Monthly Archives: January 2015

Supermajority Requirement to Increase Taxes at Odds with Sound Fiscal Policy

Jeff Lynch talks about the attempt of the GOP to once again put a financial stranglehold on New Hampshire’s revenue system with a constitutional amendment to basically restrict most funding avenues by requiring a 3/5 majority.

As if this hasn’t been tried already with disastrous results in California, bringing the state to its proverbial knees, causing a grid black-out and other financial and infrastructure disasters, leading finally to Proposition 25 which passed in 2010 by the people, ending what some said amounted to a rule by minority.

You’d think maybe the CACR’s supporters just don’t know about the potential disaster such an amendment could cause.  But this isn’t the first time the GOP in New Hampshire has tried push this poison pill to the people .  Oh and then there was CACR 13 from 2012 too.  Obviously ignorance of the possible consequences such a measure would deal the people of New Hampshire really isn’t a justifiable excuse.

Actually it doesn’t seem too far off to draw the conclusion that there’s simply indifference to the possible ways in which dramatic cuts and budget stalemates would effect the citizens.  This kind of budgetary strangulation will effectively starve government services; a chief aim of a Republican party hell-bent since Roosevelt’s New Deal on destroying any remnant of the social contract.  Raising living standards be damned, bringing all people up to minimal decency be damned, let the unfortunate starve and rot in the gutter to save a few of the greedy from paying their fair share.

by Jeff Lynch of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute

The New Hampshire House of Representatives will soon consider a measure, CACR 1,[CACR = Constitutional Amendment Concurrent Resolution] to amend the state’s constitution to require that an increase in any existing tax or license fee or the creation of a new tax or license fee be approved by three-fifths of both chambers of the legislature.

In each of the past two legislatures, the House rejected attempts to amend New Hampshire’s constitution in the manner envisioned by CACR 1.   Those decisions were well founded, for such constraints not only are at odds with sound fiscal policy, but also erode New Hampshire’s democratic institutions. Indeed, the experiences of other states with similar restrictions in place, as well as those of at least one New Hampshire municipality, demonstrate quite clearly the adverse consequences that can result from inflexible supermajority requirements. More specifically:

 The proposed amendment would undermine New Hampshire’s democratic institutions and empower a very small number of legislators to block action on important priorities.

Proponents of a supermajority requirement have argued that such a requirement would ensure that the decision to increase taxes or fees would reflect broad consensus among members. In reality, a supermajority requirement would increase the likelihood of partisan gridlock at the State House, as it would cede control over any number of important priorities to a minority of the legislature. Ten individuals – the number of Senators required to keep that 24 member chamber from achieving a three-fifths supermajority – could forestall passage of a tax increase. Worse still, they could also delay or halt consideration of other critical legislation, such as the state budget, as they withhold their backing of a tax increase in exchange either for support for state projects in their own districts or for concessions on other, potentially unrelated issues.

Independent analysts and observers in other states have expressed these same concerns. In 1998, the bipartisan California Citizens’ Budget Commission assessed the Golden State’s budget process and argued that its two-thirds vote requirement for approving a budget:

places the power to control or block the budget into the hands of a small minority …thereby promoting gridlock and enhancing special interest group influence. It also allows political parties in the Legislature to avoid responsibility for unpopular budget decisions and blame them on others. The public is left finding it difficult to hold anyone, including the Governor, responsible.[ii]

– Read the rest at: NH Fiscal Policy Institute

h/t to Mark Fernald

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Action Needed! NH Domestic Violence Services Funding Threatened by GOP House Bill

urgent

 

 

House representative David Bickford of New Durham (R), representing Strafford, District 3 has sponsored the bill, HB 654 that aims to eliminate the sole source of funding for domestic violence services; a portion of marriage license fees.

Action needed now! A hearing on this bill is to be held on February 2nd at the Legislative Office Building in Concord, as explained below, can you make the hearing to testify against this bill? 

