Tag Archives: new hampshire democrat

2014 New Hampshire Free Stater List: Anti-Government Anarchists Soon to Serve in Government

While New Hampshire citizens managed to shoo carpet-bagger Scott Brown out of the state and return Democrat Jeanne Shaheen to the Senate and Annie Kuster back to the House on the national level, Democrats have had some losses, mostly in the state house as extremist libertarians along with some extremist Tea Partiers gained control.  Some of the traditionally more reasonable Republicans did ride on the GOP slide such as Gene Chandler who Bill O’Brien replaced as house speaker in the 2010 Tea Party sweep.

But we’re not here to focus on moderates, we’d rather keep you updated on the people to watch closely this upcoming session, in particular those with extremist, anarcho-capitalists views and ambitions.  We’re speaking of course of the self described Free Staters (read more indepth about them here) that have professed to come and destroy state government, break New Hampshire from the union and create their own libertarian paradise, whether the rest of the New Hampshire citizens want it or not.

Its important to note that New Hampshire has the largest legislative body in the country with 424 members.  State house members, of which there are 400 must fight for their seat every two years, the state senators makeup the remaining 24.  The term pay is a total $100 dollars a year, plus transportation expense.  As a result the party leadership on either side prefers to spend their time and energy on the more lucrative senate seats leaving most state reps to fend for themselves.  This creates a window of opportunity for all kinds of regular folks to run as long as they’ve got the time and money to spend running a campaign and running back and forth to the state house during session time.  Those last qualifications tend to weed out the herd so to speak, leaving most often only the self employed, those who have a source of sustenance beyond trading their time and hard labor for cash and the retired.  There’s an old saying about who runs in New Hampshire, “The three r’s: the rich, the retired and the —” since the last is not so polite we’ll leave that for you to figure out.

Therefore, it was only a matter of time that the adherents to the mission of “Free Stater” takeover would figure out that possibly dismantling from inside might be pretty easy.  At least the first part; getting elected.  Traditionally, because the districts which break down into wards in larger areas are so numerous, most regular people just don’t pay a whole lot of attention to who is on the ticket.  With two or three or even as many as seven seats available for their region, voters will often vote the party ticket they like and be done with it.  This has resulted traditionally in all sorts of odd characters getting elected often to the later humiliation of the party they are supposed to represent.

But in the case of the Free Staters; they aren’t people on a personal political mission or tangent or people running to protect a pet area of government regulation or grind a particular ax; the Free Staters are on a greater mission and are organized and committed.  As a result we’ve seen a gradual trickle of Free Stater followers and believers run in campaigns, usually as Republicans.  Democratic wards, particularly those in the larger cities such as Manchester and Nashua, tend to have a diverse population of people who traditionally vote Democratic, whether because of old union sympathies or ethnic differences.  They will tend to vote the ticket even if they haven’t had the chance to pay attention as much.  Why not?  Makes sense, if you are pro-labor you know Republicans aren’t.  If you want a candidate who will vote for programs that help poor or elderly people, you’d vote Democratic, Republicans don’t profess to care about poor people or the elderly.

So Free Staters have figured out the shotgun approach is best.  If all you want to do is get in, no matter how then why not run as a Democrat, especially in wards that typically vote Democratic but may be more socially disenfranchised and may not personally know or even have heard of their house rep or senator.  So running as a Democrat has been the Free Stater practice now for at least the last two sessions.  As shown here, its a strategy that they refuse to give up on even though this second try shows only one success with that strategy.

So without further ado, here’s the list, with the party they ran under also noted and the history (thanks to Granite State Progress for their work on this) of those who have served in the house before linked to their names.  We considered putting pictures to the names, but we’re not here to promote these people or their version of libertarianism.

Glen Aldrich (R) – Belknap District 2
Mike Sylvia (R) – Belknap District 6
Ed Comeau (R) – Carroll District 5
Robert Hull (R) – Grafton District 9
Keith Murphy (R) – Hillsborough District 7
Elizabeth Edwards (D) – Hillsborough District 11
Amanda Boutin (D) – Hillsborough District 11
Keith Ammon (R) – Hillsborough District 40
Brian Seaworth (R) – Merrimack District 20
Dan McGuire (R) – Merrimack District 21
Carol McGuire (R) – Merrimack District 29
Jason Osborne (R) – Rockingham District 4
Shem Kellogg (R) – Rockingham District 14
Adam Schroadter (R) – Rockingham District 17
Max Abramson (R) – Rockingham District 20
Laura Jones (R) – Stafford District 24

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Elizabeth Edwards with her wife Caitlin Appell.

Like many young libertarians, Edwards has said to some she found a home within the FSP for her sexual orientation freedom. Really? The Democrats have no history of working for and defending LGBT rights? More than likely its that extremist libertarianism might be more appealing to someone who spent some time as an intern at the Koch Brothers’ founded Cato Institute.  A part of the obstructive factor of the efforts at forming an Occupy in New Hampshire, Edwards once seemed near an emotional breakdown during an informational presentation about the Koch Brothers corporate web of power, protesting that it was “one-sided” and unfair.  What’s interesting to note, besides the one Free Stater, Elizabeth Edwards, the rest that won ran were Republicans, so hopefully people did actually pay attention to some extent.

We did find Elizabeth Edwards at the polling place doing her obligatory visibility; only trouble was, she was standing with the Republicans rather than with the Democrats.  When asked why she hesitated and then replied, “Well we can be everywhere.” which is true, the candidates and their supporters can stand anywhere. But Elizabeth obviously felt more comfortable standing with the Republicans and Tea Party extremists and two of the Free Staters (that lost their bid, Eileen Landies and Tim O’Flaherty).  Too bad for Eileen and Tim since they did have a chance to show their colors last session. Guess that was enough for the voters in Manchester.

