Tell It, Bernie!

News Briefs for December 17, 2010, from The New Hampshire Gazette, Volume 255, No. 6, posted on Saturday, January 15, 2011.

The damnedest things have been happening on the floor of the U.S. Senate — people are telling the truth. Well, one person is. On November 30th Bernie Sanders stood up and delivered an 1,875 word parcel of that rare commodity.

“There is a war going on in this country,” said the Senator from Vermont, “and I am not referring to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. I am talking about a war being waged by some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country against the working families of the United States of America ….”

We didn’t hear of this until about a week later, when we stumbled across a YouTube clip of the speech. We immediately posted the clip on our website, along with a full transcript.

Two days later we discovered that speech had just been an appetizer. On Friday, December 10th, Sanders spent more than eight hours delivering a 72,000-word speech on the same general topic, in, shall we say, a little more detail.

Sanders was trying to stave off passage of the welfare-for-the-rich package we criticize in this fortnight’s rant. It seems very likely that the package will pass. There are those who will say that his effort was a failure. We are not cynical enough to believe that.

In Marked Contrast …

… to Sen. Sanders, we have Kelly Ayotte. It may seem a little early to be impugning New Hampshire’s soon-to-be junior Senator, but we suspect we have a lot of work ahead of us so we want to get started. Besides, she has violated financial disclosure requirements already.

Ayotte should have filed financial disclosure documents for 2009 with the Senate Office of Public Records by May 15th. On Tuesday, the Center for Responsive Politics reported that the documents had just been filed — she missed the deadline by seven months.

As Dick As Ever

Also Tuesday, Nigerian anti-corruption police said that Dick “As Dick as Ever” Cheney might avoid criminal prosecution for bribery after Halliburton officials offered to pay fines totaling $250 million.

That would be a lot for Halliburton to pay to protect Cheney from Nigeria. To protect Halliburton against Cheney, though? Not so much.

The Free Market, circa 1946

We recently read Back Home, a memoir of the post-war years by the political cartoonist Bill Mauldin and were struck by evidence it provided of the timeless nature of human greed and certain conservative arguments.

“While some Senators were making a lot of noise in Congress in 1946 about the vicious Office of Price Administration [OPA], many people who were on the suffering end of the postwar housing shortage got a sardonic laugh from the news story about a certain Senator’s son. When OPA temporarily expired, and before rent ceilings were re-established, he cashed in on his old man’s noble efforts by boosting the rent of a piece of his property, which was occupied by a veteran and his family, to a fantastic sum several hundred per cent greater than it had been.

“All over the country landlords went on a temporary jag. The greatest victims were veterans and families with limited incomes … What better way was there than to boost the price to a ridiculous level which would force out the old tenants, then drop the rent a little, but still keep it much higher than it had been?

“I have been privileged to hear many intelligent and successful citizens argue against the evils of rent control, and they are very convincing. They talk about supply and demand, about free enterprise and the American tradition. Their best argument is about how the housing situation would be greatly relieved if all rent controls were lifted so that people could invest in real estate and build new units with some assurance that their investment would make a profit — an assurance and incentive that are lacking while the lid is on. They admit that the unscrupulous element among the landlord clique would take advantage of the situation for a while, but they say in a few years everything would level off and landlords would come begging their old tenants to return. This sounds awfully logical, but my thinking is sometimes governed more by emotion than logic, and I sometimes wonder if several thousand families, evicted because they couldn’t pay a skyrocketing rent, sitting on the sidewalks with their worldly goods decomposing in the rain, waiting for a few years to pass for things to level off, form a suitable sacrifice to lay on the altar of the great god Free Enterprise.”

Presidential Timber?

As usual, the nation is going to hell in a handbasket. But there is good news, too: the New Hampshire Presidential Primary is coming, so we’ll be entertained along the way.

The Granite State’s quadrennial day in the sun is no more than fifteen months away. Depending on the prevailing degree of primary envy in such states as Florida, Michigan, and South Carolina, it could well come a couple of months sooner. Whatever dates those states choose as they maneuver for advantage, Bill Gardner, our wily Secretary of State for Life, can be expected to outfox them.

