Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Wednesday
Jul162014

Up The Creek, With A Paddle

 

These are the scenic falls at Vergennes, Vermont, the state's oldest and smallest city (pop. 2600).  It's 7.7 miles down Otter Creek to Lake Champlain, near the ritzy Basin Harbor Club (I mowed lawns there one summer in high school), but today my brother and I are putting in to explore above the falls, up the creek...with a paddle of course.  One never knows.

Boats from all over take advantage of Vergennes hospitality by journeying up the creek from the lake and spending the night free of charge (two nights in a row maximum or 96 hours in a calendar year; I wonder who's policing that rule), electric hook-ups included (although donations are accepted, $10-20 a night recommended); six were there last night from points ranging from Quebec to Rhode Island.  I read on line that most creeks flow into rivers, but here in Vermont, rivers flow into the mighty Otter Creek which also holds the distinction of flowing northward.

Speaking of police, I don't know where Vergennes gets all its money (from homeowners I presume), but it must have the largest police force per capita in the world.  The other night, a police officer visited a woman wondering why she failed to renew her dog license.  Duh!  Because she no longer has the dog!  Don't police here have anything better to do than track down people who used to have dogs?

You can't make this stuff up--the smaller the city, the more the police harass people.

 

Course of Otter Creek
No otters, no beaver, no ducks, no geese, not even many birds, not a single other human being, only one unmoving frog on a log in the middle of the creek and lots of cows along the bank.  Best idea--put in below the falls, not above.

 

 

Wednesday
Jul162014

NBC--Obama Down 15 In NH; Other Dems Fare Better

NBC News/Marist is out with an in depth poll on New Hampshire public opinion today showing Barack Obama's approval rating here continues to run a few points worse than nationwide; it's at negative 15 (39-54).

However news is better for New Hampshire Democrats who will actually be on the ballot this fall.

Missouri native Jeanne Shaheen runs eight points ahead of New Hampshire native Scott Brown in the U.S. Senate race.  It's 50-42, about in line with other recent polling data.

Shaheen has a plus 13 favorability rating (52-39) while Brown's is plus one (40-39), but the good news for Brown is that he's running way ahead in the Republican primary (Brown 61, Smith 16, Rubens 10), and I continue to believe his approval rating will increase dramatically once Republicans come home afer the primary.

Governor Maggie Hassan fares less well than she did in last week's UNH poll.  Her favorability is plus 17 (47-30) and her approval is plus 25 (55-30).

More bad news for Demcrats is that New Hamsphire voters continue to oppose Obamacare by a wider margin than those nationwide.  It's minus 17 here (35-52), and among the 52 percent who say they are opposed, 46 percent are strongly opposed.

As issues to polls, NBC News/Marist chose the greenhouse gas initiative and pathway to citizenship (As if that's at all relevant here; oh yeah, what percent of the NH population is Latino?  How close to zero can you get?  Or maybe they're expecting a new wave of French Canadians to come across the border).

By a 53-40 percent margin, New Hampshire voters favor the greenhouse gas initiative even if it costs more in utility bills.  The pathway to citizenship question is about even, 50-46 percent in favor.

I've managed to procure a link to the entire poll in case you want more details.  It should be here. 

Full New Hampshire poll results (.pdf)

As in other states around the country (in Alaska incumbent Demcoratic Senator Mark Begich, who voted with Obama 90 percent of the time, is actually campaigning openly against Obama--see link), the question in New Hamsphire will be whether Democrats can run far and fast enough away from Obama to survive.

  1. Washington Post ‎- 2 days ago
    Begich is running in an age of congressional weakness. ... The bad news is that, even running against a Republican to be named later,Begich does not ... in this race, trying to tie Begich to Obama and the Affordable Care Act, ...
Wednesday
Jul162014

Summertime, And The Living Is Fast (Illegally Fast)

 
Regardless of the volume of traffic at a given time, more than 90 percent of New Hampshire motorists traveling on Route 101 between Manchester and Hampton Beach this summer are likely to be law breakers.