O’Flaherty immigrated to New Hampshire as a converted Free Stater with the sole intention of running as a Democrat to get into the heart of the political process and begin the mandatory deconstruction.  He was quoted during his time in office as saying he “hated serving” because he hated government. He hated it so much he decided to ask for another term. It was also observed that although he ran as a Democrat he regularly caucused with Republicans.  For a group of anarchists its really quite something that they consider it worth stretching their anarchist tent enough to allow some establishment Republicans in who seem to have no problem finding ways to increase government.  Apparently government isn’t such a problem after all when its used to disenfranchise voters, keep women from exercising their rights to reproductive healthcare and to allow corporations a free ride on the public’s dollar.

Unfortunately the Republicans they caucused with last term didn’t seem to be in on their plan to dismantle government and despite their best efforts, last we knew, its still in place ready for a new term of serious civic government peppered with shenanigans of the likes of these folks.  We’ll be watching and reporting.  Stay tuned.
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From the Desk of Jackie Cilley: Important Information on Ballot Questions

From the desk of Jackie Cilley :

Election Alert for October 9, 2012

28 Days and Counting…..

 New Hampshire needs you – please be sure to vote on Tuesday, November 6.


Ballot Question 2 

O’Brien’s Excellent Adventure to the Colonial Era – Taking Back the Courts!

In an attempt to erase decades of statutory and judicial work on separation and balance of powers, the whiz-kids of the current legislature muscled through a constitutional amendment that will appear as Question 2 on your ballot as follows:

2. “Are you in favor of amending article 73-a of the second part of the constitution to read as follows: [Art.] 73-a [Supreme Court, Administration.] The chief justice of the supreme court shall be the administrative head of all the courts. The chief justice shall, with the concurrence of a majority of the supreme court justices, make rules governing the administration of all courts in the state and the practice and procedure to be followed in all such courts. The rules so promulgated shall have the force and effect of law. The legislature shall have a concurrent power to regulate the same matters by statute. In the event of a conflict between a statute and a court rule, the statute, if not otherwise contrary to this constitution, shall prevail over the rule.” (Passed by the N.H. House 242 Yes 96 No; Passed by State Senate 19 Yes 5 No) CACR 26             Yes                  No

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!

The O’Brien legislature has taken a number of actions with very dangerous consequences for our citizenry. Underfunding our court system has caused delays in our citizens’ ability to obtain justice. They have also created a competing mechanism, the Committee of Redress, that reviews court decisions filed by petitioners (without the bother of such little things as court procedures, equal protection for all parties, or even hearing the other side of a case). To date, the Committee of Redress has recommended the impeachment of four justices on virtually the sole testimony of a petitioner who claims to have been wronged (or otherwise simply didn’t like the verdict). The concept of due process seems hopelessly lost on this crowd.

Ballot Question 2 will give over to the legislature complete and final authority over our judicial system, turning it into little more than another political body. Although, as you can see from the question above, the ability to write rules will still reside with the judicial branch, the legislature will be able to concurrently change statutes relative to these rules and the latter will “shall prevail.”  Does anyone really doubt that a legislature wedded to the extreme ideology of the current one will fail to turn our courts into an extension of themselves?!

Scholars who argue for a well-functioning judiciary, one that functions objectively and in the pursuit of the rule of law, without undue influence of the political climate, cite the critical need for a clear separation of powers. G. Alan Tarr, professor at Rutgers University and a scholar in constitutional law, state constitutions and the courts and judicial process, puts forth four principals that should form the foundation of any reform of our judicial system. These include: judicial independence from political institutions, interest groups and the general public; judicial autonomy with the power to govern and manage its own affairs; effective delivery of judicial services with access for all citizens and expeditious administration of justice; and, accountable to the rule of law and to the people and their representatives (we already have a process in place when a justice violates his/her position in any way and that is the impeachment procedures). For more information on this topic, see G. Alan Tarr, The State Judicial Article, http://camlaw.rutgers.edu/statecon/judicial.pdf

Ballot Question 2 violates every one of these principles. The first two are self-evident. Violation of the remainder stems from the fact that by underfunding and interfering with the judicial process hobbles our court system’s ability to effectively deliver its services and makes it difficult to appropriately hold it accountable.

Nothing New Under the Sun

 For those who may have imagined that with the writing of the US Constitution, and subsequent state constitutions, the establishment of three branches of government was a settled matter, a reading of history on this topic immediately disabuses one of that notion. As it turns out, there has been a protracted battle between the legislative and judicial branches of government for decades and longer following independence.

New Hampshire’s own history in this regard is instructive of the desire of past legislatures to exert significant control over the judiciary. Our legislature once had a participatory role in dispensing of justice through an archaic device called the Committee of Redress (yes, similar to the one mentioned above!). This legislative body heard complaints by our citizens and ruled on those. It didn’t take long, however, for our forebears to recognize that there was a bit of a conflict of interest in having those who wrote the laws also interpret the laws and dispense with justice – not to mention write the laws to settle cases. It was a rather circuitous way of administering justice fraught with a host of problems for both public policy and justice. (Consider just one example of someone who has a complaint against the state, one that might result of in an injured party being awarded a judgment against the state. And, all of this being heard by the a unit of the same body that formulates a budget for the state.)

