Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Thursday
Apr192012

Veto Watch--HB1660--20 Week Abortion Ban

            Mark House Bill 1660, titled “relative to abortions after 20 weeks”, as another bill which isn’t going to become law even if it passes the Senate and gets to the governor’s desk.
Analysis of the House vote on this bill reveals that a Lynch veto will probably be sustained.
Since 96 (out of 397) House members were absent at the time of the vote, including a whopping 15 of 35 Manchester members absent, we can’t be 100 percent sure of these numbers.
The final vote was 190-109 in favor of the bill.  That would be 63.5 percent, short of the 66.7 percent needed for an override.
However, even if attendance picks up, this bill appears doomed.  Remember that we’ve proved in the past that as long as Democrats stick together, only 23-30 Republicans will be needed to prevent a veto override.
With this anti-abortion bill, five Democrats actually voted with Republicans (Bill Butynski, Gladys Johnson, Peter Sullivan, Steve DeStefano, and—no surprise--
Roger Berube).
  However, even with 70 Republicans absent, the number to vote against the bill was 36, meaning it most likely will never get to two-thirds.
Oh, by the way, this is one bill that Speaker O’Brien felt so strongly about that he actually voted from the chair, most unusual although not totally out of bounds with this Speaker (and certainly not illegal).
The amazing thing about this vote was that while a full 24.2 percent of House members were absent, not less than 42.9 percent of the Manchester delegation was absent (I look at these things for my Manchester TV show).  The 15 absent can't make the excuse that they had to get home early--the vote came at 11:14 a.m. on March 29!  Manchester Republican were 10-4 for the bill with seven absent while Democrats were 5-1 against it.
Republicans overall were 185-36 (83.7 percent) for the bill while Democrats were 73-5 against it (93.6 percent).
Since 36 is not an unruly number, let’s go through all 36 Republicans here alphabetically by county.  (Hopefully, I won’t miss any).  Keep in mind that the usual suspects (some dare call them RINOs) are not enough to get us to 36, so you’ll find many other names here (including mine of course—I’m in the middle on abortion; I vote for a woman’s right to choose with reasonable exceptions such as parental notification; this bill’s restrictions went a bit too far for me; plus it is arguably unconstitutional).
Belknap—Millham, Swinford.
Carroll—Babson, Patten, former Speaker Chandler!
Cheshire—Hunt, Moore, Sterling.
Coos—none.
Grafton—Ladd, Simard.
Hillsborough—Gail Barry, Belvin, Chris Christensen, Cusson-Cail, Drisko, Erickson, Fredette, Graham, Kurk, Messier, Lynn and Russ Ober, Robbins, Vaillancourt.
Merrimack—Cohn, Hess, Hill, Kidder, Kreis, Keane, Lockwood, Winter.
Rockingham—Ron Belanger, Copeland, Saparetto.
Strafford—Julie Brown.
Sullivan—none.
Even if a dozen of these Republicans were to flip and the five Democrats remain with Republicans, you would most likely pick up enough Republicans from among those who were absent last time.
If HB1660 gets back to the House, look for another loss for the Speaker’s forces.  Hey, this isn’t redistricting where usually sane Republicans knuckle under.
Thursday
Apr192012