No matter whether we vote in March of 2012 or December of 2011, the time has clearly come for us to start taking our task of assessing the available presidential timber seriously — which would be a lot easier if the likely candidates were not so laughable. Case in point: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Last month, a website ( dedicated to the promotion of Gingrich’s latest historical novel, Valley Forge, sent out an e-mail on November 11th headed, “Happy Veterans Day!” Anyone careless enough to click on that e-mail was then whisked to the book’s page at It’s one thing for car dealers and mattress salesmen to hold Veterans Day sales. A guy who earned his exemption from the Vietnam draft by fathering children with his former math teacher should really refrain from using spam to sell Revolutionary War porn.*

Incorrigible is Newt’s middle name, though. After being called out by’s Justin Elliot for these Veterans Day shenanigans, Gingrich committed essentially the same offense on Pearl Harbor Day. On December 7th he tweeted, “The 69th anniversary of the japanese attack is a good time to remind folks of our novels pearl harbor and days of infamy.” [Note: The contemptuous lack of capitalization is in the original. — The Ed.]

From almost any other politician, these lapses in taste would seem extraordinary. From Newt it’s business as usual. His approach to campaign finance law, teaching contracts and book deals was so creative it earned him a $300,000 penalty from a House Ethics panel he had personally appointed while he was Speaker. His record as a serial adulterer makes him a standout even among Republicans.

It’s hard to believe any party with a decent respect for the opinions of the electorate would let a moralizing hypocrite like Gingrich compete to carry its banner. But then we are talking about the GOP, aren’t we?

The Mighty Huntress

Speaking of potential Republican candidates for the Presidential nomination, TLC, formerly and falsely known as The Learning Channel, is currently airing hour-long Sarah Palin infomercials on an almost daily basis. On December 5th, the half-term ex-governor’s alleged prowess as a huntress was featured.

As with her abbreviated gubernatorial term, perhaps her die-hard fans were impressed, but it’s unlikely anyone else was. The show was further proof, as if it were needed, that Palin is just a holographic projection.

In the five-minute clip we saw, her father doesn’t just tote the rifle for her, he reaches over her shoulder to work the bolt and chamber the rounds. She asks her father if the rifle kicks. If a rifle doesn’t kick, it’s not big enough to kill a caribou. The question shows she’s trying to kill a large animal with an unfamiliar weapon. She misses the beast four times before dropping it. Apparently the wildlife in Alaska are no brighter than its politicians. toted up the cost of the trip, which included three charter planes and two nights’ lodging, and concluded that if it yielded 300 pounds of caribou meat, the cost was $141.33 per pound.

The Anti-Empire Report

New Hampshire’s First Congressional District will soon be represented by Frank Guinta, who has said he will join Michelle Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus. In case any readers run into the new Congressman, we offer the following questions, taken from William Blum’s Anti-Empire Report.

“When there’s a plane crash the government sends investigators to the crash site to try to determine the cause of the accident; this is information that can be used to make air travel safer. But it’s really big government, forcing the airlines to fully cooperate, provide all relevant information, secrecy is not permitted, and make changes or face severe penalties. Do you think the government should stop doing this?

“Do you think that the government should continue waging war against what they call “terrorists” abroad, since there’s no bigger or more expensive big-government action than this?

“If your bank fails — and hundreds have done so in recent years — are you willing to accept the loss of your life’s savings? Or are you thankful that big, big government steps in, takes over the bank, and protects every penny of your savings?

“When a prescription drug starts to kill or harm more and more people, who should decide when to pull it off the market: Big Government or the drug’s manufacturer?

“We have to remind the American people of what they once knew but seem to have forgotten: that they don’t want big government, or small government; they don’t want more government, or less government; they want government on their side.

“I think the Teapartyers are motivated primarily by two factors: 1) they don’t have the intellectual competence or ideological independence to place the blame for the sick economy where it belongs: the recklessness and greed of Wall Street, the banks, and other financial corporations; and so they blame the President and his ‘socialist’ policies; 2) the President is Black.

“Mark Brzezinski, son of Zbigniew, was a post-Cold War Fulbright Scholar in Poland: ‘I asked my students to define democracy. Expecting a discussion on individual liberties and authentically elected institutions, I was surprised to hear my students respond that to them, democracy means a government obligation to maintain a certain standard of living and to provide health care, education and housing for all. In other words, socialism.’ ”

For the rest of Blum’s questions, and to subscribe to his Anti-Empire Report, see:

Opportunity Knocks

While we’re currently full to the gunwhales, we expect to have a little advertising space available when January gets here. Call (603) 433-9898 for details.

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