In an editorial defending the vote by Sen. Kelly Ayotte against expanding background checks for gun purchasers, the Union Leader claims the “great majority” of Granite Staters support her position:
A single poll’s number showing general support for unspecified “stronger” background checks does not mean that most constituents disagree with Sen. Ayotte’s position.
A single poll? Unspecified “stronger” background checks? Really?
I count at least three surveys of New Hampshire voters this year that include very specific proposals for expanding background checks. And all show overwhelming majorities of Granite Staters support the legislation that Ayotte voted against.
New England College (January 24, 2013)
“There is a national proposal for universal gun background checks for gun sales through dealers, shows, and private individuals. Do you support the idea of universal background checks for gun purchases?”
Strongly Support: 79%
Somewhat Support: 9%
WMUR Granite State Poll (February 8, 2013)
“Please tell me if you would favor or oppose … a law which would require background checks before people — including gun dealers — could buy guns at gun shows.”
Strongly favor: 84%
Somewhat favor: 7%
Public Policy Polling (April 23, 2013)
“Would you support or oppose requiring background checks on individuals who purchase guns at gun shows?”
An editorial in today’s Union Leader complains that the leaders of last week’s Honor Your Oath pro-gun rally have embarrassed Granite State Republicans, conservatives and libertarians:
On Saturday, many well-intentioned activists rallied at the State House in Concord to defend 2nd Amendment rights that were not threatened. They were led, as usual, by legislators and activists who spoke with certitude about imagined dangers, as though the demons of their fitful dreams were swooping down on leathery wings, talons shining in the cold light, and snatching away our freedoms before our very eyes,
The usual suspects were there, tilting their lances at the State House. There was Jack Kimball, Tea Party leader turned state Republican Party chairman, turned ousted former Republican Party chairman. There were Reps. Dan Itse and John Hikel, two legislators whose admirable love of liberty is energized with such zeal that they sometimes labor with great difficulty to discern real threats from the benign laws necessary to the functioning of any civil society.
The editorial calls on the right’s “more responsible leaders” to disavow the fear-mongering rhetoric. “The rantings of Hikel, Itse and Kimball should not be taken seriously.”
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
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
House Bill 609, sponsored by self-proclaimed Constitutional expert Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont), would allow New Hampshire schools to arm teachers. Even the editor of the Union Leader thinks that’s a dangerous idea:
Even the best-trained teachers have off days. The classroom is a high-distraction environment. One forgetful moment — setting the gun on the desk, failing to snap the holster or lock the drawer, forgetting to engage the safety — could end in tragedy. The odds of that happening would be far greater than the odds of a teacher stopping an intruder.
A school classroom is not at all like the home. Gun owners can and usually do teach their children to respect firearms and handle them safely. How many children in a public school classroom will have been so instructed? How many teachers, even if trained, will properly store their guns 100 percent of the time?
No, the classroom is no place for loaded firearms….
Even the Union Leader doesn’t buy the argument from “Constitution-waving” House Republicans that lawmakers have a Second Amendment right to wield guns on the House floor:
Many Republicans complained that a House rule forbidding firearms on the floor of the chamber and in the gallery and anterooms was a gross violation of the Second Amendment. It would serve self-appointed defenders of the Constitution well were they to make themselves more familiar with constitutional law.
There is a perfectly legitimate case to be made for removing arms from the immediate reach of legislators engaged in passionate political debate as well as from witnesses (who sometimes become passionate participants) in the gallery. Doing so in no way violates the Second Amendment. Overplaying their hand while refusing to compromise is the kind of behavior that so many voters found distasteful in so many House Republicans in the past two years.
Even the Union Leader takes Congressman Frank Guinta to the woodshed over his deceptive attempt to campaign as a non-incumbent:
Obviously Guinta did not want to be associated with Congress, which had a whopping 12 percent approval rating in a CBS News/New York Times poll last month, the last poll to ask that question. He hoped to transfer that negative association to his opponent, former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. But by pulling this stunt, Guinta has managed to wind up with a personal negative rather than the general one that applies to all members of Congress all the time in the eyes of so many voters. Smooth move.
The last University of New Hampshire poll to test this race showed that 33 percent of 1st District adults surveyed had no opinion of Guinta. Well, more of them will now.
The Union Leader, a newspaper not likely to make Bill O’Brien’s list of Democratic Party propagandists, has joined the chorus calling on Mitt Romney to release his tax returns. “It’s time to get the inevitable over with,” concludes today’s editorial. “Release the tax returns, explain them, take the heat, and move on.”
