one of the most dangerous men on the planet.  A man Stansfield had helped create.  A man Stansfield had brought into the Ohlmeyer home.  The news was not going to be well received.”

            Good stuff; get well Vince Flynn.

            Mitch Rapp needs you.

Friday
May112012

Hillsborough County Budget Trimming Begins

            As the Hillsborough County budget hearings got underway today with a review of the corrections’ department request, news from County Commissioners was good on two fronts.

            Since last week’s public hearing, Commissioners have restored $55,000 for Meals on Wheels (it was $64,350 last year), and even with that, rather than ask for a two percent increase in property taxes, Commissioners have cut it back to one percent ($441,094), up from $44,109,421 to $44,550,515.

            The proposed budget still uses $4,898,710 from the county surplus, about twice the amount legislators earlier recommended.

            However, there were some indications that further savings could come in the form of new contracts which will hopefully be presented to the executive committee later in the month.

            Only $125,000 was cut from the nearly $15 million corrections budget ($100,000 in the overtime line and $25,000 in gas heating; both motions were mine and passed 7-2 and 8-1 with Manchester Democrat Pat Garrity in opposition both times; he actually wanted to increase the salary line!).

            When department hearings continue next week (the Sheriff's Department Monday at 9 a.m. in Goffstown), expect further cuts to be made from an already pared back request from commissioners.

            Significant increases could also be in the offing on the revenue side.  Corrections Superintendent David Dionne expressed confidence in an ability to take in up to 50 female prisoners from outside the county, at a rate of $57.50 a day (approx. $21,000 per year).

            Any city or town officials planning their budgets can be relatively confident that the county budget will come in with no increase in property tax assessment, knock wood.

Thursday
May102012

Sabato Move Guinta Seat To Toss-Up

When it comes to political gurus, Larry Sabato with his Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia is one of the best.

Thus, it cannot come as good news for New Hampshire Republicans that Sabato this week has moved our state's first Congressional district seat (Frank Guinta) from leans Republican to the toss-up category, the same ranking that just about everybody has the second c.d. (the Charlie Bass seat).  It appears everything in New Hamsphire will be in play come November! 

I would still rank Guinta a slight favorite, but this could be a crazy year in which, as I've explaiend before, the rare phenomenon of reverse coattails might drag Guinta down.  By that I mean that House Speaker Bill O'Brien may have tarnished the Republican brand so badly that even candidates at the top of the ticket will be hurt.  Dr. Sabato probably didn't have that in mind when he knocked Guinta down a peg, but think about it.  In a close race, O'Brien could drag not only Guinta but Romney and many of the rest of the GOP down as well.  You heard it here first.

Sabato doesn't make changes in his rankings lightly.

For example, he's leaving Massachusetts in the toss-up column although he thinks Elizabeth Warren's chances have diminished the past couple weeks, and Scott Brown might be a slight favorite.  And he's leaving Florida as a toss-up although Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson appears to me moving ahead of Connie Mack (whose wife, formerly Mrs. Sonny Bono, appears to be living in California, not Florida).

Sabato is also moving the West Virginia Senate seat (Manchin) into solid Democratic territory; Manchin isn't sure he's even going to vote for Obama.  And he's giving Democrats the nod to hold the New Mexico seat being vacated by Bingaman.  That would mean one less gain for Republicans according to my rankings.

With Lugar's primary loss in Indiana, the good doctor is moving it from likely to lean Republican, but my guess is it stays Republican easily.

If you don't already, check out Dr. Sabato's web site (try centerforpolitics.org or google it).  His electoral map is also interesting, and there's a scenario in which New Hampshire could prove pivotal; he doesn't mention it, but it's there.  Take away states won by Obama last time (Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina), and Romney would have pick up only one more (either New Hamsphire, Iowa, Colorado, or Nevada) to get beyond 270, and Romney's best chance in those four would--at least right now--appear to be here.

Aren't we special?

Dr. Sabato can be trusted not to slant things for one party or the other.

Thursday
May102012

Step Right Up; Place Your Bets! Setting The Odds For CACR 12's Passage

            Not since…well not since the redistricting override…has Speaker Bill O’Brien and his tag team put so much pressure on House Republicans.

            This time, it’s for CACR 12, the so-called education funding amendment,  wording for which hasn’t even been settled in a committee of conference, but then who needs that, when deals are done behind closed doors around here these days.

            Realistic odds makers right now would have to make the Speaker and the GOP establishment underdogs in their attempt to sell this unsavory leftover.

            Unlike the redistricting override, people cannot take a walk on this one, and have their vote counted as half the way the Speaker wants.  On a CACR, 60 percent of the entire House (239 as it stands today) is required, so being not present for the vote amounts to the same as a NO vote.

