Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hodes Lays Out Iraq Plan

Coincidentally, the day that Charlie Bass started running an ad attacking Paul Hodes on Iraq, Hodes held a press conference to suggest a plan for the war.

Hodes has a press release detailing his full plan here, with explanations of the following bullet points:

I. Make it clear that we will not occupy Iraq permanently.

II. Withdraw our National Guard and Reserve troops immediately.

III. Immediately focus our mission on training the Iraqi military and police and security for their operations.

IV. Require the Iraqis to forge a political solution to the current crisis.

V. Support that solution while redeploying the remainder of our troops.

VI. Bring other countries into a comprehensive and sustained peace process.

VII. Rebuild our military.

VIII. Replace the leadership.

According to the Concord Monitor's report on the press conference

[Hodes] pointed to Monday's Iraq deployment of 138 soldiers with the New Hampshire National Guard's 3643rd Security Force and to Bass's vote against a debate on the National Intelligence Estimate report on the effects of the war on U.S. security.

"Do you think New Hampshire voters want a congressman who takes a critical look at the mission or a congressman who says, 'Let's not bother talking about it'?" he said.

In the Union Leader, a Bass spokeswoman runs Republican plays 1, 2, and 4 on the Iraq war: Claim that any criticism of the planning and leadership of the war is an attack on American soldiers; imply that massive successes are being overlooked in the politicized rush to paint the war as a disaster; accuse your opponent of wanting to cut and run regardless of what affect doing so will have.

Responding last night to Hodes comments, Bass campaign spokesman Lindsay Jackson said it's a shame the Democrat views U.S. accomplishments in Iraq over the last two years as a failure.

"Today Mr. Hodes laid out his plan, which includes pulling U.S. troops out immediately, eventually hoping to have all U.S. troops gone in a year," Johnson said. "That kind of plan would be setting up an effort to fail. Congressman Bass has confidence and respect in the young service men and women to do their jobs and come home as soon as our mission has been accomplished."

Ok, Lindsay, whatever. The Monitor also quotes her saying

Bass "feels that we must keep forces on the ground until we can confidently hand over control to the Iraqi security forces."
Except that, as I've previously noted, this is just a deceptive way of saying "Bass supports an indefinite US presence in Iraq." There is no way Iraqi security forces will be able to take control for the foreseeable future. It's saying "stay the course" without having the guts to actually say it.

Or, as Paul Hodes characterizes the situation

Hodes said the Bush administration is "too deep in its own mess" to resolve the situation in Iraq. "George Bush has failed this country and Charlie Bass has gone right along with him."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Weekend Canvassing for Hodes

There will again be canvassing for Paul Hodes in a number of towns this weekend. Canvassing is important, and a good way to get involved with the campaign. You'll also get a little bit of exercise and maybe meet some people.

North Country

Time: 10am
Date: Saturday 9/30
Meeting Location: Berlin Democratic Office (across from Berlin City Hall on Main St)

Time: 2pm
Date: Saturday 9/10
Meeting Location: Berlin Democratic Office (across from Berlin City Hall on Main St)

Time: 2pm
Date: Sunday 10/1
Meeting Location: Café Flora

Merrimack County:

Time: 10am
Date: Saturday 9/30
Meeting Location: Campaign Headquarters (12 N. Main St, Concord)

Time: 2pm
Date: Saturday 9/30
Meeting Location: Campaign Headquarters (12 N.Main St, Concord)

Time: 5:00pm
Date: Tuesday 10/3
Meeting Location: Campaign Headquarters (12 N. Main St, Concord)

Nashua Area & Rockingham County

Time: 10am
Date: Saturday 9/30
Meeting Location: Pelham High School (85 Marsh Rd, Pelham)

Time: 2pm
Date: Saturay 9/30
Meeting Location: Law Office of David Carney (59 Stiles, Salem)

Time: 2pm
Date: Sunday 10/1
Meeting Location: Nashua Democratic Office (82 Main St. Nashua)

Cheshire & Sullivan Counties

Time: 10am
Date: Saturday 9/30
Meeting Location: Keene Democratic Office (2 Eagle Ct, Keene)

Time: 2pm
Date: Saturday 9/30
Meeting Location: Keene Democratic Office (2 Eagle Ct, Keene)

Hillsborough County:

Time: 10am
Date: Saturday 9/30
Meeting Location: Sop & Shop Parking Lot (19 Wilton Rd, Peterborough)

Time: 2pm
Date: Saturday 9/30
Meeting Location: Town Library (14 Main St)

Town of Hillsborough:
Time: 2pm
Date: Sunday 10/1
Meeting Location: Dunkin Donuts (258 W. Main St, Hillsborough)

Upper Valley:

Time: 2pm
Date: Saturday 9/30
Meeting Location: Lebanon Democratic Office (2 Whipple Place, Lebanon)

If you're interested in doing any of these, Torey is your contact for the North Country, Justin for Nashua and Rockingham County, Jamie for Hillsborough County, Brooke for Cheshire and Sullivan Counties, and Toby for Merrimack County. Email any of them at their first name at The campaign office phone number is 603 223 2006.

New Bass Attack Ad

Charlie Bass has a new ad, attacking Paul Hodes on Iraq. Swing State Project and The Yankee Doodler have posts highlighting one of this ad's central absurdities, namely that the ad says
Now, Hodes wants to send troops into Kurdistan. Kudistan? Hodes says he’s got a plan for Iraq.
Problem being, of course, that Kurdistan is part of Iraq.

This is hilarious and pathetic all at once, especially given how ragingly amateurish the ad is. Seriously, it looks like someone with no design or advertising background whomped it together on their PC one night.

But the ad signals something important, and I don't want that to get lost.

All along, Bass has insisted on the positivity of the campaign he was going to run. I've posted before on the way he focuses on the positivity of the campaign he's going to run, and refuses to engage with the important issues of the day. As I wrote then
Charlie Bass's game is to pretend to be above politics, above partisanship, while he sneaks in in the middle of the night to vote to interfere in people's personal lives. Paul Hodes, on the other hand, may be doing politics (and I'd hope so, given that this is a political campaign), but he can do so openly, without shame or sneering about it, because he is doing an honorable politics.
This was after Bass had accused Hodes' support of a plan to improve tax credits for college students as stemming from "the difference between policy and politics" and gone on
“I’m going to run for re-election the way I have the previous six terms. I’m going to run a positive campaign and I’ll work harder than anyone else,’’ Bass said.

