Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Thursday
Apr052012

Courts Should Strike Down Obamacare And NH House Redistricting

            He never used the disparaging phrase “black robed oligarchs”, but other than that, President Barack Obama sounded very much like right wing New Hampshire Republicans who a decade ago, in response to the Claremont decision, were arguing that the court has no power to interfere with the legislative process.

            In fact, some Republicans (albeit not those at the pinnacle of power) are still arguing about non-elected judges (the same words Obama used) daring to intrude in the legislative domain.

            An axiom comes to mind.

            It all depends on whose ox is being gored.

            It also provides us with delicious grounds for charges of hypocrisy.  The same left wing Democrats who for years have argued an expansionist view of the Constitution have no right to argue the court must not strike down Obamacare now.  In fact, Harvard scholar Lawrence Tribe seems to be maintaining his purity by criticizing Obama.

            But the hypocrisy charge goes both ways.  Republicans who have argued about meddling justices hardly stand on solid ground now when they insist the court must strike down Obamacare.

            I plead innocent of any charge of hypocrisy.  I firmly believe that Obamacare should be struck down.  The commerce clause, which was inserted to prevent states from establishing tariffs on the flow of goods across state lines, has been stretched beyond anything the founders had in mind.  For Obama and Democrats to use the clause to intrude into the lives of every American is beyond absurd.

            Courts exist to stop overzealous and ill-conceived legislation which robs people of their liberties.

            Obama is dead wrong just as New Hampshire right wingers were wrong when they vilified the black robed oligarchs for the Claremont decision.

            You may not agree with a court’s decision, but to argue that courts have no right to decide on constitutionality is un-American.

            Two options are available if you disagree with decicions.  Amend the Constitution.  That’s what some (not I) have been trying unsuccessfully to do for the past decade here in New Hampshire.

            Or change the justices.  When they die or retire, try to replace them with justices who agree with your point of view.  Admittedly this is not an easy procedure (FDR never succeeded in stacking the court), but the founders never intended it to be easy.

              It’s  nothing less than delicious that some root for the court to strike down legislation they don’t agree with and then assail the court for going against their pet projects.

            Mmm, mmm, good is what this hypocrisy is.

            The problem lies less with the courts than with over-reaching legislatures.

            We need only look to the current New Hampshire House redistricting plan for evidence of that.  The court should strike down the plan passed by Republican leaders who fashioned a totally unconstitutional plan and then hoodwinked their members (through coercion, intimidation, and out and out bullying) into falling into line like sheep.

            Our democracy survives only because while despots like Bill O’Brien can coerce weak minded legislators, they cannot bully the courts.        

            Gott sei dank (that’s German for thanks to God).  May it always be so.

            We should be thankful that judges are appointed for life and are not forced to fall in line with fallacious arguments like those Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt offered on the House floor last week.

            Somehow managing to keep a straight face, Bettencourt asserted that the House redistricting plan satisfies both the federal and state constitutions (don't take my word for it--check out streaming audio).  Even House counsel/lobbyist/gendarme Ed Mosca had admitted that the plan, in complying with federal one man one vote principles, was afoul of the New Hampshire Constitutional Amendment passed in 2006.  Even redistricting Chair Paul Mirski, who fought o pass the amendment, knew the plan he was putting forward does not comply with the Constitution.  Yet here was the Majority Leader simply making things up in hopes of influencing legislators who didn’t have a clue about the intricacies of what they were voting on.

            Yes, we need justices who have enough time and expertise to see through the lies of legislators and to follow the laws.

            Yes, we need justices who will strike down Obamacare at the federal level and the House redistricting plan here in New Hampshire.

            Only justices prevent a tyranny of the elected majority from dismantling the ideas of freedom our forefathers fought so hard for.  Only justices stand in the way of elected tyrants whether they be tyrants from the left  like Nancy Pelosi or tyrants from the right like Bill O'Brien, aided and abetted most shamefully by complicit legislators too fearful to stand up against him, who continues to author one of the darkest chapters in New Hampshire history.

