Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Perry Bypasses Legislature To Bring Slots To Texas

Here's the story out of Texas I alluded to a few days ago. Apparently, Governor Rick Perry's racing commission has indeed voted to allow slot machines without legislative approval.  Note in this story that WMUR's James Pindel and I disagree as to whether or not this could be a problem for Presidential candidate Perry.  I repeat what I told the Austin repoter--it's not about gambling, but about a governor bypassing the legislature to get something done.  Apparently, Texas courts will decide the issue.



Here’s a look at some of the historical horse racing machines at the Kentucky Downs.


If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck,and waddles like a duck, it's a slot by another name.

Read more here:


‘Historical racing’ approved, but legal fight continues
By Tim Eaton<>, Austin American-Statesman
August 29, 2014
With its approval Friday of a new form of betting, the Texas Racing Commission defied conservative state lawmakers, set the stage for a lengthy legal battle and — if some people in important presidential primary states are correct — hurt the potential presidential candidacy of Gov. Rick Perry.

The commission voted to change its rules to allow “historical racing.” The new form of gambling allows bettors at racetracks to use electronic terminals — which look like slot machines — to wager money on horse races that have already been run and stripped of all identifying details.
The only dissenting vote came from a Texas Public Safety Commission representative who said it didn’t appear that the Racing Commission had the authority to allow historical racing. A representative from the state comptroller’s office abstained. The seven other commissioners voted in favor of the controversial new form of betting.
Historical racing machines could arrive at Texas tracks in about six months. But before anyone can place a bet, the Racing Commission will have to give a nod to the specific technology headed to Texas, Chairman Robert Schmidt said.
The commission also will face a legal fight by opponents of historical racing. Critics say historical racing is an expansion of gambling and that only the Legislature, not the Racing Commission, has the authority to do that. But supporters of historical racing say it is a form of legal betting that doesn’t expand gambling and therefore doesn’t require legislation or a statewide vote.
State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, made the first legal challenge on Thursday, when he applied for a temporary restraining order in a Tarrant County court. But Krause’s effort fell short Friday morning when the judge denied the application. The decision from the bench cleared the way for the commission to vote.
Krause, who was represented by the general counsel from the conservative group Empower Texans, will get his day in court. Next month, a judge will hold a hearing in which Krause’s lawyers will argue that the commissioners didn’t have the authority to change their rules to allow historical racing.
Rob Kohler, a consultant and lobbyist for the Christian Life Commission of Texas Baptists, testified at Friday’s Racing Commission meeting that historical racing terminals might not meet the technical definition of slot machines, but they certainly will open the door to expanded gambling in Texas.
Lawyer Stephen Fenoglio, who represents charitable bingo halls, said historical racing would hurt the charities — particularly veterans groups — that benefit from bingo halls by siphoning away bingo players.
Also, Joe Webster, a representative for the Kickapoo Indian tribe, which operates a casino in Eagle Pass, testified that historical racing would harm the tribe and the businesses that support it. Specifically, the tribe’s casino would lose patrons if Retama Park near San Antonio introduced historical racing, Webster said.
On the other side of the issue, racing industry representatives, who brought the idea of historical racing to the commission, said they see it as a natural extension of already legal pari-mutuel betting and shouldn’t be equated with slot machines, even if it can look a lot like the flashy, Las Vegas-style machines.
Andrea Young, president of Sam Houston Race Park, said the commission “has thrown a lifeline to the Texas horse industry.”
“This move will help grow purses and will slow the stampede of Texas horses and horsemen out of our state,” she said.
The vote by the commissioners — most of whom were appointed by Perry — could have political implications beyond Texas.
Tom Coates, a gambling critic from Des Moines, said Perry’s possible presidential opponents might use the commission’s vote as a way to portray Perry to Christian conservative primary voters as a proponent of expanded gambling who sneakily shuffled it in through a back door.
“I think Perry might suffer some damage,” Coates said.
New Hampshire state Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, a Republican from Manchester, said libertarian-leaning GOP primary voters in New Hampshire also might see the commission’s vote on historical racing as an end-run around the legislative process.
“I think this could blow up into an extremely big issue,” Vaillancourt said. “I certainly don’t want a quasi-dictator as president.”
Vaillancourt, a supporter of Sen. Rand Paul for president and close follower of gambling measures across the country, said New Hampshire GOP voters are especially sensitive to executive overreach these days, as it has been a frequent criticism of President Barack Obama.
James Pindell, the political director at WMUR in New Hampshire, discounted the claims of Perry’s vulnerability. Historical racing in Texas won’t become an issue in the New Hampshire primary, the first primary election held in the U.S., he said. It doesn’t have the same effect as the death penalty, health care or drivers’ licenses for people in the country illegally, Pindell said.
“It would defy historical precedent for a local issue that does not have national implications to seriously impact a presidential race in New Hampshire,” he said. 


