Miscellany Blue - New Hampshire Politics

Quote of the day: I draw the line at needless torture

Hey, as I’ve always said, you should be able to harm yourself if you so choose (not that marijuana is all that harmful) and you should be able to eat animals, but I draw the line at needlessly torturing them before we roast or tan them!

— State House Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester) on House Bill 1579, which would ban most fur trapping in the state

Rep. Vaillancourt on Stilettogate: ‘Much ado about nothing … unless you specialize in feigned outrage’

State House Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester) “not only admits but openly boasts” that he likes both Rep. Marilinda Garcia (R-Salem) and Rep. Peter Sullivan (D-Manchester) — subjects of the latest State House brouhaha.

What I don’t like,” he writes in his blog, “is ginned up phony outrage, a more and more common staple in our political diet these days.”

Vaillancourt came to Sullivan’s defense after hearing talk-show host Howie Carr condemn the Manchester Democrat for describing Garcia as a combination of Bill O’Brien and Kim Kardashian and for referring to her as “Al Baldasaro in stiletto heels:”

Howie Carr somehow took [the Kardashian reference] to mean that Rep. Sullivan was calling [Garcia] immoral or a porn star. Howie, unlike I, knew that Kim got her start in porn and felt free to extrapolate that must have been Rep. Sullivan’s reason for the reference, an absurd conclusion in my humble opinion, but then I don’t have four hours of talk radio to fill each day.

Howie hasn’t a clue as to who Al Baldasaro is, so he took the reference to imply that Rep. Sullivan was saying Rep. Garcia is into cross dressing. How absurd!

Those of us who know Rep. Baldasaro would certainly not go there. In fact, Rep. Sullivan deserves credit here—it’s a pretty good line, and it has nothing to do with cross dressing.

Rep. Baldasaro and Rep. Garcia are leaders in the House Republican Alliance, the ultra conservative Republican wing of the New Hampshire legislature, the group that Bill O’Brien appealed to when he became speaker. I say this not a pejorative but simply by way of explaining that they are cut from the same political cloth with the exception that one is male; one is female. That’s why it was such a good line—Al Baldasaro in stilettos is in fact no insult (unless you detest Al Baldasaro as some Democrats do); it is rather a statement of fact, colorful to be sure, but we often need color to make points. [typographic errors corrected]

QOTD: Republicans who brandish the Constitution

Maybe other state constitutions would allow such a tax credit (Charlie Arlinghaus and graybeards take note), but our Constitution clearly does not. Democrats understand that. Judge Lewis understands that. I (and a few other Republicans) understand that, but the saddest thing is that the very Republicans who brandish the Constitution when it suits their ends are quick to ignore the Constitution when it goes against them.

— State House Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester) on yesterday’s court ruling that the state’s education tax credit law is unconstitutional.

GOP downplays special election win: “I’d like to think it is a good sign but I can’t. I know better”

By a 322 - 246 margin, voters in Claremont Ward 2 selected Republican Joe Osgood over Democrat Larry Converse to fill the vacant Sullivan District 4 House seat in yesterday’s special election.

New Hampshire GOP chair Jennifer Horn breathlessly declared the win was “a repudiation of Governor Hassan’s irresponsible agenda and her failed fiscal leadership in Concord.” Her troops obviously didn’t get the memo.

While Republicans will undoubtedly boast about the pick-up, don’t read too much into it,” wrote Republican state House Rep. Steve Vaillancourt.

Spec Bowers, Sullivan County Republican Committee chair, was honest. “Special elections never have real implications,” he said. “I’d like to think it is a good sign but I can’t. I know better.”

‘Stand your ground’ conversation turns ugly (part ii)

Just before the House vote on the repeal of the state’s “stand your ground” law, state House Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester) published examples of the hate mail he had received on the issue. Those who voted for repeal are now being targeted with even uglier messages, writes Vaillancourt:

Here’s a modest example (unedited, so be prepared) of the type of message which some people apparently think is appropriate. I just received it, and sadly, it’s all too typical.

From: Tim Bourgeois [tbourgeois99@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 04, 2013 10:27 AM
To: Vaillancourt, Steve
Subject: Stop ignoring gun owners, Steve. No on HB-135!
whats up with you ,,,why are you voting with the enemy,,thats right
the enemy,,,,,you suck you f-cking trator ...you probally voted for
oshitbag as well,,,

And if that’s not shocking enough, a fellow lawmaker told Vaillancourt he received an email expressing the hope that one of his relatives gets shot in the back.

Union Leader: Blah-blah-blah, blame Democrats

A Union Leader editorial blames “a cabal of Democrats who want more revenue and libertarian-leaning ‘anything goes Republicans’ ” for passing a bill that would allow the state’s bars to stay open an extra hour:

The House vote on extending “last call” to 2 a.m. at bars may end up being the last straw for New Hampshire voters who thought they would change things up in Concord this biennium. Apparently, a cabal of Democrats who want more revenue and libertarian-leaning “anything goes” Republicans decided that selling booze in the wee hours makes perfect sense.