            Long live judicial review!

            Three cheers for Marbury v. Madison!

           

Wednesday
Apr042012

Manchester Will Join Redistricting Law Suit

Mea culpa.

I never made it to City Hall for the Manchester Mayor and Board of Aldermanic meeting last night (I'm engrossed in a new Hitler-Stalin book and then on to David McCulough's book about Americans in Paris).  I never read the city edition of the Union Leader (I look at press clips from all state papers, but they usually don't include the city edition).  Thus, I was in the dark as to what happened regarding redistricting.  When people praise me for how much I know, I usually beg off with the comment that I'm basically a hermit.  I go to Concord, do my work; do my TV show, blog here, but other than that, I mostly stay at home, reading and watching such things as Chopped and Sweet Genius (boy, can they whip up great deserts).  Had I been elected as an Alderman, I would have worked on city issues, but voters of Ward 8 said no to me last November.  Thanks.  (I really mean in it.  I am NOT being facetious). 

My sources at City Hall tell me that the Board voted to allow the Mayor to join a law suit against the House redistricting plan, to seek pro bono legal counsel, and to join the McLane firm which apparently is leading the suit.

That sounds about right to me.  As I've said all along, what the House plan does to Manchester is wrong (and as I note ad nauseum on my TV show this week, the seven Manchester Reps who voted to override the governor's veto amount to little more than weasels and snakes).  While unconstitutional, the plan,  in the case of Manchester, is probably not unconstitutional.  Thus, spending property taxpayer dollars on a suit might not be wise, but joining in the suit seems appropriate.

I would have supported the motion, but then I'm not an Alderman (all the more time to read about Hitler and Stalin and Americans in Paris, not to mention Roger Maris in 1961 and the great Sandy Koufax...Jim Boutin's Ball Four was a pure pleasure...I'd never read it prior to last week).  I'll post a review of the books here some time soon. 

Wednesday
Apr042012

Senate Amends House's Absurd Council Plan; Presoctt Embarasses The Senate

            Here come those four little words again.

            “I told you so.”

            It appears the New Hampshire State Senate has come up with a redistricting plan for the five Executive Council seats totally at odds with the dragon-shaped plan passed by the House and…are you ready for this…very much like the plan I created and offered on the House floor.

            You just can’t make this stuff up.

            The Senate plan does not have District 3 going all the way across the state from Keene to Portsmouth, a blatant ploy to stack it with Democrats so that Republicans will most likely win the other four districts.  Rather, it moves District 1 into the Strafford County area and moves District 3 up into Grafton County, the way I had planned.

            District 3 remains every bit as stacked with Democrats but in a less blatant manner.

            If only Republican House leadership had listened to me six weeks ago, it could have saved itself the shame up such a blatantly gerrymandered plan.  Most likely, the House will go along with the Senate plan.  To do otherwise would be to simply pour salt into an already deep (and self-inflicted) wound.

            Shame, shame, shame, eternal shame on Bill O’Brien, Ed Mosca, Paul Mirski and company.

            Now if House leaders had only gone along with my plan for House districts, we could have saved ourselves even more agony that is sure to come.

            “I told you so” hardly seems adequate.

            It seems like Republican House leaders are bending over backwards to justify the wasted taxpayer money their spending on the bloated salaries of legal counsel/lobbyist/gendarme Mosca, not to mention the nearly $85,000 (I have the exact number tucked away some place) for Chief of Staff Greg Moore, and Republican office staffer Aaron Goulet, the real brains (or lack thereof) behind everything Mirski and David Bates do (or try to do).

            As if to prove how willing House leadership will be to kowtow to the Senate, the Redistricting Committee voted 11-5 to approve the abortion of a Congressional plan the Senate came up with.  For no good reason (or at least no sane reason), Campton (in the Plymouth area and part of the Campton-Thornton-Waterville Valley Chamber of Commerce) was ripped out of District 2 and Center Harbor became the only Belknap County town to be placed into District 2.