Read more here:

Fetishists, Scoff Laws, Thieves, Panhandlers, And Bad Pizza

Montreal Fetish Weekend 9th annual edition

More than your usual share of colorful (some would say unusual) characters are strutting their stuff through the pedestrian only St. Catherine Street in the Village of Montreal this weekend.

Labor Day Weekend is the annual Fetish Festival (the 10th edition nothing less). I stumbled upon it a few years ago and should have known that it's an annual event, not quite up there with the Jazz Festival or Just For Laughs yet but getting there.

As I sit here outside at the Second Cup Coffee shop with the sun going down, I look up every now and then to see people walking by dressed in various colors of latex, often black but pink and purple seem especially stylish, or leather or lace or whatever--the more outrageous the costumes, the better.  Just the next block up, there's some type of s. and m. display right in the middle of the street, some beautiful young lady being bound.  Sounds like a Warren Zevon lyric ("She asked me if I'd beat her...I don't wanna talk about it.")

Hey, it's not my thing, but this represents the ultimate in my philosophy of life--live and let live; whatever turns you on; it's all harmless fun and quite colorful and fun, and what those latex lovelies do in the privacy of their own rooms, well...I don't wanna talk about it....or even think about it.

Three years ago--I was still doing my TV show at the time--I had a camera with me and actually filmed the arrivals of "celebrities" at the Erotic Ball Festival theater--talk about the red carpet treatment!  I'll never forget an old man dressed as a baby, pacifier and all.  It was at the same theater which is hosting Cheryl Crowe in a few days.

I get absolutely no sense of Canadian politics this trip.

Panhandlers, apparently being driven north from Hudson, NH (only kidding) are literally everywhere.  Normally I don't give to them; in fact, I try to ignore them, but last night I broke down when an elderly gentleman came riding up on a bike and  asked if I'd give him 25 cents for a cup of coffee.  Sure, I thought, if he's trying to raise coffee money in 25 cent increments, he needs my help (my regular medium at Second Cup is $2.42--$2.40 actually since they've gotten rid of pennies here--with free WIFI of course).

My favorite panhandling story is that of a man who said he wasn't going to lie to me--he needed money for a beer.  I think I might have even given him, not beer.

It's been a bizarre trip.  I've visited here off in the past 25 years, often with a bike which I lock up against parking meters (as does everyone).  When I unlocked it and swung around to get on yesterday, lo and behold, the seat was gone.

I guess thieves and panhandlers are everywhere.

Then I received a parking ticket, particularly disturbing because I had looked all over to make sure I was parked legally; apparently I wasn't.  I always like to claim that I know only enough French to be able to avoid getting parking tickets--no so this time.

Then I had one of the worst pizzas known to man.  Dominos was closed when I got into the city late and I was so hungry, I went to a nameless joint...never more.   For some strange reason and for the first time ever, I took a wrong turn on the Jacques Cartier Bridge coming up from the casino.  After driving around aimlessly for 15 minutes (this just doesn't seem right, I kept thinking) I stopped and three young kids told me I was in Longeuil.  It sure wasn't right--that's on the other side of the river!

Ah, it all makes life more interesting.

Panhandlers, scoff laws, thieves, pizza that sucks, and hundreds of colorfully dressed fetish fans...not to mention there's an Elvis impersonator free of charge at the casino tonight.

So much to little time.


Rubens And Smith--The Rodney Dangerfields Of 2014 Politics


UPDATE--PPP, a Democratic polling firm, just released a new poll (Friday afternoon) showing Shaheen leading Brown 50-44, at least half confirming the UNH poll numbers showing the race closing.

Pity Bob Smith and Jim Rubens, both serious and intelligent candidates (I've personally endorsed Rubens) who have become the Rodney Dangerfields of the 2014 political season.

Pardon the grammar, but they don't get no respect, at least when it comes to the national media.

A week after the WMUR Granite State Poll which showed New Hampshire native Scott Brown within two points of our MIssouri-born Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the national media is paying more and more attention to the race.  The word you don't hear concerning the poll is outlier, so although we've seen no polls yet to confirm the trend, you have to believe that internal polls from both Democrats and Republicans show how vulnerale Shaheen truly is.  