Maintaining the secrecy creates the impression, justly or not, that there is something there to hide. No escaping that reality. The impression is there. And it will cost Romney votes he cannot afford to lose. Those voters might not cast their ballots for Obama, but not voting can be just as damaging. And yes, for using the tax dodges and loopholes legally available to him, he might lose votes as well.
But there is no place for secrecy or, indeed, privacy in a Presidential campaign. If you want the job, you have to subject yourself to the scrutiny.
You have to be prepared to stand and explain, indeed, justify, your actions. If they are legal, then so be it.
So why is Romney continuing to stonewall it, despite the calls from even his strongest supporters? As George Will noted, “The cost of not releasing the returns are clear. Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.”
Editorial writers across the state have criticized House Speaker Bill O’Brien for barring Concord Monitor reporters from attending a State House press briefing.
The Nashua Telegraph concluded that maybe O’Brien is “not as smart and calculating as we thought.”
Didn’t he realize the readers of one of the state’s largest newspapers would be the only ones dealt a disservice by his stunt?
Well, he made the news of the day alright, but it was as much about him acting like schoolyard ninny and playing a childish game of keep away than it was about welfare reform.
The unfortunate episode was typical of O’Brien’s reign as speaker, wrote the Portsmouth Herald.
Who knew Bully O’Brien was, in reality, Crybaby O’Brien?
O’Brien’s pettiness overshadowed some legitimate concerns about how food assistance money is used. In some ways, the moment symbolized his failed tenure as speaker, a decent idea obscured by petty vindictiveness.
O’Brien even received a mild rebuke from the Union Leader.
O’Brien is the speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, not a business executive. He is answerable directly to the people, and the way the people access the speaker’s office is through the state’s media outlets. Shutting out the Monitor does not punish the paper, it punishes the paper’s readers.
All public officials should expect slanted and unfair coverage. Intentionally or not, it happens. The way to deal with it is not to deny access, but to point it out and go after it.
It was an “act of political courage,” writes Robert Gillette, when 17 state Senators killed legislation that would have eliminated funding for Planned Parenthood. It also might have saved a few lives, adds the former science and health reporter for the L.A. Times.
But it will all be for naught, he warns, if New Hampshire voters fail to hold accountable the “militant House majority that has adopted a national conservative political agenda that’s making New Hampshire a laboratory for an imported style of social engineering.”
Last month, in a notable act of political courage, 12 Republicans joined all five Democrats in the New Hampshire Senate to save access to health care for thousands of women and teens. Their action averted financial disaster for the state’s health economy.
They may also have saved a few lives.
Back in 2010, when an angry electoral tide swept dozens of conservative new members into the House on promises of fiscal rectitude, there was not much talk about a social to-do list that now includes a Florida-style “stand your ground” gun law, permitting guns on the House floor, encouraging skepticism of evolution and global warming in schools — along with challenges to women’s health and reproductive rights.
The Senate’s latest common-sense action may not matter much unless more voters take notice of candidates’ positions on vital issues like women’s health.
Media Matters weighs in on the Union Leader editorial in support of voter photo ID legislation and calls James O’Keefe “a surprising source for a mainstream publication to cite.”
SB 289, the Union Leader editors argued, is necessary to protect the integrity of New Hampshire’s electoral results from the corrupting danger of rampant voter fraud. Their evidence? The work of discredited liar and undercover videographer James O’Keefe, whose attempted investigation of “voter fraud” in New Hampshire last January drew rebukes from election law experts who believed his scheme may have broken the law.
Project Veritas, which is run by O’Keefe, is a surprising source for a mainstream publication to cite, given his history of lies, deception and hyper-partisanship. More importantly, O’Keefe’s “sting” in New Hampshire didn’t come close to establishing that voter fraud has been committed in New Hampshire at all, much less on any scale that would affect the outcome of an election.
“In fact,” the report concludes, “the specter of a voter fraud epidemic is largely a figment of right-wing imagination.”
Like a broken clock that’s right twice a day, the Union Leader made the right call on House Bill 1560. The legislation proposes a novel end-run around the federal health care law by creating an interstate health care compact that would replace all federal health care programs — including Medicare and Medicaid — with block grants.
Supporters of the proposal claim it would give New Hampshire the “authority to enact state laws that supersede any and all federal laws regarding health care” within the state. They suffer from “delusions of grandeur,” writes the Union Leader.
HB 1560 declares that states in the compact have a “right” to direct payments “funded by Congress as mandatory spending” to implement, presumably, their own health care laws. The idea that Congress would approve a multi-state compact that lets states ignore federal laws but keep all money intended to implement those laws is preposterous. This bill is a frivolity upon which legislators should not waste their time.