Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Only Issue: It's Come To This

So, as we all knew, it was always about the personality, and about the people who vote, called "the electorate."

“People who tell me, who are out on trail, say, look, people don’t ask about issues anymore. They don’t care about issues. They want to know if you’re with Trump or not,” Corker added.

Everyone, each in his own way, has said Trump is the symptom, not the disease.

And the disease is the people, sad to say.
Talk to your neighbors who support him, and you can hear it.
"Hold me in your arms; you can feel my disease."
Just look around. 

We've seen this before, in other countries.

Now we have der Fuhrer of our very own.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Young Lions and the Lamb

Maybe, just maybe, if Conor Lamb does manage to win in the Pennsylvania 18th, he may be the heralding instance of a new, young Democrat, tested by war, looking forward, ready to wrest the government from the Republicans who would destroy it, who would sacrifice labor unions, who would help scuttle hard won pensions, Republicans  who always have been intent on killing Social Security and Medicare, not to mention Obamacare.

The Republicans ran away from Lamb, tried to pretend the race was about Nancy Pelosi, whom they've tried to vilify, did everything but chant, "Lock her up!" But it didn't work this time. This guy is a former Marine Corps captain, and he is a prosecutor. Sound like anyone you know? Do we not have someone like this vying for the seat in the New Hampshire First?

Even so, and even if he wins, he will have to run again in 7 months.
But it could be a start.  He does not apologize for his stances, does not speak politicospeak.

If we could send these two, and more like them, we might have Democrats tough enough to face down the Republican scourge. We need guys like this. You do not defeat the White Walkers and Prince Joffrey with pussycats. You need John Snow. You need guys with hot blood flowing.

Imagine sending Conor Lamb to Congress with Terence O'Rourke. Finally, instead of the lambs to slaughter, instead of the Silence of the Lambs, we might have the Young Lions carrying the Democratic banner in Washington, D.C.  Guys who will roar, not whimper.

We can dream on it, but it hasn't happened yet.

Congressional Russia Investigation: Not with a Bang But with a Whimper

John Yang from the News Hour interviewed Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee which investigated the connection between the Russians and the Trump campaign last night. Schiff made some noises about how there were many witnesses and avenues of investigation the Republicans on the committee simply refused the Democrats to pursue, and as a result the committee found nothing to say about the collusion question.

Schiff, who is a former prosecutor, mumbled something about not being sure whether anything Trump did "rises to the level of a crime" and then faded into the background, which was much more interesting than he, the Capitol rotunda, and various tourists, Congressmen and vagrants drifted by, which distracted mightily from the interview.

Had Schiff been of the Republican persuasion, he would have thundered about the "massive, deliberate cover up by the opposition party, who would rather sell out their country than risk damaging the head of their political party," or words to that effect.

But, being a pussycat Democrat, he wimped out.
Let's have a bonding moment and then move on

All he lacked was the pink knit hat with the ears.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Does the 1st Amendment Protect Willful Untruth?

Alex Jones on the Sandy Hook children's massacre:
In March 2014, Jones said, “I’ve looked at it and undoubtedly there’s a cover-up, there’s actors, they’re manipulating, they’ve been caught lying, and they were pre-planning before it and rolled out with it.”
In December 2014, Jones said on his radio program, “The whole thing is a giant hoax.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, the Supreme Court justice set the limits on the American right to free speech, when he declared. "You cannot shout 'Fire!' in a crowded theater, when there is no fire."

Nobody has successfully rebutted that simple statement, although the American Civil Liberties Union disagrees. The ACLU is absolutist about the 1st Amendment, and as absolutist positions frequently do, this has led them to some absurd positions; they sacrifice everything, even credibility, to remain consistent.

The same is true, of course, of the NRA and it's "defense" of the 2nd Amendment, although in that case, they are not defending the original text, but simply ignoring half the amendment and seeing only what they want to see.

Alex Jones has denied Sandy Hook ever happened and apparently he promulgated the story that the Washington, DC pizza parlor was the front for Hillary Clinton's child sex ring, before Edgar Maddison Welch drove up from Salisbury North Carolina,  brandished his weapon at the stunned folks eating pizza, but somehow was dissuaded from shooting the customers and staff.

"Homeland"  has a plot line which creates the crowded theater, in which an Alex Jones look alike, called "Brett O'Keefe" on the show, is cornered in a farm house, where he is defended by local fans with guns from the FBI which has surrounded the place in a Waco redux stand-off. While negotiations are stalled, the son realizes his dog has escaped and is charging across a field at a line of FBI and SWAT team along the tree line. The son, in an act of verisimilitude is so stupid he carries his rifle as he runs after the dog, does not hear or respond to the order to halt and is shot by the FBI. When an agent goes to his aide, staunching the wound, he is captured by the militants and becomes a captive. An Alex Jones type alt right guy manages to get a photo in the hospital of the son lying on a gurney after he has been stabilized in the Emergency Room, looking dead, unattended. (He is later saved and taken to the recovery room.) But the damage is done, the photo goes up on some alt right website, is seen by the boy's father, who stomps over to the FBI agent, and shoots him point blank in the head, executes him. 

