Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Monday
Nov172014

The Polls--Landrieu Down 16, Obamacare At A New Low

You didn't really think the election would bring an end to polls, did you?  We've been given a brief respite, nothing else.  In fact, I've been assiduously searching for numbers out of Louisiana for the past week, especially after watching what could only be described as Mary Landrieu's pathetic attempt to save her seat by taking to the Senate floor for an hour last week pushing the XL pipeline.  The H word was even uttered on the Senate floor; yes indeed, Democratic Senator Heitkamp from North Dakota asserted that it's taken longer to approve the pipeline than it did to defeat Hitler.  That's true enough but only because "her" President and 'her" party's special interest groups have stoo in the way; of course, she didn't say that.  After blocking a vote on this major issue for years, outgoing majority leader Harry Reid has apparently decided that Mary needs all the help she can get.

Truth be told, Reid more than any single homo sapien (except Barack Obama of course) is responsible for the Democratic bloodbath of November 4.  Mary could have used his help a year ago.  It's too late now.  At last we get new data out of Louisiana, and Landrieu trails Republican Bill Cassidy by 16 points (57-41, Magellan), about what we could have executed by adding the numbers for Cassidy and the other Republican from the election two weeks ago.  Obama is at negative 30 in the state, 32-62.  Ouch!  If only Mary could run a little faster and a little farther from Obama, maybe she'd cut the margin to single digits.

I've also scored Alaska for Republican Dan Sullivan despite the continued refusal by Democratic Senator Mark Becich to take no for an answer.  He just won't concede even though he's still down 8000 votes out of only about a quarter million counted--apparently the ballots for igloos strategy just didn't work. Compare that to Republican Ed Gillsespie who conceded to Mark Warner even though he was down only 15,000 or so votes out of two and a quarter million cast in Virginia.
Now that I'm getting MSNBC, I find it truly comical to see how fellow Democratic traveler Rachel Maddow is about the only one left urging Begich to hold on.  While I generally enjoy the left wing slant of MSNBC (Chris Matthews is especially amusing as he goes out of his way to call Ted Cruz the Joe McCarthy of our time over and over again), but this Maddow simply cannot be trusted, not for a minute; plus she exudes a smarmy self-righteous nature that would put James Pindell to shame.

No amount of pathetic pandering on the Senate floor can save Landrieu.  That's why you'll note that in my tallies, I've already stated the totals at 54R-46D, exactly what I had predicted, by the way.  In fact, I called every United States Senate race correctly, defying the pollsters in North Carolina and Kansas, as well as every New Hampshire Senate race for the second election cycle in a row.

Perhaps even more significantly on the polling front is word from Gallup that support of Obamacare has fallen to an all time low, just 37 percent as opposed to 56 percent opposed (hey, that's negative 19).  I've copied the entire story for you here.  Only 33 percent of independents approve; only eight percent of Republicans; and the approval with Democrats is only 74 percent.  As always, don't take my word for it.  Here's the story.
 
As New Enrollment Period Starts, ACA Approval at 37%l
by Justin McCarthy

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the Affordable Care Act's second open enrollment period begins, 37% of Americans say they approve of the law, one percentage point below the previous low in January. Fifty-six percent disapprove, the high in disapproval by one point.

Trend: Americans' Views of the Affordable Care Act

Americans were slightly more positive than negative about the law around the time of the 2012 election, but they have consistently been more likely to disapprove than approve of the law in all surveys that have been conducted since then. Approval has been in the low 40% or high 30% range after a noticeable dip that occurred in early November 2013. This was shortly after millions of Americans received notices that their current policies were being canceled, which was at odds with President Barack Obama's pledge that those who liked their plans could keep them. The president later said, by way of clarification, that Americans could keep their plans if those plans didn't change after the ACA was passed.

The current 37% reading comes on the heels of last week's midterm elections, in which Republicans won full control of both houses of Congress. Already, party leaders are discussing efforts to repeal the unpopular law.

Repeal is highly unlikely, given Obama's veto power, but the law's new low in approval -- and new high in disapproval (56%) -- could potentially have an impact on its future. The president himself has acknowledged he will consider modifications to the law, which could include repealing the tax on medical devices.

Approval Among Independents at 33%

Approval of the law continues to diverge sharply by party, with 74% of Democrats and 8% of Republicans approving of it. Independents have never been particularly positive toward the law, with approval ranging between 31% and 41%. Currently, 33% of independents approve.

Trend: Approval of the Affordable Care Act, by Party ID

Nonwhites, who disproportionately identify as Democrats, have maintained majority approval since the ACA's inception, now at 56%. Though this is still about double the level of approval among whites (29%), it is the first time nonwhites have fallen below the 60% mark.