Even after the establishment of a separate judicial system, however, past New Hampshire legislatures grappled with the concept of a judiciary over which they had little control. Consequently, at least twice over the course of our history, “New Hampshire legislated out of office all justices of its supreme court by repealing the statute the created the tribunal and establishing another court in its place.” (G. Alan Tarr, “Contesting the Judicial Power in the Statest,” http://www.harvard-jlpp.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/TarrFinal.pdf

For those interested in an in-depth discussion of the tensions between legislatures and the judiciary, Tarr’s 19 page article on the topic provides a great overview of the topic.

Just Say No!

 If you want to defeat Question 2, you must cast a “No” vote. Passage requires two-thirds approval by those who vote on the Question. Please help to spread the word of the dangers of this constitutional amendment. Encourage your friends, family and neighbors to make plans now to vote and also to vote “no” on this question.

Update on Ballot Question 1:

Hold onto Your Seats – Here Comes the Money


As you may recall, the previous Election Alert covered Question 1, a constitutional amendment banning an income tax for “natural” persons and concerns analysts have expressed over the potential passage of this amendment. I warned about a last minute push for passage of Question 1. Sadly, almost immediately after the send button was hit on the Election Alert, the news broke that a new PAC has been set up to do precisely that.

The “No Income Tax” PAC is headed up by former gubernatorial candidate and former Executive of Cornerstone Policy Group, Kevin Smith. The PAC is chaired by three former Governors, Steve Merrill, John E. Sununu and Craig Benson.   The PAC can take unlimited amounts of contributions from individuals and organizations. You can count on this being a very well financed effort to get voters to approve the passage of this very dangerous constitutional amendment.

For some additional updated information on Question 1, visit the podcast of Attitude with Arnie, October 5, 2012, Hour 1 starting about 31 minutes in to hear the interview with Jeff McLynch of the NH Fiscal Policy Institute: http://www.nhnewsviewsblues.org/podcasts/Attitude_with_Arnie_Podcasts.xml Jeff responds to a number of questions about this ballot initiative that you may find of interest.

NOTE: Remember that it takes two-thirds of those who vote on the question for it to pass. If you want to defeat Question 1, you must vote “no” on it. Moreover, with the influx of influence and money to push for passage, it is now more important than ever that you spread the word about the pitfalls of this constitutional amendment and get your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to the polls to vote on November 6.

 Voting Tip of the Day:

Unregistered voters may register to vote on General Election Day and will be allowed to vote in that election. If you wish to register before the General Election you can do so up until October 27. That is the last day to register until the General Election.

As mentioned in the last Election Alert, you will be asked to present a valid photo ID (see http://sos.nh.gov/ for list of acceptable forms of ID). NOTE: If you do not have a valid photo ID you will be permitted to vote after executing a “challenged voter affidavit.” 

Opinion Piece of the Day:

Buying the Election?
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Published: October 09, 2012

….Not all that long ago, the ability to partake of public financing was a sign that you had arrived as a serious candidate; today no candidate in his right mind would want to be so constrained….This election season, Mitt Romney and President Obama could end up spending more than $1 billion each. They seem to spend more time fund-raising than pressing the flesh with voters.

And that doesn’t even account for what’s truly different about this election: the rise of the “super PACs” and 501(c)4s, which are essentially a form of campaign money-laundering, allowing wealthy people to contribute millions toward supposedly “independent” spending on campaign advertising, polling and other expensive campaign goodies…

Although individual contributions to a particular candidate remains severely restricted – no more than $5,000 – the amount someone can pour into a super PAC is limitless. The means by which the country finances its campaigns is utterly broken. In a recent cover story in The Atlantic, James Bennet, the editor, traces how that happened. He focuses on a man named Jim Bopp Jr., a lawyer from Terre Haute, Ind., who has largely devoted his life to freeing the nation of campaign spending limits…What is astonishing is the way Bopp makes unlimited spending seem actually democratic. “Most people don’t even know who their congressman is,” Bopp tells Bennet. If there were more spending on campaigns, voters would be more educated about the candidates. The Supreme Court majority, meanwhile, has essentially said that, by definition, campaign spending that is independent of the candidate cannot be corrupting.

What we also know in the real world is that unlimited spending will not serve to enlighten voters. It will deaden them to political argument – as is happening in just about every swing state, where the ads are running with such frequency that people are tuning them out. Finally, we know from hard experience that the money that comes into politics has the potential to corrupt.

“This can’t be good for Democracy,” Bennet told me in an e-mail. It’s not.

For full article see: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/opinion/nocera-buying-the-election.xml

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Get A Job and Make Some Change!

What Does Democracy Look Like?

From Mark Fernald via email

Grassroots Solutions ((www.grassrootssolutions.com), a national
political field organization, is looking for dedicated individuals to
join its New Hampshire Democratic Canvass Team 2012 and go
door-to-door to talk with New Hampshire voters in Manchester and other
areas in New Hampshire about the upcoming election.

Maybe you are a student with no afternoon classes, a parent whose
children are off to college, or someone who works the night shift in
your current job but would like to earn extra money. If you are at
least 18 years old and enjoy talking with people about important
issues that affect their lives and the lives of their families and
community, then we are interested in hearing from you.

This is a fantastic opportunity for someone looking to gain experience
in the world of politics. It is a fast paced and dynamic job in a
Presidential election year.

The pay is $12.00 an hour and you have the potential to gross over
$2,500 between now and the November election. You will be paid either
by check or direct deposit every two weeks.

Bilingual English/Spanish would be an advantage. Experience on a
political or issue advocacy campaign would be great, but if you don’t
have any, we will train. This is a temporary, full-time job (3-7 days
a week).