The Week In Polls--April 19--Dartmouth Has Romney Up 1.5 In NH

 
            It’s not UNH or Suffolk as we expected it might be, but the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center out of Dartmouth College has weighed in with a poll which shows Mitt Romney 1.5 points ahead of Barack Obama in New Hampshire.
            We’ve been waiting for new data, and this is about what we’ve expected.
            Dartmouth does not poll often, so it’s tough to read too much into the numbers, but a year ago, Romney led Obama by eight points, so today’s margin of 43.9-42.4 (with 13.7 percent undecided) could be viewed as good news for the president. 
            Certainly this poll affirms what most pundits have believed all along, that New Hampshire (with our powerful and perhaps decisive four electoral votes) will be very much in play.
            Real Clear Politics headlines the Romney lead from Dartmouth as two points. It took a bit of googling, but I located the news release from the Rockefeller Center.  “The gap between Romney and Obama has narrowed as voters are becoming less pessimistic about the economy,” the center reports.  “Last year only 38.6 percent rated the economy as excellent or good while today, 53.9 percent hold favorable views of the country’s economic situation.”
            Last year Obama’s job performance was 10.4 percent negative (36.4-46.8); today it’s minus 8.9 percent (39.2-48.1)
            Perhaps counter intuitively, the Dartmouth poll shows Obama slightly ahead among voters with an income greater than $100,000.  There also does not appear to be a gender gap.  Dig this crazy wording, “Almost half the men surveyed said they would vote for Mitt Romney while nearly half of the women respondents indicated they would vote for Barack Obama.”
            There must be a better way to phrase that, like it’s nearly 50-50 with both men and women.  Now that I can’t be the press secretary for Governor Ted Gatsas, maybe I can get a job with the Rockefeller folks writing press releases (only kidding).
            According the Dartmouth numbers, Obama has a slight advantage among undeclared voters and those who self-identify as moderates.
            Bottom line here appears to be that it’s a toss-up in New Hampshire.
            That seems to be the case nationwide as well.
            Both Rasmussen and Gallup are releasing daily updates of the Obama-Romney race, and rater surprisingly; Romney has led in both for the past week, by as much as four or five points with each.  However, other polls are all over the map, and even averaging produces mixed results.  The Real Clear Politics average has Obama up 2.3 points (47.2-44.9) while the Pollster average (from the more liberal Huffington folks) has Obama up only 1.5 points (48.3-46.8).  CBS News/New York Times, no liberal outfit they, has a 46-46 tie at the same time the poll shows Obama’s favorability up six (48-42).  Go figure.
            Gallup had Romney up five points (48-43) yesterday, and it appears the edge comes from independent voters since Gallup reports that both Romney and Obama are winning among their own party members 90-6.  With Rasmussen, it’s down to plus one (46-45) today.
            RCP, which had Obama -0.9 points in popularity yesterday, has him up 0.3 (47.4-47.1) today, but Pollster still has him in negative territory, by 1.5 points (48.3-46.8)
            It’s close any way you look at it.  Gallup has Obama up one in popularity 47-46 while Rasmussen has him down one 49-50.  Quinnipiac has Obama down one in popularity 47-48, but still up four points over Romney (46-42).     
            Quinnipiac also has Democrats up one (39-40) in the generic Congressional ballot, but most other pollsters show Republicans widening their lead in that all-important indicator.  Rasmussen had it up to ten points (46-36) for Republicans Monday, the highest it’s been since just after the 2010 election.  The overall RCP average is now plus 2.8 points (43.8-41.0) for Republicans, and remember, you can usually add two or three points to that for the GOP come election day.
            News continues to be bad for Democrats out of pivotal Missouri.  Rasmussen has incumbent Senator Clair McCaskill losing to Steelman, her most likely challenger, by seven points (49-42), and Romney beats Obama by three (48-45) in the Show Me State.
            CBS finds Obamacare opposed by only eight percent (39-47) while Rasmussen has it down 19 points (37-56).  The fact that the truth lies somewhere in between (14 points or so) should not come as good news to the Anointed One.
            Last week, I was seeking results out of Florida, and PPP (which I do not trust—to heavily Democratic) weighed in with Obama up five (50-45).  I translate as meaning it’s about even there.  It also has incumbent Senator Nelson up ten (47-37) over Connie Mack; other polls show it much tighter, but I’ve had Nelson in the probable win column all along. 
            As expected, Democratic Senator Menendez is ahead in New Jersey, but it’s only nine points (44-35) over Kyrillos according to Quinnipiac.  That one wasn’t even supposed to be on the to-watch list.
            It’s obviously been a bad week for Obama with the triple play of Rosen/GSA/Secret Service; Rasmussen has him leading Gingrich by only seven points (47-40).  Hey Scott, it’s time to stop polling that one!
            Here’s one I’ve (we’ve gone from we to I) been saving for a while.  It’s a great closer.
            In his retrospective of the Ron Paul campaign, Nate Silver of firethirtyeight.com wrote, “In September 2009, 47 percent of adults said the United States was doing the right thing in Afghanistan compared to 42 percent who said the U.S. should not be involved.” (NYT/CBS).  The most recent poll found 69 percent against American involvement with just 23 percent saying the country was doing the right thing.  That’s a 50 point turnaround!
            “Mr. Paul’s call for the United States to leave Afghanistan, once anathema in a Republican primary, has actually caught on among the other Republican candidates.”
            Long Live Lady Liberty!
            Ron Paul for President!
            (Oops—we’re supposed to be on the ABO page by now…that would be Anybody but Obama as opposed to ABOB…anybody but O’Brien).
Wednesday
Apr182012