“I’ll win re-election the old fashioned way.’’
I'll be curious to see if he continues to insist that this is what he's doing, but I think any reasonable observer would conclude that Bass has abandoned any pretense of positive campaigning. He's done so just five days after his spokeswoman's response to Hodes' ad on Iraq was to say

We think it’s unfortunate and disappointing that once again Mr. Hodes decided to go with a negative ad campaign.

We could argue about whose ad is more negative; it might not surprise you to find that I think the Bass ad is substantially more so. I say this because Bass' ad is done in classic negative ad form: The candidate only appears for long enough to say he authorized the message, there's a threatening-sounding voiceover by someone other than the candidate, there's a lot of black screen with leading questions written on it. It's amateurish but textbook attack ad. By contrast, Hodes' ad features a good deal of video of the candidate, and he does the voiceover. There's no need for the candidate to hide from this message. And that in turn speaks for the fairness of the message itself.

Let's just remember this the next time Charlie tries to claim he's running a positive campaign. Just because you don't have the nerve to voice your own ad doesn't mean it's not your ad.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bass Policy Director Resigns

Tad Furtado, Charlie Bass's policy director, resigned due to extreme sockpuppetry, and also sort of because of me and NH-02 Progressive and Yankee Doodler. It's been kind of overwhelming. He clearly did wrong on several different levels, and this seems like an appropriate initial response. Apparently the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct will be looking into it; I'll be curious to see how that goes. On the one hand House Republicans have not been particularly good at disciplining their own of late; on the other, maybe because he's just a staffer he'll be the sacrificial lamb or something. So I don't know what to root for - I want a clear statement that this is unacceptable behavior, but do I want to see someone disciplined because they weren't powerful enough to intimidate their way out of it, a la Tom DeLay?

Charlie Bass has offered an apology - in a written statement to the press, mind you, not to us - and I'm not sure what to make of it. Whether or not it's sincere, it's clearly more honorable to have followed this path than the NJ Senate path of denial. But this was happening in his office, by one of his top aides, over a period of months - of more than a year if you count his Our Congress post on Bass. Whether or not he knew anything about it, this, in my opinion, speaks to an atmosphere of ethical permissiveness in the Republican party today that pervades Bass's office no matter how much he talks about his independence. This didn't happen in a vacuum. It was done by a member of the party of the New Hampshire phone jamming scandal, the party of Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham. This certainly doesn't rise to the level of any of those, but it's part of a broad and disturbing pattern. Until Bass addresses that, and declares true independence from it - which he has not done - his apology is incomplete.

Monday, September 25, 2006

On Bass Sockpuppets

There's a pretty good chance that if you're coming here today it's because you've already read the story about a Bass staffer trolling this site, but in brief:

As I posted on Thursday, here and at Daily Kos, someone named "IndieNH" or "IndyNH" had been leaving comments on this and other NH-02 blogs claiming to support Paul Hodes but always managing to work in sorrowful references to how very strong and independent Charlie Bass is. Those comments were being left from a House of Representatives IP address, which is deceptive and probably in violation of House rules against using government resources to campaign.

Roll Call's Heard on the Hill has covered the story (Roll Call is subscription-only, but it's reproduced at Raw Story), and Bass' office has admitted that Indy is in fact one of their staffers. Several blogs have posted on the Roll Call story.

I have little to add at this point - I'm amazed and pleased to see the story get this much attention. Given the amount of deception and corruption Republicans in the House and elsewhere have engaged in over the past several years, I'd have thought this wouldn't even show up on anyone's radar. But even if it's no Abramoff scandal, using government resources to campaign while pretending to be someone you're not is wrong and also just plain lame, so I'm not complaining.

For the record, I am in no way paid by the Hodes campaign. I am open about my partisanship and support of Hodes. I volunteer for the campaign whenever I have the chance, and I have contributed money. But they do not pay me for anything and do not control what I say.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

WMUR Story on Hodes Ad

WMUR did a pretty good story on the new ad. You can watch it here. It's unfortunate that they chose to mention the Monitor poll but not the DCCC poll, but otherwise I have few complaints.

As a minor but fun side point, note what part of the word "Bass" is visible behind his staffer's head in her first interview clip. That was some fine, fine set-up on his campaign's part.

All Hail Justin the Pumpkin-Maker

Justin, of the field staff and of pee muffin fame, made this pumpkin of Paul Hodes.

When he's not eating pee muffins or carving amazing pumpkins, he's making people laugh so hard they almost spray salad with blue cheese dressing all over him. Unfortunately, most of his funny stuff wouldn't really translate to writing, so you'll have to settle for appreciating the pumpkin. Or you could canvass in the Nashua area sometime, in which case you'd meet him.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Paul Hodes TV Ad on YouTube

It's on Iraq. I think it looks good. They've got Charlie dead to rights, tied firmly to Iraq and to Bush, and Paul is firm, clear, and direct, emphasizing the Bass-Bush link and the need for a new direction.

If you want to help them air it, you can contribute to the Hodes campaign.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Very Special Guest

Today, I'd like to give a special welcome to one of my (and NH-02 Progressive and Yankee Doodler's) most regular readers and commenters, IndyNH (also known as IndieNH). What's so special about Indy?

Well, s/he loves Paul Hodes, but only shows up to comment about how sad it is that Charlie Bass is such a strong candidate that Paul will have trouble defeating him. This never fails to grieve Indy, though s/he rebounds with suggestions like
I am going to look at the competitive race list to figure out where to send another / netroots donation and maybe help out in other ways. Maybe CT or NY for me - they are at least close by.

Anyone interested in pooling NH efforts for some of those races? Maybe we could even go help out for a few days in buses or something in November?
The other special thing about Indy? S/he is posting from the House of Representatives, where s/he works, we must assume, for that member of New Hampshire's Congressional delegation who likes to style himself "independent" while voting with the Republican leadership nearly 90% of the time.

It's called sitemeter, Indy, and it lets me see where you're posting from. You'd be obvious enough as a concern troll without that information, but that lets me know to a pretty good certainty that you're a paid concern troll. And the fact that you'd bother trolling here? That just says "we're worried about this race."

Non-Indy readers should think about how they can support Paul Hodes in his campaign. I'd suggest contributing time or money.

(Keener, Yankee Doodler, and I posted a collaborative diary on this at Daily Kos.)

About Polling: As I was saying...