Can you call Mr. Bickford and the members of the committee hearing and considering this bill?  Information on David Bickford:

Strafford- District 03
Seat #:2011
Incumbent

Home Address:
183 Brackett Road
New Durham, NH  03855-2329
Phone: (603)859-7899
Email: davidabickford51@yahoo.com

Currently the bill is in the house finance committee, please see the list of committee members at the bottom of this post, please contact them all by phone or email and tell them to stop this attack on domestic violence funding.  New Hampshire always works to find inventive ways to fund programs, the use of a small amount from the marriage license fee makes complete sense, takes from no one and works as a means to preserve healthy marriages and families in New Hampshire.

As explained below in a plea for action from the public, this bill would effectively starve the only source of steady funding that any domestic violence services have in the state.  As we outlined previously in our post Domestic Violence Top Killer in New Hampshire, the lives of women and children hang in the balance when it comes to reaching them in time.  Making services such as educational outreach, court advocacy , crisis outreach via phone and then shelters saves lives.  Representative Bickford’s thinking behind this bill defy the imagination; as explained even in the text of the bill, only $38 is taken out of the marriage license fee and appropriated to the domestic violence fund.  Bickford proposes instead to put these funds directly to the state general fund.  What has to wonder, does Bickford not value the lives of women and children?  Does the general fund need that $38 more than a woman or child needs a safe way out of violence?

We’ll let the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic Violence speak further on this:

HB654 redirects a dedicated fund for domestic violence to the General Fund

For Immediate Release
January 30, 2015                                    
Contact: Amanda Grady Sexton -603-548-9377, 
Amanda@nhcadsv.org

(Concord, NH) On Monday February 2nd at 11:15 in LOB 210-211 there is a critical hearing taking place for a bill that threatens to take away the sole source of state funding for domestic violence services in New Hampshire. The Domestic Violence Prevention Program (DVPP) is mainly funded through a portion of the state marriage license fees. ($38 of each $45 license.) Sponsored by Representative David Bickford, HB654 would redirect DVPP money to the general fund. (http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2015/HB0654.pdf)

If passed this measure would be devastating for the state’s 14 crisis centers that have been struggling to provide services over the last several years due to funding reductions. In 2013 these crisis centers managed to serve over 15,000 people, and these funds could mean the difference between life and death.

Last year members of this legislature passed an unprecedented number of domestic violence bills including Joshua’s Law which is considered model legislation by the rest of the country. The Coalition is concerned that without adequate funding for victim services these laws will not be effective.

Survivors, as well as members of the Coalition, law enforcement, and other legislatures are expected to testify at the hearing. Please contact Amanda Grady Sexton at the Coalition for more information.

This bill will be considered by the house finance committee.  The finance committee is a Standing Committee, that is it is one that is essential to basic functions of the house, considers most bills and always exists.  It is an important committee and thus is also very large.  Because Republicans hold the majority in the house, it is currently majority Republican.

Also, because its large, we will simply provide a link to the page that lists all the members and information about the committee.  The members’ names are linked to their respective house information listing, with phone numbers and email addresses.  We recommend also that you make sure you contact the committee chair, Neal Kurk a longtime Republican representative.

NH House Finance Committee

We’ll leave you with this video on domestic violence, One Voice, A 15 Minute Short Film on Domestic Violence:

 

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Huckles Gets All Tingly Feeling About Beyonce and Blames Her

Today CNN reported that Fox celebrity and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said in a book he recently wrote (apparently a piece of fan-lit written to show that he doesn’t just play a dumb hic/hillbilly preacher on television; he really is one) some stuff about Beyonce.  The CNN writer, as you can read for yourself, seems to see this as an affront to Beyonce’s supposed feminist cred.  We’ll let her speak here:

“Mike Huckabee — that is, wants-to be-President Mike Huckabee — spelled it out in his book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy.” He writes: “Beyonce is incredibly talented — gifted, in fact. She has an exceptional set of pipes and can actually sing. She is a terrific dancer — without the explicit moves best left for the privacy of her bedroom. Jay Z is a very shrewd businessman, but I wonder: Does it occur to him that he is arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex object?”

