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Granite Staters Rejoice As Planned Parenthood Funding Is Restored.

Image courtesy of Planned Parenthood Action Fund

Image courtesy of Planned Parenthood Action Fund

Thousands of Granite Staters are rejoicing today as the New Hampshire Executive Council voted 3-2 to restore funding to Planned Parenthood.

Going into the vote, Councilors Colin Van Ostern and Chris Pappas were firmly supporting restoring the funding as they also voted against defunding Planned Parenthood last year. On the other side, Councilors David Wheeler and Joe Kenny were staunchly against it.

This left Councilor Chris Sununu to cast the truly deciding vote.

Ahead of the vote, more than 1,500 voters signed a petition urging the Executive Council to fund Planned Parenthood and a crowd of Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund supporters watched as the vote took place.

To the surprise of many, Chris Sununu voted “yes” to approving the contract, restoring funding to Planned Parenthood.

Sununu said in a statement after the vote that he originally voted against funding of Planned Parenthood last year because they “under investigation.” He said that now that Planned Parenthood has been cleared of any wrongdoing, “they should be treated like any other organization that comes before the council.”

Image curtesy of Planned Parenthood Action Fund

Image curtesy of Planned Parenthood Action Fund

“Today’s vote is a victory for women in New Hampshire,” said Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “Restored funding to PPNNE will increase Granite Staters’ access to birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment. We are pleased that a bipartisan majority of the Council listened to their constituents and the majority of New Hampshire voters and chose to reverse course from last year’s vote. Blocking access to health care at Planned Parenthood threatened the wellbeing of Granite State citizens.”

“Finally, after nearly a year of New Hampshire women having less access to birth control, cancer screenings, and annual exams, today’s vote was a big win for the people of our state,” said Executive Councilor and Democratic candidate for Governor, Colin Van Ostern. “I’m proud of the thousands across New Hampshire who brought the grassroots pressure needed to flip this vote, and I promise to keep fighting — and to keep winning — for better access to health care for women and families every day.”

“Today’s vote was a victory for the thousands of women and men who receive care at Planned Parenthood health centers across the state,” said Executive Councilor Chris Pappas. “I’m hopeful we’ve put the divisive politics of the past behind us and will keep ideology out of the Council chamber on women’s health.”

“We must always promote health and economic security in our communities, and I will continue to speak up for the thousands Granite Staters who depend on basic access to life-saving health care,” added Pappas.

“Today’s vote is a critically important step forward for the health and economic well-being of thousands of Granite Staters,” said Governor Maggie Hassan.

“The fundamental right of women to access health care is essential to the economic security and vitality of our families, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England provides critical primary and preventive health care services to thousands of New Hampshire women, including cancer screenings, birth control and STD testing. This contract reflects our bipartisan agreement with the legislature to fund these critical family planning services through the budget this biennium, and I am pleased by today’s vote to support access to these critical health services for women and families across the state,” added Hassan.

Image courtesy of Planned Parenthood Action Fund

Image courtesy of Planned Parenthood Action Fund

“It’s troubling that women’s access to reproductive health care is still the subject of ideological and political attacks, and we must not let up in our fight to ensure that women and families have access to the important health services that are essential to the economic security and vitality of our families,” Hassan concluded.

“This is an important victory for the women and families of New Hampshire,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Despite threats and intimidation, Planned Parenthood of New England provides critical health care services to almost 13,000 women in the Granite State. Many of these women rely on the full range of health services offered at Planned Parenthood to get the care they need. Women in every part of our state deserve access to affordable reproductive health services and vital preventive care. After last year’s destructive vote to defund Planned Parenthood, I’m very relieved that the New Hampshire Executive Council has voted to right a wrong and prioritize women’s health.”

Some of the Democratic candidates for Executive Council used this opportunity to highlight the differences between themselves and their Executive Councilor opponents.

“Quality, affordable health care is the building block of a successful life and should never be subject to partisan politics,” said Dan Weeks, former Executive Director of Open Democracy and Democratic candidate for Executive Council in District 5. “I congratulate Republican Councilor Chris Sununu on joining Democratic Councilors Chris Pappas and Colin Van Ostern to return our state to its longstanding bipartisan tradition of investing in women’s health, even as my opponent Councilor Wheeler decided to again prioritize his personal ideology over the needs and wishes of his constituents. If I am elected Councilor in District 5, I will ensure that New Hampshire continues the vital tradition of supporting women’s health.”