From John DiStaso's Union Leader column:
Perhaps answering the Concord Monitor's recent poll showing Hodes trailing Bass, 55 to 30 percent, the DCCC has a poll by the Mellman Group of 400 2nd District voters that shows the race tied at 41 percent each. The poll shows George W. Bush's job approval rating at 30 percent in the district, and that 61 percent of voters believe the country is on the wrong track.
As you're weighing the reliability of this poll vs. that Monitor one, bear in mind that the DCCC would have been doing this poll to help them decide whether or not to add Hodes to the Red to Blue program. Adding a candidate to R2B is a substantial investment of finite resources. They would want to choose the strongest possible candidate to maximize their chances of retaking the House. Therefore, while this is a "partisan" poll, and was certainly released to counter the Monitor's poll, in doing the poll, the DCCC had every incentive to poll as carefully as possible to be sure they didn't end up wasting their money.

Now, about those Bass or National Republican Congressional Committee polls...

We know they're out there. The subscription-only Cook Report said at the beginning of the month that "Privately, Republicans say they have polling that shows Bass in good shape." Privately? They have good news and they don't want to share? Why do I doubt that news was as good as they wanted people to believe?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Canvassing for Hodes this Weekend. Yes, Again.

There is canvassing just all over New Hampshire this weekend. Full details are below, but if you live in or near Berlin, Gorham, Nashua, Concord, Peterborough, Claremont, Lancaster, Hudson, Antrim, Swanzey, or Bow, you should be doing this.


Berlin – 10am-1pm
Gorham – 2pm-5pm
Meet at Coos County Democrats Office (across from Berlin City Hall) Contact Torey.

Nashua – 10am-1pm
Nashua - 2pm-5pm
Meet at Nashua Democrats Office (82 Main St.) Contact Justin.

Peterborough – 10am-1pm
Stop & Shop Parking lot Intersection of Rt. 101 & 202 Contact Jamie.

Claremont – 10am-1pm
Claremont – 2pm-5pm

Concord – 10am-1pm
Concord – 2pm-5pm
Meet at Hodes campaign headquarters at 12 North Main street. Contact Toby.


Lancaster – 1pm-4:30pm

Hudson – 1pm-4:30pm
Meet at Nashua Office (82 Main St) Contact Justin.

Antrim – 1pm-4:30pm

Swanzey – 1pm-4:30pm
Meet at Keene Office (2 Eagle Ct.) Contact Brooke.

Bow – 1pm-4:30pm
Meet at Concord Office (82 Main st) Contact Toby.

(In each case, the email address is the person's first name at

Is Charles Foster Bass a Leader in Washington?

I spend a fair amount of time talking about Charlie Bass's record on particular issues - the environment, social security, the minimum wage - but tonight I want to step back a little bit and look at what you might call his effectiveness. The bulk of his job is to vote on other people's bills, of course, but does he ever lead, and if so, how effectively?

One measure of this is what committees he serves on in Congress, and whether he has any kind of leadership role. And the answer is, he's on the committee on energy and commerce, and he does not chair any of its subcommittees. This is not a matter of lack of seniority: Many chairships are held by people with the same or fewer years in office. For instance, on the committee on energy and commerce, Kentucky's Rep. Ed Whitfield, who was elected in 1994 just like Charlie, chairs the subcommittee on oversight and investigations. On the judiciary committee, Rep. John Hostettler, of Indiana, was elected in 1994 just like Charlie and chairs the subcommittee on immigration, border security, and claims; Rep. Chris Cannon, of Utah, was elected in 1996 and chairs the subcommittee on commercial and administrative law.

And so on. Charlie Bass isn't the chair of a subcommittee not because he hasn't been in Congress long enough. He isn't the chair of a subcommittee because he's not a leader. He can do some little useful things, like get an in-state tv station to satellite subscribers in the North Country, or get a little money thrown the way of New Hampshire defense contractors rather than defense contractors somewhere else. But that's the extent of it.

New Hampshire deserves better. New Hampshire deserves a leader.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Monitor Poll Flawed

Update: Since this post, my claim that the poll was flawed has been backed up by every poll released. While only one of 4 polls since has shown Hodes in the lead (with one showing a tie), the Monitor poll is an outlier by more than 5 points in each direction. For posts on the subsequent polls, see here and here.

The Concord Monitor is reporting a poll that doesn't look great for Paul Hodes. Here's what they tell us about the methodology:
Bradley led Shea-Porter 56 to 31 percent, according to a Monitor poll of 300 likely voters in the First Congressional District (with a 6 percent margin of error). In a poll of 300 likely Second District voters, Bass, a six-term incumbent, led Hodes 55 to 30 percent. Libertarian Ken Blevens was supported by 1 percent of the vote.
Research 2000 used randomly generated telephone numbers to interview 600 likely voters. Those interviewed - 180 Democrats (30 percent), 192 Republicans (32 percent) and 228 voters who identified themselves as independents (38 percent) - reflect voter registration numbers statewide. The interviews were divided evenly between the two congressional districts, and they included 294 men and 306 women.
First, we have to note that that's a pretty huge margin of error.

Next, I have some questions, drawing on a Mystery Pollster post from 2005 in which 19 pollsters discuss their criteria for evaluating a poll's reliability.

The partisan breakdown matches statewide, but does it reflect the differing partisan breakdown of the two districts, or does it see each district as essentially a subset of the whole state?

They were doing random digit dialing, but from what source of numbers? What type of voter list were they working from? Did they know anything about the voting histories of the people they were calling? They claim these were likely voters, but what kind of likely voter model was it?

What was the age distribution? (In particular, it's very easy to overrepresent older voters.) The geographic distribution? Race and ethnicity are probably somewhat less of an issue in New Hampshire than in many states, but nonetheless important, so what about them?

This poll was apparently done in two nights, in contrast to the poll done by Anzalone Liszt Research for the Hodes campaign, which called the same number of people (but all in the Second District) over a period of a week; as Jeff Liszt says in the Mystery Pollster post, "Very large samples taken in one or two nights sometimes raise a red flag because of the implications for the poll's call-back procedures."

In short, we just don't know enough about this poll to really evaluate it, though the large margin of error and the short time period in which it was done suggest that it was done on the cheap. So...if you want to know where I'll be over the next few weeks, the answer is probably going to be "out canvassing," because that's clearly an important part of this race. But while I'm certainly motivated to work like we really need to make up this differential, I'm not going to be losing any sleep over these results.

