Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Smoke 'Em If You've Got 'Em...Roll 'Em If You Don't

From The Second Cup Coffee Shop

St. Catherine Street East

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The music wasn't my cup of tea.  Truth be told, I was just passing through Emil Gamelin Park this evening on the way to the Grand Bibliotheque at the Beri/UQAM subway station in Montreal.  Hundreds of people were lounging on a hill overlooking the stage, a nice setting.  As I walked among the crowd, I kept smelling somthing that rang a bell (can a smell ring a bell?).

Sure enough, marijuana was being smoked right out in the open in this city, province, and country which has yet to legalize the substance.

Not just one or two people but seemingly everybody; of course I'm exaggerating, but the number of indulgers was very large.  Not only that, several people were actually rolling joints as they listened (it was really bad music).

Isn't it time for governments here in Canada and back in the United States to realize that a certain percentage of the population wants to smoke pot and will smoke pot regardless of laws fobidding it?

Of course it is.

Only with legalization can we also add a layer of regulation to properly protect consumers and...oh yes...a layer of taxation to help our always financially strapped governments.  

In the process we'd be saving tens of millons of dollars arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating people who aren't harming anyone.

During the debate on my legalization bill in New Hampshire last year, we learned that the state would most likely generate about $50 million a year in windfall taxes.

I assume it would be five times that much here in Quebec (the population is about five times ours).

Oh yes, in case you're wondering.  I did NOT smoke any of the stuff...although I experienced a fair share of second hand smoke.  Had the concert been even tolerable, I might have stuck around longer.

Maybe I'll try again tomorrow.



Will Perry Bypass Legislature To Bring Slots To Texas?



Even as Republicans at the national level are expressing increased concerns about Barack Obama acting by executive fiat and without legislative approval for a series of actions, a story out of Texas has surfaced that potential Presidential contender Governor Rick Perry might be about to totally bypass the Legislature there to bring a deceptive form of slot machines into his state.

Apparently having been told that I've been intimately involved with the expanded gambling struggle here in New Hampshire for more than a dozen years, an Austin,Texas, reporter (from the American Statesman) contacted me today for a reaction.

I find it inconceivable, I responded, that any state would take such a major step as expanded gambling without legislative approval.  This would be anathema to everything we believe in in New Hampshire, I noted, explaining in detail how dozens of hours of hearings are held every year in New Hampshire (before the legislature ultimately gives a thumbs down to slots at tracks...or anywhere else).

The reporter seemed fascinated.  So you don't think it will play well in the first primary state if Perry goes ahead and authorizes what are called "historical slots" at tracks, the reporter led me.

Of course what Texas does is its business, but at a time when Republicans in D.C. are attacking the President for his "I have a pen and I have a phone" approach to government, I can't imagine we'd favor an imperial or dictatorial president (or governor), I took the bait.

The reporter must have liked what he heard; he asked me to slow down and repeat the comments so he could get it all down.

I resorted to the word "inconceivable" again.  Whether one is for or against gambling, it should be a legislative decision not one which some executive can bring about by fiat with a state bureaucracy (apparently the state racing commission is set to act on the plan as early as this Friday).

I explained how only through the legislative process can any gambling proposal be refined and improved (vetted) to the point in which it sees the light of day (not that we've ever passed such a plan in New Hampshire).

As the reporter explained the particular slots involved, a light went off in my head.  Texas is apparently looking to the machines which Belmont Track tried to foist upon an unsuspecting New Hampshire legislature a few year ago (and then again this past session with Senators Hosmer and Soucy carrying the water).  I was on the Local and Regulated Revenues Committee which quickly shot the down proposal last time.  Even back then there was talk of circumventing the legislative process here, but we quickly received a legal opinion to nix that scheme.  Just as a rose by any other name is still a rose, so a slot by any other name is still a slot.

The Texas reporter had not heard how slots are called "the crack cocaine of gambling" (not by me, mind you, but by their avid opponents).  You can be sure I enlightened him.  Let's see if he uses it in his story.

Here's a lead sentence I'd write if I were a Texas reporter (remember I have a newspaper background).

At the same time he is exploring a run for the Presidency in the first in the nation primary state, one which time and again has legislatively struck down slot machine gaming proposals, Governor Rick Perry may be about to bypass the Texas legislature to bring the "crack cocaine of gambling" into the Lone Star State.