What the CNN writer failed to notice was that what Huckles performed in the quote above was a perfect example of racist and misogynistic reductionism based on a foundation of white supremacy.  This semantic trick occurs all the time in our culture to all people who go outside the lines of the accepted social hierarchy.   Beyonce is no longer a person but now becomes reduced to the classic racist stereotype of the whore-wench that was used to deconstruct any shred of power either a woman or most especially, a black woman might have.  Huckles gives a little again, by making the assessment that “she can actually sing” as if so many other popular female performers can’t? Or is he saying its surprising that she can sing considering she gets up there and shakes all he girl stuff in skimpy outfits and she’s black?

Women who don’t fit into the neat, narrow landscape of being white first, then middle class second (and dainty, non threatening and at least nearly virginal or Madonna-like) must be give the ten thousand semantic cuts.  The knife of social control comes down hard.  Every decent woman cringes at the thought of being called a ‘ho’.  In fact, among most girls in America, this social weeding starts early and the best way to eliminate girl competition on any level is to call out another girl as a “whore” or “slut”.  Its so prevalent there’s a name for it; “slut shaming”.

Welfare mothers are whores (let’s not forget the racism in this trope) that ‘mooch’ off of the general economy (a ‘white’ owned economy of course), black women who have personal pride in their heritage and black beauty are uppity and probably ho’s.  All women who assert themselves are bitchy and either frigid with their husbands or selling out her chastity to everyone in town for a dollar.  Ain’t no middle ground in the world of Fried Squirrel Conservativism.  But in American lore, black women have no chastity to sell; in the south all black woman, like the black man were just simply objects of profit for the white man anyway.   Always for sale. Always ready for exploitation.  Always ready for white consumption.

Of course Huckles wouldn’t be doing justice to the semantic game if he didn’t find a way to include Jay-Z in this whole mix.  Afterall, doesn’t Jay-Z exude success, doesn’t he run some kind of business enterprise? Hasn’t he proven he has the chops to rise above the heap and moreover, show he can run in the game with the “approved” boys? (aka white)?  Even Huckles is generous enough to give him that,  (sort of).  But uh-oh, not so fast!Most popular tags for this image include: barack, funny, hat, obama and smoking

Of course! Jay-Z is a pimp!He’s not working at all but basically living off the spoils of exploiting his wench/ho on the street, fulfilling his role to make every part of the black life ready for eager white consumption, including his wife (because black men don’t have wives when black women only exist for white male consumption).  Jay-Z symbolizes another part of the American racist mythology; the every threatening, unpredictable, cunning, precarious, opportunistic black man pimp.

No black man can legitimately earn his own money because in Fried Squirrel Conservatism, as played out int he border south, a black man’s capacity to earn was tied inextricably to the power of the white man to define where and how and for how much he shall work.  The black man needs the white man’s consumption, the black man feeds his well being and existence from the white man.  Of course! Jay-Z couldn’t be a legitimate businessman who turned his popular performances that often portrayed the rage of the black man into a real, for-profit enterprise?  Now, many have criticized Jay-Z’s successful participation in the capitalist game and what that all means but Huckles’ anaylsis of Jay-Z and Beyonce runs far under that low radar.

With just a few keystrokes old Huckles made red blooded white Americans feel better about themselves. He pulled out his KKK hood, donned it for good times sake and reminded the powerful that dumb white folks are more than happy to patrol the streets and eliminate any runaways or night-time steal-aways  He even got some two-bit publisher to stamp it all out into so many a million copies to peddle everywhere for every red blooded ignoramus in the country.   Huckle’s commentary wreaks of the stench of a simple-minded, hood wearing racist.

The lyrics to the Racist Song of Love and White Assurance that Huckles sang above in his book draw from popular American mythology; a mythology with deep roots in slavery and Jim Crow.  Roots that still grow their nasty, knarly, twisted ugly trees of racism that shade our society from the light of truth and movement forward.