It's also worth noting, as The Yankee Doodler does, Bass's poor showing in the primary. At the same time, as I think about the fact that this poll was done in the two days following the primary, Bass may well have been benefitting from a related media boost. Because he had a contested primary, Bass was much more the focus of television and print coverage of the primaries, so this poll was done during a mini-blitz of media for Bass that was not equaled by coverage of the unopposed Hodes.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Hodes Makes Red to Blue List

Press release from Paul Hodes' campaign:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced today that Paul Hodes has been selected for the Red to Blue program, affirming that the Hodes campaign is one of the top Democratic campaigns in the country.

According to the DCCC

Red to Blue was a proven success in 2004 and the DCCC is making key improvements to it as well as maintaining the most impactful elements of the program. In 2004, the Red to Blue program raised nearly $7.5 million for twenty seven campaigns across the country with an average of more than $250,000 per campaign.

I’m not finding a DCCC press release announcing this yet, though perhaps that’s me.

Anyway, this is big—it’s recognition from the DCCC that Hodes is the strong challenger we already knew him to be, and it will bring concrete support to the campaign.

Saturday Canvass Update

If you want to canvass for Paul Hodes on Saturday (and you do, you really do), here's the information:

Concord: 10:00-1:00, and 2:00-5:30. Meet at the campaign office at 12 North Main Street. If you're interested email Toby.

Nashua: 2:00-4:00 or 5:00. Meet at the Nashua Democratic headquarters at 82 Main Street; if interested, email Justin.

Littleton: 2:00-5:00. Meet at Flora Latte, 17 Main Street. Email Torey.

Charles Bass on Iraq

As the Yankee Doodler has noted, Bass appears to be flip-flopping on Iraq coming up to the election:
July 16, 2006:
"the military commander will set the policy and the withdrawal time. For Congress and politicians to try back-seat driving is not a smart thing."
September 12, 2006:
Bass restated his support for President Bush, but said: "We need to be prepared to change our game plan if the situation on the ground changes. I think we will see significant troop reductions in the next couple years ... but it has to be a strategic redeployment, not a political one."
Once again we see Bass, who has spent most of his adult life as a politician, arguing against the dirty nasty game of politics. It's nice that he's so, so above it all, and wouldn't it be cynical of us to think that the kind of turnaround Yankee Doodler shows him doing in 2 months time had anything to do with politics?

Interestingly, where Bass's old website (you know, the one that had him running for a sixth term back in early July - three quarters of the way through his sixth term) didn't really talk about Iraq, the new site includes Iraq in the Charlie on the Issues section (ain't that just folksy). It's not political or anything, just that a war doesn't merit its own issues page until it's at least 3 years old, and back in 2004 it was only a matter of a year and a half.

Anyway, good news!
Notably, this year, Iraqi forces have taken the lead in the majority of combat operations. With over 150,000 troops on patrol, they are well on their way to being able to sustain themselves without our support.
Totally cool! Except, wait, there seem to be some conflicting reports. The Washington Post reports that within the government itself, there's a little disagreement:
Until now, the U.S. military view of Iraq has tended to be more optimistic than that of much of the rest of the government, such as the CIA and the State Department.
And the reports we are getting, no matter how optimistic government spokesment try to be, suggest that the picture is not as rosy as Charlie wants us to believe. Again according to the Washington Post
A senior American commander in Iraq said Tuesday that U.S.-led military operations are "stifling" the insurgency in western Anbar province but are not strong enough to defeat it.
According to the same article
As of Monday there were 147,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, the highest number since December 2005. Most of the recent increase was for Baghdad, where U.S. and Iraqi forces are trying to avert a civil war.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that the Devlin report concluded that Anbar's political and security situation will continue to deteriorate unless it gets a major infusion of aid and substantially more U.S. troops.
Then there's Gen. John Abizaid's statement, reported September 7 in the Tampa Tribune:
The top U.S. military commander in the Middle East said Wednesday it could take "many more months" to end the sectarian violence in Baghdad and "a matter of years" to train the Iraqi army properly.
Somehow, that makes the replacement of American troops with a functioning Iraqi army seem a little less imminent than Charlie's issues statement, doesn't it?

William Kristol of The Weekly Standard and Rich Lowry of National Review, no liberal peaceniks, argue that
The administration's military strategy has long been based on getting the Iraqis to do the "holding" in the counterinsurgency strategy of "clear, hold and build." That would obviously be ideal. But the experience of the past three years is that the Iraqis aren't yet up to it, at least not in hotly contested areas such as Baghdad. The administration deserves credit for the strides it has made in training the Iraqi army. But for now we have to do much of the holding ourselves for it to be effective. That simply requires more manpower.
They continue
One reason to prefer having Iraqis hold secured areas is that indigenous forces, in theory, don't risk creating the kind of nationalist reaction that can be prompted by a foreign occupying army -- i.e., us. But in the current environment of sectarian bloodletting, all signs are that American troops are more trusted and more welcome than Iraqis.
When the pro-war conservatives who are not up for re-election are saying that the US needs to send more troops over to Iraq, and the pro-war conservatives who are up for re-election are saying that everything's peachy and Iraqi troops will be taking over any day now and this isn't at all political, it's just the right thing to do, who do you believe?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Canvassing for Hodes this Saturday

There will be a number of canvasses for Paul Hodes happening this saturday.

Littleton: Meet at Flora Latte, 17 Main Street, at 2:00.

Concord: Meet at the campaign office on Main Street, at 10:00.

There will also be canvassing in Swanzey, Hillsborough, and Nashua; I'll post those addresses and times when I have them.

The Pee Muffin, and Other Adventures in GOTV

So we’re sitting in the Nashua, New Hampshire Democratic party headquarters and Justin decides to eat one of the muffins I’ve brought. “They’re healthy,” I warn him, as if you couldn’t kind of see that just at a glance. As he reaches into the bag, one falls out and bounces on the floor a couple of times. Although the running, and all too believable, joke is that the pee hasn’t been cleaned up from the office’s recent stint as some kind of social service agency and, pee or no pee, the carpet is unquestionably nasty (the kind of place where you don’t feel guilty for spilling something because it makes no appreciable difference), and although there are plenty of muffins, he picks it up and starts eating. I can’t tell if the suspicious expression on his face is more about the carpet residues or the healthiness of the flax/buckwheat/apple/carrot/raisin/walnut muffin. Eventually he claims that the muffin “was good, once I got past the carpet and hair and pee taste.”

Later, Pat arrives to drop off some new campaign literature and almost the first thing he says to me is “it was Justin who said you were talking about jelly beans.” “I remembered you saying it.” “I was repeating what he said.” “Well, I’ll issue a correction.”

