Rep Steve Vaillancourt


8 Is The Really Big Number In The UNH U.S. Senate Poll

As the political world begins to catch its breath in the wake of last week's startling announcment from UNH pollster Andy Smith (for the WMUR Granite State Poll) that Scott Brown is within the margin of error of Jeanne Shaheen (46-44), three internal numbers stand out.

Don't concern yourself with women vs. men; as expected Shaheen enjoys about a 10 point advantage with women as does Brown with men.

Don't concern yourself with age disparity; it so happens that Shaheen leads with the youngest and oldest voters, but Scott Brown is ahead with the middle aged.

Whatever you do, don't waste your time looking at geographical divisions within the state.

The two "internals" we all need to focus on is party loyalty and undeclared voters.

Brown actually enjoys a 40-35 lead with undeclared voters.

So how can he be down to points overall, you may be asking.

Great question.

As with the last poll, Shaheen continues to overwhelm Brown with Democrats.  It's 90-6 (or a +84), and that's to be expected.  In other words, six percent of Democrats would vote for Brown.

Brown has begun to win back Republicans; he's up 84-8 (or a +76).  In other words, eight percent of Republicans would vote for Shaheeen.

A bit of simple subtraction (84-76=8) is all that's necessary to understand that Shaheen's narrow lead is based on her being more popular with Democrats than Brown is with Republicans. 

Plus eight is a big differnce in a race that's only a two point spread.

However, in a sense, this should come as good news for Brown and Republicans because clearly if he manges to narrow that eight pont margin after the primary--to simply cut it in half for example--all other things being equal, then we'll be looking at former Senator Jeanne Shaheen being ready to shuffle on back to Missouri or to the Kennedy School come January.

How likely are Republicans to rally around Brown after the primary?

In a word--VERY.

Most Republicans are so anti-Shaheen (remember her vote brought us Obamacare not to menion a slew of other Big Brother measures) that they will have no trouble switching from either Bob Smith or Jim Rubens come September 10.

Take me for example.  After a long deliberative process, I've decided to vote for Jim Rubens in the primary (reasoning to come later), but I will have absolutely no trouble moving to Scott Brown should he prevail on Sept. 9.  I know of only one Republican, a former State Rep (no names please) who plans to vote for Rubens in the primary and then for "Jeannie" in the general.

Brown will never get all Republicans just as Shaheen will never get all Democrats, but when you see any future polls, look first and foremost for the X number, X meaning the subtraction of Brown's huge lead among Republicans from Shaheen's huge lead among Democrats.

Right now X is 8.  84-76=8.

If that number gets close to zero, it could very well be bye, bye Jeannie.  Since Republican turnout should be three to five points higher than Democrats come November, Brown actually doesn't need to get X all the way to zero.

If I know that (and now you know that), you can be sure that Democrats (and Shaheen) know that, and that's why--if they're honest--they'll admit to being worried, very, very worried. 

No amount of attacking the messenger--the pollster--from Shahenn's fellow travelers in the media (such as those at Daily Kos) can alleviate what is a real and growing sense of fear, day I say panic, these days...nor should it be.


The Reading Room--"Advise And Consent" Revisited

And now for something completely different.

In the mid-1950s, about the same time the Russians were supposedly pulling ahead of us in the space race with the launching of Sputnik (beep, beep), Allen Drury was writing the first of a classic series on life inside Washington D.C.   From President to Senators, a Supreme Court Justice, ambassadors, journalists and department heads, he created an entire cast of fictional characters for Advise and Consent, published in 1959 (it was made into a movie directed by Otto Preminger in 1962).

Fast forward to 1968, one of the most tumultuous years in American history.  I was a senior in high school, and by the time Nixon and Agnew were elected, I had waded through the book (650 pages) and did a book report on it.  I went on to read the rest of the series, A Shade of Difference, Preserve and Protect, und so weiter.

Fast forward to a month ago.  The very same day I read in Pat Buchanan's new book The Greatest Comeback about how Nixon was advising him to read Preserve and Protect--this would have been circa 1967--I happened to be searching through my basement for an old high school yearbook which I found along with an entire box full of high school papers.  You guessed it, the book report was at the very top of the box.  Don't ask me why (maybe I was afraid to discover how bad a writer I was back then), but rather than read the book report, I decided to reread the entire book, and even more than half a century after its initial publication, it remains a classic.