Trend: Approval of the Affordable Care Act, Whites vs. Nonwhites

Bottom Line

Americans have never been overly positive toward the ACA, at best showing a roughly equal division between approval and disapproval early on in the law's implementation. The percentage of Americans who approve of the law represents a new numerical low, which could indicate a loss of faith in the law amid the aftermath of the 2014 midterms. Although the ACA, also called Obamacare, was not as dominant an issue in this year's congressional elections as it was in 2010, the issue was part of Republicans' campaign efforts to oppose the president's agenda overall. In doing that, many of the party's candidates were successful.

Though the law's implementation suffered setbacks last fall, government officials have greater optimism for the health insurance website's usability this time around. Importantly, though, approval of the law has remained low throughout the year even as it has had obvious success in reducing the uninsured rate. And with approval holding in a fairly narrow range since last fall, it may be that Americans have fairly well made up their minds about the law, and even a highly successful second open enrollment period may not do much to boost their approval.

 

Thursday
Nov132014

The Race For Speaker--Sanborn Withdraws

In a personal message delivered shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon, Laurie Sanborn, R-Bedford, announced that she is withdrawing from the race for New Hampshire House Speaker.

She sited a need to devote time to her husband State Senator Andy Sanborn who was recently hospitalized.

In her email, Rep. Sanborn did not say if she would endorse either of the former Speakers, Gene Chandler or Bill O'Brien, in the race.  Republican Reps will meet next Tuesday to decide their choice for Speaker.  The House is expected to elect whichever Republican survives next Tuesday's vote; that vote will be the first Wednesday in December.

Rep. Sanborn had been picking up support and was expected (at least by me) to draw enough votes to prevent either Chandler or O'Brien from claiming a first ballot victory.

At this early time, it is unknown whether any other Republican will step in to replace Sanborn as the "third" candidate in the field.

Democrats yesterday chose Steve Shurtleff, D-Concord, as what is expected to be minority leader.

In a recount today, Republican McConnell from Cheshire County (Swanzey and Richmond) appears to have defeated Democrat Faulkner by three votes.

The recount for the fourth and final Hampton seat should be concluded within a half hour.

Republicans most likely will control the New Hampshire House by about a 240-160 margin, meaning that most committees will be aligned 12-8 Republicans; and the Finance Committee would be 16-10 Republicans.

Although the Speaker has always been an elected House member, we often hear that the House could in fact elect a non-member to the job.

No, no, I'm not throwing my hat into the ring.

Thursday
Nov132014

Better Now Than 2016 For Democrats

There's good news and bad news for Democrats today.

The bad news is that, according to a new Gallup poll, the party has sunk to its lowest favorability level ever.   From  43-28 lead over Republicans prior to the election, Democrats have fallen to a 42-36 deficit.  That's a dramatic 21 point swing (up 14 for Republicans, down 7 for Democrats) , almost too much to believe.

The good news, of course, is that (except for the Louisiana Senate runoff, already written off as a loss by most Democrats--they've pulled funding from Mary Landrieu), the next elections are almost two years away.

A lot can change in that amount of time.  

Here's the Gallup graph. Note that the numbers need not add up to 100 percent since this is a favorability ranking of each party, not necessarily a comparison.  Also note that the high water mark for Democrats, at 61 percent, was back in 2000  Republicans reached their high water mark,also at 61 percent, back in 2002. Generally speaking, it's been downhill for both parties ever since.  We could almost draw a downward line like one would with a stock chart!

Republican and Democratic Party Favorables, 1992-2014

 

 

Monday
Nov102014

Judge Says No To "Historical Slot Racing" In Texas

For those who may have been following the story of how Texas Governor Rick Perry brought expanded gambling to the loan start state this past summer by bypassing the legislature, here's a bulletin just in. A Texas judge has blocked the introduction of so-called "historical slots" into the Lone Star State, noting that the Texas Racing Authority exceeded its authority. There was never any doubt in my mind; only the legislature, in both New Hampshire and Texas apparently, is empowered to approve expanded gambling.

I got involved in this story in late August when a Texas reporter asked me if I though such usurpation of power by Governor Perry would go over well in New Hampshire. Of course I said no. The reporter than found a source for the same story to claim it wouldn't matter a whit. You'd be wrong if you think the contrary source was another elected official or even a judge. It was none other than the since disgraced WMUR reporter James Pindell who just can't seem to miss a chance to make himself part of any story, even one making the rounds from Texas to New Hampshire.

Where is Pindell these days, anyway?

The fact that Governor Perry tried to ram this scheme home without legislative approval should, I continue to believe, make voters in the first in the nation primary state think twice about his authoritarian leanings.  Obviously, he won't have my vote...yours neither I hope.

Here's today's story from the Houston Chronicle.