Consider that corrected: Justin, not Patrick, originated the notion that Emily and I discussed jelly beans for like 5 hours of canvassing.

Hearing discussion of that diary, Justin says in a disgusted voice “great, you’re probably going to write about the pee muffin, too.” (Thereby leaving me no choice.)

But backtrack. I wrote about doing GOTV for Paul Hodes in Nashua over the weekend, but it didn’t end there. I took Monday off, but the field staff worked as hard Monday as they had all weekend. In fact, they went out and did a lit drop late Monday night to Tuesday morning before catching a few hours of sleep where they could. When I arrived Tuesday morning, Brooke’s nose was bright red from having just finished a stint standing outside in the cold New Hampshire morning doing visibility at a polling place. Toby and Justin had slept on the floor of the Nashua office. Jamie kept curling up on one of the chairs and trying to sleep; it looked like she hadn’t had a chance to take a shower. Torey had a 5 o’clock shadow, except it might have been from 5 the previous morning.

No primary opponent for Paul Hodes, and this is how hard they were working.

I did visibility at one polling place with Torey, where we tried with varying success not to get into conversations with the eccentric if not mentally ill man who was also holding Hodes signs. I believe he had been a client at the agency that used to be where the Dem office is now, and had been taken up by one of the people who works there. He was installed on a lawn chair with a 2-liter bottle of Coke Zero, a cup of coffee, and a donut. As people left after voting he called out thanking them. In between, he regaled us with various pieces of information. Somehow an explication of the Big Bang led directly to an extended argument that General Custer had been killed by his own troops because they were angry about his close friendships with Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. I must say that hearing a General Custer conspiracy theory was a first for me. When Torey went inside to use the bathroom, the man explained to me at some length how it is “a fact of female plumbing that women need to go to the bathroom eight times as much as men.” I did not, however, hear his case for extraterrestrial colonization directly from him, which was kind of sad.

Kaili and I spent the afternoon canvassing the neighborhood Emily and I had done Sunday afternoon, plus a neighboring area. It was startling how in the space of about a block the houses went from large Victorians set well apart from each other on straight, orderly streets to seedy apartment buildings on little streets criss-crossing each other at angles that made navigation difficult. Exhausted, I stared stupidly down at one woman’s George W. Bush doormat for a minute, wondering why they’d sent me to the house of someone who liked him so much, before I figured out that it was an invitation to wipe my feet on his face. At another house, my ringing the doorbell was answered by a voice from above, and I stuck my head out from the porch to see a genuinely scary-looking old man (think the Cryptkeeper, only pasty skin with red rings around watery eyes) leaning off the balcony above.

As it grew dark, Toby and I did visibility outside another polling place. In addition to having slept in the office, he’d spent the day there – while I was doing visibility and canvassing, he was cutting turf and phonebanking in the windowless, fluorescent-lit, faux-wood-panelled rooms. He said he'd lost track of time, thinking it must be night only to find out it was noon. Mosquitos came out and started going for our faces, the only bare skin they could find. A write-in candidate tirelessly introduced himself to the bare trickle of people going in. We talked about Mark Warner, John Edwards, Paul Hodes, Toby’s hope for one day off work between now and the general election.

Finally, at 8:00, the polls were closing and we went in to wait for results. We watched while the flock of elderly poll workers, led by a man with the second-worst combover I’ve ever seen, removed the optical scan ballots from the machine and took them over to sort, printed a receipt from the machine, and, after a seeming eternity, brought it over and taped it to the wall, emphasizing that these were unofficial results. There were no surprises. On the Republican side, Charlie Bass handily beat his opponents, who had spent about $16,000 between two of them. Neither party had a gubernatorial primary. Paul Hodes had no opposition. In isolation, there was no narrative to draw from these results.

As we walked out, Toby called the office. “Dude, we WON!” he yelled, laughing.

In the car, I noticed I had a voicemail. It’s Paul Hodes, thanking me for my contributions, as he was doing for everyone who contributed via ActBlue and left a phone number.

So that was Tuesday on the Hodes campaign.

Drinking Liberally in Hanover Tonight

If you're in the Hanover area, Drinking Liberally is at Murphy's from 7-9 tonight. It's in the back room, and there'll be a little sign on the table. You can drink or eat while discussing whatever politics seems interesting.

Nashua GOTV, part one

I put this on Daily Kos a couple days ago, but not here for some reason. So better late than never.

I used to hate canvassing. Sometimes it just had to be done, but every porch I went up onto, I was praying that nobody would be home so I could leave some literature and slink away. If anyone answered the door, I was likely to forget a crucial part of the script, like the part where I asked them to actually do something. Shoot, if I remembered to say my candidate's name I was proud. But I'm getting to where I kinda like it, and I'm wanting to encourage anyone who is like I used to be to give it a shot.

Both saturday and today, I was canvassing with Emily-the-campaign-press-person. She is fabulous and we talked a great deal about jelly beans, as Patrick-the-field-director characterized it. (I don't know quite what that means, either.) By the end we had this perfect routine - we could alternate who did which part of the spiel without any advance notice or real hesitation, and that kept things a little fresher.

Our lists were of hardcore, regularly-voting Democrats, so the job was less one of persuasion than of reminding them to vote in the primary tuesday, lack of opposition notwithstanding, and, since Paul Hodes' name recognition is not particularly high, being sure that these committed Dems know enough about him to go from voting for the Democrat to voting for Paul specifically.

For almost everyone we talked to, hearing that Paul is a Democrat was good enough. Past that, the question I got more than any other, oddly, was "where is he from?" (Concord) But then, as many people knew him personally or professionally as wanted to know where he's from. One man asked his position on Iraq and Emily answered, quickly and firmly "finding a responsible exit strategy now." The man nodded once, decisively, like "good enough, we're done here." This being New Hampshire, land of the impossibly large state legislature, when a woman answered the door and cheerfully said "you know who I am, don't you," Emily immediately got the correct answer: "a state representative."

This was an unusual canvass in that we got so few negative responses - a few total blow-offs, a couple of mixed marriages where we were unlucky and the Republican spouse came to the door, definitely some people pretending not to be home when they obviously were (c'mon, guys, the door is open, the tv is on, and we heard dishes clinking as we came up the walk). So the conditions were right for me to feel really good about it. But that being the case, it also reminded me of some of what can be great about canvassing.