For the record, Republicans voting for the measure included virtually the entire GOP caucus (128-15) rather than a small group of unruly libertines. A significant majority of House Democrats (80-108) voted against the bill.

h/t: Rep. Steve Vaillancourt

Stand your ground repeal ‘strikes delicate balance’

Tomorrow, the New Hampshire House is scheduled to vote on legislation that would repeal the state’s two year old “stand your ground” law. House Bill 135 would reinstate self-defense provisions that served the state without controversy for 34 years.

When he addresses the House tomorrow in support of the bill, Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester) will base his argument on Article 3 of the New Hampshire Constitution.

“When men enter into a state of society,” it states, “they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others, and without such an equivalent the surrender is void.”

Excerpts from Vaillancourt’s speech, as prepared for delivery, follow:

[W]e have a responsibility here today to act not as demagogues but rather in what is in the best interests of our society, of accomplishing the always delicate balance of preserving individual freedoms with society’s need for protection.

That balance is an age-old quest, and this bill merely takes us back to the days when you could in fact stand your ground, when you could use force to defend yourself but when you could not abide by law of the jungle, of the cave, of the lynch mob, of the less than civilized man who preferred to shoot first and ask questions later.

In Leviathan, Hobbes postulated a state of nature, a time before men had formed themselves into societies…. No laws, except the law of the jungle, got in our way in this Hobbesian state.

Hobbes theorized that we give up that state of nature and form societies for one very important reason…because…here’s the line…”Life in nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

Only through civilization, through regulated societies, and yes through government, do we succeed in making life less solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

You know I speak as a libertarian who believes that government should leave me alone when I do nothing except indulge in a practice harmful merely to myself.

However, clearly and sadly, man is capable of engaging in many activities which are both harmful and fatal to fellow man.

We limit, never sacrifice but in fact limit, our freedoms so we can live safer lives in society.

This bill represents a compromise in the finest sense of the word. It preserves the long-standing tradition of safeguarding our natural rights, while at the same time keeping us from reverting back the state of nature when as Hobbes said, “Life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

Union Leader flips on ‘stand your ground’

Union Leader editorial (May 31, 2011), opposing proposed “stand your ground” legislation:

Under current law, deadly force is not justified if a person knows he or the other party can retreat from a conflict with complete safety. An exception is made if one is in one’s own home. There, no retreat is needed. The bill expands the home exception to include anyplace a person has a right to be. 

We don’t agree with critics who predict mass mayhem if that provision passes. But we also don’t see why the change is needed. Current law doesn’t forbid the use of deadly force outside one’s home; it prohibits it as the first response to a threat if one knows that the safe escape of either party is an option. That’s a reasonable restriction.

Union Leader editorial (March 18, 2013), opposing repeal of “stand your ground” legislation:

For those who irrationally fear guns, evidence and data are irrelevant. The use of firearms is to be restricted and curtailed to the greatest extent legally possible regardless of the consequences - because guns are scary things. That impulse is the motivating force behind House Bill 135, to repeal the “stand your ground” law.

We do not have shootouts in bars and restaurants by gunslingers whom the law has emboldened. That is because responsible New Hampshire gun owners are not bloodthirsty desperados itching to kill, which is how so many legislators seem to imagine them. Repealing this law now would be a premature and irrational act based on fear and mistrust. It would be the legislative equivalent of shooting first, asking questions later. How ironic if the bill passes.

h/t: Rep. Steve Vaillancourt

'Stand your ground' conversation turns ugly

As the vote to roll back New Hampshire’s “stand your ground” legislation nears, House lawmakers are being inundated with email from constituents. Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester), who negotiated the compromise that was approved by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, has published some of his hate mail. A few excerpts:

To respond to your personal bouts with trouble makers you were very lucky not to get killed or seriously hurt. Who came to your aid at this time? So your plan is for everyone to be like you and accept a beating?

I stand my ground MR. Turncoat. … You try to make us into gun toting thugs. WE ARE THE LAW ABIDING, SAFETY MINDED GUN OWNERS. NOT THE CHICAGO OBAMA THUGS THAT ARE PUSHING YOU IDIOTS….

Think about your family; want to see your son, or daughter raped right in front of you? Not have to RIGHT to defend them? OH, okay… run. … See your mother beaten and raped? OH, okay…run. The woman who have you life! The woman who more likely than not taught you COMMON SENSE and a SENSE of RIGHT and WRONG! Voting for HB-135 is just like spitting in your mothers face. Shame on you. Pull up your big boy pants and VOTE NO!!