            The five votes against the plan were four Democrats and…would you believe…me.  Among the 11 voting for it, only five were regular members of the Redistricting Committee.  The others were all fill-ins (including one for Mirski), a practice that has become all too common in this House.  Of course one was Rep. Kappler, R-Raymond, who has become legendary for his skills at roaming the halls waiting for a committee with a seat open so he can plop down and vote.

            Sad, but true.

            Even sadder was the Congressional plan presentation by Senate Redistricting Chair Russ Prescott whose own Senate district has been “gerrymandered” to help him survive the coming 2010 Democratic onslaught.  In an unmatched display of arrogance which can only be described as am embarassment to the entire Senate, Prescott simply threw the plan out to the committee with no explanation and refused to answer any questions (almost like pleading the Fifth Amendment..."I refuse to answer on the gounds my answer may incriminate me") other than to say what the Senate did was Constitutional.  Senator Prescott refused to acknowledge that his plan was the result of an agreement (perfectly legal) between the two incumbent GOP Congressmen Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass, an amazing non-denial by Prescott since everyone in the room, including all Republcans on the committee, knew the fix was in.

       Hey, when you know you’ve got the votes, why bother with explanations.  Such hubris is the reason Republicans are in for a rude awakening come November.

       Republicans have shrouded themselves in s shame that will live forever at all levels of the redistricting process, mostly in the House, but now in the Senate as well.

Wednesday
Apr042012

No Urinating On This Floor Allowed

Check out the bottom of this blog and you will note that this is the 142nd page of entries since I signed on here 15 months ago.  Since each page consists of approximately five postings...you can do the math as well as I can...we're up to more than 700 individual entries.  That sounds about right since I try to post, on average, two items each weekday.  At the outset, some people used to complain when I wrote about sports or cultural events.  Some even went so far as to post that they didn't care about my opinions on such things.  Fine, if you don't care, nobody forces you to check out this site.  As a sportscaster for a dozen years (it really is a practice ground for developing skills for public speaking and debating, for creating extemporaneous remarks), I was passionate.  These days, I'm really not that much into sports, but I'll still watch and will occasionally offer comments here, more often on the announcers (an eternal boo to Dick Stockton, thumbs up to Marv Albert) than the players.  I've never been a great fan of culture, but I felt it appropriate to write about the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium when I was invited to a presentation there; and occasionally I'll offer tips on off the wall things like An Idiot Abroad.

Here's a clarification of a rule we operate under here.  Legitimate debate is always welcome.  If you have a well founded opinion,  you are free to counter any argument I make.  Obviously I will be the judge of what is "well founded".    

If you don't like something I write, no one is forcing you to read it.  No comments such as, "I don't care, you asshole" will ever be allowed here.  That's kind of like knocking on the door to my house, being allowed to enter, then whipping it out and urinating on my living room floor.  I simply would not put up with it; I dare say no civilized human being would put up with it.  Thus, I will not put up with it here.  Vile behavior, ad hominem attacks, and such items as "I don't care" comments will not be allowed here.  They will be wiped out as soon as I spot them, and the maker of such comments will be permanently banned, never to be allowed back even if he or she promises to clean up his or her attack.  (Once you urinated on my living room floor, chances are you'd never get through the door again, let alone be given the chance to whip it out in the living room).

I've stated this rule in the past, but feel the need to reiterate it now thanks to a new nuisance known as Rep. Fred Leonard, R-Rochester.  Last week, he e-mailed objecting to something I had written and stated he didn't care about what I said.  Obviously that was a lie because he insists on reading everything I post and commenting on it, something to the effect, "I don't care; drop dead."  Some psychiatrist would undoubtedly say Rep. Leonard is evincing some type of mental illness, perhaps "I don't care" derangement syndrome.  That's not for me to decide, but he's been banned here.  Here's the explanation I posted below one of his most recent attempts to break in here with one of his inane "drop dead" comments.  I repeat it here as a warning to all who might try to sneak one by me.