Canvassing brings you to neighborhoods you'd never go to otherwise, like the working-class neighborhoods we did yesterday with their tchotchke-covered porches and their conspicuous patriotism. I don't go to those neighborhoods - I do college town and urban and rural, but very rarely ranch houses with painted mailboxes and goose statues. One neighborhood was obviously in transition, with elderly people with French names (a constant pronunciation issue, since the degree to which such people have anglicized pronunciation varies immensely) making way for Latino people. Approaching one door, for instance, we noticed that instead of Boucher the mailbox said Diaz; I looked down at the sheet and noted that Camille Boucher would have been 88. Ms. Diaz had just moved in and was not yet registered to vote, so we told her where her polling place is and that she could register on election day if she brought a utility bill, and gave her our literature.

Today we were in a neighborhood of gorgeous New England Victorians of the sort found in the nicest neighborhoods where I grew up. I don't live in one of those, and I never get tired of looking at them, but I'm familiar with them. Emily's from New York City, and she was in raptures. We picked our favorite houses and gardens as we went, including a couple that we just couldn't get enough of looking at.

I'm not dwelling on this stuff to further my carefully-cultivated image as a shallow fluffball. The point is, canvassing is not only important work, it's an interesting way to spend a day. On the sidewalks between houses you get to know your canvassing partner (if you don't already) and there are always going to be fascinating conversations to be had - about the issues in the election, about the campaign, about that creep at the last house you went to, about the garden at that last house you went to, about whether the fact that this next house has a flag and two honkin' big SUVs is a bad sign, and on and on through infinite possibilities. You learn about people - maybe just that they're all out of the house on saturday mornings, maybe that even many Democrats who always vote only start paying real attention to elections in mid september, maybe that it's as important that Paul Hodes is from Concord as what any of his positions are.

Anyway: canvassing, not as fun as it is important, but still good fun. And mega-important. I recommend it. I look forward to hearing from others about their experiences with it.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


From Charlie Bass's brand-spanking-new website:

Bass has an unparalleled record of protecting the environment and commitment to conservation. The Peterborough Republican has helped secure federal funding to preserve, protect, and enhance some of New Hampshire’s most exceptional natural resources, drawing praise from environmental groups across the state.


Without parallel, equal, or match; unequaled. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Not paralleled; unequaled or unmatched; peerless; unprecedented. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

Let’s take a narrow view of this. For 2005, Charles Foster Bass receives a score of 33% from the League of Conservation Voters. Other scores of 33% would precisely parallel that. In that sense, Bass is paralleled by fellow Republicans Thomas Davis, Rodney Frelinghuysen, and Todd Platts.

In the sense of being peerless, unmatched, or unprecedented? There are twenty House Republicans with better environmental records in 2005.

I know it’s campaign talk and all, but calling Bass’s record of protecting the environment “unparalleled”? Is also kind of a lie.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Charlie Finally Came!

His faaaaaabulous website is up. Perhaps as a wedding present for DavidNYC? (To whom wishes of the greatest happiness, by the way.)

I don't know about you, but I'll be bookmarking it for future ease of access. Unfortunately, much as I would like to offer a detailed reading of it this very moment, I am headed out to Nashua in just a few minutes.


I'm sorry to have to, but I've instituted word verification for comments - stupid spammers.

And as a reminder, GOTV in Nashua today through Tuesday.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Republicans Whine about Fair Balloting

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the NH Supreme Court decision ruling unconstitutional the state law that put the previous election's winning party first on the ballot and alphabetizing candidate names. By now, many things have become clear. Primary ballots that were already printed up in alphabetical order will be used, rather than scrambling not only to come up with a new system but to implement it in less than a month's time. And some form of new ballot order rationale will be used for November's general election.

Secretary of State Bill Gardner and various Republicans in the state legislature continue to have hissy fits over the changes called for by the Supreme Court. And the pretexts for these hissy fits continue to appear to mask partisan angst, with Senate Majority Leader Bob Clegg arguing for a special session of the state legislature to deal with the issue (this was after he finished arguing that the ballots shouldn't be changed until 2007, and that it really wasn't any of the Supreme Court's business anyway). Because after they didn't deal with the problem for 40 years, the only fair thing is that Republican legislators should get another chance, don't you think?

From the moment the ruling was handed down, Gardner fussed about implementation as if, as I said earlier, no one ever before had to make a ballot that didn't always have the exact same party listed first. He argued that it would be too difficult to count the votes. Then, he argued that voters would be too stupid to actually vote their intent:
The original ballot called for three columns of party candidates in the general election: Republican, Democrat and independent. A true rotation could confuse voters, Gardner said, because some ballots would have a short list of independent candidates sandwiched between two long columns of Democrats and Republicans.
For someone who was completely blase about studies showing that putting one party consistently first could garner it an extra few percent of the vote, Gardner was suddenly awfully concerned about the possibility of voter confusion.

Having a short column between two long ones could confuse people? Really? That's what he went with? I mean, my goodness, imagine the confusion for voters who got a ballot with a short column followed by two long ones! They might think there were no Democrats or Republicans running at all, and fail to vote for offices that didn't have independent candidates! There might be no governor!

But he did ultimately announce a plan for party rotation on the ballot for the general election.
Gardner proposed that Republicans, Democrats and independent candidates all have an equal chance at appearing in the first column on the ballot. He said representatives of each party would come to his office tomorrow afternoon to draw numbers from a hat that correspond to each of the 24 state Senate districts; each of the three parties or groupings would hold the left column on the ballot in one-third of the Senate districts.
This seems, on the face of it, reasonable. It's also what I immediately thought might make sense back on August 18, so it's interesting it took him this long to get to this point.

Alphabetization remains a problem area, though. Interestingly enough, not only does Gardner continue to have problems with it, it's the area that state Republicans have also been focusing on. Fancy that.

What gets me is that it looks like these Republicans are just making a fuss to show that they have power - their suggestions of why it would be a problem to do anything other than straight A through Z are so ridiculous. They've gone from downplaying the significance of the same party always going first on the ballot:
[Chair of the state Republican party Wayne] Semprini said he doubts that ballot arrangement makes a difference in election results. "New Hampshire voters are way too smart and way too involved to vote based on whose name is first," he said.
To re-reading the Supreme Court's judgment (which had already been clarified once) and suggesting that changing the alphabetical order was a nefarious Democratic plot to confuse voters and wreak havoc, throwing election results into question:

"It's my opinion that if the Supreme Court really meant that you couldn't alphabetize anything, then they would change their website and stop listing the justices in alphabetical order," [Senate Majority Leader Clegg] said. "Can you imagine how ridiculous it would be if we stopped using the alphabet" for ballot purposes because the judges considered it unfair?

