CACR 18 + 1
Liberal Democrats object, saying that if the state would just cover the cost of an adequate education for all students, it can target additional aid any way it wants.
"To me, this says that we continue to have done for all eternity -- first figure how much we want to spend on education and then back into that amount. We ought to be thinking larger than trying to continue the status quo," said Rep. Kimberley Casey, D-East Kingston.
Only half of the Democratic caucus supported the Majority amendment that came out of the House Finance committee. I was not among them.
I'll accept the label of "Liberal Democrat" in this context, as I completely agree with Kim Casey's remarks. I am willing to entertain other solutions, such as Andy Peterson's retained bill, understanding the constraints imposed on us by the Governor's pledge. I am not, however, willing to amend the constitution under these circumstances.
Conservative Republicans object to the idea of the Supreme Court remaining involved in the school funding issue. They feel the court's original Claremont decision interpreted the word "cherish" to create a fictional state funding obligation.
They also don't trust the use of the word "honor" in the new amendment. It says the state will fund schools in a way that "honors the rights and responsibilities of local communities."
Rep. David Bettencourt, R-Salem, said, "A lot of us saw that as the same thing that got us in trouble in first place with the word 'cherish.'"
I'm skeptical of the convictions of said conservative Republicans. I understand they intend to completely remove court oversight but I'm also willing to bet they're smart enough to realize that CACR-19, as introduced, is the best deal they're going to get. Republicans know when to cut their losses and they also enforce more party discipline, and all the more so when they're in the minority.
Still, we can take hope in the strong possibility that this will not even come to a vote.
Rep. Timothy Dunn, D-Keene, said the two-thirds vote is a major hurdle. "I don't know how they think they can twist enough arms," he said.
[I]f Whalley wants his party to help move the issue forward, Bettencourt said, "he has quite a bit of heavy lifting to do in next couple days. I don't see how House gets past that two-thirds vote."
When Rep. Andrew Peterson, R-Peterborough, then moved to indefinitely postpone consideration of any more amendments until 2009, it got more votes than the amendment itself.
I count myself among the 187 - Democrats and a handful of Republicans - who voted to send CACR-18 into the abyss.
Given that vote on indefinite postponement, a deliberate move to ensure that the Whalley amendment (with language identical to CACR-19, we're told) never saw the light of day, I am confident that there will not be 266 votes in the House to suspend the rules.
A Good Day for Democracy
He reminded us that we are talking about the document that preserves our freedoms, the source of our essential right to an education. Should the legislature reasonably weigh the importance of that right, or should it stand resolutely behind it?
He asked us to consider, if John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson were in a pub and some Tories came in and they said "let's be reasonable", would we have gained our independence from the King of England today?
The fight over the constitutional amendment has been marked with intense political pressure. As it became apparent that this amendment would divide the caucus, a slew of - often conflicting - talking points were trained at members of the legislature, both individually and as a mass. A group consensus was attempted in a disorganized approach using increasingly desperate policy excuses and political ramifications. The result was a compromised position, bankrupted of steadfast principles, steeped in an broth of expedience.
Andy Peterson left us with advice that has proven its virtue through thousands of years of human civilization, and even still today addresses the greater assault on reason that has become the primary threat to the survival of our democracy:
Search your heart, with neither fear nor favor, without regard to politics but to our basic liberties
I did not intend on taking notes during the floor "debate" today, but I used this to justify my excuse as to why I won't make up my mind until I've listened to the speakers in the House chamber. While I had already made up my mind the night before as to how I was voting, my pitch to those who would attempt to pressure me was simple:
How can anyone believe that they have the authority to amend the Constitution, when they don't even respect the constitutional process and give this important issue due diligence; by making their decision only after participating in the truest form of democracy as it was intended: debate on the floor of the House.
Well I actually did this today, even if it began only as a gesture, but what I found was that the man who sits in the seat in front of me articulated my feelings perfectly and stood up honorably for principle, not politics.