Veto Watch--HB1659 (24 Hour Wait To Abort)

            This is the second in a series looking at the chances of bills, passed by the New Hampshire House, becoming law if and when they are vetoed by Governor John Lynch.  Keep in mind that the Senate is acting on its own in “vetoing” numerous bills including right to work and the challenge of voters at the polls.

            Today, let’s look at House Bill 1659, titled “relative to the womens' right to know act regarding abortion information”.

            Long story short—this sucker isn’t going to survive.

            It’s already had more lives than a secret service agent refusing to pay a Columbian hooker the $47 he owes her, but like the agent, the bill is doomed.  It'll go down sooner or later.  (Fill in your own pun here).

            After being reported ought to pass by a wide margin out of the Criminal Justice Committee, the bill was not passed on the first motion on the House floor.  The OTP motion failed 164-181.  A subsequent motion to kill the bill also failed 170-179.

            By a 190-161 vote, the bill was then laid on the table.  It was subsequently removed from the table, amended with much of the controversial language struck from it, and sent back for a vote (we were told that only a 24 hour waiting period remained).  The amendment (offered by Manchester Republicans Tammy Simmons, Mike Ball, and Matthew Swank) passed 178-152, and the bill as amended finally was passed along to the Senate by a 185-138 vote.

            Since then, many of us have learned that serious problems remain with the bill (that's what happens when you try to legislate on the fly!).  In its current form, the bill certainly lacks two-thirds which would be necessary to sustain a veto (should the bill ever make it through the Senate and on to the governor--no sure thing).

            All but two Democrats (you guessed it—Roger Berube—and Janet Wall) have opposed this bill every step of the way and most likely will on an override vote, so once again, our goal here is to determine whether the requisite number of Republicans (25-30 depending on how many Reps are present at the time of the vote) will join Democrats to kill the bill.

            Clearly, there are more than enough pro choice (or not pro life if you prefer the term) Republicans to doom this bill.

            On the 170 votes to kill the bill, for example, 82 were Republicans—too many to name here, in fact about the same number of Republicans who opposed repeal of gay marriage.  Those 80 Republicans, by the way, were taken to task by that silly homophobic NOW organization (no, not National Organization for Women for sure) which purchased a full-page ad in many newspapers castigating the non-red meat Republicans on the same sex marriage vote.  One can only wonder if another assault on fourscore Republicans (in unity there is strength) is coming on this bill.

            Among the prominent Republicans not in favor of HB1659 (and this is just a limited sample) were former Speaker Gene Chandler, former GOP leader Sherm Packard, Finance Division Chairs Neil Kurk and William Belvin, Uber Chair Lynn Ober (and Russ Ober as well), Judiciary Chair Robert Rowe, Criminal Justice Chair and former chair Elaine Swinford and David Welch, Health Chair John Reagan, Andy Renzullo, Jennifer Coffey, Seth Cohn on and on.