A few things have changed on the D.C. scene.  For example, in the book, the nominee for Secretary of State is constantly smoking during his confirmation hearings; Senators seemed to work longer hours back then, and most importantly, one particular plot devise simply doesn't stand the test of time.  Drury needs to find a character flaw in one of his senators, something so bad that the senator could be bribed to prevent it from being revealed.  As it turns out, the character had spent a couple weeks with another man on the beaches of Hawaii during the war; he went on to marry, have a daughter and get elected from the great state of Utah, but apparently that "gay" fling remained part of his life.  Rather than allow the story to come to the public, the senator kills himself.  That one thing about Advise and Consent certainly doesn't stand the test of time; it actually illustrates just  how far society has come on the gay front since the mid-50s, but everything else about the book rings true.  Note that the gay relationship was so far from my mind that I apparently thought the fling was with a woman--talk about an oblivious high school senior.

However, the completely different thing is that I plan to type out the five-page hand written book report from 1968 (ah yes, back in the days when my hand writing was legible).  I received an A [very good report] from Mrs. Orr (who died tragically a few years later), but in retrospect I am convinced I'd be a better writer today had she pointed out some of the stylistic writing flaws and knocked me down a peg.  For example, use of the verb "did" is to be resisted.  I also describe the devise know as foreshadowing but never put a name to it--we live and learn; she could have noted what I was describing.

At the end of the book report, where I was talking about public service, Mrs. Orr writes, in her red pen, [Are you interested?]

Little did we both know at the time.

Here's the complete book report (unedited in any way even though I'd like very much to edit it), apparently number four for the year of English 12-C period 2 in Vergennes, Vermont [with Mrs. Orr's comments in brackets].

Advise and Consent by Allen Drury 

Allen Drury has been a newspaper man covering the bustling Washington scene for the past 15 years.  The native Texan and Stanford University graduate won acclaim for his editorials at [in] a small paper in California.  He also did a regular syndicated column for a while.  He is co-chairman of a committee which supervises work in Congressional press galleries.  His long tenure of Senate observance qualifies him in such an epic undertaking as Advise and Consent.  The book, which is over six hundred page long, is the first volume in a projected series of his dealing with the forces that shape the men who shape the issues of today's frantic world.

[Are they motivated by forces different than those that influence you and me?]

The general plot of this novel is rather loose.  A president whose name is never revealed has another year to serve.  His party controls the Senate, so he never anticipates any problems when he nominates Robert A. Leffingwell to be Secretary of State.  From this point, things begin to happen which add layer upon layer to the seemingly simple plot.  The nomination goes to a committee hearing where a thorough investigation takes place.  The senior senator from South Carolina, Seabright B. Cooley, is the senator who has most seniority and he had an old grudge against Leffingwell.  (The nominee had lied to him about ten years previously and in Washington, such things aren't forgotten).  [especially by a southern gentleman]

Determined to save the country from the liberal and overly pacifistic ideas of Robert A., Seab decides that one of this last great deeds in the Senate will be to bottle up the nomination.  Although everyone believes Seab's reasons are personal, when he digs up scandalous information on the nominee and attempt to use it, he is acting like everyone else--for the good of their country.  Everyone has a different view of what will benefit the country for Washington is a town of individuals.  The amazing thing gained from this book is that those who'd love to see Leffingwell in adn those who'd be repulsed by the thought can all profess and sincerely so to be acting for the good of the United States of America.

Washington is a city of people, unlike New York, as this book indicates.  The high policy that emerges from this focal point seems of minor importance when put up against the men who mold the policy.  The social life is one of parties and intricate games where you try to find out as much as you want without giving out too much of what you know.  Yes, under all this, you can sense that people really do care about their acquaintances.  The gruff and stern old Seab, with exterior showing a touch of senility and hardened form, had great hopes and longings for some of the younger men he finds in the ranks.  He recalls his days of youth 50 years ago. There's a secret hidden in that old mind, one that he'd never reveal to anyone.  He was in love once, until his brashness ended it all.  From that point, he picked up the pieces and went on, yet one piece was missing.