While my surveys of speeders usually are conducted on Interstate 89 between Concord and Lebanon, I thought I'd head to the beach last Thursday, July 10 (boy, was the water cold!), and sure enough, 93.3 percent of drivers, 28 out of 30, sped past me as I was going around 67-68 miles an hour on the way to Hampton (between 1 and 2 p.m.).  On the way back, 91.7, 55 out of 60 people, percent were breaking the 65 mile an hour speed limit (between 5 and 6 p.m.).

Those are the facts, m'aam, just the facts.  Combined coming and going, 83 of 90 people, 92.2 percent, were ignoring the 65 mile an hour speed limit.
I conducted the survey only beyond Exit 2 in Manchester.  
Of the five cars obeying the limit on the way back, four were in an area near a parked police cruiser.  In fact, the cruiser was causing a hazard as cars had to change, zigging and zagging around the "slower" drivers (that is to say those four obeying the law).   

You just can't make this stuff up.
Now comes the usual editorializing.  
What kind of society are we when we create laws which are broken by more than 90 percent of the people on a regular basis?
Clearly, such flaunting of the law shows a total disregard for the most basic principle on which democracy is founded, "consent of the people".
Also clearly, the most dangerous thing out there on our roads are the police who create an uneven flow of traffic.
By now, everyone knows that for several years, I have filed legislation to increase the speed limit on certain divided highways to the reasonable speed of 70 miles an hour, reasonable as defined by the rate people are traveling.
Rather than make laws reflect the will of the people, legislators continue to pass on that idea in favor of creating a nation of law breakers.
The recalcitrant claim that they want to see results of how the increased speed limit, to 70 miles an hour on I93 north of Concord, plays out.  We already know that it's working just fine, thank you.  In fact, a report last seek suggests highway fatalities are way down this year.  You can be sure that if fatalities were up, the bureaucrats would blame it on the increased speed, but I don't see them rushing to give credit to the increased speed for saving lives.
In fact, a steady speed (most drivers prefer a speed of 72 miles an hour, according to all national surveys) is what saves lives.  By maintaing 65 mile an hour limits, with ten percent of the population determined to obey a silly lmit--that's what's kiliing people.
That's my story, and I'm sticking with it, for I93, Route 101,and also for I89.
Of course, I have new numbers for 89.  The following day, Friday, July 11 around noon, between Concord and Lebanon, 35 people sailed by me, and I had to pass only five people to maintain that 67-68 mile an hour speed.
That's 87.5 percent law breakers, but here's the kicker.  Of the five traveling less than 65 miles an hour, two were campers; one car was a car carrying bicycles; and another was following the bike carrying car seemingly waiting for a time to zip around.
Isn't it time to bring some sanity to our speed limit laws and at the same time stop making law breakers out of 90-95 percent of our otherwise law abiding citizens.
While I trust you'll take my word for this data, I do have a witness.  My brother was with me for both trips and he seems to have bought into the totally unproven assertion that if you raise the speed limit, people will simply go faster.  No, dear brother, I had to explain, all surveys show that people will not do that; they will simply go the speed they go now, about 72 miles an hour.
Maine, by the way, has just raised its speed limits again, but don't take my word for it.  Here's proof.
  • Speed limits increased on many Maine highways

    www.wcsh6.com/story/news/.../speed-limits-increased/9633159/
    WCSH 
    May 27, 2014 - The Maine Department of Transportation has increased the speed limit on many highways effective immediately.
  • State increases speed limits on highways - WMTW.com

    www.wmtw.com/news/announcement...speed-limits/26183002
    WMTW 
    by Aly Myles - May 27, 2014 - Mainers will be able to driver faster on parts of Maine'shighways beginning Monday.
  • Speed limit on much of I-295 rises to 70 mph - The Portland ...

    www.pressherald.com/.../speed_limt_on_much_of_...
    Portland Press Herald 
    May 27, 2014 - The Maine Department of Transportation increased the speed limitfrom 65 mph to 70 mph on I-295 north of Tukey's Bridge in Portland to mile ...
  •  
    Tuesday
    Jul152014

    The Reading Room--How World War II Modernized Brazil

    As exciting as it is to learn new aspects of things you had studied in the past (the Reichstag fire and the origins of World War I for me), one of the true joys of life is to pick up a book on a totally new subject and to simply learn, learn, learn.