“If our goal is protecting women’s health, reducing abortions and teenage pregnancies, and saving taxpayer money, this contract is a no-brainer,” Weeks said. “My opponent espouses a ‘pro-life’ and ‘fiscally-conservative’ position but his actions do not appear to bear it out, nor do they represent the wishes of his constituents. I urge Councilor Wheeler to stop playing politics with women’s health through his rejection of routine Planned Parenthood contracts and other gender-equity reforms.”

“Women shouldn’t have to beg those in power to place their needs before partisan political considerations,” said Beth Roth, candidate for Executive Council in District 3 seeking to succeed Chris Sununu. “Councilor Sununu made a reckless, foolish choice last year in voting down the Planned Parenthood contract. He made critical health care services inaccessible to thousands of women in New Hampshire.”

“Now that he’s felt political pressure from people in his district and around the state, he made the political calculation it is expedient to approve the contract. I applaud the fact he found it in his heart to reinstate these services, but NH women have the right to expect better from their Councilor. This kind of power politics has no place in a body such as the Executive Council, and underscores the reason I chose to seek the seat Councilor Sununu is vacating. We need people on the Executive Council who are serious about governance and understand what real New Hampshire women and families are going through,” Roth concluded.

Three Gubernatorial Hopefuls Face Off for First Time

Forum-062016-120SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Hosts Candidate Forum for Members 

Earlier this week, the three Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates met on the same stage for the first time.  Colin Van Ostern, Steve Marchand and Mark Connolly participated in a town hall style forum hosted by the State Employees’ Association/SEIU Local 1984.  The Forum took place at NHTI in Concord and was open only to union members and their families. 

Members of the union asked questions the candidates each had the opportunity to answer. Candidates were asked what they would do, if elected, about issues that are important to the state’s public workers. Topics included high student debt, revenue shortages, infrastructure challenges ranging from bridges to passenger rail, and retiree health benefits.

“This was a great opportunity for members to hear from the candidates face to face,” said Rich Gulla, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “This sort of interaction with the potential new Governor will allow members to make a more informed decision when they head to the polls this fall.” 

Member reaction to the Forum was positive and many stated they liked some of what each candidate had to say. “This experience has given me more knowledge about my choices in the election of our next Governor, and will help me make a decision about who I support in the upcoming race” said Cheryl Towne, a member of the union. “Each of the candidates came across well and they all seemed capable of the job.  I was very happy to have had this opportunity, I know this doesn’t happen easily and I thank the union staff and members who made this event possible,” she added. 

“I think it is very important for public employees to get to know all of the candidates,” said Towne. “After all, the person who wins this race will be our ‘boss’ and they will be the one putting together the next state budget. I like hearing that they have been listening to our issues. I thought they answered our questions with ease and showed they were very knowledgeable about our concerns.  Their budget will fund the services that we provide and drive policies that affect the delivery of services, as well, so we need to learn as much about the candidate’s as possible.”

“All three of them have great vision for what New Hampshire should look like going forward,” said Diana Richard, Chapter 16. “Because there were a lot of similarities between all three of them, it’s going to make the choice very difficult on who would do the best job as governor.”

Candidate Mark Connolly agreed that the forum was a positive experience. “Monday night’s SEA Candidates Forum offered an important and thoughtful debate, and I was excited to join state employees to directly discuss the issues that matter to them and to working families across the Granite State,” he said. “As Governor, I look forward to partnering with SEA and its members to continue building a government that works for all of us. Together, we’ll push for more secure retirements for public employees and forward-thinking state budgeting, and we’ll keep New Hampshire moving in the right direction.” 

Executive Councilor Van Ostern also commented on the event. “It was a privilege to meet and learn from the hardworking members of SEA,” said Van Ostern. “I’m proud to have stood with state employees against so-called right to work legislation and as Governor, I’ll work with state employees to continue moving New Hampshire forward.” 

Candidate Marchand also spoke highly of the evening. “I appreciate the opportunity to speak with public employees in New Hampshire. We need to be honest about the need for additional revenue to make the public investments which attract private investment, young talent, and new jobs to New Hampshire. Maintaining a high-quality public sector workforce is a critical part of that vision,” said Steve Marchand.  “As Governor, I am committed to strengthening and valuing the partnership with our public employees essential to making New Hampshire an amazing place to start a family, and start a business.”