            Unlike the right to work override last year (it seems like only yesterday), while the Speaker can play a few games with the timing on bringing the CACR up for a vote, he doesn’t have forever.  He can’t, for example, wait until the fall to do it since ballots after all need to be printed, and the CACR would need to be on the ballot.

            With those two strikes against O’Brien Inc and with no Democrats (or virtually no Democrats) likely to vote for the CACR, expect more pressure than one could possibly imagine to be brought to bear on Republicans on this one.

            Don’t rule out another surprise caucus just prior to the vote.

            Don’t rule out calls from Papa John and Ovide and anybody else anybody in leadership think might be able to twist (gently of course) a few arms.

            Don’t rule out appeals to party loyalty.

            However, there’s one big problem with all that.

            This amendment, no matter what the spin, is not good for the Republican Party, and certain Republicans, sick of being bullied, will simply not agree to it.

            The rock lyrics “Won’t Be Fooled Again” spring to mind.

            Several principled Republicans feel they were fooled on the education funding amendment last year.

            Several principled Republicans know they were fooled on redistricting.

            Cue up that song again.

            “Won’t be fooled again.”

            Even after we look at all the numbers, we must conclude, however, that the odds are only slightly against O’Brien Inc.  One should never underestimate the bullying power of the consummate bully or the deceiving powers of his subordinates.

            One of my Republican colleagues—who will never vote for this amendment—has already received multiple calls from David Hess.  Apparently, Republican leadership thinks this colleague will be swayed by the Hooksett solon.  (This same colleague—no names please—was against Right To Work and has confided in me that he/she was “lobbied’ by the most unlikely sources, people who haven’t even been around these hallowed halls for years and years).

            Certain people cannot be bullied; coerced, cajoled, swayed, unduly influenced…you choose the verb.

            Assuming no Democrats vote for this warmed up piece of tripe (get the feeling I’m not going to vote for it??), you would need 239 Republicans.

            Following the last election, there were 298 Republicans Reps.  However, five are gone, so the number to troll for is down to 293.

            The first thing we need to estimate is how many people will be absent when the vote is taken.  Attendance has been way off in recent weeks/months, but we need to assume that Republican leadership will call for the vote when they have the best attendance possible.  Still, you never get everyone here.

            Let’s put the number of Republicans absences at a conservative…what number shall we use…let’s say 13.

            293 minus 13 equals 280.  You need 239 to pass it.  Thus, a defection of 41 or so Republican Reps would doom this indigestible (yet “wholesome”) disgraceful addition to our founding document.

            Bad news for GOP leadership is that they will bleed from both ends of the party.  No honorable die-hard conservative would ever be able to swallow this tripe, but many of the moderates (some dare call them RINOs) will never vote for any amendment.  While we consider each issue on its own merits, some (who have been wronged by the Speaker) just might tend to vote against anything O’Brien tries to force feed them.  Yes, it’s true although names will certainly not be named here.

            I could get into specifics, but I won’t.  Many Reps are saying they're undecided, but it's never a good sign when a sizeable number say that the current wording in unacceptable, but they would be open to new wording, perhaps less "wholesome" wording.  I hear the wording is virtually a done deal.  If you hear that leadership is tinkering with it, take that as a sure sign that they do not have the votes.

            Wait…a call is coming in from Vegas even as I write this (of course, I’m only kidding). 

           60/40 against this passing the House…those are the odds.  Of course, as with a sporting event, the odds could change from day to day...stay tuned.

            Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, a five dollar minimum please!

Thursday
May102012

An Endorsement That Makes Me Happy

This one is slightly tongue in cheek, and when one has to announce that at the outset, one shows lack of confidence in one's readers.

Whew!

At last I can breathe a bit more easily...or easier if you prefer.

Kathythes has endorsed Maggie The Dog Torturer Hassan for Governor.

Now I feel much better having said good things about Jackie Cilley.

I take comfort in having to be on the same side as kathythes as few times as possible.

Kathythes, for the unitiatted, is of course Kathy Sullivan whom I still avoid reading as assiduously as I avoid listening the Dick The Foot Fetishist Morris.  Those were after all my two New Years resolutions, to avoid them both like the plague.

However, I see in the media that kathythes has boarded the Maggie bandwagon.  It was a five column headline in Tuesday's Fosters paper--must have been a slow news day!  ("Opponent Cilley picks up backing from IBEW" only merited a three column subhead...I'll see your kathythes and raise you a union endorsement).

Good for kathythes.

I'm so happy...for both The Dog Torturer and for the S woman (S as in Stranger to the Truth).

Go, Jackie, Go!

John Babiarz For Governor!