            Of course there were the usual suspects like Lockwood, Messier, Drisko, Brown, Millham, Kidder, on and one (even I joined them; when you don’t get me, you most likely don’t get enough to override a veto—except on redistricting!).  Yes, for the mathematically challenged, 82 is about three times as many as would be needed to sustain a veto.  No amount of coercion form on high is likely to turn this one around...we're not talking about such a "minor" issue as an illegal redistrciting plan here.

            You need read no more; I need write no more.

            Key Taps for HB1659.

            The partial birth abortion bill is another matter; it has perhaps a 50/50 chance of holding if it gets back to the House, but that’s another folder, most likely at home with Ovide’s Magnificent Catastrophe documentation.

Wednesday
Apr182012

Liberty Express--Red Barber On Jackie Robinson

Oh Doctor, the Old Redhead even looks southern.

In honor of this week being the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in major leaague baseball, I'll break format a bit on "The Liberty Express" and spend about 15 minutes reading a chapter from the great broadcaster Red Barber's autobiography "Rhubard In The Catbird Seat".

I know, I know, reading for extended periods is not a great thing to do on TV, but I just happened upon this chapter over the weekend in an anthology of baseball stories.

It's both poignant, revealing, and can serve as a cautionary tale for our times.

I'm too young to remember Red Barber as a Brooklyn Dodger announcer, but when I started listening to baseball in the mid-60s, he was doing Yankee games.  Along with Mel Allen (Yankees), Curt Gowdy and Ned Martin (Red Sox; I think Joe Catiglione is just AWFUL!), Vin Scully (Dodgers), Chuck Thompson (Orioles) and Ernie Harwell (Tigers), Red Barber was one of the greatest men ever to describe the national pasttime to millions of grateful listeners, to paint those mental pictures as we sat there listening to that voice escape from the little box.

Red Barber's drawl left no doubt as to where he was from (Mississippi), and that's why the Jackie Robinson chapter is so revealing.  When Dodger owner Brach Rickey decided to break the color barrier, the first person he told outside his family was his famous announcer, precisely because he knew the Southener back in the mid-40s might not cotton to a black (or Negro as called back then) Dodger.

Rickey was right.  Red Barber thought about it and was ready to quit.  How he came to accept a black Dodger is the point behind this story.  Even more chilling than the Robinson part of the story, at least for me, is Branch Rickey's recollection of how, as a college coach, he wasn't allowed to register a black player into a South Bend, Indiana hotel.  "I just wish I could rip my skin off," the young black man told Rickey.

As I read Red's words, it seemed like pure fiction, like something from hundreds of years ago.  The fact that such overt prejudice was a part of our daily lives so recently would be frightening, except for one thing--we overcame the prejudice.

Red Barber, the southern gentleman with the winning voice and way with words, got over his prejudice.

As I read this, I couldn't help but think that some person 20 or 30 years from now will be reading the same type of words about prejudice against gay people.  We will overcome that as a society, I am convinced, just as surely as Red Barber overcame his racism enough to keep calling Dodger games, even after Jackie Robinson joined the team.

"Just umpire the ball," a man in stripes told him.
"Just call the ball," he assures us.

Such a lesson is worth a few extra TV minutes.

Oh by the way, I've been told that Tuesday is all religion all the time on Manchester TV23 so the rebroadcast of my show that night is being moved.  (No one would ever accuse me as being overly relgious, a fact that will become all the more clear when I read excerpts of Penn Jillette's book "God No" next week).

I'll post new times as soon as I get them, but for now, "The Liberty Express" still airs Mondays at 10 p.m., Thursdays at 9 p.m., Sundays at noon (always available at vimeo.com/channels/libertyx).

The final ten minutes of this week's show features scenes from one of the world's greatest holdiays, Queens Day (April 30) in Amsterdam.

