Rep Steve Vaillancourt



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 ...
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    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.

    Monday
    Jul142014

    This Week's Trivia--"Hard To Digest"

    Let's keep it short and sweet for this week's trivia, nothing about the World Cup or Brazil (although I'm in the middle of an interesting new book "Brazil, The Fortunes of War, World War II and the Making of Modern Brazil" by Neill Lochery).

    Here's a rather delicious quote.  Who said?

    "Liberty is a succulent food, but difficult to digest?"

    How true.

    Hint--Siimon Bolivar did not say it, but I came across it in the new biography of Bolivar, ("Bolivar, American Liberator" by Marie Arana) and he certainly learned the truth of the quote.  After liberating six Latin American countries (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Panama), Bolivar died a broken man (tuberculosis most likely) tyring to govern the areas which had broken free from Spain.  Thus, liberty was indeed hard to digest.

    Here are some options; and had I not read about this quote in the Bolivar book, I don't think I'd be able to choose correctly from this group.

    Was it?

    Thomas Hobbes;

    John Locke;

    John Jacques Rousseau;

    Thomas Jeffereson;

    Voltaire;

    Edmund Burke; or

    Alexis de Tocqueville;

    For the answer, let's go to google, and in the process, we'll see how Bolivar used the quote.

  • Simón Bolívar: "Message to the Congress of Angostura ...

    prezi.com/...-/simon-bolivar-message-to-the-congress-of-angostura-...
     "Liberty, says Rousseau, is a succulent food,but difficult to digest" (232). Bolívar cites examples of other governments:
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    Sunday
    Jul132014

    Today's Ten Most Clickable (After Palin)

    Photo: Henry Kissinger

    Almost 40 years ago--I remember it well; I was living in Ashland at the time; Henry Kissinger obviously was still Secretary of State so it must have been 1975 or 1976--I recall sitting in my favorite easy chair watching TV when Henry Kissinger appeard on the screen, and I resolved to myself then and there to immediately change the channel whenever he appeared on the screen.  I considered him a war criminal at the time (and still do) and decided that the very least I could do was to simpy ignore him even if millions of others chose to hang on every virtually unintelligible syllable he uttered.

    Guess what?

    Until very recently, I kept that pledge to myself. 10, 20, 30 years went by, and I never once heard a word from Henry Kissinger.   Through the years, as if my life depended on it, I have managed to tune out the unindicted war criminal, former Secretary of State, and FOD (friend of Dick Nixon).  

    Now comes a confesion.  A few months ago, I'm not sure why because certainly a clicker was nearby, I actually listened as Kissinger appeared with Charlie Rose talking about Vladimir Putin, Crimea, and the Ukraine.

    Personal pledges to avoid offensive peope is an honorable past-time.  In fact, as I noted in another blog just moments ago, I choose to ignore Sarah Palin today.  Of course, with the TV clickers, it's much easier these days than it was 40 years ago to simply avoid those who annoy us.

    Any sentient human being can come up with his or her list of the most clickable; can pledge to himself or herself to click 'em all; and then to follow through or not to follow through as the case may be.

    Most of the people who offend me most readily are Republicans (perhaps because I expect more from them), but in the interest of fairly ignoring members of both parties, I've come up with a list of five clickables from each party here....above and beyond Palin of course.

    Republicans move out to a quick 3-0 edge due to what I have long referred to as the Triumvirate of Stooges.  John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and their newfound ally Kelly Ayotte, really put me to the test becasuse like weeds, they crop up everywhere when one least expects it on all sorts of media.

    Click.

    Click.

    Click.

    Two other Republicans come quickly to mind.  I loathe New York Congressman and publicity hog Peter King who may or may not be running for President.  I guess I'll never really know what his plans are because whenever he comes on....

    Click.

    I already alluded to the fifth Republican.  Whatever his role in shutting the George Washington bridge down as part of political retribution, New Jersey Governor and Presidential wannabe (god forbid!) Chris Christie gets one thing and one thing only from me...

    Click.

    As for Democrats, while I don't beleive Barack Obama should be impeached, I am convinced that whether willfully or unintentionally he frequently lies to us.  Those who lie constantly deserve a...

    Click.

    Just because he is who is he is, Joe The Clown Biden merits a...

    Click.

    Not to leave Kelly Ayotte out there alone among New Hamsphire Senators, let's provide Jeanne Shaheen, the absolute epitome of insincerity, the poster child of someone who will say or do anything to get elected, and who will do so with a voice enough to make one prefer chalk on the old-fashioned blackboard (are such things still used?), with a...

    Click.

    Of course, Shaheen can't hold a Missouri candle to the queen of insincerity at the national level, another woman who will say or do anythiing to get elected.  Certainly Hillary Clinton deserves what her husband has been spared thus far, a...

    Click.

    Then there's New York Senator...nuff said...I don't even need to names a name here...just as well because I've happily forgotten it...

    Click.

    Those are my 11 most clickable.

    To quote the great Soviet American comedian Yakov Smirnoff, "What a great country" ...what a great country we live in where the most loathsome can rise to the highest places, to such high places that some...many...most (?) people will hang on their every word but where others, such as I, can simply...

    CLICK.

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