    Just by chance, probably because I was following the World Cup in Brazil, I happened to pick up Neill Lochery's new book "Brazil, The Fortunes of War--World War II and the Making of Modern Brazil".

    That's not the best title ever devised, and when I left the library, I wasn't sure how far I'd get into this little gem, but it turned out to be the type of book I couldn't put down once I had begun it.

    In fact, I'd say it's almost like a novel one might enjoy at the beach in the summertime.  However, it's not a novel--it's pure history, and I'm not at the beach but rather sitting here in my brother's garden in Vermont, playing with a black cat named Zeke from time to time, waiting for the BBQ to be ready, and enjoying every moment of this 300 page look into how President Getulio Vargas, the dictator of Brazil at the start of World War II, used the war to turn his country into a major economic and military power in the Western Hemisphere.
     
    Brazilian President/Dictator Getulio Vargas (small in stature, he looks a bit like Harry Truman)
    During the World Cup, we heard how the Brazilians, once they lost to Germany 7-1 in the semi-finals, would be doubly angered if their arch enemy Argentina ended up winning it all.

    The sports rivalry, as it turns out, is nothing compared to the geopolitical rivalry.  Vargas, who came to power in a coup in 1930 and wound up being overthrown just after the war (ashes to ashes, dust to dust) decided that the best course for his country was to hitch its star to the United States, and even as Argentina bellied up to the Nazis, Brazil allied with the United States.

    Nearly overthrown in a coup in 1938, Vargas had finely honed survival skills both for himself and for his country.  One of the great lines we come upon in Lochery's book is that Vargas mastered the art of silence in ten different languages.
    He was guided by his daughter and translator the beautiful Alzira and his American leaning foreign minister Osvaldo Aranha even as his military (Minister of War Eurico Dutra and chief of staff Goez Monteiro) seemed to prefer a more neutral course.

    Any good story, fact or fiction, needs great supporting characters, and Lochery provides them from Walt Disney, Orson Welles, Errol Flynn, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., to a young Nelson Rockefeller; they all played major roles in U.S./Brazilian relations as the war proceeded, not to mention Deputy Secretary of State Sumner Welles who was referred to as "my fairy" by Secretary of State Cordell Hull.
    What's a great story without a little homophobia thrown in?
    This book is only 300 pages.  I've literally devoured most of it in only two days, and I'm kind of holding off a bit now, not wanting to get to the end--I know Vargas is overthrown.  He kind of has to be--a dictator himself, he was fighting on the side of freedom in the war, so it would only make sense that Brazilians would demand some political freedom of their own at the end of the war.

    Of course, politically the 50 years following the war were not the best for Brazil, a country as hard to govern as any other South American nation, including those formed by Simon Bolivar.  From 43 million people in 1940, Brazil has become the fifth most populous nation in the world today with about 200 million people.  It has eclipsed Argentina as the great power in South America.  Even as the World Cup ends, the country gears up for the 2016 Olympics.

    Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is apparently in trouble because the country spent $11 billion building new stadiums for the World Cup at a time more perhaps should have gone for education and infrastructure.
     
    For an indication of just how Brazil developed so rapidly, using World War II as the basis (Vargas and FDR worked well together), grab a copy of this new book and take it to the beach...or to wherever you're passing your summer days.

    Lochery's previous book "Lisbon" chronicles life in that Portuguese city during the war, perhaps another chance to learn something truly new.

    1. Could Brazil's epic World Cup loss cost its president her job ...

      www.vox.com/.../world-cup-loss-brazil-germany-dilma-rousseff-election
      5 days ago - Yet the person who's got to feel worst about the loss wasn't on the field:Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff. Because, as crazy as it seems, ...
    Monday
    Jul142014

    It's The First, Not Fourth, World Cup For Germany

    Germany wins fourth World Cup title by beating Argentina, 1-0

    Germany celebrates

    Sure enough, as expected, the media is reporting yesterday's 1-0 win over Argentina as producing the fourth World Cup for Germany.