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 is currently planning a similar forum for the Republican Gubernatorial candidates to take place later this summer.

Shawn O’Connor’s Campaign Filing And Caucus Announcement Shocks Democrats

Just in case you did not hear the news this weekend, Shawn O’Connor has filed his candidacy for US Congress to represent New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.

However to the surprise of many, O’Connor filed to run as an Independent.

O’Connor was first out of the gate to announce his candidacy for Congress. He announced his run as the first Democrat to challenge Congressman Frank Guinta in March of 2015.

He made his announcement to run as an Independent on WMUR’s Close Up, that aired over the weekend adding that he will caucus with whoever is in power when he gets elected. This means he will caucus with Republicans or Democrats.

O’Connor, who said he was “proud to” endorse Senator Sanders campaign for President also stated that he was “firmly in the Sanders – Elizabeth Warren camp of the Democratic Party.”

If O’Connor really was firm believer “in the Sanders – Warren camp of the Democratic Party” why would he ever say he would caucus with the Republicans? The answer is simple. O’Connor does not care about either party. He is trying to buy his way into power by buying a seat in Congress.

Oconnor approval ratingsO’Connor claims that polling supports his campaign for Congress even though polling from UNH in April shows that 86% people “don’t know enough about him” and that his favorability actually went down from previous months.

Just as O’Connor made outrageous claims that Carol Shea-Porter was spreading a whisper campaign against him. Now he is claiming that the New Hampshire Democratic Party is blocking his campaign by not allowing him to speak at their upcoming convention. I guess when you threaten them with lawsuits they tend not to want to invite you to their party.

The fact is that O’Connor is a carpetbagger who moved to New Hampshire from New York City a few years ago with the sole purpose of running for Congress. He has donated a million dollars to his own campaign to buy his seat in Congress.

He is a greedy, power hungry opportunist evident by the fact that he probably knows he will lose the primary to Carol Shea-Porter so he is now running as an Independent. An Independent who stated he will caucus with whoever is in power to get better (more powerful) committee positions and assignments.

O’Connor has completely gone off the rails and as every day that goes by his entire campaign shows that he is only interested in one thing, buying his way into Congress.

Democrats file for New Hampshire State Senate

An impressive roster of 25 Democrats filed for their candidacies at the Secretary of State’s Office

CONCORD – Twenty-five Democratic State Senate candidates filed their candidacies with the Secretary of State this afternoon.

“This year’s exceptionally strong roster of candidates has us all very optimistic about this November’s elections,” said Senator Jeff Woodburn, the Senate’s Democratic Leader. “Our candidates represent all Granite Staters. They are small business owners, educators, community advocates, and highly-accomplished legislators who want to get things done for Granite Staters. Increased excitement on the Democratic side of the aisle, combined with several Republican retirements this cycle, points to common-sense returning to Concord come November.”

Eight candidates are current Senators running for re-election, four are current State Representatives, and one is a former Senator. The balance of the field is made up of several more prominent and respected citizens who have made an impact on their communities over the years. There are two expected primaries in the field; in District 9, Jeanne Dietsch and Lee Nyquist will seek the nomination, and in District 10, Jay Kahn and Rep. Kris Roberts will seek the nomination. All look forward to serving their friends and neighbors as their Senators in Concord.

“With Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party and the Republican Senate’s inability to effectively tackle the problems facing New Hampshire, voters are increasingly aligning with the middle class-oriented, practical approach to governance that Democrats will provide,” added Raymond Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “This Republican majority has dragged its feet on additional funding to end the opioid crisis, rejected federal funds for expanding rail infrastructure for southern New Hampshire, and can’t even get itself together to ban the barbaric practice of conversion therapy for minors. Our Senate candidates stand with the people of New Hampshire in saying that enough is enough; we’re ready to make progress.”

The candidates who filed today include:

●      District 1: Sen. Jeff Woodburn of Whitefield is the current Democratic leader in the Senate and is seeking his third term.

●      District 2: Charlie Chandler is a retired attorney, selectman, and former State Representative who lives in Warren.

●      District 3: John White is a retired Boston Globe reporter. He is very active in his hometown of Wolfeboro.

●      District 4: Sen. David Watters is a former two-term member of the House and a professor at UNH for over 30 years. He and his wife Jan Alberghene live in Dover.

●      District 5: Rep. Martha Hennessey is finishing her second year in the New Hampshire House where she is a dedicated member of the Children and Family Law Committee. She and her husband Steve Severson live in Hanover.