Not half bad.  Hey, maybe I should get to back into the business.  I didn't want to scoop myself, so I thought I'd post the story here first.  As always, media in New Hampshire (or anywhere) is welcome to run with it.  I think I heard on the POTUS Press Pool (love that Julie Mason!) that Perry is heading to South Carolina for a tailgate fundraiser soon.

I understand the Texas reporter, with whom I spoke, also had contacted sources in Iowa and South Carolina to see how the good folks there might react to such executive overreach.

Hmmm. should be an interesting story.  Look for an Austin paper coming to an online site near you soon.  

Here's what I came up with my first effort at googling the story.

Here's what I came up with my first effort at googling the story.

Republican nominees for state Senate submit statement on ...
Jul 28, 2014 - We strongly support Texas' constitutional process. As such, anyexpansion of gambling in Texas requires legislation that goes through the full ..

And another...this is like deja vu all over again.

Boise Guardian | Horseless Racing, Slot Machines In Disguise
Aug 14, 2014 - Whatever the gullible legislators of Idaho think they approved with “Historic Horse Racing on Video Terminals,” they got slot machines and .

This Week's Trivia--"Thank You Don Pardo"

Don Pardo, what a great life

While Don Pardo, who died last week at age 96, will most likely be remembered for his 38 years as the announcer for "Saturday Night Live", I'll always remember him as the announcer for the original Jeopardy TV series, 1964-1975.   Back then, the contestants would actually walk into the studio as Don intoned, "Now entering the studio are today's contestants."

I'll never forget it.

Each introduction concluded with the announcement of "your host, the star of Jeopardy".  And truly a star he was.  Jeopardy has always been my favorite TV show (I must have been watching for that first month back in March, 1964), but truth be told, I've never been an Alex Trebek fan.

However, oh how I loved the man Don Pardo introduced those 11 years.  

That "star of Jeopardy" used to enter every day with the words, "Thank you Don Pardo; thank you friends". He also delivered a particularly crisp, "The answer is..." as the clue was revealed.  For final jeopardy, there was none of that electronic gadgetry of today.  The host would actually walk over and hold up each board on whch the three contestants had written an answer (or question, of course).

Who was this first (and in my opinion best by far) host of Jeopardy, the man Don Pardo introduced for 11 years?  

Was that?

Art Fleming

Wink Martindale

Bill Cullen

Jack Barry

Tom Kennedy


"The answer is Art Fleming"; he lived only to age 70 (he died in 1995).  By the way, his entire name was Arthur Fleming Fazzin (of Polish heritage).

For a clip, I've chosen the final show (their 2753rd one together) in which the camera pans to Don Pardo for the final introduction of the great Art Fleming.  Alas, by then, they'd given up the drama of the contestants "entering the studio".

Bill Cullen was the original Price Is Right host; Wink Martindale Name That Tune; Jack Barry The Joker Is Wild (among other things); and Tom Kennedy a show called You Don't Say which I used to watch just as I got home from high school every day; it aired at 3:30 on NBC.  As I recall, the Pardo/Fleming version of Jeopardy aired around noon time, not so good for school kids.






Settling For Less--Great For Zevon, But Not Primary Voters

 from Genius: Best of Warren Zevon

"Looking for the Next Best Thing" is track #13 on the album Genius: Best of Warren Zevon. It was written by Zevon, Warren/edwards, Kenny/marinell, Leroy


I worked hard, but not for the money
I did my best to please
I used to think it was funny
'Til I realized it was all a tease

Don Quixote had his windmills
Ponce De Leon took his cruise
Took Sinbad seven voyages
To see that it was all a ruse

That's why I'm looking for the next best thing
Looking for the next best thing
I appreciate the best but I'm settling for less
So I'm looking for the next best thing

Looking for the next best thing

All alone on the road to perfection
At the inspection booth they tried to discourage me
You can believe what you want that'll never change it
Well you'll have to come around eventually

And you'll be looking for the next best thing
Looking for the next best thing
I appreciate the best, I'm settling for less
I'm looking for the next best thing

Well looking for the next best thing
Looking for the next best thing
Yes I'm looking
And I'm looking for the next best thing
I'm looking for the next best thing



Read more: Warren Zevon - Looking For The Next Best Thing Lyrics | MetroLyrics 


Jim Rubens For U.S. Senate--"Why Not The Best?"