You and your canvass partner will be expected to travel by car to
neighborhoods assigned to you each day, walk door to door, engage in a
conversation with voters, and record the results of your conversation
in an iPod mobile app. Professionalism is a must, as is the ability
and willingness to talk with a diverse group of people.

Accuracy, attention to detail, and honesty in reporting the results of
your day’s work are essential. Previous campaign or advocacy work
experience would be a plus, as would experience using computers and
devices such as iPods. Training will be provided.

The position starts immediately and continues through the end of
October. We work 7 days a week. Most shifts are around 6 ½ hours long
— 5 ½ hours of which are spent talking to voters — in the afternoon
and early evening. You and your canvass partner will meet with other
canvass teams as a group at the beginning of your shift, and will get
back together at the end of your shift to record your data.

It would be great if you could work every day, but we know that’s not
always possible. We do, however, expect you to commit to work at least
three full days per week.

If you are interested, please apply online at

No emailed resumes, please! You will be given the opportunity to
attach one during the online application process.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!

The New Hampshire Canvass Team

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Compassion: A Value, Not a Marketing Commodity

When H. W. Bush phrased his party as the party of “compassionate conservatism” in an attempt to change the perception of the Republican party as the party of Scrooge,  the oxymoronic effort derived immediate derision from the more sensible corners of the country.

But that hasn’t stopped the Republicans effort to continuously lie to the public and hide the intentions of their cuts and denial of funding for programs and legislation that would help the citizenry.

Maggie has big shoulders.

The picture above shows Maggie Hassan, the democratic candidate for governor hugging a woman.  We received this picture via a message from Facebook, which tells the story of a cold day in March on 2011 during the most dramatic anti-labor rally held that year.  At the state house union members had camped out and staged a huge protest.

When the protest was over and the crowd was leaving, a woman came running out of the state house and down the stairs crying and holding a sign.  The sender said that the woman had apparently had words with a Republican (possibly O’Brien?) unsympathetic to the plight of parents of children with Autism, the sign reads, “Support Connor’s Law” and has a picture of what everyone learned later was her son.

While most everyone present stood in stunned silence, Maggie had the courage and presence of mind to act and quickly approached the woman and held her while she cried.  Our friend also sent along a picture of the woman showing her sign, you can see tears in her eyes.

Democrats have backed and been the source of some of the most major legislation in this country that protect the rights of workers, created the New Deal, advocated for the Civil Rights Act, pushed to get out of the past wars we’ve waged, advocated for full freedom of rights for women.  We were the party that supported gay rights, that turned to listen when the streets exploded with riots in LA and some Democrats were even ready to talk about legalization of medical marijuana long before it became the cause du jour for the young libertarian.

The Republicans can make up every excuse they’d like to justify their inhumane practices in supporting corporations and the 1%, but they can never claim to have compassion.  That is the realm of the Democratic party and despite its faults, it remains their core value.  Not conservative compassion, not pre-qualified, approved, pre-packaged and market tested compassion, but the kind of compassion that comes from understanding and knowing what it is to suffer injustice.

While Democrats, Progressives and others on the left can argue compassion in degrees, we know its where we stand in solidarity at the core.  We know its the kind of compassion that rises out of the heart, that realizes that government represents real people, not statistics.  Its the kind of compassion that comes from a warm, breathing, flesh and blood person who has cried, who has loved.  It is the compassion that burns like a fire inside the heart of every Democrat who is determined to get up, get in the game and do something.  Just like Maggie did that day.

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The New Hampshire Immigrant Problem: The Free State Project

Bienvenue à New Hampshire, où nous avons des impôts et des frais. Si cela ne vous plaît pas, retournez chez vous, préférablement pas sur nos routes publiques.

Copied from Counterpunch, apparently there’s more if you subscribe, but Progressive Action NH alas, has no budget for subscriptions right now.

April 27, 2009

The Far Right’s Plot to Capture New Hampshire


One of the most audacious and cynical corporate-backed social experiments in living memory, the Free State Project in New Hampshire, has now shifted into damage control mode.  Free State operatives learned this past week of my article that appears in the current subscription edition of CounterPunch, taking the first in-depth look at their plan to entice 20,000 out-of-state ultra libertarians and anarchists to move to New Hampshire and implant an extremist brand of free market capitalism: a brand the corporate backers hope will lead to a gutting of business regulations, environmental laws, and return the state to the right wing of the Republican fold.  (Currently, all three branches in New Hampshire, known for its pivotal first primary status, are controlled by Democrats.)

An effort at damage control is playing out in the Free Staters’ internet pummeling of this author and a reporter at the Keene Sentinel newspaper in southern New Hampshire, Phillip  Bantz, who made reference to the revelations in the CounterPunch piece along with an eyebrow raising quote from a Free Stater on legalizing cannibalism, a demand of some fringe Free Staters.

The attacks have not gone as planned.  Over 128 reader responses are now registered in the Keene Sentinel, founded in 1799, which typically receives less than 20 responses to an article.  Area residents, known for tolerance, are displaying pent-up fatigue and anger with the agenda of the Free Staters.

Some of the Free State participants call themselves anarcho capitalists, promoting an embrace of free markets and individual freedoms unencumbered by authority of the state.  Free State members must formally agree to the premise that “government exists at most to protect people’s rights, and should neither provide for people nor punish them for activities that interfere with no one else.” [1]   This premise is widely interpreted by Free Staters to mean all tax supported social welfare programs must go, along with zoning and planning and building inspectors.  Public education would be replaced with home schooling or private schools.