The Rule of Reason
We've all grown so accustomed to politic outcomes being predetermined, with the real debate being conducted behind closed doors, with arguments being presented in a climate devoid of public scrutiny or any accountability to them.
The politics of fear are devastating our country. It's not something that Bush invented, and it's not something that only goes on in Washington D.C.
I've been pressured really hard in the past 24 hours. They've thrown everything but the kitchen sink at us. We've gone from dishonest policy explanations to empty political threats. Judicial interpretations based on hearsay to secret financial assurances. Rewriting history to "the end of the world". "We don't play politics with the constitution" to "let the people decide".
There is no longer any rational debate. We're being told that amending the constitution is a simple and trivial task. When the process must be respected, their policy is invincible. When we find holes in the policy, the important thing is that we pass something. If we don't pass something, there will be disastrous political consequences. If we don't share those political consequences with them, they threaten us with retribution.
The ultimate problem, however, isn't even with the merits of these arguments. Whether they be rooted in policy or politics, there are bound to be a few that have some truth in them. The problem is that the decision making process is backwards. These arguments weren't presented and discussed, resulting in a logical conclusion. The answer is decided upon, and we are then given a progression of weak excuses and reasons as to why the answer is right, after the fact.
First the verdict, then the trial.
I'm voting no. If we aren't going to follow the rule of reason - the foundation of our constitutional process - then there is no moral basis for us to lay our hands upon the Constitution.
Another Exciting Day
Woke up early and Jeff and I drove to the White Mountains, which looks amazing in spring! Got to Cannon Mountain and took the Tram to the top with Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. Met a Draft Gore accomplice of ours and helped out as he collected petition signatures and interviewed with WBUR about getting Gore to run for President.
Met with our Congressman, Paul Hodes, and got to really talk with him about stuff for the first time (he still doesn't remember us after meeting 10 times).
We sat and watched the 2 hour long Global Warming Summit of the House Select Committee on Global Warming.
It was our first time seeing a Congressional hearing in real life... it was awesome. Got to see Rep. James "Fat-cat Republican" Sensenbrenner try his hardest to disprove Global Warming to the expert panel of scientists. Money from Big Oil can do that to you.
We got to talk with all sorts of environmental activists (and Gore supporters) afterwards. Also had a strategizing session with our new partner in creating Draft Gore NH, who we luckily ran into at the summit.
We had to hurry back into the tram to get down the mountain because of the 40 knot winds. It was a bumpy ride down but we didn't even notice because we were standing next to Congressman Ed Markey from Massachusetts, the committee's chairman. This guy was awesome, and he got a kick out of my Al Gore '08 button. He was the friendliest, most down to earth guy - can't wait until he replaces John Kerry as Senator some day..
We had a long drive home through the rain, stopped off in Concord to collect our mileage for the day.
Had to have a Nashua Delegation caucus at Rep. Bette Lasky's house back in Nashua. It was ridiculous. We just listened to Democratic leadership tool on us for an hour and a half, trying to whip us all into voting for this god-awful Constitutional Amendment. My mind wasn't made up on it, and I ended up getting into a bit of a confrontation over it.
They are constantly telling us, "Jeff and Andy, it's so good to have you up at the state house, you're so sharp" and "nothing gets by you!". Well don't be surprised when we actually call you on your bullshit! This is the stupidest political embroilment I've been in so far.
Principles or politics? I only have two more days to choose...
Crazy Day in Concord
We all packed into the Governor's chambers after caucus to witness the signing of the Civil Unions bill into law. There were hundreds of Democrats packed into the room trying to listen, but Lynch's remarks were lukewarm at best. Even with the entire party standing behind him, he refuses to accept personal responsibility in standing up for gay rights... They made him do it.
Session was a big disappointment for me today. I spent more time outside than in my seat.
We started off with the big fight of the day, the Smoking Ban. I promised Sen. Gottesman I'd vote for it when I saw him this morning, in return for him voting against the Seat Belt bill. Well yeah, that wasn't happening but it doesn't matter because Seat Belts died today in the Senate, with only 6 Democrats voting for it (and no Republicans).