On the surface, the alphabetical issue would seem an unlikely one for a partisan fight. But Clegg said he thinks the Democrats want a randomized order because any confusion might help the minority party gain seats. "Anytime somebody makes a mistake, the mistake might benefit them,"he said. "I don't think people should be elected by mistake."

Meanwhile, Gardner has a novel proposal for how to eliminate alphabetizing. Perhaps it's because I'm a Democrat, but my original thought of how you could keep things easy to understand while eliminating strict A to Z order turns out to have been the same as the Democrats proposed:
Paul Twomey, a lawyer acting for state Democrats, had wanted Gardner to choose a letter and continue the alphabet after the one chosen. Under that scenario, if the letter “J’’ were chosen, candidates whose names began with “J” would be listed first followed by candidates with a last name starting with “K” and so forth, ending with candidates whose names started with “I.”
But no. That would be confusing and we know how Gardner and the Republicans hate confusion. Instead, his proposal is soooooo much simpler.
To address alphabetization, Gardner proposed pulling one letter from a hat to determine how to begin the lists of candidates for state representative, the one office that calls for long lists of names on the general-election ballots. For example, if Gardner draws an "H," candidates with last names beginning with "H"would lead the question for state representative across New Hampshire. However, the list would revert to A-Z alphabetizing after H (H-A-B-C-D and so on), instead of following in alphabetical order from H (H-I-J-K etc.), Gardner said. If a district had no candidates whose names began with H, the list would simply run in regular A-Z format, he said.
Now, I don't want to be cruel here, but was he hit over the head really hard anytime recently? Because I can't think of how a reasonable human being could think that it was less confusing to be presented with this:


than with this


I also have to question Gardner's ability to do the job he's been doing for like 30 years when his initial responses to being asked to change the ballots involved things like this:
The law also requires rotating names in primaries, which Gardner said is done by printing different ballots for different precincts, not by varying ballots within a precinct. If that were required, voting machines, which are used by two-thirds of the state’s voters, would have to be reprogrammed, he said.

“I’m not even sure if the computer software exists to accommodate the number of different ballots this could require,” Gardner said.
Right. No other state ever dealt with the ballot intricacies faced by New Hampshire.

Except, of course, that I could think of a case right off the top of my head, and I haven't been the secretary of state for even one year.

The 2003 California gubernatorial recall election had 133 candidates and, being out of cycle, was put together relatively quickly. And they didn't do things alphabetically.
On the sample ballot, the candidates' names are listed in alphabetical order according to a randomly chosen alphabet (RWQOJMVAHBSGZXNTCIEKUPDYFL). The order of the list rotates from district to district, like a batting order, so as to offset what's called "the primacy effect"—the natural advantage lent to candidates appearing near the top of a list.
Now, I don't advocate that kind of random-ass order; I agree with Slate's perspective on that:
From an information-design perspective, this is insanity. The customary A to Z, like any form of standardization (miles, dollars, pounds) helps us navigate the world. While a random R to L order might be democratically fair to candidates, it makes it harder for voters faced with finding their chosen candidate on a list of 133 names. As almost any designer would tell you, it would be far better simply to rotate through the trusty A to Z from district to district. This would ensure that no one candidate benefited from being at the top of the list and also that no frustrated voter gave up on finding the name she was looking for.
But the point is, Gardner was not facing a unique situation. The things the Supreme Court judgment implied, they've all been done by some voting district somewhere.

So let's recap:

New Hampshire has had a balloting system that was obviously and provably unfair, and this system has continued at the will of the Republican-controlled state legislature.

The state Supreme Court ruled this system unconstitutional.

Democrats said, roughly, "great, let's get to work figuring out a fair system." They have compromised and worked with the secretary of state to allow the primaries to go on and aren't challenging his alphabetization idea.

The secretary of state said it couldn't be done. Then the same guy who'd acknowledged "
that the candidates at the top of the ballot can gain as much as a 6-to-10-point edge in certain races"
decided that the confusion that might possibly result from a short column sandwiched by longer columns was a serious problem. Then when he lost on that, he came up with a totally bizarre and counter-intuitive way of changing alphabetical order.

State Republican leaders said the decision wouldn't change anything. But it shouldn't be carried out this year because it would be difficult. (Not that it has anything to do with this being an election year or anything.) Then they said it wasn't the Supreme Court's business, and that maybe they'd hold the first special session of the legislature since 1954. In fact, maybe it would be unconstitutional not to hold a special session. And also that the Supreme Court had implied that aphabetization has no place anywhere in American society (and that's just ridiculous, so clearly the whole decision is ridiculous!).

What I'm smelling is not alphabetical, but neither is it too confusing for my feeble voter's brain:

It's called desperation.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hodes Canvassing in Nashua This Weekend

Tuesday, September 12 is primary day. Starting Saturday, and running through Tuesday, the Hodes campaign will be doing GOTV in Nashua. This is a good chance to get involved with the campaign, to get some training and practice at canvassing and other GOTV work before the general election.

Meet at Nashua Democratic headquarters at 82 Main Street, next to the Nashua Telegraph offices, at any of the following times:

Canvassing Saturday, September 9:

10am to 12:30 or 1:00

2pm to 4:30 or 5:00

Canvassing Sunday, September 10:


Canvassing Monday, September 11:

Starting at 9am, in 2-hour shifts.

Tuesday they're looking for poll watchers from 6am to 8pm, people to do visibility from 6am to 9am, 11:30am-1:30pm, and 5pm-8pm, as well as canvassers for 2-hour shifts all day.

There may be phonebanking to be done during the evenings as well, but that's not settled yet. To find out more you can email justin [at] hodesforcongress [dot] com.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hey, Charlie. Define 'Soon.'

Or, we'll let the American Heritage Dictionary do it for us:
1. In the near future; shortly. 2. Without hesitation; promptly: came as soon as possible. 3. Before the usual or appointed time; early.
Yeah, that's about what I thought.

It's after Labor Day. Still no Charles Foster Bass for (seventh term in) Congress campaign website. And I'm not the only one who's noticed: The Nashua Telegraph has now noted this twice. (Thanks to The Yankee Doodler for the catch.)

This is a positively Liebermanesque level of web lameness.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Blue Milford

Anecdotal evidence about the country's turn against Bush and Republican control of Congress is as scary as it is tempting. In the run-up to the 2004 elections, after all, if you read left-wing blogs, you heard a lot of these stories about someone's father who'd voted for Bush in 2000 and hated him now, with the implication that that meant the country as a whole was ready to have the guy out.