The photographer, the website manager cannot know the photo would result in the shooting of the FBI agent any more than Alex Jones could know that gunman from North Carolina would would drive up with his AR-15 and come within a few neural synapses from killing everyone in the pizza parlor.

But does the 1st Amendment protect, does it confer the freedom to be wrong, even willfully wrong, in the face of today's internet and the armed Confederacy of Dunces with guns?  

And how does "incitement to riot" fit in with this discussion. Is there an incitement to murder? Is there an incitement to commit armed mayhem? If a man in a Ku Klux Klan outfit, standing on a stage before a crowd of his brother robed imbeciles points to a Black child walking across the street and shouts, "Lynch him!" Is he simply exercising his First Amendment rights?

Donald Trump has been vexed by the First Amendment because it means he cannot sic his lawyers on his critics for stuff they write or say about him, and he has complained bitterly that in America it is almost impossible to prevail in a defamation of character lawsuit, especially if you are a "public figure," unlike in England, where all you have to do is prove your feelings have been hurt.

But here, in the now great again America, we have the 1st Amendment and Alex Jones and the alt right are protected, much as those banderilleros who hide behind wooden gates, then run out and stick their spears in the bull, to get him fighting mad. 

Are these guys not shouting "Fire?" Are they not goading on the action?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Psalm 109.8

Here's a bumper stick you can buy for $3.75 on the internet.

Not a scholar of the Psalms.
Not actually even a Bible reader.
In fact, I'm a troglodyte, when it comes to the Bible. 
But Professor Google tells me Psalm 109.8, variously translated, usually reads something like this:  "May his days be few. May he be replaced."

Personally, I'm still looking for the "Trump Chump" bumper sticker. 
But this will do until I find that.

Why Trump Will Win a Second Term

The short answer is: Because the Democrats still haven't figured out what hit them.

The longer answer is, because the Democrats are stuck with their own deficiencies, nominating conciliatory, reasonable, bland traditional politicians for office while the Republicans, led by Trump have moved past all that to reality TV star candidates.

Look at Trump from last night in Pennsylvania taking the stage and telling the audience, "They want me to be 'Presidential!' Well, here's how I would sound if I were 'Presidential.' And he goes on a little mocking the typical political pablum. Then he says, 'If I were like that none of you would be here to tonight to listen to me.' And he is correct. 
The Democrat he's running against is a Marine veteran, a solid citizen (sort of like Terence O'Rourke, here in New Hampshire.) 

But Trump turns the race into a Republican running against Nancy Pelosi, who, last I heard, is not interested in running for any seat in a Pennsylvania district.

That's how they do, these Trumpholes.

The last Republican President who was as good at reading the American public as Trump was Reagan and they named the National Airport after him and every Republican today wants to be a "Reagan Republican."   A B list movie actor and a reality TV star. 

That's democracy in the US of A.

Reagan served two terms; or some would say two terms served Reagan.

But here in New Hampshire, we are still preparing to send Chris Pappas into battle with Ray Buckley in his corner.  When they go low, we go high. 

You saw how well that worked for us last November 8, 2016. 
Someone different, for a change

Think about that night because you're cruising for a repeat episode.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Where They Stand: No More Pussycats

By now readers of this blog will know of the 8 candidates for the first New Hampshire Congressional seat, I have heard only 4 (Pappas, Sullivan, Mindi and O'Rourke) which leaves Sanders, Soldati and two others.

But so far, O'Rourke has said all the things I've been looking to hear, and in a forceful enough way to convince me he can play the blood sport of politics.
He speaks of greedhead Trumpies. I suppose that is more politic than "Trumpholes" which I would prefer, but then again, I'm un-electable and he is electable.

In short, he wants us out of endless wars without missions, his long term goal for health care is a system like Britain's which allows a National Health System for all but a private system for those who want it, a tax system which moves us toward less income inequality, and common sense restrictions on assault weapons.  He is still caught up in criminalizing drugs rather than treating drugs as a public health problem, but he is for legalizing marijuana. 

And he raises new issues we haven't much talked about, like providing real public transport for this rural state--light rail. Imagine that! Suppose you could go from Portsmouth to Manchester to Darthmouth to Durham to Hampton all by train! What a diferent state this would be. And what a lot of long lasting jobs that would create.

If the old boys' and girls' Network which run Democratic politics in this state have their way, he will simply not be heard, will not be given a stage. He hasn't paid enough dues, done enough homage to the powers that be. 

