Faced with a barrage of criticism over her vote not to close loopholes in gun background check legislation, Sen. Kelly Ayotte disingenuously proclaimed, “I support effective background checks.”
“Magicians rely on misdirection to fool audiences and pull off their tricks. So do politicians…” write the editors of the Concord Monitor. “What is surprising is how inept Ayotte’s attempts at misdirection have been:”
The senator repeatedly faulted the bill’s requirements for being too burdensome on gun dealers but without ever saying just what that burden would be. In most cases a background check takes just a few minutes to complete, and the bill exempts private transactions like the sale of a gun to a friend or relative. Ayotte’s explanation took an even more bizarre turn earlier when she said she was concerned that the bill could lead to the creation of a registry for gun owners, something the bill doesn’t just forbid but would make a felony.
The attempted misdirection continued with Ayotte’s attempt to explain her vote and rebut her critics in a column that appeared in the Monitor and elsewhere Tuesday. In it Ayotte explains that she voted for improved background checks before voting against them. But the Republican-backed bill Ayotte did support would do nothing to expand background checks at gun shows and it would have weakened gun laws as much as strengthened them. That’s why it had the backing of the National Rifle Association.
Concord Monitor editor Felice Belman writes the paper has been “deluged with letters” criticizing Sen. Kelly Ayotte for her vote opposing expanded background checks for gun purchasers:
Since the vote, we have been deluged with letters, the vast majority critical of Ayotte’s decision. I’m not surprised at the sentiment expressed by readers – it mimics the polling on this issue in recent weeks, both nationally and in the state, which has found about 90 percent of Americans and New Hampshire residents in favor of background checks.
What has surprised me is the huge number of readers who have written in — and who have aimed their anger at Ayotte. …
The letters critical of Ayotte may seem redundant, but the sheer volume is making a point about the fury of local residents over the vote in a way that news reporting hasn’t. Consider the writers’ language in describing Ayotte: “out of touch,” “enabler” of mass murderers, “spineless” and “disgusting.”
An editorial in yesterday’s Concord Monitor condemned the vote by Sen. Kelly Ayotte opposing expanded background checks for gun purchasers:
Four Republicans voted in favor of the checks. We’re sorry to say Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who as the state’s former top law enforcement officer would normally be expected to support a measure that might keep guns out of the hands of criminals, was not among them.
Ayotte explained her position by saying that she could not support the bipartisan bill because she believes it would “place unnecessary burdens on law-abiding gun owners and allow for potential overreach by the federal government into private gun sales.” Her statement is utter nonsense.
The law does not affect gun owners who want to sell a weapon to a friend, relative or a gun dealer, and the bill specifically forbade the federal government from storing background check information or creating a registry of gun owners.
Ayotte’s vote, like the votes of most senators who thumbed their noses at the will of a populace sickened by violence, was political. Opponents wanted to avoid the wrath of a gun lobby willing to spend millions to demonize politicians who don’t toe their firing line.
In his Sunday column for the Concord Monitor, Grant Bosse equated progressives’ concerns over the impact of political contributions from the Koch brothers with Tea Party paranoia over Agenda 21.
“Somehow the modern left has drawn itself deeper and deeper into a conspiracy theory that the Koch brothers are secretly controlling the entire Republican Party in an effort to bring about some sort of anarchist utopia,” he wrote.
To make a point of how ludicrous this is, Bosse jokingly suggested that perhaps he is part of the Koch empire and doesn’t even know it:
Of course, I could be so wrapped up [in] the Kochs’ web that I don’t even know it. I asked Charlie Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center – where I worked for the past four years and where I’m currently helping research New Hampshire budget issues – if he was part of the vast, secret Koch Empire.
“They don’t give us money, but I wish they would,” Arlinghaus responded.
He made his point, all right.
An alert reader found a report documenting a 2011 donation to the Josiah Bartlett Center from the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, whose Board of Directors is composed entirely of Koch family members, senior Koch executives, and staff who serve Koch foundations.
Concord Monitor: In Danbury, residents voted, 213-120, to spend $5,000 to renovate the bathroom in the town hall.
For starters, we hope for a Legislature that doesn’t embarrass New Hampshire with mean-spirited nonsense, extreme causes and uncivil behavior. The change of guard after the November election makes this particular wish considerably less far-fetched than it might have seemed a year ago.
— Concord Monitor editorial on wishes for 2013
Gov. John Lynch refrained from publicly criticizing former state House Speaker Bill O’Brien during the tenure as Speaker. But in an interview with the Concord Monitor, the outgoing governor broke his silence and expressed disdain for the former Speaker:
“That one person is no longer in the leadership position, which is a benefit of two-year terms, I guess, that people saw that and didn’t like what they saw and so they decided to, basically, move the pendulum in the other direction,” Lynch said. “It’s not a good thing that happened. It could happen again. I don’t think it’s a comment on New Hampshire. I just think it was kind of a fluke that it happened.”