Another man with a secret was the brilliant young senator from Utah.  He was in charge of the subcommittee hearing the Leffingwell case.  Brigham Anderson was married and had a young daughter he cherished.  He didn't truly love his wife yet that would come, and for now, their relationship proved profitable although tension at home had been mounting.  Brig was a man loyal to responsibility, highly dedicated to his sense of right, to his country, and an introverted individual.  When faced with big decisions, he'd iron them out himself, act upon them, and then let others know.  It was this way when Seab forced a man who'd been in a Communist conspiracy ring with Leffingwell to phone Brigham.

[Was he or was he not a former Communist?]

Wise old Seab knew that if he acted upon the man, people wouldn't listen, but Brigham was respected.  Leffingwell had previously denied this cahrge.  To the young senator from Utah, this want' the man the country needed to be Secretary of State in such a time of crisis.  (Russia was almost on the moon and would need dealing with).  It wasn't that Robert A. had been in this unimportant Communist cell because he had faithfully served his country since.  What mattered was that Leffingwell had lied to a Senate committee.

Brigham chose to reopen the hearings, but this never came about.  As in other places throughout this book, Drury inserts a clue so as to bring on a feeling of doom.  He says that this would soon be Brigham's last act.  It it.  The President tries to bribe Brig not to open the hearings.  He still wants Leffingwell!  Brig isn't bribable.  Then, the chief executive discovers a chink in Brigham's armor, one weekend with a girl while on leave in World War II.

He deceives Brigham into believing he'll drop the nomination as we observe the great power of a President and the evil forces that invade him.  His great pride and the horror he feels as someone defies him is evident.  He puts a terribly young and impulsive senator from Wyoming to work to destroy Brig.  Freddie van Ackerman was his name, and he fulfilled his mission.  He drove Brig to the point of suicide.

After this, things happen rapidly with events taking more importance, but there are still some lessons to be leaned.  The President who had suffered from an illness was so upset by what his honor forced him to do that he died.  Freddie was censured by the Senate.  The nomination was defeated with Orrin Knox leading the way.  Before his death, the President had offered to make Orrin President if he wouldn't stand against him and reveal Brigham's motives.  In a bitter struggle of mind, Orrin, the judicious man from Illinois who had tried and been beaten at conventions before, decides that ne may never attain his goal, but he won't sell out his dear Brigham or his honor.

Harley Hudson, the Vice President, reminds me very much of Spiro Agnew.  He was handed the post because no one else fit.  All aided him through his Vice Presidency, and everyone suspect he'd be very inept if forced to the top.  As it turns out, he is a very adequate man.  His simple goodness prevails and he tackles the problems of negotiating with boastful Russians on the moon.  As I see it, Ted Agnew could be just such a man.  When a great leader is needed, the people will (and did) unite together to carry him on.

[Interesting comparison--I hope you're right]

Advise and Consent is indeed a fascinating and revealing book.  There is a scene in the first part in which a politician is spending a few precious moments with his family.  He admits that there are sacrifices to his demanding job, but as long as the people back home will have him, he'll be there.  What an amazing profession!

[Are you interested?]

  1. Advise & Consent is a 1962 American motion picture based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Allen Drury, published in 1959. The movie was adapted for the screen by Wende… More Wikipedia
  2. Henry Fonda (Robert Leffingwell)
    Henry Fonda
    Robert Leffingwell
    Charles Laughton (Senator Seabright Cooley)
    Charles Laughton
    Senator Seabright Cooley
    Gene Tierney (Dolly Harrison)
    Gene Tierney
    Dolly Harrison
    Walter Pidgeon (Senate Majority Leader)
    Walter Pidgeon
    Senate Majority Leader

Legalization Talk At The Vergennes Dock

Talk of a sane approach to marijuana laws can be found everywhere these days, often when you least expect it.
Tonight, my brother and I biked down to the docks in Vergennes, about seven miles up Otter Creek from Lake Champlain  The city provides free electric hook-ups and mooring spaces, and a record number of boats were docked there tonight, 15-20; a great majority of them were from Quebec; indeed, French was the prevailing language.  My brother is much more gregarious than I am; he talks with everyone he meets on the street, so it came as no surprise when he struck up a conservation with a young father from Montreal (in English; his four and six year old sons were just learning English; his wife was at home working as an executive at the Montreal casino).