I intended on voting for the Smoking Ban though, regardless. Ironically, I was outside having a smoke when the roll was called and I missed the vote!
So that pretty much left me pretty bummed out for the rest of the day. It was the only big thing we really voted on, but it passed overwhelmingly so my vote really would've been self-serving.
Things got worse. Next, a healthcare-related study bill died after some pretendo'crats got up and shilled for the insurance companies.
Then things hit rock bottom. eff was busting his ass for the past 2 weeks in fighting an egregious violation to civil liberties that was tucked away in a police-related bill coming out of his committee. He enlisted the support of Libertarians from both sides of the isle, but old people are retarded and don't listen to reasoned debate so his attempts to stop it failed by a hundred votes. Live Free or Die, indeed.
Things got better though. We went outside and talked to our favorite Senate staffer about how awesome Gore is, and listened to good ole' Rep. Al "Homosexual Agenda" Baldasaro teach us about how he cares about freedom more than we do.
We recessed for lunch early and decided to treat ourselves to a sit-down deal at the Barley House. The new waitress told us we could sit at the bar, especially after finding out we weren't of age, which apparently got her in a little bit of trouble (her idea not ours).
I wrote a blog post during the morning and at lunch on my phone, and it got front-paged on Blue Hampshire. I was basically attacking David Brooks for being the biggest clown on the planet, but also for bad-mouthing Gore in the NYTimes.
I got a call from the photography crew of WPI's Transformations magazine, waiting outside across the street for me to do a photo shoot. I was in a rush leaving the restaurant and fix my hair or grab a toothpick on my way out, so there's a good chance there was a pretty good chance I looked awful. I also felt really uncomfortable standing in the middle of a busy sidewalk in front of the State House trying to fake a smile.
The photographer loved Al Gore though, and he also thinks he is going to run and win! It made me pretty happy, because usually photographers are bullshitting you and trying to make you feel good about yourself while they snap away, but this guy genuinely made me smile after I told him who I'm supporting in 2008.
Went back inside after about 10 minutes of talking to them. I didn't miss anything this time, and things started getting better from here. Labor finally won a fucking vote - Leadership must be finally realizing that the unions are a stronger voting bloc than the Democratic caucus ever is.
Jeff found out we got an e-mail from James Pindell at the Boston Globe so we went out to the antechamber to call him. I just answered a few questions about our Draft Gore plans for the convention this Saturday. I just talked for 5 minutes because he never stopped me to ask questions, so I wouldn't be surprised if a really crappy quote ends up in the Globe tomorrow.
Now Jeff, on the other hand, seems to have a natural talent for talking to the press (see here, or here). He was quoted for an article in the Washington Times that ran this morning, also having to do with Gore's candidacy.
So session ended not too long afterwards, and we spent half an hour giving privilege to a three military veterans in the among us who each gave speeches in honor of Memorial Day.
The first one was kind of unmoving because it was a Republican giving it who mostly just listed off all the names of NH KIA's in Iraq and talked about the War on Terrah.
The second speech was incredible, however. Rep. Kris Roberts is a much more eloquent writer than I realized, and even though he was against our Iraq War resolution, he spoke with clarity and dignity about the blood that has been shed in creating and preserving this nation, without glorifying war.
Rep. Eleanor Kjellman's speech really hit me though. She spent about 10 minutes describing one young soldier from her hometown Henniker who died last summer. It was chilling, I actually felt sadness for the first time, thinking about how this guy was born just 4 years before me, and had volunteered for the Army before 9/11 happened. That really made me feel like shit.
I've had this difficult time dealing with all the kids my age who are going to Iraq and joining the Army because they might feel a sense of obligation to fight Bush's war (at best), or just to "kill sum fuckin' terrorists" (these ones really sicken me). Unfortunately, I've come of age with a really unfair impression of the military. Once I started thinking about my grandfather's serving in WWII, though, I realized that the kid's of my generation are getting fucked. Not only are these soldiers going off to die for an arrogant imperialist shithead, but we're also being blinded and mislead as an entire generation. As we're slowly losing connections with those still living who witnessed and served in WWII, we no longer have living stories of wars that had to be fought - it's only something we read about in history books.