"Once again, Rep. Fred Leonard has attempted to post an ad hominem, name calling response on this site. For just such vile blogs, he has been permanently banned here. It's almost a daily occurrence. He posts his eight word insipid comments here, and I come in and delete them. Here's how it works. No one on this site checks to make sure comments are approved before they go up...so presumably, you could post the most inaccurate hate filled rant here one could imagine. However, since this is my blog, I have editing control, and I come in once a day and remove any comments from those who have been banned or comments which are not worthy.
For the record, three anonymous people have been banned from this site. They go by the names of Troll, Pinko, and Sunsanthe. They will never be allowed back. The only real person who has been banned is Rep. Fred Leonard. He breaks the rules by attempting to post here...and will be removed as soon as I see a posting. Some people (like Rep. Leonard) are simply law breakers. They cannot be trusted; they will not be tolerated here. Thus, if you see a post by Rep. Leonard and wish to respond to it, you should know that within hours, it will be removed. Your post will stand (as long as you meet rules and are not Pinko, Troll or Susanthe), but people will not know what you are referring to. Also, from now on, no comments will be allowed regarding my decision to ban the vile. If you should try to do so, you too will be banned. Free speech is a great thing, but this is not your blog. It is mine and I spend untold hours getting valuable information out to the public. Rep. Leonard, should he come to my front door and start screaming his vile obscenities, would be banned from my premises. Trying to claim screaming vile obscenities here is like violating my property, like coming into my living room, whipping it out and urinating on my floor. In a sense, this blog is my living room. You will not be allowed to defecate here.

Rep. Leonard (not to be confused with the late Manchester Rep PETER Leonard) will most certainly be voted out of office come November.  I have checked the Red Book, noting the position he finished in Rochester during the GOP sweep year of 2010.  Four years ago, Republicans had only one seat in all of Strafford County (yes, that would be Julie Brown).  I suspect the 2012 results will be very much like those of 2006--Republicans will likely lose 15 seats there, including, rightfully so, the Leonard seat.  Then perhaps he will stop urinating on this floor and find another place to relieve his needs top excrete bile."

I can't wait to see what type of responses appear below this when I check tomorrow.  Anyone want to take an over/under bet on the number of responses I'll have to delete?  I'll guess four, including at least one from the Rochestarian. 

 

Tuesday
Apr032012

Gambling Lobbyists "Bust" Again--GOP Loses Promised Donations

In Black Jack, when you hit and go over 21, thus losing your bet, you are said to have "busted".

Busted!

That's exactly what pro gambling lobbyists did once again last week in the New Hampshire House.  Every session, word goes out that...at last...this will be the year that expanded gambling (aka Monopoly Slots for those with deep pockets) will finally pass.

Wrong!

Those four most comforting and overused words in the English language come to mind again.

"I told you so."

Many, many months ago, I reported here that gambling would fail once again, and a review of last week's vote reveals that the margin was basically the same as two years ago.  Democrats were in control of the House 225-175 then.  Republicans picked up 123 seats in the 2010 election to take a 298-102 advantage, but very little changed when the critical vote on gambling, after months of delays, was finally recorded.

That's because expanded gambling is one issue which crosses party lines.  It has vocal supporters and even more equally vocal critics in both parties.  The only thing that changed this year is that for the first time, a House committee recommended ought to pass.  The vote was 14-7 out of the Ways and Means Committee, but this year, committee recommendations mean absolutely nothing. 

The House overturned the committee 154-195 on the critical vote (the committee amendment), and pro gambling forces lost ground on each successive vote, 118-226 against the bill without the amendment, and 236-108 to kill the bill.  (Oh yes, my state-run, state-controlled amendment failed by the biggest margin of all, 104-239.  Hey, there are no wealthy firms spending millions lobbying on the plan I put forth, known in previous years as the Gatsas plan).