●      District 6: Joe Casey is a longtime advocate for working families and a community leader in Rochester.

●      District 7: Sen. Andrew Hosmer is seeking his third term in the Senate. He runs a family-owned automotive business and lives in Laconia with his wife Donna and their four children.

●      District 8: John Garvey is the John is a Navy veteran, attorney, mediator, author, and educator. John is currently a nationally recognized professor at UNH School of Law, where he directs the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program.

●      District 9: Jeanne Dietsch is a successful entrepreneur who has run several start-up tech companies, and lives with her husband Bill in Peterborough.

●      District 9: Lee Nyquist is an attorney and Town Moderator in New Boston, where he has lived with his wife Leslie for 25 years.

●      District 10: Jay Kahn is a Keene councilor-at-large and and former vice president for finance and planning at Keene State College.

●      District 10: Rep. Kris Roberts has served six terms in the New Hampshire House representing Keene, and is a former Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps.

●      District 11: Roger Tilton is an investment manager from Milford and the father of two daughters.

●      District 12: Former Sen. Peggy Gilmour served as Senator from District 12 from 2009-2011 and again from 2013-2015. She has lived in Hollis for over 40 years, where she worked in community-based health care and established the first hospice in southern New Hampshire.

●      District 13: Sen. Bette Lasky has served the people of Nashua in the Senate for three terms, and previously for five terms in the New Hampshire House where she was Assistant Majority Leader. She lives in Nashua with her husband Elliot.

●      District 14: Tammy Siekmann is a longtime community leader in Londonderry, and was a coach for the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics team.

●      District 15: Sen. Dan Feltes is an attorney who is finishing his first term in the Senate. He lives in Concord with his wife Erin.

●      District 16: Scott McGilvray is an experienced educator, who taught social studies for over 20 years while coaching football at Manchester Memorial High School. Currently serving as President of New Hampshire’s NEA, he lives in Manchester with his wife Patricia.

●      District 17: Nancy Fraher of Chichester, is a retired public school teacher. She is a former chair of the Chichester and SAU 53 School Boards.

●      District 18: Sen. Donna Soucy is serving her second term in the Senate, and is a former Manchester School Board member, Alderman, and State Representative.

●      District 19: Kristi St. Laurent is serving her fourth term as Chair of the Windham Democratic Committee and serves on the Windham Planning Board.

●      District 20: Sen. Lou D’Allesandro has represented District 20 in the Senate since first being elected in 1998. He is a former State Representative and Executive Councilor, and lives in Manchester with his wife Pat.

●      District 21: Sen. Martha Fuller Clark is serving her fifth term in the Senate, and previously served six terms in the House. She and her husband Geoff live in Portsmouth.

●      District 23: Rep. Alexis Simpson is a member of the New Hampshire House where she serves on the Environment and Agriculture Committee, and a former pastor. She, her husband, and their two sons live in Exeter.

●      District 24: Rep. Tom Sherman is a two-term member of the New Hampshire House and distinguished gastroenterologist. Sherman recently sat on the opioid epidemic joint task force and brokered the bipartisan medicaid expansion compromise plan. He lives in Rye with his wife and three sons.

Federal Workers Deserve A Raise, Democrats Propose A 5.3% Increase

AFGE Workers want a raisePushing back against the Republican’s austerity budgets, Democrats introduce a 5.3% increase for federal workers.

Federal employees deserve catch-up contribution to counter years of lost wages

WASHINGTON — For a number of years now politicians in Washington have been forcing their austerity budgets on the hard working men and women that make up the federal workforce.  Federal workers have already given back $182 billion dollars in forced concessions through pay freezes, pay cuts, and increases to their retirement plans.

Nationally the economy keeps moving forward and the cost of living continues to rise yet federal workers are stuck in reverse.

“It’s time to raise wages for all working families in this country, and the federal government should serve as the model for all other employers to follow. This is why AFGE strongly supports the ‘Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act’ introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia. This legislation will provide federal workers with a 5.3% pay raise next year,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr.

The bill introduced in the House in mid-January already has 81 cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats.

“AFGE has led the call for a 5.3% pay raise and I’m incredibly grateful for the strong support our proposal has received. Federal employees have gone far too long without a decent wage increase, resulting in a 6.5% drop in their standard of living since the start of the decade,” added Cox. 