But he is fresh, young, aggressive and I think he's what we need now, and very possibly in the future.

Here are his positions, for those of you who don't do links: 


No service member should be sent into harm's way unless leaders have articulated definite goals and developed an exit strategy. I defy the Trump Administration to tell me the goals in Afghanistan and Iraq or to define the exit strategies. An old Afghan saying states, "You have the watches, but we have the time." The Afghan people have outlasted all would-be foreign conquerors and have not been moved an iota by the sixteen years and counting of American occupation. The same can now be said of the Iraqis. When elected, I will file a bill to immediately terminate the Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) in both Afghanistan and Iraq. We have expended far too much in precious American blood and treasure for no strategic gain. 


I will propose a New Deal-type emergency program to immediately rebuild and rehabilitate our crumbling roads, bridges, airports, seaports, and utilities.  Engineers, transportation, energy, and national security experts, will tell you we are already in a crisis.  My program will create thousands of new jobs.  I know our labor unions can train a new generation of skilled workers and rebuild our infrastructure, while providing the quality assurance and oversight needed for such a massive project.


New Hampshire's public transportation system is virtually non-existent.  Every Granite Stater should be able to go anywhere in New England (and the country) by way of bus and high-speed rail.  As such, in Congress, I will propose a nationwide program to connect all Americans to one another by bus and rail.  Since both bus and rail can be run electrically, every American will be able to move throughout the country quickly, affordably, and sustainably.  Moreover, New Hampshire will be able to retain more of our young people who enjoy all that New Hampshire offers, but still desire to be able to freely move in and out of surrounding cities. Finally, Granite Staters will be able to safely and efficiently access vital services throughout the state and the region. 


New Hampshire, like most of the country, has been devastated by the influx of opioids into our communities and the accompanying scourge of addiction. The battle to save our loved ones must be fought on three fronts.

  • First, we must stop the flow of opium from Afghanistan.  Ninety percent of the world’s opium is produced in Afghanistan. In the 16 years we have been in Afghanistan, more Americans have been killed by the opium produced by Afghan farmers than by Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIL combined. Once we end the foreign military campaigns, we will be able to invest the peace dividend.  Initially, this will involve buying opium directly from the farmers and destroying it. We will then teach these farmers how to grow crops to sustain their families financially.  Simultaneously, we will use law enforcement and military personnel to root out and destroy the drug lords native to the region. 
  • Second, we must provide law enforcement officials and prosecutors with the tools necessary to curb the illegal distribution of opioids. Not only will we continue to hammer away at drug gangs, but we will focus on doctors who overprescribe opium-based medications. For far too long, some doctors have operated pill mills under the guise of administering health care. These scoundrels are just dope dealers with white lab coats and country club memberships. They have hooked generations on these deadly substances in a consequence free environment. With Terence O'Rourke in Congress, the free ride ends! 
  • The third leg in our approach is to treat addiction like other diseases.  We would not withhold treatment from a cancer patient until he has committed enough crimes to land in the penal system, so must we not withhold treatment from addicts until they are incarcerated. The federal government must work with community based hospitals and treatment centers to ensure that whenever any American decides to accept personal responsibility for their situation, they should have access to treatment, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. 


The most lasting economic legacy of the disastrous administration of George W. Bush is the shift of the tax burden from the ultra-wealthy to working Americans. Now, Donald Trump and his greedhead minions in the Republican Congress intend to finish us off by transferring trillions more to their gilded overlords. This must end! I intend to cut income taxes for working Americans and to increase income taxes on the ultra-wealthy. On top of that, it is a sin that earned income is taxed at a higher rate than passive income. I intend to double the tax rate on capital gains for those in the highest tax bracket. As stated in the Gospel of Luke, to whom much is given, much will be required. We have been operating on the exact opposite principle since the insipid idea of trickle down economics was first foisted upon the American people. I intend to work in D.C. to reverse this ugly 


As a prosecutor, I have defended the rights of victims of sexual and domestic violence to be heard, to be believed, and to be vindicated. As a congressman, I will defend existing federal legislation, such as the Violence Against Women Act and Title IX, that ensures equal protection and access for all populations. I stand with women, communities of color, and LGBTQA+ and gender nonconforming individuals who've been under attack in the current administration. I support a woman's right to make decisions about her body and a government that doesn't stand in the way of her access to contraceptives and abortion. I support marriage equality, gender equality, and equal pay. I decry discrimination and violence based on sex, gender, and sexual orientation; when it comes to discrimination, there isn't "blame on both sides." I will fight for vulnerable populations and promote the cultivation of leaders from underserved communities that more fully reflect America's demographics. 