The theme of death seemed to carry on throughout the rest of the day. We stopped over at the funeral home afterwards to pay our respects to our fellow Rep. Jane Clemons of Nashua, whose mother suddenly passed away. We saw Sean Munroe and his parents inside which was good for us because going to a wake for someone you never knew can be kind of awkward when you don't know anyone there. Good people, though.
Went to the library with my dad and decided to start reading The Federalist Papers. After reading The Assault on Reason, I realized I have a lot of homework to do if I ever want to score points with Al Gore.
I'd also like to congratulate my good friend Jeff Fontas on becoming the youngest member in the State House.
Update: The Telegraph did a follow-up article on us.. "Tenderfooted teens bring youthful glow to Statehouse"
Democrats won overwhelmingly across Nashua. We now control 24 of the city's 28 seats in the state legislature, and the greatest victory was seen in my own district, wards 5, 8, and 9, where we picked up TWO seats to take 8 out of 10 total.
Democrats swept the election across New Hampshire, up and down the ballot..
We will be sending two Democrats to represent our state in Washington, D.C. Paul Hodes disposed of Bass easily, as it should have been, but Carol Shea-Porter won in a huge upset over Jeb Bradley. I personally thought she had as much a chance of winning as Hodes, and that the polls did not reflect the pervasive voter dissatisfaction with the Republican-dominated government.
Governor Lynch obviously won by a landslide, Debora Pignatelli was handed a decisive victory and will now be joined by 2 new Executive Councilors so that we now hold 3 of 5 seats.
The State Senate has swung from 8-16 to 14-10 in our favor, with both Joe Foster and Dave Gottesman triumphant.
The State House was a sweeping victory and probably the hugest victory next to the U.S. Congressional races, with the balance in the General Court being flipped from 152-245 to 239-161 with 36 races not yet reported at this point.
This is the most significant victory to me because Jeff and I know we were part of an historic tidal wave of change, restoring power to a party that has not held a majority in both houses since the Civil War!
(see inside for extended results)
The Final Push!
To Volunteer - call or visit the Nashua Democratic Party Office:
82 Main St.
Nashua, NH 03060
Get Involved! There are plenty of ways for you to volunteer every day between now and November 7th... (see below for list of events)
|Monday||11/6||6-8 AM||Exit 5|
|Tuesday||11/7||All Day||Polling Stations|
|Lit Drops/ Get-Out-The-Vote|
|Sat-Sun||11/4-11/5||10-1, 2-6 PM||Dropping Literature/ GOTV Canvassing|
|Thur-Tues||11/2-11/7||All Day||GOTV Phonebanking (2 hr. shifts)|
To Volunteer - call or visit the Nashua Democratic Party Office:
82 Main St.
Nashua, NH 03060
Article in the Nashua Telegraph
This Sunday's Nashua Telegraph features us in a front page story.
I'm very pleased with how it came out, and the photo didn't hurt too much. I'd like to thank Michael Brindley for coming to Jeff and I with this story, and also my mother for her contribution to it:
Mary Edwards, Andrew’s mother, said politics has always been a topic of discussion in her household.
“We talk about politics at the dinner table,” she said. “Andrew’s always had a really keen interest in politics. And he has a lot to say.”
She and her husband are voters and have been active in their children’s educations. She has tried to help Andrew with his campaign, going door to door and planting signs. And come Election Day, she wasn’t bashful about who will get her vote.
“I will vote for my son,” she said.
Correction: I am majoring in Biochemistry, not Biotech.
Paul Hodes for U.S. Congress
The good news is that not only is Hodes leading Bass right now, according to the most recent poll commissioned by the Nashua Telegraph, but he has just received his first critical endorsement from a major granite state newspaper: The Concord Monitor.