What has been able to fly completely under the radar for the last seven years, is the role of shadowy think tanks and their corporate money backers in the Free State Project strategy.

On the morning of Friday, February 27, 2004, at the Washington D.C. corporate headquarters of the free market think thank, the American Enterprise Institute, this far-fetched plan was carefully rolled out to the national media.  The key speaker at the event was Jason Sorens, founder of the Free State Project. Dr. Sorens is currently an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

The following are excerpts of remarks made by Dr. Sorens at that event, according to a transcript available at the American Enterprise Institute:

“The Free State Project started as an effort to identify the best state in the country for people who favor smaller government and stronger individual liberties to move to…

We started signing up people in September 2001, and our growth was slow in our first few months.  However, growth picked up dramatically in late 2002 and 2003, and by August 2003, we had 5,000 signed members…

New Hampshire doesn’t have large metropolitan areas, which tend to be left-leaning…

The Free State Project is related to market-preserving federalism in two different ways.  First, New Hampshire is poised to benefit if the United States returns to a true model of market-preserving federalism.  One example is Social Security.  New Hampshire could do much better if it were taking care of its own Social Security program because its residents pay much more in Social Security taxes than they receive back in benefits…

The Free State Project can also contribute to market-preserving federalism and its beneficial workings in another way.  Once New Hampshire moves dramatically in a free market direction, we are going to continue to attract individuals and businesses from other states.  And other states are going to have to reform their own laws in order to avoid losing their tax base to our state.

So the Free State Project, in more ways than one, I think, is the thin end of the wedge in increasing liberty throughout the United States.” [2]

(Notice what just happened here: unfettered capitalism has been conflated with “stronger individual liberties.”   Are we not currently living the economic nightmare that proves the opposite is true? )
One of the most astute questions at this conference came from a man identified in the transcript as William Kelly of Cox Newspapers:

KELLY: My question is for Jason.  I was wondering, when you sign people up, do you do any kind of background check on them or anything, to make sure that you’re not importing rapists and thieves to New Hampshire?…

SORENS:  No background checks.  I think libertarians wouldn’t like that, too privacy invading and too resource consuming as well.  So to some extent this is built on trust.  Everyone I’ve met has been normal and well adjusted.”

Jenna Wolf of the Union Leader out of Manchester honed in on another obvious area:

“Have you talked to residents?  What are their feelings about this?”

Dr. Sorens assured Ms. Wolf:

“…we have solicited the opinions of people who live in New Hampshire in our forum…And the responses I have gotten have been overwhelmingly positive, conditional.  So long as you are good neighbors and really support the political ideals that you talk about, then they are supportive.”

In just four months, both the lack of background checks as well as resident reaction would blow up in Dr. Sorens’ face.

Just nine days before Dr. Sorens gently rolled out his case to a strategically selected group of free market think tanks and reporters viewed as market friendly at the headquarters of the American Enterprise Institute, Tim Condon, at the time the Director of Member Services at the Free State Project, had mapped out an offshoot strategy.  The plan was to create a Free Town Project as well – “a low-population town in that same state where Porcupines can congregate….”  (Free Staters refer to themselves as Porcupines – upset them at your own risk.)  The tiny town of Grafton, New Hampshire was chosen. [3]

Tim Condon is a Tampa, Florida lawyer and one of the original organizers of the Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC) in 1991, a group that says it works “to advance the principles of individual rights, limited government and free enterprise within the Republican Party” according to its web site. Unbeknownst to most rank and file Free Staters, Mr. Condon was receiving funds from the RLC.  According to the First Quarter 2005 minutes of the RLC of Florida, “On Jan. 4, the National Board of Directors of the Republican Liberty Caucus agreed to pick up some of the expenses of Florida RLCer Tim Condon of Tampa who – in conjunction with his efforts on behalf of the free state project…has been working to develop the New Hampshire RLC, one of the fastest growing RLC chapters in the nation.” [4]

According to Mr. Condon’s own account of how the Grafton plan came about, an “exploratory trip was launched in early February, 2004.  This time Porcupines Tim Condon and Zack Bass flew to New Hampshire from Florida, and had help from resident Free Staters in exploring.  Also present was Robert Hull, who drove up from New Jersey to join us.”
Zack Bass, according to a June 20, 2004 article in The Boston Globe was actually Larry Pendarvis of Brandon, Florida: “A computer analyst who also goes by the alias Zack Bass, Pendarvis was convicted in Polk County, Fla., in 1997 of more than 100 counts of downloading child pornography, a conviction later overturned on appeal. His other enterprises include a website that peddles mail-order brides from the Philippines with the slogan, ‘Date Locally, Marry Globally.’ ” [5]

According to the Free State Project, it was Mr. Pendarvis who was responsible for setting up a web site targeting local residents [6] and one establishing the goals of the Free Town Project as follows:

The Free Town Project intends to liberate either a New Hampshire Town, or a Western County, by moving in enough Libertarians to control the local Government and remove oppressive Regulations (such as Planning & Zoning, and Building Code requirements) and stop enforcement of Laws prohibiting Victimless Acts among Consenting Adults, such as Dueling, Gambling, Incest, Price-Gouging, Cannibalism, and Drug Handling. [7]

Hostilities flared against the Free Staters in Grafton by residents, followed by a large town meeting and unflattering press.  Dr. Sorens has persistently blamed all of this on Pendarvis and dismissed it by noting that Pendarvis was expelled from the Free State Project.  Dr. Sorens fails to note that it was he who declined to do background checks and it was his own Director of Member Services at the time, Tim Condon, who has acknowledged in his own article that he was part of the conception and planning of the project and made the exploratory trip to Grafton with Pendarvis (aka Zack Bass) in February 2004.