Right now, the immediate goal is saving Obamacare from the Trump/Ryan/McConnell Death Machine. Tens of thousands of Granite Staters and millions of other Americans will lose their health care coverage immediately if Trump & Co. has its way.  To avoid this clear and present danger, we must expand and strengthen Obamacare. In the long term, though, we must join the rest of the industrialized Western world by providing truly universal, truly comprehensive health care for all of our citizens. When elected, I will join with Senator Bernie Sanders to create a "Medicare for All" single-payer health care system. I will also champion efforts to create a British-style National Health Service.  When private, for-profit health care providers are forced to compete with a public institution, patients win. Medicare for All and a National Health Service will tip the balance of power away from Big Hospital and Big Pharma and towards the consumer. When we are negotiating prices as a group of 300 plus million citizens, we will set the market, not the profiteers.


I have been a prosecutor at the local, state, and federal level for almost my entire legal career, including right now.  I have concluded that there is no bigger waste of law enforcement’s time and resources than enforcing the prohibition against marijuana. Furthermore, enforcement of those laws has a deleterious effect on the lives of those caught up in the system with a disproportionate impact on young people, poor people, and people of color. When states have put legalization or medical marijuana on the ballot, the people have spoken: marijuana should be legal. I will propose legislation to legalize marijuana and to regulate its use like alcohol: legalize it, tax it, sell it, and enjoy it!

Protecting our Natural Environment

As citizens of New Hampshire, we are the guardians of its natural resources, and we must fight against those who would deprive us of them. As a hunter and an outdoorsman, protecting New Hampshire's natural resources and awe-inspiring natural beauty is of paramount importance.  The President and his allies in Washington are now waging a war against our environmental protections. Moreover, the President has appointed a man, Scott Pruitt, to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whose only concern is appeasing his masters in the fossil fuel industry.

I adamantly oppose the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Clean Power Plan, and can see no rational reason why the administration would seek to prop up outdated and aging power plants in the Midwest while ignoring the clean energy alternatives of the future.  Clean energy not only combats against the devastating effects of climate change, but also creates jobs, both across the country and here at home.  It is an incredibly common-sense policy.  Indeed, protecting our environment and building our economy are not, and have never been, mutually exclusive goals.

As a congressman, I will support and promote clean energy, for it is not only important to protecting our environment, but is vital to strengthening our economy. I also support a nationwide Carbon Cap and Trade System which incentivizes innovation while allowing businesses to continue operating as they transition to safer, greener, and more efficient production models.Furthermore, as a veteran of the Iraq War, I know first-hand the value clean energy could bring to our national security.  By ending our dependence on foreign oil, we can more clearly see the gains and losses to be had by fighting foreign wars for years on end, all for something we think we need, when we really don't need it at all.  My Connect New Hampshire plan will create a nationwide transportation system which will move citizens around the country safely, efficiently, cheaply, and sustainably without relying on oil from the Middle East or Russia.

Curbing Gun Violence

Sadly, Americans have become accustomed to turning on their television sets and seeing unspeakable carnage caused by weapons of war in the hands of individual actors. America has totally lost its culture of responsible gun ownership. There are two steps that should be taken immediately in reaction to this bloodshed. First, we must close the "Gun Show Loophole" by requiring background checks for all weapons purchases even those conducted between private citizens. As a former federal prosecutor, I know first hand that the Gun Show Loophole is big enough to foster an entire illicit gun distribution network. Second, Congress must overturn the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). The PLCAA shields weapons manufacturers from liability when their products have been used to commit crimes. This is wrong. If you produce weapons of war designed to kill human beings you must ensure that the person or persons you distribute that deadly weapon to is a responsible party. If we hit these Merchants of Death in their pocketbooks, they will not be so flippant about what these weapons are actually designed for and what the results look like when they are unleashed on an unwitting public. One thing we know for sure is that no progress will be made as long as Republicans control Congress. That's why it is so vital that I am elected to go to D.C. to change the culture and deliver results.

The recent tragedy in Parkland has once again thrust civilian use of weapons of war into the forefront. The history of the AR-15 platform is clear: it was designed to kill human beings. While Universal Background Checks and manufacturer liability are a must, neither would have prevented this massacre; Cruz bought the weapon legally. We must look inside ourselves and ask why these weapons of war have become part of our culture. Simply saying they are protected by the 2nd Amendment is a cheap and easy cop out. The Constitution and its Amendments are not a suicide pact. Courts have consistently upheld bans on weapons of war against 2nd Amendment challenges. So, the bigger question for proponents of free access to these death machines is why. The answer for Republican politicians is straightforward and grotesque: they receive millions in blood-soaked campaign cash from the NRA and the like. It’s not so simple when it comes to every day folks. We must have this national dialogue, even if it reveals ugly truths about ourselves that we’ve long avoided or papered over.