Hey Idiot, No to you and your POS HB-135. This tramples our right to self defense. Shame on you. Zombies like you should stay in your hole. John T

And speaking of zombies, Susan Bruce got her hands on an email sent to every House lawmaker from the Society for Preparation Against Zombies, “a well-established organization in New Hampshire promoting zombie prep and combat training:”

Those opposed to the Stand Your Ground law argue that it will promote a more violent society, but the facts are these: zombies bite healthy New Hampshirites, thereby creating more zombies, who will in turn bite more New Hampshirites, which will, of course, create more zombies; furthermore, the only way to control (and hopefully eradicate) the rapidly-growing zombie population is through gun violence— stopping the zombie outbreak before it is truly, terrifyingly out of control. Stand Your Ground holds the key to the protection of the world at large.

A leader without followers is just taking a walk

When state House Republicans selected Gene Chandler over Pamela Tucker to lead their caucus, WMUR political director James Pindell declared: “The tea party is over:”

The fact that Chandler beat back Pam Tucker, Bill O’Brien’s deputy, to become leader suggests that the House Republican caucus is making a decision that they need a more pragmatic approach to politics. Chandler is a conservative, no doubt, but he is not someone who came into politics through the tea party movement, like so many in the last session.

It appears Pindell’s eulogy for the Tea Party was premature. The evidence is mounting that House Republicans really aren’t interested in “a more pragmatic approach to politics.”

Writing in his blog, Manchester Republican Rep Steve Vaillancourt analyzed major House votes and found that “on roll call vote after roll call vote, Rep. Chandler and his leadership team were on the opposite side of the majority of Republican Representatives, in most cases on the opposite side of 65-75 percent of Republicans.”

"Those in leadership must sacrifice their own views, at least on major issues, or else take a seat at the back of the room," he warns:

Remember John Dean’s famous admonition to President Richard Nixon, “There’s a cancer growing on the White House.”

As someone who has voted for Gene Chandler for both Speaker and Minority Leader, it’s time somebody warns my friend from Bartlett, “There’s a cancer growing on your leadership team.”

Lincoln stated, “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.”

Republicans need to ask themselves, before we get any further into a session sure to be laced with defeat after defeat, whether a leadership team divided against its party can stand.

House committee approves ‘stand your ground’ repeal

By a 12-6 vote, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee approved a pared-down version of House Bill 135, which would roll back the state’s “stand your ground” legislation.

The committee accepted an amendment that strikes sections of the bill that would have also prohibited “brandishing” and would have eliminated civil immunity for the use of force in certain situations.

The author of the amendment, Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester), provides detail:

This bill does not prevent anyone from owning or carrying guns. It simply takes us back to the practice that was in effect for more than three decades (and was never challenged in court) which affirms that a person is not justified in using deadly force on another if he or she can retreat from the encounter.

Note that nothing about the bill prevents one from using deadly force if retreat is not deemed possible. Also note that the person is not required to retreat if the incident occurs on his or her private property. Thus, the castle doctrine is left intact. …

Many reasons were stated for retaining section one of the bill, the most salient being that ours would be a safer society if people are not encouraged to use guns on the street as a first resort. …

By an 18-0 vote, the committee also unanimously defeated House Bill 609, which would have allowed schools to arm teachers and staff.

O’Brien’s boorish and petulant House performance

The New Hampshire House today rejected right-to-work legislation by a 212-141 vote, with lawmakers generally voting along party lines. At the end of the debate, former Speaker Bill O’Brien, who sponsored House Bill 323, stepped to the rostrum to deliver closing remarks.

There’s a House tradition in which brief parliamentary inquiries are allowed after the last speech. These final comments, which summarize the issue for each side, typically are limited to two or three points.

O’Brien stunned lawmakers on both sides of the aisle by flaunting the tradition and delivered a long, defiant speech. GOP state House Rep. Steve Vaillancourt documented the boorish performance. “High drama once again in the New Hampshire House thanks to the Bully Without a Pulpit,” he wrote:

Today, even Republicans in the back of the hall realized O’Brien was going on far too long with his inquiry. I sat quietly in my seat, just wondering how long Speaker Norelli was going to allow him to ramble. When she first cautioned him about the form and purpose of a PI, O’Brien simply ignored her and kept asking a series of questions, arguing the issue of how we need the right to work bill.

When Speaker Norelli interrupted O’Brien to second time, again he ignored her and reverted back to his prepared remarks. Wow, I said to myself, how long is this going to continue? Is she going to let him continue on and on? He would have been gaveling a Rep (including yours truly) into silence had such insolence been displayed when he was Speaker.

The third time Speaker Norelli interrupted O’Brien; she informed him the purpose of a PI was to pose a question to the chair…briefly. By this time, O’Brien became petulant. Rather than simply continue reading his inquiry, O’Brien lectured Norelli that she should be attentive to his questions.

Wow! “People were just stunned,” [a fellow Republican] Rep tells me. “If he had been the Speaker and it were Terie Norelli doing that, he would not have put up with it at all,” this Rep tells me. “I was surprised by his lack of discipline.”

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