Katy Burns has known Republican gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne for 23 years. In her Concord Monitor column yesterday, she praised him for his exceptional kindness. “He is a good, decent man,” she wrote. “And it is precisely because I know Ovide is a man of honor, a man of his word, that I cannot support him for governor.”
Ovide Lamontagne is not just another politician, saying — à la shape-shifter extraordinaire Mitt Romney — whatever his audience wants to hear, willing to change his positions as often as a normal man changes his socks.
He means what he says.
Ovide means — really means — what he says. And some of what he believes is antithetical to what I’ve come to value in modern American life. Which should be fine. What friends don’t disagree?
Except that if Ovide is elected governor, particularly if the current reactionary activist Republican legislators are reelected, he will be in a position to effect changes in policies that I think would be disastrous for many Granite Staters. Because Ovide is a principled person. And he really does mean what he says — admirable in the abstract but scary in practice.
An editorial in today’s Concord Monitor reminds us of the awful price we’ve paid for the state lawmakers we elected in 2010:
The last election brought us a House like none other recent memory. Decorum and civility were tossed aside. Proposed legislation — some of which made it into law — took aim at public schools, the separation between church and state, women’s rights, labor unions, gay families, the state university system and more. The newly revived Redress of Grievances Committee quickly became a kangaroo court, recommending that the House consider impeaching multiple judges after one-sided hearings from bitter litigants.
House lawmakers voted to lower the high-school dropout age. They approved a scheme to divert public money to help students attend religious schools. They voted to eliminate the minimum wage. They invited guns into the State House — and onto college campuses. With no evidence of significant fraud, they put new hurdles in front of voters. With no evidence of trouble, they sought to seize control of rule-making authority for the courts. With no evidence that patients were being mistreated, they attempted to insert government between pregnant women and their doctors.
Voters have a chance in November to put an end to these shenanigans and “set the House back on track,” the editors write, “but only if they choose wisely.”
Next month, Granite Staters will vote on a constitutional amendment that would let the Legislature regulate the state court’s operations. It’s “a very dangerous thing” warns former state Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick.
In an interview with the Concord Monitor editorial board, the UNH Law School Dean points out the Legislature already has oversight responsibilities for the courts by controlling the budget and sitting on the court’s judicial conduct and rules committees.
This scope of this proposal, however, “would violate the separation of powers between the two branches of government,” said Broderick.
“Courts are designed not to be places where majorities rule,” Broderick said. “But the state house is based on majority rule. We need a safe place, as Justice Souter would say, where you can be assured that politics does not influence the end result.
Broderick said lawmakers think the courts have too much power. If the Legislature gained control of court procedures, it would be able to appoint administrative judges and place them in specific counties, or eliminate them entirely, Broderick said.
It could also take over the duties of the judicial conduct committee. Broderick said he fears lawmakers would shift the committee’s authority to the House Redress of Grievances Committee revived by House Speaker Bill O’Brien, allowing judges to be “tortured for their views or their opinions.”
In a letter to the editor published in the Concord Monitor, Northfield’s Ron Godbout warns that if gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne and House Speaker Bill O’Brien team up to lead the state, ”we’ll all be drinking bitter tea for the next few years.”
While Lamontagne has been buddying up with fellow Tea Partier Wild Bill O’Brien, Hassan has made it clear that O’Brien and his toadies need to be reined in before they create any more damage to our fine state. We’re already the laughingstock of the country, thanks to O’Brien’s radical ideas and dictatorial style. Hassan would provide a damper for the House’s shenanigans, whereas Lamontagne would pour lighter fluid on O’Brien’s fiery rhetoric.
An editorial in today’s Concord Monitor warns New Hampshire Republicans that a continued insistence on ideological purity, which resulted in primary defeats for nineteen GOP House incumbents, will “doom the party to irrelevancy:”
New Hampshire’s Republican Party is continuing its move from a big tent to a pup tent for true believers. Officeholders who break with even one of the ultraconservative orthodoxies of groups like the Republican Liberty Caucus, or buck House Speaker Bill O’Brien, have been targeted for defeat; many lost in their primary elections this month.
That’s bad news for the Republican Party, fans of civility in politics, and citizens who don’t want the state’s agenda determined by outsiders with bottomless pockets.
But mainstream Republicans like former state party chairman Fergus Cullen and current Chairman Wayne MacDonald worry that continually ousting members who disagree on one issue or another will doom the party to irrelevancy. They’re right to worry.