Now for those of you who may wish to say that the analysis drawn above smacks of stereotypes that cause your caucasion complexion to take on a rather red hue; think a minute.  Hopefully this red-hue is one of embarrassment because you might as well get this fact sunk into your head; if you are white, this is the world you support unless you work to undo it.  White people and most especially middle class and higher white people perform these mental gymnastics of social reductionism and elimination every minute of everyday.

The CNN writer fell into this trap by  attempting to prove Beyonce’s feminist cred or Jay-Z’s legitimacy as a businessman.  Black people, poor people, disabled people and women as well, must all prove to the dominant class, their worthiness to be free of public shame, scorn and social alienation.  Anyone who speaks of social justice and equality will often get thrown into the mythical cesspool of social rejection.  Anyone who speaks of deconstructing the mythology itself also gets labeled and tossed aside.  But, it takes cooperation from all members, by skin color and economics, to allow this to persist.  Where do you place yourself on the color-class line?  What have you done today to disallow the persistence of language and/or action that keeps these lines in place?

[White] Woman Goes on Shooting Spree in Her Car and Survives

Just caught an excellent opinion piece by the writer Frank Vyan Walton, from Daily Kos on the continuing exposure of the dual justice system we have in America.  We’re told as children that the job of police exists to “protect and serve”, unfortunately as many of us have known since childhood and now is continuously exposed nationally, the protection is for white people’s safety, property and power and the serve is in service to the 1%.  Not white? No justice, no protection for you.  White? Don’t worry, you can be a crazed old man with an automatic rifle threatening to kill everyone around you or a crazed white woman armed and shooting.  As long as you are white while crazy, white while stupid, white while a completely dangerous, threatening menace to society, you’ll get a chance.  Please read below:

[White] Woman Goes on Shooting Spree yet somehow isn’t automatically Killed by Police

“We’ve been told repeatedly that if only Eric Garner hadn’t resisted, or been so fat, the medical examiner wouldn’t have found that his death was a homicide due to asphyxiation.   We’ve been told that if only Michael Brown hadn’t been a vicious cigarillo thug he wouldn’t have received a bullet wound in his arm that either came from the back while he was running away, or from the front while he hands were up as he traveled forward at the stunningly rapid speed of 2.59 mph. [Calculated by dividing 25 ft by the 6.572 secs it took to fire the shots that killed him]  We’ve been told that if only Jonathan Crawford had dropped the toy air-rifle he picked up from the shelves at Walmart within two seconds, that if only Tamir Rice had dropped his BB Gun within one second, and if only Darrien Hunt hadn’t been running away as police shot him in the back for “brandishing” an unsharpened Katana Sword, all three of these people would still be alive today.

So then why exactly is this person still alive after going on a violent shooting spree, including pointing her gun at officers while wearing body armor?

Read more here :

[White] Woman Goes on Shooting Spree yet somehow isn’t automatically Killed by Police

 

Gun Nuts in the Chamber! With Guns and Billy O’Brien is Titled.

As reported all over the country it appears, even appearing in the Washington Post, the NH House GOP continues with their in-fights. Of course what the post politely chooses to leave out is the history of the Bill O’Brien led house, the bullying, over the top favoritism and extremist libertarian and Tea Party style ideology driven session under his direction.

Billy O; self titled, “Leader of the Caucas” is also “Keeper of the Bitter Pill” that he refuses to swallow.

 

 

His loyal followers have attempted to derail state house proceedings after their man wasn’t elected as speaker and instead of acting like adults they’ve continued on like ill tempered teens, threatening to well, do something, such as open an office across the street from the state house for their little club.  Of course proving himself a leader as always, sources say, O’Brien has now adopted the title “Republican Caucus Leader”.  Someone send him a tiara please.