After reading today's Union Leader endorsement of Scott Brown for U.S. Senate, it's clear that I like Scott Brown more than whoever wrote the editorial.  That's the good news for Scott Brown.  The bad news is that after much deliberation, I've decided to vote for Jim Rubens in the Sept. 9 primary.

Talk about damning with faint praise; that's what the Union Leader endorsement of Scott Brown did.  

For example, the editorial writer lists four of its reason for supporting Brown as:

--"his blue collar roots"

--"his many years of service to his country with the National Guard"

--"his work to put himself through law school" 

--"the fine family that he and his wife have raised"


Nothing about being kind to his pets?

Those are all good qualities; in fact they might be great qualifications...for someone running for...Rotary or Elks Club or Chamber of Commerce President.

But when it comes to qualifications for one of the 100 elite solons in our land, the line from the Peggy Lee standard comes to mind, "Is that all there is?"  Go ahead, have a listen; it's really quite beautiful, and I promise not to go away.

Peggy Lee:Is That All There Is? - YouTube

The Union Leader editorial put me in mind of cotton candy at Lake Dunmore.  As a little kid, I loved cotton candy; I'd get it at Lake Dunmore (near Middlebury, Vt) whenever my family went for a cookout (it was a dime back then).  However, even as a little kid, I realized that coton candy wasn't all that good for me, and that there are far better sources of nutrition.

While the Union Leader didn't come right out and say so, it implied that Scott Brown is indeed the cotton candy of this Republican primary field...lots of sugar, a little coloring, and lots of air all mixed together in a delicious swirl.

What's not to like about cotton candy?

If we're willing to lower our standards to that of cotton candy, Scott Brown will suffice, and he will win the primary.

However, is it too much to ask that in these troubled times, we raise the bar a bit?  Is it too much to ask that we shoot for the best?

There's a great line from a Warren Zevon song, "I appreciate the best, but I'm settling for less; I'm looking for the next best thing."

When it comes to primaries, not only do I appreciate the best, but I'm voting for the best; I for one refuse to settle for less; and Jim Rubens is clearly the best candidate in this field.

I know, I know there's a tendency to dumb down our politics these days; we often choose to vote for the guy we'd rather have a beer with.  I guess Scott Brown would win hands down if that were the qualification.

Cotton candy?  Beer?  Is that all there is?

I need to allude ever so briefly to a word which could get me in trouble.


Jim Rubens is by far the smartest candidate in the field, but not only is he intelligent, he also knows how to use that intelligence. He proved that when as a State Senator, he drove Democrat leader Peter Burling up the wall in committee of conferences.

Any Republican who can tie Peter Burling up in knots is all right by me. 

Not only is Jim Rubens the smartest person in the field, he's also the most dogged in fighting for a cause; out of state gambling interests have learned that time and again in the past few years.

Pardon me for asking and we certainly don't need all 100 of our United States Senators to be Mensa members, but is it too much to ask for one really smart senator?  Is it?    

Pardon me if I want my United Senator to be smarter than I am.

I don't consider myself stupid; after all, I've served 18 years in the New Hamshire House (on Finance, Ways and Means, and Criminal Justice among other committees).  I've fought and won the good fight for gay marriage, and I'm fighting and hope to ultimately win the good fight for marijuana law reforms (not to mention a reasonable interstate speed limit).

However, I always like to think there are others in the room smarter than I am.  

When I'm in a room with Jim Rubens, I know I'm not the smartest person in the room.

I don't always start out agreeing with him (although I certainly agree that the feds should leave marijuana laws up to the states), but I respect his intelligence enough to always listen to what he has to say.  The ability to convince people, after all, is undoubtedly the most important trait for any U.S. Senator.

If Scott Brown wins the primary (as I expect he will; hey, I'm not going to lie about it), I'll harken back to those days at Lake Dunmore and line up for the cotton candy (after all, it's better than Jeanne Shaheen's poison).

But until September 9, I'll keep saying over and over again, "Why not the best?"

"Why not Jim Rubens?"