If you don't believe that big bucks are at play here, consider this.

While the House Redistricting Committee was in a recess this morning, gambling supporter and Finance Chair Ken Weyler chastised gambling opponent David Hess noting that he (Hess) has cost the Republican Party big bucks by defeating the gambling plan, a clear indication of what I knew was true (but until today had not heard expressed so honestly), that the gambling cartels (including Nevada-based Millenium which drools over the prospect of bring slots to Rockingham Park in Salem) was ready to donate tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to the New Hampshire GOP.

You just can't make this stuff up, and I swear I heard it.  If one does not want to be quoted, one should not utter such damning comments out in the open.

As I write this, a Rep confirms Republican angst.  He insists on anonymity, but he affirms that Ways and Means Chair Steve Stepanek, a big gambling proponent, was in the room behind Reps Hall last week, asserting that Libertarian-minded Republicans (those against gambling because it provides a state monopoly) had cost the party multo dinero (my phrase, not his) in gambling lucre.

Let there be no doubt about what former Finance Chair and gambling opponent, Neal Kurk, has always said about gambling.  Expansion will lead to corruption of the political process.  Hey, Neal, it's already happening, and it's happening to your (and my) party.

You certainly don't need to make this stuff up; just open your ear drums.

I've actually put a chart together comparing the gambling vote this year with two from 2010.  I've broken it down by party and counties (plus the always pro gambling stalwart, Manchester).  Hope you find it as illuminating as I did.  Note that while the vote was even in the state's two largest counties (Hillsborough and Rockingham), gambling went down big time in Grafton and Merrimack Counties.  The only Coos County Representative to vote against gambling this time was Whitefield Republican (former Police Chief) John Tholl.

Cheshire County was less pro gambling when Democrats were more firmly in control two years ago, but actually evened out this year.  That tells us what we should already know, that by and large, Democrats remain more anti-gambling than Republicans.

Libertarian-types were actually somewhat split, but mostly against the plan.  Both Jonses  and Andy Manuse were for it; both McGuires were against it (as were Seth Cohn, Mark Warden, JR Hoell, and I).

Republican leaders were split with Bettencourt, Weyler, Stepanek, Bates, Silva, Itse, and Baldasaro for gambling; Kurk, Hess, Chandler, Hunt, Belvin, Jasper, Major, Tucker, Reagan and Packard against.  Terie Norelli and most Democratic leaders opposed the plan; David Campbell and Steve DeStefano supported it.

Manchester Republicans were split 8-8.  Democrats were 10-2 for gambling (only Maurice Pilotte and Peter Sullivan opposed). 

Here's the chart.

Gambling Defeats In New Hampshire House

 

March 30, 2012                        June 6, 2010                           March 21, 2010

154-195, 44.1%                      141-191, 42.5%                      158-212, 42.7%

GOP—118-139, 45.9%            GOP—69-79, 46.6%                 GOP—74-93, 44.2%

Dems—36-56, 39.1%               Dems—72-112, 39.1%            Dems—84-119, 41.4%

Belknap  4-11                         Belknap 7-9                            Belknap  8-9

Carroll 7-6                              Carroll 5-7                              Carroll   4-8

Cheshire 10-11                       Cheshire 2-18                         Cheshire   3-21

Coos  8-1                                Coos 5-5                                 Coos  7-4

Grafton 4-18                           Grafton 4-21                           Grafton  3-21

Hillsborough  55-55               Hills. 49-51                             Hills.  58-57

Merrimack  12-28                 Merr.  15-22                           Merr.  15-26

Rockingham  38-36                Rock. 36-32                            Rock.  43-39

Strafford   10-23                     Straff. 11-21                           Straff.  13-20 

Sullivan  6-6                            Sull. 7-5                                   Sull.  4-7

Manchester 18-10                  Manch.  17-7                          Manch.  21-9