Dr. Sorens has additional explaining to do.  The Mercatus Center lists him as an Affiliated Scholar.  It, and its sister organization, Institute for Humane Studies, have funded Dr. Sorens research since at least 2002 according to public records. [8]

Mercatus is the Latin term for markets.  Thanks to an in-depth report published in September 2006 by the public interest nonprofit, Public Citizen, and OMB Watch, we know a great deal about the agenda of the Mercatus Center.  [9]

Richard Fink, executive vice-president of Koch Industries, Inc., founded Mercatus (then called the Center for Market Processes) at his alma mater, Rutgers University, in the early 1980s.  Later, he moved the organization to George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, where it resides today.  Mercatus blossomed at George Mason in 1997 after receiving a $3 million grant from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, which was founded by Charles G. Koch, chairman and chief executive officer of Koch Industries.  Koch Industries, an oil and gas giant, is the second largest privately held company in the United States…

The Charles G. Koch Foundation is one of the largest corporate donors to George Mason University, donating over $15 million since 1998 to the George Mason University Foundation, which accepts and manages tax deductible donations on behalf of GMU and its affiliates.  The Charles G. Koch foundation frequently earmarks these donations for the Mercatus Center, and in the past two years alone has donated over $2 million to Mercatus…

[As part of its anti-regulatory agenda] Mercatus staffers were pushing rollbacks that would directly benefit their corporate patrons.  BP Amoco, Exxon Mobil, and the Kochs, for example, would benefit from 14 of the suggestions…filed in 2001 to weaken the Clean air Act.  These petrochemical companies would also benefit from four of the Mercatus Center’s 2002 submissions calling for the weakening of the Clean Water Act…

By far the biggest corporate contributor to the Mercatus Center, and the group with the clearest personal ties to it, is the Koch group of foundations and, through them, Koch Industries.  A privately-held $25 billion petroleum, chemical, and agricultural company based in Wichita, Kansas, Koch Industries has good reason to angle for a rollback of environmental standards.  In 2001, the company’s petroleum division pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act for releasing benzene, a known carcinogen, into the air at a Texas refinery.  Koch agreed to pay $10 million in criminal fines and further agreed to spend $10 million for environmental projects in the Corpus Christi area.  In addition, Koch must complete a five-year term of probation and adhere to a strict new environmental compliance program.

In a separate incident, Koch agreed to pay a $4.5 million penalty to settle other Clean Air Act violations at its Minnesota refinery.  The EPA also forced the company to spend an estimated $80 million to install new pollution-control equipment at two refineries in Corpus Christi, Texas, and one near St. Paul, Minnesota.

Koch also has had a problem playing by the rules of the Clean Water Act.  The EPA found that during a seven-year period in the 1990s, a Koch pipeline subsidiary allowed 300 leaks to remain unstopped, spilling three million gallons of oil into waterways across six states.  In January 2000, the EPA leveled $30 million in civil fines against Koch, then the largest U.S. civil penalty, and required Koch to spend an additional $5 million on environmental projects. [10]

A former director of the Mercatus Center’s regulatory program was Wendy Lee Gramm.  As former chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) from 1988 to January 1993, Ms. Gramm’s deregulatory stance toward credit derivatives is widely regarded as a key element in today’s financial market meltdown.  According to Public Citizen, “In 1992, as the first step in its business plan to profit on the speculation of energy, Enron petitioned the CFTC to make regulatory changes that would limit the scope of the commission’s authority over certain kinds of futures contracts.  Immediately before leaving the CFTC, Gramm muscled through approval of an unusual draft regulation that would do just that – it narrowed the definition of futures contracts and excluded Enron’s energy future contracts and swaps from regulatory oversight.  Although her actions were criticized by government officials who feared the change would have severe negative consequences (as, in fact, it did), Gramm was rewarded five weeks after she left the CFTC with a lucrative appointment to Enron’s Board of Directors.  Between 1993 and 2001, when the company declared bankruptcy, Enron paid Gramm between $915,000 and $1.85 million in salary, attendance fees, stock option sales, and dividends.”

How much exactly has Dr. Sorens received from the Mercatus Center, the Institute for Humane Studies, and George Mason University Foundation?  Requests for specific dollar amounts to Dr. Sorens, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and each of the nonprofits was met with silence.  Dr. Sorens did take the time to send a seven-page letter to the Editors of CounterPunch demanding a retraction of this author’s first article.

A notice on the web site of the department of Political Science at the State University of New York at Buffalo, a public funded institution where Dr. Sorens now teaches and conducts research, notes that “Jason Sorens and his co-author William P. Ruger, an Assistant Professor at the Texas State University, San Marcos published a study on Freedom in the 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom with the Mercatus Center of George Mason University.  The study presents an evidence based ranking of the 50 states in terms of both their provisions for and protection of personal and economic freedoms. Professor Sorens also continues to oversee a grant from Donors Trust.  The grant supports a series of research workshops on ‘Markets and States.’ ” [11]

Exactly 13 days after the study on Freedom in the 50 States was released, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law at the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions in Ohio, another free markets nonprofit, used the document in testimony on a House Bill in Ohio threatening to “initiate legal action” if the bill was signed into law. The testimony noted, from the report, that “Ohio recently ranked 38th in an index of economic freedom amongst the 50 states.” The bill would have eased mortgage loan modifications to prevent foreclosures. [12]

DonorsTrust, now funding Dr. Sorens “Markets and States” workshops, explains itself this way: “DonorsTrust was established as the sole donor-advised plan dedicated to promoting a free society and serving donors who share that purpose.  To date, DonorsTrust has received $230 million from these donors who are both dedicated to liberty and to the cause of perpetuating a free and prosperous society through philanthropic means…Know that any contributions to our DonorsTrust account that have to be reported to the IRS will not become public information.  Unlike with private foundations, gifts from your account will remain as anonymous as you request.” [13]

These promises of more freedoms from uninvited liberators who are secretly backed by special interests sound eerily familiar.  Hopefully, this particular plan has been outed in just the nick of time.