Somehow when I became involved in their conversation, talk turned to politics.  The guy was very interested in how a bill becomes a law in the U.S., the House, the Senate, a signature by the governor, that type of thing. Canada, of course, operates under a British style parliamentary system.

One thing led to another; of course, I told him I was a state representative in New Hampshire, and within moments, with no prompting from me mind you, he was off with a passionate plea for marijuana legalization, presumably both in the U.S. and Canada.

Talk about preaching to the choir; he was making all the same arguments I've been offering for years, how government is wasting tens of millions of dollars arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning people for using a substance far less harmful than cigarettes or alcohol; how the record of a conviction stays with a person as a stigma throughout his life; und so weiter.

It was like I was listening to myself.  Of course, I mentioned how I was behind a legalization attempt in New Hampshire this past year.  I mentioned what I've been thinking a lot about lately.  Many of the staunchest opponents of sanity in our marijuana laws (yes, that means legalziation), are the same ones you'll see putting away the most alcohol at State Rep functions (no names please).  In other words, they are free to put away the drug of their choice, but heaven help anyone who decides that marijuana provides a more interesting effect at far less harm to the human body.

My brother, not all that politically oriented, wandered away to speak with other boaters moored in Vergennes, but this Montrealer (he lives in the Atwater area, near the old Montreal Forum) continued to share views as to how unwise it is for government to make criminals of millions of its citizens, whether in Canada or the U.S.  No, as I learned in a spring research weekend in Montreal, marijuana is not legal in Canada, but its use is virtually ignored.  It seems to me legalization is the only sensible solution, both in Canada and the U.S.
The man had never heard of Spice.  Apparently that dangerous substance is not the problem in Montreal and Quebec that it is in Manchester and New Hampshire for the simple reason that marijuana (inexpensive, he told me) is not as  big a taboo north of the border.

As I opined here last week, a point Manchester State Rep candidate Brandon Ross [Wards 1, 2, and 3; District 42] picked up on in an op-ed piece earlier this week in the Union Leader ("A sure fire way to eradicate NH's spice problem") if Mayor Ted Gatsas and Governor Maggie Hassan really want to solve the spice problem, the answer is not to make up laws out of thin air and attempt to take more of our freedoms away; the answer is staring them right in the face--legalize, regulate (and...all marijuana.

Trust me, I didn't seek out this topic at the Vergennes docks [my brother is far more apt to talk to stangers than am I), but I think it's fair to assume that if the conversation arises here, it's happening elsewhere as well.

Wake up America; wake up Canada, it's time to legalize.  

Here's the Brandon Ross op-ed piece, good stuff.


August 20. 2014 6:32PM

Brandon Ross: A sure-fire way to eradicate NH's 'spice' problem


ALMOST 50 New Hampshire residents overdosed on “spice” last week. Spice is the street name for toxic potpourri products — labeled “not for human consumption”— that some people nonetheless smoke for a cheap, legal high.

In response to the recent overdoses, Gov. Maggie Hassan declared a “state of emergency.” Attorney General Joe Foster warns that spice producers are on notice — as if that alone would discourage these careless drug pushers.

This same theater piece has played out before. Each time, we ban spice’s active ingredient. These drug makers change spice’s ingredients just enough to skirt changes to the law. But each change makes spice a little more dangerous. This is a battle that legislation simply cannot win: Chemists work faster than legislators and bureaucrats. Our strategy is fundamentally flawed.

One year from today, New Hampshire could completely eliminate spice as a public health hazard. But Gov. Hassan has repeatedly opposed the common-sense policies that would remove this dangerous drug from our streets. The common-sense fix is counterintuitive, but simple: decriminalize marijuana.

Spice tries to mimic the active ingredient in marijuana, THC. Yet neither THC nor marijuana is inherently dangerous (they’re far safer than alcohol). What motivates spice makers to continue to make these dangerous products — and invest the effort in responding to new drug laws?

Marijuana is illegal. But tomorrow’s version of spice is not. Spice’s danger is a direct result of marijuana policy. By banning marijuana, we’ve created something far worse.