The Change that Changed the Change: Unfortunately the mean girls managed to band together long enough to make a rules change to change the rule about guns back to the rule it was when Bully ‘O was in power, or back to what it was prior to the seventies, however you want to look at it.  In 2012, the rule was changed back to the older ban on guns in chambers. Now the boys have voted to change the change once again allowing firearms into the house chambers.  As quoted in the Boston Globe, “We’re not talking about the Wild West,” said state Representative Fred Rice, a Republican from Hampton. “We’re not talking about irresponsible people running around waving guns in the air. . . . We’re asking for the right to do what we do in our daily lives.” Sure everyone talks about politically and socially contentious issues while armed.

We’d have to dispute that also considering some of the state reps and their state of mind, being as how many are convinced that the community sustainability plans of Agenda 21 (because it sounds like a sci-fi movie?) and renewable energy goals must be a nefarious plot laid down by solar-powered communists from Mars.  Yes folks, the John Birch Society is alive and well and has, like a vampire in the night, taken hold of state reps in New Hampshire.

The bill was sponsored by Goffstown state rep. John Burt, an extreme lover of guns himself who also said, “Where I have an issue is if a nut with a gun comes into this chamber, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, whether it is a state trooper or a fellow representative.”  At least, one that can hold onto his guns long enough to aim in the right direction.  Anyway, when Rep. Burt speaks of nuts, he might want to look in his own mixed bag first.

More seriously, as always Burt’s representation of the existence of a current and present danger at every moment in every place speaks of a very strange if not, illusory world.  But any justification will do when it comes to the so-called right to run around with a weapon.  A weapon mind you that leaves no time for justice; but murders without warning and without due process.  This is the world and the justice Burt and his band of buddies envision for us all.

Wed like to propose that the house Democrats put forward a bill to require seating separated by party and a bullet-proof glass between the aisle.  Then, no worries, shoot away!  For more info on politicians and guns click the Mother Jones article, “Loaded Chambers: A Brief History of Politicians Accidentally Shooting Things

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Domestic Terrorists Hit Again

Yesterday a bomb exploded at an NAACP office in Colorado.

Bombing Colorado

Picture taken from Johnny Silvercloud’s commentary, “War on Terror Immunity; Colorado NAACP Office Bombed

 

I posted the Reuters story above which didn’t even bother to include a photo.  At least some news sites did.  You’d have thought, by the news accounts, that this did not deserve national attention.  As someone who was on Facebook on and off much of the day and evening and checking in with email, not once was this occurance posted about or discussed.  Not on Yahoo news, nor on the front page of my partner’s news feeds.  Or at least it didn’t garner his attention.

Possibly it didn’t because he’s white and such an action as a bombing of the local office of an organization that works on behalf of non-white folks doesn’t hit home as much.  Possibly I never saw any news because again, being in a mostly white dominated community geographically and online, this news item didn’t spark enough outrage to shadow over other perceived outrage of the day.

Or perhaps, as it seems when I did a Google search this morning, after seeing a commentary on this that someone posted on an anti-racism page, the mainstream press wasn’t too moved by this news item either.  While many print and local Colorado Springs news establishments list on the Google search on the issue, but NBC News (and that’s the local station in Colorado Springs) has a listed news story at all among television press.  When looking at the news stories, the report is limited to the typical few paragraphs of cold facts and nothing more. (with the exception of the Colorado Springs Gazette, linked at the bottom of this commentary).

Where’s the outrage among pundits? Where’s the table-pounding about terrorist groups attempting to squash our democratic freedom of expression?  Where’s the “stop the presses” analysis of how domestic terrorism runs rampant in this country?  Possibly because such analysis would lead directly to the sordid history of racism and how such acts as this bombing indicate we’re nowhere near the “post-racist” culture many pundits waxed about after Obama’s election.

Most often when media discusses race issues, including the recent exposure of cop behavior (pulled out now from the people exposing the tragic deaths of innocents through live video even though people have focused on this issue for decades) pundits especially have a tendency to immediately jump back to Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement.