PAM MARTENS worked on Wall Street for 21 years; she has no security position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article.  She writes on public interest issues from New Hampshire.  She can be reached at pamk741@aol.com


[1] Free State Project web site

[2] Transcript of Jason Sorens speaking at the American Enterprise Institute

[3] Tim Condon maps out the plan for the Free Town Project in Grafton

[4] First Quarter, 2005 RLC of Florida Minutes (See page two.)

[5] “Grafton’s Messy Liberation,” Boston Globe, June 20, 2004

[6] Blood Bath & Beyond, Grafton Locals Targeted

[7] Web site of the Free Town Project

[8] Jason Sorens affiations with The Mercatus Center

[9] “The Cost is Too High,” Public Citizen, OMB Report: Pgs 43 – 55,
“Meet the Mercatus Center”

[10] Ibid, pg 52

[11] Jason Sorens’ funded work at the State University of New York at Buffalo

[12] 1851 Center for Constitutional Law Cites Sorens Research

[13] DonorsTrust

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Right Under Their Noses

On Monday morning scores of New Hampshire residents traveled to the St. Anselm’s campus to hear the newly minted Romney/Ryan duo speak.  They were in for a little surprise when they found out that actually, their tickets were not meant to get them into the door; they only served to identify them as the people they wanted out.

Like the rest of the Republican platform, Romney and Ryan’s substance lies somewhere within a computer file, within the confines of a paid staffers.  Apparently those staffers figured that having their employers stand before truly curious and inquisitive voters might prove a bit taxing.  And we know how Republicans hate anything that’s taxing; on the wallet or the brain.

The right-wing Union Leader apparently had some good connections for camera shots because the one they plastered all over the Tuesday edition and online made the event look like a Billy Graham revival event.  Responsible journalists would have mentioned that New Hampshire voters were turned away and replaced by Massachusetts bus-ins.  But those of us from New Hampshire know full well that to expect news from the Union Leader is a bit like expecting Ryan to just come out and admit he’s a selfish, brainless prick just like his running mate.

But what the staffers didn’t realize and the story the Union Leader missed was the truly grassroots support they had outside from the newly minted organization Americans for Inequality.  Formed apparently out of the mold of Rockefeller, Carnegie and the Koch Brothers combined, three of their acolytes were on hand to espouse Romney and Ryan’s economics.

Brave enough to just say it.

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Freedumb and Libertea

Excellent summary of the current state of New Hampshire’s higher education under the unwatchful eyes of the conservative legislature who never saw a penny they didn’t want to keep for themselves — at the expense of growth to the state:

Freedumb and Libertea by Susanthe

One surprising bit of information from the report is that NH’s high school dropout rate has continued to decrease, reaching a low of nearly 1%. I was skeptical of Governor Lynch’s plan to keep kids in school when they didn’t want to be there, but clearly, the plan is working. A high school diploma is essential these days, and so is some form of higher education or training, if one wants to be able to live indoors.

As I’ve written before (endlessly) NH ranks in last place for state funding of higher education. That was true before the last biennium when the Freebaglicans cut the already embarrassingly low level of funding in half. Tuition at our two and four year colleges is amongst the highest in the nation. NH may be in 50th place for state funding of higher education, but we are number one in student debt. Yay! We’re number one!

The report shows that 5% fewer NH students are staying in state for their education than did a decade ago.  click here for the rest…

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Interview with an activist and organizer of Hands Across New Hampshire

The Opposition to the building of Northern Pass, the 180 mile Transmission Line to be built to carry energy from Project Hydro-Quebec the length of NH is growing to include many environmental groups. The Society For The Protection Of NH Forests is one group. (see the summer newsletter) In this interview with host, Deb Reger, guest Michelle Cunha talks candidly about the process the corporations are quilty of. NH legislature is awaiting a study on burying the lines instead of towers.

Listen to the podcast

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Anita Sarkeesian

You know the old line, “Give a fool enough rope and he’ll hang himself”? Well, women all over who have suffered harassment for speaking up against sexism in their world have no doubt wished such would happen to their offenders and enablers.

Enjoy women gamers, your day has come. As this story tells here and here, a young feminist, Anita Sarkeesian has stepped on the mysoginist trip line by announcing her intention to produce a few videos exploring sexist themes and imaging in the video gaming world.  Once she stepped on that invisible, but well known trip line (the one where women who mention sexism are immediately set upon by deniers and haters), the wolves came out of their dens and began a feeding frenzy.

As anyone can see by the numerous pages and write-ups on the internet and those posted here, Anita refused to back down and in fact thanks to her harassers, was able to top her funding goals a few times over.  How do you feel now haters?