Spice users — disproportionately poor and working class individuals — are choosing these deadly-but-legal products over risking jail time from even possessing marijuana. While it may seem simple, Spice users too frequently believe that spice is simply a legal marijuana substitute.

Like old Prohibition tales of blindness-inducing bathtub gin, these recent spice overdoses are collateral damage in a failed prohibition against marijuana.

We should choose a more sensible path to controlling the social evils of drugs. Even if we would not use marijuana, our law should treat marijuana no differently than alcohol and tobacco. We should treat true addiction — of all substances — like a public health problem.

Today, we too often treat even possession of marijuana as a criminal justice problem, and we waste millions of dollars each year enforcing it. As we’re seeing in every location that has abandoned ineffective marijuana policy, crime goes down — as does actual drug use—and state tax revenues go up.

It’s just common sense to take a step back and re-evaluate how our marijuana policy is failing. In recent years, Republicans have moved multiple bills to decriminalize marijuana in New Hampshire. But both Democratic Govs. John Lynch and Hassan vetoed progress toward a more sensible drug-control policy.

While Gov. Hassan approved of medical marijuana over a year ago, Hassan’s administration has bogged it down in endless bureaucratic red tape, intentionally denying access to marijuana’s pain-killing benefits to dying patients who would benefit most.

Often, doing the right thing is not politically expedient. And, as these recent overdoses have shown, the governor’s choices can have serious public health consequences.

Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Hemingway is the only serious candidate on the campaign trail who has the resolve to reverse course on our expensive, ineffective marijuana policy. When we see a New Hampshire governor willing to do the right thing and listen to the people’s representatives — instead of doing what’s politically convenient — spice producers will be out of business in New Hampshire. Which, ironically, will be the first real victory in the war on drugs in a long time.

Brandon Ross of Manchester is Republican candidate for New Hampshire House of Representatives in Hillsborough District 42, comprising Manchester’s Wards 1, 2, and 3


New Hampshire And U.S. Election Predictions

Having spent quite a bit of time detailing and updating predictions in recent weeks, I thought Labor Day is a good time to bring them all together.  Let's look at how things stood at of the 2012 election, then go back to my January 1, 2014 projection, and finally make any adjustments necessary (which will dated September 1).  I know, I'm ahead of schedule for once; that's what a weekend in Vermont will do for you.


United States House

2012 Election--Republicans 234, Democrats 201

January 1, 2014 Prediction--+8 Republicans--242 Republicans, 193 Democrats

September 1, 2014 Prediction--No Change--+8 Republicans--242 Republicans, 193 Democrats

National pundits agree that Republicans will pick up a few seats but not all that many since they basically maxed out in 2010 and 2012.  Real Clear Politics has it 230R, 188D with 17 toss-up seats.  My numbers would indicate Republicans will win 12 of the 17 toss-ups, certainly feasible this year.  Expect the African American Mia Love, who barely lost in 2012, to win easily in Utah (link).  Frank Guinta is now favored to defeat Carol Shea Porter in the first New Hampshire CD (he's up 45-41 in the latest UNH poll). Annie Kuster should be considered only a small favorite in the 2nd CD; she's three points ahead of Marilinda Garcia in UNH polling.


United States Senate--FLIP

2012 Election--Democrats (with two independents) 55, Republicans 45

January 1, 2014 Prediction--+7 Republicans--Republicans 52, Democrats 48

September 1, 2014--No Change--+7 Republicans--Republicans 52, Democrats 48

I'm still going with West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Alaska.  Not Iowa, not Colorado, not New Hampshire although all three could also go Republican in a sweep year. Consider this as an indication of how unpopular Democratic leader Harry Reid is--Georgia Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn just announced that were she to win (not gonna happen), she won't necessarily vote for Reid for leader (link).



New Hampshire House--FLIP

2012 Election--Democrats 221, Republicans 179

January 1, 2014 Prediction--+32 Republicans--211 Republicans, 189 Democrats

September 1, 2014 Prediction--+59 Republicans--238 Republicans, 162 Democrats

Even most honest Democrats now admit they will lose control of the House.  It's only a question of by how much.  Every time I look at these races, I come up with more Republican gains, and I suspect my new number is on the low side. The swing won't be quite as large as for Republicans in 2010 or for Democrats in 2012, but the Republican lead will be comfortable (even moreso considering there are far fewer "RINOs" today than six years ago).


