Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Shawn O'Connor Misrepresents Carol Shea-Porter's Campaign Pledge

I prefer to concentrate on the spectacularly awful Frank Guinta as opposed to the moderately questionable Shawn O'Connor.  But Mr. O'Connor has told some whoppers in this campaign that should not go unchallenged.  

For example, on facebook Shawn is issuing "Fact Checks."  This one, #2, claims Carol is taking PAC money contrary to her pledge.  He invites readers to check OpenSecrets.org for verification.

But Carol Shea-Porter's pledge was to not take corporate PAC money.  OpenSecrets.org confirms she has not taken corporate PAC money.

Mr. O'Connor states Carol cannot be trusted, but by his clear misrepresentation of Shea-Porter's pledge demonstrates he is the one who cannot be trusted.   NH voters do indeed deserve the truth.

I made this graphic which gathers the relevant pages.



Click to enlarge

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Letter to the Editor: Vote Shea-Porter

To the editor:

I urge all to vote for Carol Shea-Porter for US Congress.  Rep. Shea-Porter has always represented New Hampshire values honorably.  She is a reliable vote for expanding the economy, supporting education, keeping our promises to veterans, ensuring women's rights, shepherding clean energy, affordable health insurance, protecting Medicare and Social Security and much more.

Since summer 2010, Carol Shea-Porter has been sounding the alarm about then candidate Guinta's illegal campaign loan of $365,000.  For five years, Rep. Guinta has forcefully and repeatedly called Shea-Porter a liar, saying the loan never happened and the investigation was complete.  Carol was 100% vindicated in May 2015 when the FEC punished Rep. Guinta for the illegal contribution. The conservative Union Leader's editorial read in full: "Frank Guinta is a damned liar."  Had the FEC ruled before November 2014, surely Shea-Porter would be our representative today.  Republicans should be ashamed they renominated Frank Guinta this cycle.

Furthermore, please do not support independent Shawn O'Connor.  As a Forbes subscriber, I've always considered Mr. O'Connor's columns rather right-leaning.  Now he's opportunistically jumped on and off the Bernie bandwagon.   I told Mr. O'Connor I would contribute if he won the primary.  Instead he dropped out after an ugly fight where he bizarrely and falsely claimed a prominent Democrat's restaurant had rats. It would be a grave embarrassment to district one if Mr. O'Connor drained votes to the point where Rep. Guinta was reelected.  Let's avoid that and elect Carol Shea-Porter.

- Dean Rubine, Lee

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Guinta admits "accepted excessive contributions"


Except for the political fallout, the long saga of the $355,000 "loan" Rep. Guinta claims to have made to his own campaign is over. According to some great reporting by WMUR, Rep. Guinta has settled with the Federal Election Committee (FEC), agreeing to pay back the $355,000 and pay a $15,000 fine. Guinta's conciliation agreement with the FEC states, "Between June of 2009 and September of 2010, Guinta received $381,000 in the form of checks made payable to him, drawn from accounts held in Guinta's parents' names, to which Guinta contends he had an equitable interest."  The agreement further admits Guinta's campaign "accepted excessive contributions as a result in a violation [of FEC rules]."   At the time, election rules prevented each parent from donating more than $2,400 each per election (the primary and general count as separate elections).

The so-called "loan" was the topic of my first post.  In a nutshell, during his 2010 campaign for congress Rep. Guinta filed that he had loaned his own campaign between $250,000 and $500,000.   In July 2010 Nashua Telegraph reporter Kevin Landrigan pointed out that according to his past disclosure forms Rep. Guinta didn't actually have anywhere near that much money, raising the question of its true source.  In response, Rep. Guinta eventually amended past disclosures to include a previously undeclared account.

Rep. Guinta has already changed his story about the source of the money and the status of the FEC investigation several times.  He continues this trend with his new contention of "equitable interest" in his parents' account.  There's no limit on the amount of money his parents (or anyone) could legally give Frank the person as long as it's not intended to get him elected, so I'll predict that as yet untold story might come out of FG's mouth eventually.  Someone should ask Frank if his parents paid the federal gift tax they owe because they gave the money to Frank personally, not the campaign.

In that first post on October 1, 2012 I wrote, "Speculation on the true source of the money focused on Mr. Guinta's parents, who had sold a house for $800,000 just before the campaign began. "  This turned out to be correct, as Rep. Guinta has now admitted.  Former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and the other Democrats turn out to have been right all along.  Guinta has long denied his parents were the source of the money, one of many outright lies.

Of course, rather than admitting wrongdoing outright, our weaselly representative has left himself some wiggle room with the claim of "equitable interest" in his parents' account.  Needless to say, he can't really have it both ways, not declaring this account all along but drawing on it for loans as needed.  In any case, with the conciliation agreement with the FEC Rep. Guinta has confirmed that he has indeed misled and at times outright lied about this money all along.  I look forward to him being replaced by a Democrat in 2016 or sooner.