Nationally the cost of living has risen over 21% in the last ten years but most federal workers have only seen a couple of precent increase in their wages.  Federal workers have faced same economic struggles as every other American during the last 10 years.

“Federal employees are just like other workers – they are struggling to keep up with house and car payments, student loan debt, and rising costs for prescriptions and groceries and other essentials,” said Cox. “We are not asking for any special treatment, just a catch-up contribution to start making up for the $182 billion that federal employees personally sacrificed to help get our nation through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.”

During the last six years Congress, mostly Republicans, have been using federal workers as their own personal piggy banks.  They take money that should have gone to the workers and repurposed it for their own benefit.  They force pay cuts on the workers and give more tax breaks and subsidies to corporations who are making record profits or to billionaires who are not paying their fair share of taxes as it is.

“As a result of six years of low to no pay raises, the purchasing power of federal paychecks has declined substantially. The women and men who keep this country running deserve a standard of living that keeps up with inflation and rising wages, which is why this catch-up contribution is long overdue. Congress must pass this legislation,” said Cox. 

NH Legislators Speak Out Against GOP’s Anti-Women Policies On Women’s Equality Day

Rubio’s Policies for Women? Hop into this Time Machine!

Open Letter to Granite Staters

Dear Granite Staters,

Like so many of you, we’ve spent the last few weeks feeling like we were trapped in a time machine. It’s the year 2015 – and Republicans are still trying to defund Planned Parenthood and block access to critical health services for women and families. Seriously?

Recently, New Hampshire’s Republican-controlled Executive Council voted to defund Planned Parenthood. 12,000 New Hampshire women will be impacted by this decision. But the impact goes beyond those women – this vote affects their families too. State Republicans are lining up behind the extreme agendas of the Republican Presidential candidates by voting to defund women’s health clinics that cover cancer screenings, breast exams, and birth control.

Take, for example Sen. Marco Rubio, who happens to be campaigning in New Hampshire today, trying to convince Granite Staters that he is with them on the issues, but the truth is that he and his Republican colleagues are the ones stuck in a time machine.

Nearly 7 in 10 New Hampshire voters oppose Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. But not only does Rubio want to defund Planned Parenthood, he even repeated un-scientific language we once heard from Todd Akin just a few years ago.

Rubio’s long record opposing women’s health services is no secret, and neither are the records of his fellow Republicans. Earlier this month, Rubio made clear that he opposes choice without any exceptions for rape and incest survivors. Scott Walker agrees – he wants to ban abortion with no exceptions and goes further that an abortion to protect the health of a mother is a “false choice.”  And his anti-choice record proves it – the latest abortion ban deemphasizes the health of the mother. John Kasich? Yep, he signed an abortion ban with with no exception for rape and incest. And Jeb Bush defunded Planned Parenthood as Governor, taking away money that “was being used to provide family planning services to poor women, and had been available for more than a decade.”

Marco Rubio and his Republican colleagues are simply pushing policies that are not only blasts from the past, but they hurt women and families.

And their backwards views on funding health services won’t get them very far with women in New Hampshire.

 

Sincerely,

Representative Susan Almy, Lebanon

Representative Sue Ford, Easton

Representative Martha Hennessey, Hanover

Representative Cindy Rosenwald, Nashua

Senator Donna Soucy, Manchester

Representative Suzanne Smith, Hebron

Republicans Are Not The Only One Who Want To Protect Their Freedoms

Screen shot CSPAN

Former NH Speaker Bill O’Brien is taking his extreme agenda on the road to South Carolina this week. Speaking at the South Carolina Freedom Summit, O’Brien openly mocked his own party and their choice for a Presidential nominee.

VIDEO

The fun began as O’Brien told the crowd that he is the “Republican Leader” in the NH House of Representatives. I am sure that the Republican leadership in the NH House would beg to differ. (For those who may not know, O’Brien and his fellow “TEA Party Patriots” formed their own Republican caucus and named O’Brien as their leader.)

O’Brien was there to push for a Conservative candidate (unnamed in this event, but locally reported that O’Brien is supporting Sen. Ted Cruz) who will hold true to their Conservative principles. As O’Brien laid it out: limited government, free markets, “stopping the governments war on religion,” unalienable right of self protection, “the rights of children born and unborn,” and personal sovereignty.