During the first half hour, I honor another great baseball announcer (hey, I'm into reading baseball books these days including Al Stump's bio of the great and awful Ty Cob) Vin Scully who is apparnetly very ill these days.  I reproduce his great call of the final out in Sandy Koufax's perfect game from 1965.  "Swung on and missed"...I can hear it in my mind's ear even now.

Snakes are still crawling around in the studio.

There's also the matter of GSA, hookers in Columbia, and whether I'm able to keep my New Years resolutions about not reading anything from the pen of a certain person.  Tune in to find out if I sin. 

(I kinda do).

Wednesday
Apr182012

Hippo Op-Ed Writer Assails House Leadership

In this week's edition of The Hippo (Manchester's popular arts and entertainment weekly which also dabbles into politics), former NH Department of Administrative Services Commissioner (he served under Republican Steve Merrill back in the 90s) weighs in with a scathing attack on New Hampshire House leadership in what has become the talk of the state, powers of the grievance panel.

Never to be confused with a liberal or a Democrat, Duffy states, "The motivation of our elected officials comes into question when we witness the over-reach on matters that, of necessity, are properly handled by our state agencies and/or courts.  The Legislature should not interfere with the welfare of our children under the guises of accountable government."

Duffy, one of the most respected of Manchester elders, previously served as Chairman of the Airport Authority and on the most recent Charter Commission.

He pens on op-ed piece for The Hippo once a month or so. 

He points out that his past experience also includes more than ten years as a CASA/guardian ad litem.

"A particularly serious legislative matter concerns the House Redress of Grievances Committed, formed by the Speaker shortly after taking office, which as recently demanded that the Division of Children, Youth, and Families respond to questions on cases regarding child custody and guardian issues.  When objections were raised by the Attorney General, the committee chair took the initiative to expand the committee's authority to issue subpoenas to the DCYF staff so that they can be interrogated by the committee.  What, you ask is behind all of this?  You need to make that inquiry of your duly elected official representing you in Concord."

In other words, here we have yet another well respected Republican castigating (albeit not be name) Speaker Bill O'Brien.

Duffy does not detail how O'Brien recently coerced a majority of House Republicans to allow the Rules Committee (stacked with O'Brien favorites) to approve subpoena power without a full vote of the House.  Along with less than two dozen other Republicans, I joined Democrats in opposing this blatant increase of power, never before seen in more than 250 years of New Hampshire history.

What we have basically, and these are my words not Patrick Duffy, is legislative tyranny, a committee which belongs back in the days of Salem witch hunts, not 21st century New England (again my words, not Duffy's). This is a committee which should never have come into existence and which most likely will be gone with O'Brien come November.

Quoting Patrick Duffy again, "I can assure you that children are never removed from their homes by DCYF without cause, and in fact it is done only as a last resort.  I can also assure you that confidentiality for children in neglect and abuse case is paramount."

For a legislative committee to serve as judge and jury is clearly stretching the separation of powers doctrine, but such a stretch or grasp for power has never stopped Bill O'Brien, and Patrick Duffy's words (or mine) are certainly not about to stop him now.

Think how angry the legislature gets when the court dares weigh in on legislative matters (such as redistricting), yet the legislature with this committee, as Patrick Duffy points out, is interfering in judicial and executive matters

Hypocrisy, thy name is O'Brien.

Duffy again:  "It appears that the committee is attempting to absurdly interject itself into situations on behalf of parents whose children have been removed from the home for abuse or neglect, an area in which committee members have no knowledge, no expertise, nor any legitimate business.  The matters are routinely adjudicated through the courts where all parties have an opportunity to address their positions."

As we've learned this year in the House, rarely is there a case when all parties are allowed to address issues fairly.  Rather, Republicans as in the sorry case of this committee (poorly attended by the way!) are simply expected to do as O'Brien tells them to.

Patrick Duffy has hit a nail on the head in The Hippo (Chill Out photo on the cover).