Judge: Texas Racing Commission exceeded authority by approving ‘historical racing’

By Brian M. Rosenthal, Houston Chronicle

November 10, 2014

AUSTIN — A Travis County judge ruled Monday that the Texas Racing Commission exceeded its authority when it allowed horse and dog racing tracks to install “historical racing” terminals that resemble slot machines.

Judge Laura Livingston sided with a coalition of charitable bingo groups who sued the commission because they felt the terminals would cut into their business.

“Had these slot machines been allowed to be implemented, bingo would have been devastated,” said Steve Bresnen, a spokesman for the coalition. “We appreciate the judge’s decision.”

Andrea Young, CEO of the Sam Houston Race Park, disagreed.

“Today’s decision is a blow to the Texas Horse industry and thousands of hardworking horse men and women,” Young said in a statement. “We obviously disagree with the judge’s decision and are considering our options.”

The historical racing game, also known as “instant racing,” allows players at horse and dog tracks to bet on previously run races that have been stripped of all identifying markings. Supporters view it as a new type of betting that could improve revenues at struggling racing tracks. Opponents complain it looks like a slot machine and is essentially the same thing.

Charitable bingo is a business that brings in hundreds of millions of dollars per year in Texas, but it is under fire from lawmakers who long have complained that only a tiny percentage of profits actually go to charity.

________________________________________________________

Monday
Nov102014

Jackie On The Brink

 Who would have thought that I would rediscover a passion for Jacques Brel's music?  Certainly not I.  Strange, what writing fiction does to one!  Maybe it was the decision to name a major character Jackie.  Then, of course, Brel has a major song named...."Jacky".  Voila.
I'm so excited. Inspired by a chance encounter at Shaw’s Market (see other blog), I decided to work on a chapter of my proposed book "The Emperor of Quebec" last night. It so happens that the chapter falls toward the end of the book which I have mapped out, but it's a vital chapter and guess what?

 I discovered that writing fiction is not nearly as onerous or as difficult as I thought it would be. Apparently I think best at the keyboard because in the process of introducing a major character, I developed another character who is also going to have a lot to do with the course of events.

Since I'm fond of foreshadowing, there's lots of that, especially in this chapter. Since the book will primarily be a large part historical fiction (of Quebec as well as Germany--ironic that I should begin writing this on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall), there's lot of that although only tangentially referred to in this particular chapter which is meant to set the framework of what comes before and after.

One of the drawbacks I've always faced in writing is a disdain for editing, but I seem to have overcome that. I spent all night reworking the chapter; I actually looked up the album "Jacques Brel Is Alive
And Living In Paris" and plan to make Brel a major part of the book.

This is so exciting. Writing fiction truly is like giving birth, but not just for a few hours, for days and months and years at a time. Best of all, it's only fiction so one need not be encumbered by facts. As Marsha Clark, O.J. Simpson's failed prosecutor, explained recently--I write fiction because I can control the verdict.

My writing heroes are Kurt Vonnegut, known for stringing a multitude of rambling short chapters together ("Cat's Cradle") and John Irving, known for complicated dark plots. I suspect Irving is far more disciplined, so I expect Vonnegut, if anyone, will serve as my muse along the way.

I may never get beyond my first chapter (89), but this is exciting. Here's the work in progress.

The Emperor of Quebec--Chapter 89--Jackie On The Brink

 

"Jackie started at his reflection in the mirror and was more than pleased. Jackie wasn't a bad looking guy, but Jacqueline was one beautiful woman.

 

C'est magnifique.

 

Of course Jackie would be furious if he knew anyone referred to "his" reflection in the mirror because clearly at this point in his transformation, Jackie had once again become Jacqueline, Montreal's most magnificent drag queen.

 

So let's start again. Jackie stared at her reflection in the mirror and was more than pleased. He had done it again. Jackie had disppeared, and Jacqueline reigned supreme.

 

In less than an hour, Jackie/Jacqueline would be wowing guests from all over North America at Mados, the Village's number one drag queen bar. Not far from the Jacques Cartier Bridge, Mados drew tens of thousands of passers-by enroute to the city's famous fireworks on summer evenings. Business was spotty at best other times of the year, except when Jacqueline was scheduled to appear.

 

As beautiful as Jacqueline appeared tonight--Jacqueline was always beautiful, by no means your normal drag queen--Jackie was worried.

 

In fact, Jackie was on the brink.

 

That new talk show host on CJAD--what was his name, Ernie something?-- the one pushing for separation of Quebec, for independent status of the proud province, could do nothing but harm, not merely for the province and the country but for Mados and in particular for Jackie. Jackie knew that some of Jacqueline's best clients were from Toronto, from English speaking Canada, not to mention from the wealthy metropolitan areas throughout the United States. After all, no middling fan of drag could come to Montreal without checking out Jacqueline at Mados, fireworks or no fireworks.