Well, we know how that turned out.

This year, I've heard (read) more of that, and this time, polls are supporting the anecdotes much more clearly. But, having touched a hot surface and gotten burned two years ago, I remain nervous about touching it again even though this time the "caution: hot surface" light of polling is off.

In light of what I saw today, though, I'm reaching out to touch, because I kind of believe there may be a Democratic tidal wave coming.

Today I went to Milford for the parade there, where Paul Hodes and just about everyone else was marching. Well, ok, Paul himself was not allowed to march, since the parade organizers have some weird thing against politicians talking to and shaking hands with people (fear of politician cooties? seems an odd fear in NH of all places), so he rode on the float. But you get the picture. Charlie Bass was apparently even there, though I didn't see him. Governor Lynch was there. I'm not sure if gubernatorial candidate Jim Coburn was there himself, but he definitely had a float, plus a ginormous RV or bus with his picture on it - quite a campaign investment for a guy running against one of the most popular governors in the country. Senator Joe Biden was there. It was definitely The Place To Be, even if the opportunities for interaction with voters were sadly (and, some might say, bizarrely) limited.

The number of lawn signs for candidates was a useless measure of popularity, since the Lynch and Coburn campaigns in particular had clearly been engaged in turf wars, with some stretches of road lined by signs for one or the other candidate every two feet. In at least one spot, they seemed to be trying to outflank each other - the signs went Lynch-Coburn-Lynch-Coburn, so close together that you couldn't read any individual sign for a block. Whoever had the end sign in either direction got the visibility, and other than that it was a blur.

Because it was against the rules, nobody associated with the campaigns handed out stickers as their own float went by, but most of the campaigns had people working the crowds separately, doing so. Some little kids clearly cared much more for stickers than for partisanship, and were sporting both Coburn and Lynch stickers. Everyone, and I mean everyone, had a Lynch sticker. I think I saw about 10 adults out of hundreds of people who had Coburn stickers.

As we started the parade route, almost no one was wearing a Hodes sticker. It was sort of dispiriting, although since many people waved or clapped at us in particular, it also didn't feel like a rejection. But it turned out that the people handing out the stickers had just hit that end of the route before crowds gathered, and that as we got closer to the center of town, there were not only way more people, way more of them were wearing Hodes stickers. I don't know if Bass's campaign was the only one not on top of it enough to hand out stickers, or what, but I didn't see any of his.

Looking around at all the stickers people were wearing, one of the other volunteers in the Hodes contingent said "this sure is a blue town." And today, it was.

But in 2004, Milford voted for George W. Bush and Craig Benson. John Kerry and John Lynch won New Hampshire as a whole, and the second district in particular, but Bush carried Milford 3,757-3,516 and Benson got it 3,877-3361. Those are close votes, but they are Republican wins. The sticker vote today was not close, and it was a Democratic win.

As I began by saying, I have serious hesitations about attributing meaning to this sort of thing. But, as I also said, it's tempting...and this isn't a story about one person turning against Bush, it's about a town crowded with people embracing Democratic candidates, at least enough to wear their stickers.

Feels pretty good.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Red-Handed Redux

So NH-02 Progressive has found confirmation that the MoveOn ads WMUR resumed running omitted the description of Charlie Bass as "red-handed."

The Yankee Doodler has already found an appropriate use of "red-handed" courtesy of Ari Fleischer - that Iraq had been "caught red-handed" with WMDs. Yeah, right. So anyway.

Now in comments at Daily Kos, Elwood Dowd brings us some other examples.

From the Washington Post, on Sen. George Allen's "macaca" incident:
But Allen failed to follow the other George's playbook for what to do when caught red-handed.
Again from the Washington Post, this time a quote from a National Review editor:
National Review Editor Rich Lowry accused the department of trying to "bully" his reporter. "He caught them red-handed on a program designed to coddle the Saudis," Lowry said. "He didn't go to Columbia Journalism School. He's just aggressive and has a good nose for things."
Clearly the Washington Post and Rich Lowry should both be sued for defamation for their uses of that dreadful word. Perhaps after their poor victims are revived with smelling salts, they will be sued.

I'm sure there are more such uses out there, and I'll be looking.

Fundraising Reports.

DavidNYC has the fundraising numbers for Paul Hodes and Charlie Bass up at Swing State Project, and for the first time this year, Bass has outraised Hodes, $134,000 to $101,000. Bass's cash on hand now stands at $503,000 while Hodes has $410,000.

David notes that this is "yet another unimpressive showing for an endangered incumbent." I'll just second that.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Valley News Kicks Sensenbrenner, Bass Ass

The Valley News has weighed in on last week's US House immigration hearing. And, well, if the Union Leader was hard on the motivations behind and conduct of the hearing, you can imagine where a paper that's not hard right went with it.

They start off with a little misdirection:
On behalf of the state of New Hampshire, we'd like to thank the U.S. House Judiciary Committee for traveling up to Concord last week to hold a hearing on the immigration bills now before Congress...It's not often that people in the hinterlands get such a clear, close-up view of Congress at work.
And you're thinking "the Union Leader was more critical than the Valley News??? The hell?????"

Then they lower the boom:
And if not for the fact that the committee demonstrated its contempt for the people of this state and its indifference to actually doing anything about a serious issue, this absurdist-theater performance might have been amusing, or at least entertaining.
And finally, they bring it on home, to New Hampshire and Charlie Bass:

If the committee didn't have the slightest interest in actually learning what New Hampshire residents thought about immigration, why did it go to the trouble of staging this dog and pony show? A Democratic member of the committee suggested that it was put on for the political benefit of Reps. Charlie Bass and Jeb Bradley, the state's two Republican congressmen who acted as “hosts” and sat with the committee.

“I have no objection to the idea that we would have the debate in Concord, N.H., or Concord, Calif., or anywhere else in the United States because it's good for America to participate in this important issue,” said Bass.

“Participate”? Does even one of New Hampshire's own representatives have such little respect for the intelligence of the people of this state?

I'm thinking that's a rhetorical question, but sometimes even rhetorical questions are worth answering: That is exactly how much respect Charlie Bass has for us. This is the kind of government he stands for - voters, like children, are to be seen and not heard.

Kudos to the Valley News and Union Leader for calling the Republican show-trial organizers on this. And, again, to the Democrats on that committee for relentlessly calling attention to what was going on.