New Hampshire Senate

2012 Election--13 Republicans, 11 Democrats

January 1, 2014 Prediction--+1 Republican--14 Republicans, 10 Democrarts

September 1, 2014 Prediction--+2 Republicans--15 Republicans, 9 Democrats

Democrat Peg Gilmour loses in District 12 (three Nashua wards, Hollis and out to New Ipswich) and in a sweep year against a good opponent, Andrew Hosmer could be in trouble in District 7 (Laconia, Gilford, Belmont, Franklin).  However, keep your eye on District 4 (Dover, Somersworth).  Although a highly Democratic district, Democrat Senator David Watters underperformed two years ago and the prospect of Eddie Edwards, an African American Republican, is just too delicious to ignore, so a 16-8 Republican edge is within the realm of possibility.


New Hampshire Executive Council--FLIP

2012 Election--3 Democrats, 2 Republicans

January 1, 2014 Prediction--Not Made

Septemer 1, 2014 Prediction--+1 Republican--3 Republicans, 2 Democrats

David Wheeler shoud easily return with a win in District 5; even Deb Pignatelli would not have been able to hold the seat this year, and she's bowed out.   However, it's even worse than the numbers indicate for Democrats because Joe Kenney in District 1 is much more conservative than long-time Councilor Ray Burton who passed away this past year.  Democrats are wrong if they think they can beat Kenney; their best shot was in the low turnout special election, and they blew it. 


59-32% Want Government To "Leave Me Alone"

Almost lost in the middle of a long and extensive poll from Fox News (question 16) earlier this month is a result which, for me personally at least, is the best polling news of all.  Yes, it's even better than the universal increased support for both marriage equality and legalization of marijuana, the two causes most dear to me.

By nearly a two to one margin (59-32 percent), Americans would prefer that government "leave me alone" to "lend me a hand".

This is a dramatic turnabout from the 53-37 percent margin two years ago and the small 50-44 percent margin in favor of "leave me alone" in 2011.

Why is this such a big deal?

Because this question goes to the very heart of what we believe government should be doing either for us or to us.  It aligns perfectly with my philosophy of government.  "Government should get out of my wallet; out of my bed; and off my back."

I've used that line so often that I'm no longer sure I made it up or cleverly "borrowed" it from some other great Libertarian thinker.

Whichever the case, this latest data shows that more and more Americans have come to believe that, as Jefferson warned us, "Government which governs least governs best", that the best thing government could do for us is--to quote the exact language of the poll--"leave me alone".

Left wingers, I imagine, would like nothing better than to pooh-pooh these numbers with the excuse that they are, after all, from Fox News.

However, that just won't play because in this very same Fox News Poll, Barack Obama does much better than in just about any other poll out there; he's taken a jump up to "only" negative seven points (42-49); and if that's not enough to convince Democrats of the validity of these numbers, consider this. 

The very same poll, unlike all other polling data, has Democrats ahead comfortably 46-39 in the generic ballot.

Thus, one cannot say that pollsters simply got hold an outrageously conservative or libertarian group of people.

Far from it.  As always, other polls would be useful for confirmation, but since Fox News has asked this question three times now in the past four years, we certainly have a legitimate benchmark for sentiment.

This poll is such great news because it proves that the spirit of the founding fathers manages to live on...even when government promises more and more handouts.  Note for example, the recent Jeanne Shaheen for Senate ad promising more and more.

You can't continue to give everyone more and more without somebody paying more and more or without the profligate spenders simply adding more trillions to the national debt.

We don't need a hand-out; we simply want to be left alone.

That's what Americans are saying, and to that I say, "Amen."

Here are the numbers.  Now, I can go back to looking for the latest batch of good news of the marriage equality and legalization front.

16.  If you could send just one of the following two messages to the federal government right now, would it be “lend me a hand” or would it be “leave me alone”?

                             Aug 14   Aug 12    Oct 11

Lend me a hand       32%    37%      44%
Leave me alone       59%     53%      50%
Here's a link to the entire poll
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