Real Clear Politics features a lengthy story on the race today, and there's a link to a very long Fox News discussion with a pair of talking heads ("fair and balanced" of course).  Here it is.

You won't hear the names Smith or Rubens mentioned.  In fact, the only reference to the primary is that Scott Brown should get a bump once he wins it; it's a foregone conclusion that he's going to advance on Sept. 9. 

Although I've seen zero polling data (have you?), count me among those who think Brown will win (even though I'm voting for Rubens), but it just doesn't seem fair for two such serious candidates to be so ignored.  After all, Bob Smith is a former Congressman and a former two term United States Senator, and Rubens was a very well respected State Senator, and for years, he led the fight against expanded gambling in New Hampshire.

The Fox News talking heads stressed Jeanne Shaheen's 99 percent voting support in support of Barack Obama who is extremely unpopular in the state. They also referred to troubled waters ahead for Shaheen as Obama moves ahead this fall with international climate agreements (yet another end run around the Senate which constitutionally is required to approve--with a two-thirds vote nonetheless--all treaties).

Coming soon to a TV screen near you most certainly will be an ad stressing Shaheen's support for a climate tax.

Chicken Makes POTUS

Since I've ben in the car more the past few days, I've had more of a chance to listen to Julie Mason's Press Pool on POTUS 124 (Love that Jules).  It airs 3-6 p.m. with rebroadcasts 9-midnight and 3-6 a.m.  She interviewed Roll Call's Niels Lesniewski two days ago.  He had been in New Hampshire when the "chicken attacks Shaheen story" broke, and you can rest assured Jules had great fun with that.  Live free or die but get that chicken out of our parade!

Here's a link to the Roll Call story.  Lesniewski  has also done a major piece on the Marilinda Garcia campaign. That's not my congressional district, and I'm not endorsing anyone, but Garcia has all the makings of a new media darling--young, female, attractive, Hispanic, and oh yes...intelligent and extremely conservative.  

I'll have to add to my list of sites to visit each day. It's actually better than Politico which seems intent on charging these days (at least here in Canada).

In New Hampshire, Town Halls and an Arrested Chicken (Video)

Niels Lesniewski | Aug. 25, 2014

LOUDON, N.H. — Will the 2014 midterms prove the death-knell for the traditional New Hampshire town hall?


Will New Hampshire GOP Voters Anoint a Rising Star?

By Niels Lesniewski

RINDGE, N.H. — The total Hispanic population in the sprawling 2nd District hovers just above 3 percent, making it one of the least diverse House districts in the country. But Granite State Republicans could nominate a young Latina with star potential who’s already earned plaudits from national conservatives.


The Polls--Republicans Take 61-32 Lead In "Expectations"


In a generally slow polling week, undoubtedly the most significant number is from Pew Research.  The question is rather esoteric, but past election cycles indicate that this should give us a good indication of how a Republican wave year might be in the offing.

Pew found that 61 percent of Republicans polled think their party will do better in this election than in recent eledtions.  The number for Democrats is only 32 percent.  Pundits call this the expectations gap; a more descriptive phrase might be the "throw in the towel" gap.

Last December, Republicans led only 55-43 in this rather stange pulse taking of the public mood.

When Republicans scored a big sweep in 2010, the number was 76-26.  

When Democrats had a big year in 2006, they led 66-23 with this indicator.  

Throw in the towel?

Indeed Democrats appear ready to concede the election, never a good sign when you're trying to gin up turnout to stave off a disaster.

Here are the numbers.  I would be more likely to discount the value of this poll...were it not for past success; nothing succeeds like success.


Republicans More Optimistic that 2014 Will Be Better Election for Party

As we head into Labor Day and Nate Silver is working on his models for, he's written a lengthy and infromative article on the state of polling in this era when pollsters have more and more trouble getting people to sample
The conclusion seems to be that polls remain more or less reliable, much more so in general elections than primaries and much moreso for "bigger" races, President and U.S. Senate as opposed to House races.  That makes sense since the pool to be sample is larger.

Here's a link to Silver's article; it's for real insiders and numbers crunchers, but there are a series of graphs revdealing how close pollsters have come in the past 16 years in all races.  It's generally only within six points for House races, four to five points for Senate races, and three to four percent for presidential races.  Primary numbers can be off by as much as eight or nine percent on average.



Is The Polling Industry In Stasis Or In Crisis?


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

From The Second Cup Coffee Shop

St. Catherine Street East

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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

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

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

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

Of course it is.

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe I'll try again tomorrow.


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