 

But if this blowhard of a talk show host had his way, Quebec might actually part with Canada this time. The great Rene Levesque, despite all the bluster, really didn't come close in 1980. Sure Jacques Pariseau came agonizingly close in 1995 but his post-election comment about money (AKA Jews) and immigrants had set the separatist cause back a decade. Most recently, Pauline Marois had failed miserably. She couldn't even hold on as premier, let alone bring forth another referendum.

What an ugly cow Marois was, Jackie thought. She's make a better drag queen than a leader of Quebec; in fact, she'd probably look better as a drag queen, kind of like that New Hampshire Congressperson who made headlines several years ago. But Jackie needed to concentrate on the job at hand, not on North American's ugliest women.

 

Jackie needed to focus on this Ernie whatever his last name was; it probably wasn't his real name anyway, Jackie determined.

 

This Ernie cat was becoming not only the talk of Montreal, but the talk of all of Quebec. And from everything Jackie could tell, he was neither Quebecois nor Canadian, but some dreadful American come north to seek fame and fortune.

 

A "oui" on sovereignty (long a Quebec euphemism for separation) would be bad for business, for Mados, for Jacqueline, and of course for Jackie.

 

Jackie knew he couldn't take much more.

 

Enough of this talk about how Czechoslovakia, when allowed to decide its own fate, split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, about how Catalonia had seceded from Spain, about how sooner or later Scotland break ties with the imperialist U.K., how proud Quebecers should be the Scots to the punch.

 

Hour after hour, day after day, that's all Ernie talked about on CJAD, and his ratings were through the roof.

 

"Czechoslovak is no more, indeed!"

 

CJAD studios are located only a few blocks from Mados, at the corner of Rene Levesque and Papineau; Jackie passed by them often on her shopping excursions to Metro. Tonight, Jackie decided he had time to linger as he strolled by, maybe even drop in to get a look at this demagogue of a host, maybe even more.

Yes, Jackie had time to visit CJAD studios before going to work for the night at Mados. But should it be Jackie or Jacqueline who would confront the separatist savage?

 

Before Jackie could decide, the phone rang in his Panet apartment."

 

"Jackie?"

 

Jackie recognized the voice immediately, but was in no mood to humor Don. "No, this is Jacqueline."

 

"Don't give me that shit Jackie. Men may consider you the most beautiful woman in Montreal, but you still sound like an ordinary man to me."

 

"Go away, I'm busy. I have errands to run, Don."

 

"Run this by you. My sore throat is killing me and I need you to fill in for me tonight. I'm scheduled for the early show."

 

"Well if Dawn can't make it, I supposed it'll be Jacqueline to the rescue as usual. That's nine o'clock, right?"

 

"Yes, thanks, you're the best Jackie."

 

"Then the least you could do is call me Jacqueline."

 

"Maybe next time. Thanks again Jackie."

 

Jackie and Don weren't exactly friends, but Jacqueline and Dawn were soul sisters in a strange sort of way. Jackie had been lip synching Jacques Brel standards for years, in English of course, when Dawn arrived on the scene actually singing the same songs but in the original French. The Mados' manager often tried to get them to do a duet of "Marathon", a song that really cries out for more than one performer; it took four on the Broadway state.   Jackie, however,  couldn't sing a note and Don refused to lip synch; he claimed it was beneath his dignity.  "Even drag queens have dignity," he always said to which Jackie always replied, "You mean especially drag queens."

 

Now, Don seemed to be missing more and more time at the club, but that was all right with Jackie. Business was off, and she could use the extra money, and Dawn's crowd usually wasn't too tough to deal with, as long as they didn't expect Jacqueline to actually sing. In fact, Jackie usually got something extra out of filling in for Dawn, and Jackie realized he could use that extra tonight. Hopefully, the guy wouldn't turn out to be too ugly. A little ugly Jackie could take, but too ugly was, well; too ugly was too much, especially as thoughts of that Ernie cat simply ruined her mood.

 

Of course, Jackie would have to hurry to get to the club. A visit to the radio studios would have to wait for another day or night.

 

All Jackie could think about was the disastrous call from a few weeks ago. She had expected to embarrass this radio buffoon, but in the process, she had been totally humiliated herself. At least, he didn't use either of his names, and chances are no one recognized him, but still, to be so utterly defeated in a verbal joust; it wasn't something Jackie was used to.

 

Oh yes, Jackie would get to him eventually, just not tonight.

 

"Fuck him, and fuck Czechoslovakia; just leave Quebec alone, you American son of a bitch," Jacqueline thought as she hurried off to Mados, thinking about which Brel song she would open with as if she didn't already know.

As usual, Jacqueline would open with "Jacky", the Mort Shulman version of course. She'd put a little extra into the line, "Cute, cute, cute in a stupid ass way." She'd be thinking of a certain radio talk host, and maybe she'd even flip him the bird. Yes, the audience would like that.

 

So would Jackie.

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