Apparently, within their perception, one has to look back that far to find egregious cases of racism.  Yet, any person who lives with the identity of “white” will know full well by personal witness throughout their lives, that racism exists in operational form on every level in their community.  From words spouted by an angry co-worker or relative to references to specific actions, like denying an apartment, refusing to interview to an applicant, even to the small act of referring to any non-white person first by their as if knowing such has some stand-alone relevance that everyone must note, to rationalizing racist acts and thinking or belittling those who speak up out about racism.

Or as in the case with the NAACP bombing, just blithely not noticing and calling out what one could safely say was a racially motivated act.  News organizations have a long sordid history of framing stories in ways that reflect the views of the dominant class.  From the Islamophobic and flammatory coverage of wars against the people in the Middle East that downplays the role of US foreign policy in their suffering, to stories of poverty or reproductive health access that downplay the real systemic victimization of people and their suffering, news media openly and unabashedly reflects social biases and in the process suppresses or becomes blind to the real stories underneath the story, or in the case of this story, blind to the importance of the story at all.
When progressive folks speak of concern about potential violence in their communities, they speak from a place of privilege.  Non-white folks have suffered violence against their very existence since white folks trafficked in Africans for free labor and also annihilated native people in order to take their land.  What does this attack mean, especially after months of open outrage against the murder of young black men by police officers?  What does this attack mean when we look at the surge of open racism and the growth of domestic terrorist groups in the US since the election of Obama?  What does this attack mean also to the dominant community when its relegated to short-story news?  The answers point up to a culture that refuses to deal with the insidious, fascist anti-democratic, anti-human rights element of American history and of our current dominant culture.

For more opinion read Johnny Silvercloud’s opinion on Onyx News, “War on Terror Immunity: Colorado NAACP Bombed”

Colorado Springs Gazette reports information about the suspect FBI are searching for: “FBI Looking for Man Regarding Explosion Near Colorado Springs NAACP Office”   This report also includes photos, video and more extensive reporting.

K.T.

h/t to Johnny Silvercloud and the Facebook group “Deconstructing Whiteness”

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Fairpoint Workers Continue to Strike Despite NLRB Decision to not Charge Fairpoint

   From NH Labor News 

In response to the Region 1 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision to dismiss unfair labor practice charges the unions filed against FairPoint, union leaders issued the following statements:

“While disappointing, the NLRB’s decision is not surprising,” said Peter McLaughlin, chair of the unions’ bargaining committee and Business Manager of IBEW Local 2327. “Unfortunately, US labor law favors corporations like FairPoint, not working people. The NLRB is one tool in our toolbox—the NLRB does not decide what’s best for our workers and our communities. We remain united and committed in our fight for fairness at FairPoint.”

Fairpoint workers rally in Concord, NH on December 22nd.

“Our decision to strike on October 17th was not based on the NLRB and today’s announcement does not change our commitment to our jobs, our communities, and each other,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400. “The pressure on FairPoint is mounting and their contingency plan is failing. We know it, they know it, their shareholders know it, and our customers know it. We remain committed to our struggle for fair treatment from FairPoint and good service for our communities and our customers in New England.”

Union leaders also announced they will appeal the Regional Director’s decision to the General Counsel of the NLRB in Washington, DC.

Since approximately 1,800 workers in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont went on strike on October 17th, the three states have seen a “dramatic spike” in the number of complaints against FairPoint.

Last week, New Hampshire officials declined to approve a $13 million contract with FairPoint for phone and internet services, citing concerns with the “poor service levels” customers are currently experiencing.

The negotiations for a new contract at FairPoint began in April, and from the outset FairPoint pressed to increase outsourcing, cut pay for new workers, and slash benefits for all employees.

In August, FairPoint abruptly ended negotiations and imposed its package of aggressive cuts. The workers spent nearly two more months trying to find common ground with FairPoint, but the company refused to negotiate and union workers launched their strike on October 17th.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.

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