As Amanda Marcotte so eloquently states in Slate:

Sarkeesian’s story is a doozy, by the way. She started a Kickstarter page to raise money to make a documentary about the tropes used by video game designers to portray female characters. She hadn’t expressed an opinion about video games yet, but simply by stating that she would at some point in the future do so, she had to endure an absolute avalanche of misogynist abuse from men who hoped they could silence her before her too-scary-to-be-heard opinion could be voiced. Every access point they could exploit was used to try to get to her, especially her YouTube page. Her Wikipedia page was repeatedly vandalized with lies, links out to porn sites, and pornographic pictures.* Eventually, Wikipedia shut it down. Unfortunately for the misogynists, this sort of thing generated a lot of sympathy for Sarkeesian, and she was able to fundraise well beyond her original goals. Like, more than $90,000 beyond what she originally wanted to raise.

Sarkeesian was successful because the arrogant holders of the gates of mysoginy opened up their dungeon of horrors and let ‘er rip.  Every woman whose been alive more than a few years knows the hatred and sting of mysoginy.

In the real world its subtle because like racists, they know their speech raises eyebrows among those who wish to remain respectable.  But this is just another portion of the War on Women.  Its as if the dogs have finally broken down the fences and have gone on a frenzied war-path to take the neighborhood back to the pack.  Since Ronald Reagan led the country in mocking feminists and using welfare as the new Slut Shaming, while seated in the highest position in the land, a battle has brewed between those who wish us to move forward as a people and the trolls who hold the keys to the bridge gates.

They’ve stamped their feet, crying out for twenty or more years about “Feminazis” and the “PC Police” who want to take away all their fun.  But the motivation of oppression has nothing to do with fun; its serious business. Its something its beneficiaries will defend to the bitter end, humanity be damned.  Getting the entire country on their side with slick media campaigns that hide old sexist memes in flashy commercialized images of sexually available women and multi-media that still portrays women as the lesser player has worked wonders.  Now we’ve got an entirely new generation of young soldiers ready to hold the guard and carry torch for their forefathers.

Talk to any young white male about sexism in any media, especially gaming and you’ll usually get a lot of dismissal and disregard for the idea that media degrades and minimizes women.  Young men have learned the one most important lesson in upholding patriarchy; you as the male and only you, have the power and the privilege to decide what is real and what is not.

Any woman who owns a computer and goes online also knows full well the mysoginy present in the media they have to engage in and face everyday.  Everyday millions of males support at least by their complicit silence, if not by their monetary support and outright glee, sexism and degradation.  The rule has always been that if you as a woman engage with people on the internet, keep your guard up and be ready to leave if the speech gets too heavy or offensive.  Its not your world, women learn early on, so just slink away, be quiet and blame yourself for not being strong enough to “handle it”.

This silent learned tolerance sneaks into every woman’s psyche, effectively causing her to doubt her validity, to doubt her talent, her ability to contribute, even her worthiness to be treated as a human being.  She might pass up a promotion, laugh nervously and stay silent when her man belittles her in front of others or worse, she’ll just stay silent, in the background where its safe and where she remains captive.

Cheers to Anita for being bold and committed enough to undertake her Kickstart project.  Kudos to all of those who donated to her cause and by that very act made the statement loud and clear that you will no longer stand idly by.

Raw Story posted a video of DJ Jay Smooth talking about the need for men to stand up to the internet misogynists.  This is a good step, but more men need to speak up, not just on the internet but in the real world as well when their brothers get out of line.  There’s no reason why women should fight this war alone.

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Maggie, oh Maggie Don’t You Love Us?

A precarious balance indeed, but Maggie trusts the tender care of Grover.

Word has come across the desk here at Progressive Action NH headquarters that Democratic Governor-Elect, Maggie Hassan betrayed us.   In a marriage made in hell, Maggie has turned her back on us, visiting the McQuaid’s shrine of William Loeb and then stooping to kiss the golden ring of the “No Tax Pledge” of gad-fly, unelected, unofficial American financial strategist extraordinaire, Grover Norquist.  Ok, we made the first part up, we don’t know if Maggie visited the shrine or not.

Many who have followed politics for any length of time know that bzillionaires like nothing better than to keep the money that others have earned for them all to themselves by not paying their fair share in taxes. Maggie, how can you support New Hampshire families and workers if you want them to shoulder the tax burden for the wealthy?  If Buffy needs a new pony, she should buy it herself — and pay the taxes on it.

Just like any addict, Grover and his minions have worked long and hard to make sure everyone is cool with his dysfunctional behavior.  And just like every addict we’ve ever known, they can’t be comfortable until they know you’ve grabbed that glass and taken a big swig yourself — then you’re in the in crowd.  As long as the crowd is doing it,

its fine right?  Maggie, didn’t your mama tell you? You lay down with dogs (or DINOS), you’re gonna get fleas.  Now we know that New Hampshire has had that “no new taxes” pledge for quite some time, attempting to strangle government in a corporate motel room bathtub, but these days Maggie, people outside New Hampshire are taking notice.

Anyway Maggie, you’ve come late to the party and who’s left but the die-hard addicts? Many have decided to its time to sober up and leave the party.   The kids don’t know you anymore, your spouse said something about filing for divorce, the rent is unpaid, the house is a shambles and on top of it all, you’re about to lose your job.  Time to get to rehab.

So why is Maggie going all in? Its been known for a quite awhile now that drugs and alcohol hurts the body and the mind. 

Also, as we stated in a previous post here, Maggie has demonstrated an inability to take a position on Northern Pass.

Maggie, oh Maggie, why have you forsaken the New Hampshire way?  The “No Tax” pledge is as dead and smelly as a Ronald Reagan zombie and Hydro-Quebec looms large with its promise to string up New Hampshire like a boulevard in a third world country, er I mean Japan.

Someone please, do Maggie a favor and plan an intervention!

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