    That's not quite true.

    I guess it's what we could expect when sportscasters enter the realm of geopolitics.

    Late in the game on ABC, I heard the announcer proclaim, correctly, that this would be the first World Cup for Germany since 1990.  

    The problem, of course, is that Germany as we know it today did not exist until 1991 when West Germany bascially absorbed the East.  Thus, the three previous World Cups were for West Germany, not Germany.

    Without going into a Cold War history lesson here, one which sportscasters chose to completely ignore, the vanquished Germany was split into four zones after World War II, occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union.  The three western zones united to form West Germany while the Soviet zone became East Germany.  The three western zones had about three times the population of the East, even more after millions of East Germans fled to the freedom of the West prior to the wall coming down on Novemver 9, 1989.

    The three previous years that a German team won the World Cup (1954, 1974, and 1990) were thus all when the country was split between East and West Germanny.  Let's not try to rewrite political history by saying this was the fourth World Cup for Germany.

    Far be it from me to tax the intellectual powers of your typical sportscaster, but Germany is not the same as West Germany.  

    In fact, Angela Merkel, the popular German Chancellor who was in Brazil for yesterday's championship game, grew up in East Germany.  I won't go into her life history here, but clearly, she was not in West Germany when it won the 1954, 1974, and 1990 World Cups.

    1974, when West Germany hosted and won the World Cup, was the only time East Germany made it into the tournament.  East Germans actually beat West Germans 1-0 that year; they beat Australia 2-0 and tied Chile 1-1 before losing 1-0 to Brazil in the quarterfinals.  West Germany beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the title game in Munich (Remember Munich had hosted the 1972 Olympics--how could anyne ever forget?).  Presumably, Angela Merkel was rooting for her East German comrades that year, not that there's anything wrong with that.

    Here's just one story you could find on google, one which suggests Chancellor Merkel was quite close to East German Communism (not that there's anything wrong with that either; to survive in an evil system like East Germany, one had to play the game...if you doubt it was an evil system, try reading Peter Weyden's book "Wall--The Inside Story of Divided Berlin").

    New Book Suggests Angela Merkel Was Closer to ...

    www.spiegel.de › English Site › Germany › Angela Merkel
     Der Spiegel 
    May 14, 2013 - A biography focusing on Chancellor Angela Merkel's time growing up inEast Germany is making headlines because it suggests she was 

    I was actually visiting Berlin at the time of unifiication (wiedervereinigung) in 1991.  I trust the story is more than a myth, but a friend of mind pointed to dogs who were out in force to keep the peace that night and said, "Those are the same dogs which were patrolling at the wall a few years ago."

    So, let's be historically accurate.

    By becoming the first European county to claim a World Cup on the soil of the new world, Germany captured its first, not its fourth World Cup yesterday.

    Here's another way of looking at it.  Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia have never won World Cups, but they certainly most have won some titles during their existence.  Today, of course, neither country still exists.  Were the Czech Republic or Slovakia to win something today, would we add the titles into those taken by Czechoslovakia? Or what if Bosnia, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, or any of the entities which used to comprise Yugoslavia (can you name them all?) were to win?  Would we lump them in with Yugoslav titles?  I think not.

    To say today's Germany today is the same as West Germany which won three World Cups is like implying Ireland is still part of Great Britain and any Irish title should be added on to those of England!  Ouch!

    As for the game, although 0-0 through regulation time, I found it much more interesting than last year's finale between Spain and the Netherlands.  In fact, the Netherlands, 3-0 winners over Brazil in the consolation game Saturday, have played some of the most boring soccer in recent years--not only against Spain last year but against both Costa Rica and Argentina this year.  I, for one, was glad to see the Netherlanders not advance to the finals.

    Although I would have preferred a Messi (Argentina) win, I thought it was Germany's year, and the lone goal was certainly spectacular.  No one that I know of is checking to see if the German players are from east (East) or west (West), but we know that the three previous times a German team prevailed, they were all West Germans.

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