“Over the years I have heard the establishment party and the liberal media tell us who we should be voting for,” said O’Brien. “The establishment and the liberal media telling us to nominate a moderate so he can win and ends up with that moderate loosing because he cannot draw any significant distinction between himself and the liberal parties candidate.”
Obviously O’Brien was not happy with Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee for President.

O’Brien went on to say, “We win when we directly and unapologetically present our philosophy of liberty unimpeded by big government and founded on individual sovereignty, and we loose when we nominate RINOs (Republicans in name only).”

First of all I think it should be known that Republicans are not the only ones who want “personal sovereignty.”

Democrats are also pushing for more “personal sovereignty“ and less government involvement in their personal lives.

We want the government, and the Republican Party, to keep their laws out of a women’s uterus. A woman should be able to choose if she wants to terminate her pregnancy for the reasons her and her doctor have discussed.  Republicans across the country have been hard at work to strip women of their reproductive rights and force them to have unnecessary medical procedures and in some extreme cases be forced to listen to lies about abortions and the effects of having an abortion.

The freedom to choose has been upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States since Roe v Wade over forty years ago. Yet every year, Republican led legislatures, like New Hampshire push some type of fetal personhood law to take away a women’s freedom to choose. They pass laws that force health clinics to close, and force women to drive for hundreds of miles to have a safe and legal medical procedure.

What about the freedom to marry? Shouldn’t people have the personal freedom to marry whoever they choose? The Supreme Court will soon issue a ruling as to whether it is constitutional or not that a state can pass laws discriminating gay and lesbian couples from getting married.

What about “Freedom of Religion.” O’Brien says there is a “war on religion,” and to some extent he is right. There is a war by the religious evangelical right to force their religious beliefs on the rest of the country.

What about those who do not believe in any religion, should they be forced to abide by the religious beliefs of the evangelical right wingers?

What about those who already have a strong foundation in their own faith, like Muslim, Jewish, and Wiccan? Do they not have the same person freedoms guaranteed to them by the Constitution to practice whatever religion they choose?

There is a separation between Church and State for a reason, yet these same O’Brien led Republicans are trying to force their religion on us through the government. Way to uphold our Constitution.

They hypocrisy is astounding. Screaming personal freedom yet actively stripping away the freedoms and rights of millions of Americans. The Republican Party is tearing itself apart — which is fine by me – because the radical right wing of the party is attacking the more reasonable and moderate Republicans.

It is fun to watch the O’Brien bad-mouth his own party for nominating moderates. If the “moderate” Republican candidate like Romney was still too extreme for main-stream Americans, then what real chance does a fringe candidate like Sen. Ted Cruz, or Dr. Ben Carson really have in general election?

Get the popcorn, because this show is only beginning!

Guest Column: The Age Of A Fractured Political System

Dr. Thomas J. Mackell, Jr.By Thomas J. Mackell, Jr., Ed.D.

This is an age of fractured jobs, a fractured economy, fractured families, a fractured political system, a terribly fractured American Dream and where the political protagonists, our elected leaders, are in need of spinal transplants.

The soon-to-retire greying generation is experiencing no pensions. Those pensions are promises that will not be kept, leaving thousands of employees in dire straits when they are most vulnerable. Roller-coaster retirement accounts subject to the whims of the market. Longer life spans and higher health care costs. Children in college. Young adults with staggering student-loan debt who are financially incapable of purchasing a home. Aging and ailing parents. A will to work but fewer jobs to be had.

America is dying for a champion who makes preserving the middle class a top priority. They want somebody who can level the playing field so that Main Street doesn’t always come second to Wall Street. Someone who is not running networks of oligarchs who take advantage of our weakened campaign finance laws to manipulate the democratic process in pursuit of their self-interests.

This is the scenario as we head into the 2014 Congressional elections with predictions that Republicans will hold the House of Representatives and, perhaps, gain control of the Senate.

If that happens, forget a Congress that looks out for the little guy.  In conjunction with a non-caring Congress, today, unfortunately, the concept of freedom has come to mean the freedom of the wealthy to do whatever they want, without regard to the consequences for the rest of us. In reality, the 1 percent has undertaken a serious effort to buy elections.

At any kind of gathering whether it be at work or at home, Americans are expressing disappointment about the way things run in Washington. They don’t see them dealing with the multitude of problems facing our nation. Their approval rating is at an all-time low. Many citizens say they see no value in bothering to vote.

Clearly, the constant bickering between the Republicans and Democrats is wearing thin on Main Street and leads to a notion of false equivalency. The Pew Research Center says that Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines than at any point in the last two decades.

The GOP has done all it can to undercut the Obama presidency. Democrats had to fight back. The line is drawn in the sand which has resulted in blind allegiance or blind hatred.

But let’s put the blame where it belongs: on the Republican side of the aisle. The Republicans must end their internal civil war between the moderates and the Tea Party aficionados.

Recently, a number of the members of Congress who have announced their plans to retire have expressed their frustration with the cantankerous environment in Washington and their inability to get things done.

When even the pols start complaining, you know that things are really bad. If they can’t find solutions then we are, truly, in deep trouble.

Despite this horrendous dilemma, failing to vote surely will make things worse. We have a solemn obligation to go to the polls. Neglecting the most fundamental responsibility of citizenship invites complacency and encourages political abuse. Showing up on Election Day proves we are in the game, that we care and that we want to see change.

There are areas of this country where people have been removed from the ranks of eligible voters and GOP operatives are doing all they can to suppress participation by traditional Democratic constituencies.

Today, the American workplace is plagued with wage theft, disrespect of culture, pressure, unsafe environments, unbridled automation and more. Everything solid is melting into air. This should not be tolerated in modern America. We must vote our pocketbook to protect our livelihoods and our well-being.

We must encourage our union memberships, thoughtful young folks and retirees to go out on Election Day and exercise their right to vote. They must be engaged in their communities and serve as an example to those who might stay away. Staying home is not an option. It will only continue and calcify this dangerous divisiveness.

Dr. Thomas J. Mackell, Jr. is Senior Consultant to the International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO for political, legislative and public affairs.

New Tumblr Page, ‘I Voted Republican’ Uses Images To Challenge Rhetoric

There is a new Tumblr page called ‘I voted Republican’, which is dedicated to challenging Republican rhetoric.

Here’s the description:

“I Voted Republican” …WHY???

Remember back in 2009, when Tea Party Republicans were carrying signs like “Keep Your [Expletive] Government Hands Off My Medicare!” ? 

Since that time, we’ve noticed a growing gap between actual reality and “Republican Reality”. A developing disconnect between the real world and those doctrines dearly held by GOP “True Believers”.

* We find it amazing that so many Americans still think the Republican Party is better for the economy. [After President Bush spent the federal surplus – and trillions more – on tax cuts for the wealthy?!?]

* People still think the Republican Party is better on individual rights. [Ok, we’ll admit Republicans are staunch defenders of the right to carry guns. But what about the right to privacy in the doctor’s office?]

* People believe the Republican Party is more values-based, more “Christian”. [But didn’t Jesus tell us to “feed the hungry” and “love your neighbor”?] 

For those unfamiliar with Tubmlr, it is a micro-blogging site where people post, mostly images. Like every other social media, people are what make the blog posts spread.

The best part about Tumblr is that everyone gets to join in the conversation. The I Voted Republican page allows everyone to submit their own image memes for consideration on the page. You do not even have to be a member of Tumblr to enjoy the fun.

Get your creative juices flowing and create your own memes. If you do not have a way to make your own memes already, you can use http://memegenerator.net/ to choose from thousands of standard images or upload your own. Add your own text and then submit it.

Use this link to be taken directly to the submit page for the I Voted Republican Tumblr page.

Share this post with your friends and encourage them to join in the fun. Challenge them to create their own meme and see who gets the most likes.

Be sure to like and share your favorite images too.

http://ivotedrepublican.tumblr.com/

 

 

A Must Hear Report On NH House Speaker Bill O’Brien and Partisan Politics In NH

I wanted to share a radio spot from This American Life in which they talk with Annmarie Timmins from the Concord Monitor,  as well as many of the Representatives from the NH House.

A portrait of what it looks like when politics gets polarized, and how hard it is for people in the middle to hang on. Producer Sarah Koenig explains what happened when a wave of Republican politicians swept to power with a three-to-one majority in 2010. New Hampshire’s a small state, and the shift to a more divisive in-your-face kind of politics happened very quickly, so it’s possible to see exactly what’s gained and lost when that happens. (30 1/2 minutes).

A special report from Sarah Koenig (former Concord Monitor reporter)

The report covers everything from Union Busting Tea Party Leadership, Rep Vallencourt’s  German statement, and blocking the Concord Monitor reporters out of the press conferences.

Below is the full special report.

 

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