Matt Murray at New Hampshire Labor News wrote a more in-depth report you might want to check out.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Senator Cataldo Issues Rambling Non-Denial

Recently reelected NH State Senator Sam Cataldo ostensibly responded in Foster's to accusations made by me and others (Ann Wright, Miscellany:Blue) that his Masters Degree in Nuclear Engineering was purchased at notorious diploma mill LaSalle University, Louisiana.  In a rambling, often incoherent letter to the editor, Senator Cataldo confirms he got his degree from LaSalle University Louisiana in June 1996, offers nothing to refute the vast evidence that LaSalle at that time offered only fake degrees to be had for minimal effort and a one-time payment, and misrepresents his 2011 vote to lower the dropout age.

I think it's worth delving into the mind of this senator through his letter.  I'm going to include lots of inserted text, as I no longer trust the internet to preserve links.

On November 18, 2014 Foster's published Ann Wright's letter to the editor:
Disappointed

To the editor: Even though Foster’s was notified by various means prior to the elections, they felt that very relevant information that could impact the voters’ decision was not worthy of publication. How very disappointing.

It has been stated numerous times that State Senator Sam Cataldo received his Masters in Nuclear Engineering at LaSalle University in Louisiana. Even Foster’s has introduced him this way in both August 20th, 2012 and September 12th, 2012 articles. However, LaSalle University in Louisiana is a known diploma mill which was shut down by the FBI. The mail order degrees there are worthless and the feds notified all recipients that this was the case. Many people have tried to pass off phony degrees from LaSalle University in Louisiana as legitimate, including former Navy Surgeon General Donald Arthur, and the former President of Quincy University, Eugene Kole.

According to Wikipedia, the “US Attorney wrote to every person in the LaSalle files, officially informing them that LaSalle was nothing more than a diploma mill. All were advised that funds were available for refunds, providing they turned in their diploma(s). Many didn’t, presumably so they could continue to parlay their degrees for more money in the marketplace, with impunity (they could always claim ignorance, later).”

Foster’s endorsed Cataldo for State Senator in District 6 over Pharmacist Richard Leonard, whose degrees are legitimate, because Cataldo “has melded well with the Senate majority ...”.

I think it says a great deal about a person’s character if they work in a field (nuclear engineering) in which they know that their degree was purchased and not earned. Senator Cataldo voted to lower the dropout age for our high school students. Clearly the man has no respect for education, and Foster’s needs some schooling in Journalism.

Ann Wright
Lee
Senator Cataldo's response is a bit difficult to understand in one reading, so I go through it line by line below.  But first let's read the whole thing to get the full effect:
A person's character ...
Saturday, November 29, 2014

I am replying to a letter by Ann Wright alleging I received my diploma from a diploma mill — “A person’s character and a so-called diploma mill?”

This is the first I am hearing about this from what I am reading in this newspaper, via someone informing me that it was in Foster’s letter to the editor. Then finding a link to the New Hampshire progressive Democratic web site, in Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/NHProgressiveDems

First, I shall reply as to my voting. “Senator Cataldo voted to lower the dropout age for our high school students” as “mailed” to the citizens of New Hampshire by the N.H. Democrat Party.

House Bill 429; dated; 03/15/2011; when I was a “State Representative.” “Para. (g) The pupil has been accepted into an accredited postsecondary education program; (h) The pupil obtains a waiver from the superintendent, which shall only be granted upon proof that the pupil is 16 years of age or older and has an alternative learning plan for obtaining either a high school diploma or its equivalent. And, a student “can” at age 16, with the approval of the parents and the school Superintendent leave school.” Wish you had read the Bill. Also, two bills they said I voted for, in their mailings were wrong; gads, that one (1) day I was sick in 8 years in Concord. And I voted?

Yes, I did receive my degree from LaSalle University back in June 1996, not, as was written. I was working as a private contractor, and living in Baton Rouge, LA at that time. A week later I was driving home, back to New Hampshire. I worked in several nuclear health physics positions, from project manager to health physics shift supervisor, instructor, and site superintendent; prior to June 1996. I won’t talk about the 5-years at one nuclear plant in New Jersey where we went to school every 8th week for one (1) week and that allotted additional college credits from an “accredited” State University in N.J. Why leave the nuke business, June 1996? It was time to come home, period. In September 1996, with the help of NH Works, I went to computer school in Hollis at Micro C; while living in Newmarket. I completed and received my certification in Novell 4 and 4.1 in December 1996. I started teaching computer courses and Windows applications the following month at various companies throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts. My last class was Dec. 16, 2001. I began serving my first term as an elected N.H. state representative, in January 2002.

I shall verify this so-called “diploma mill” not via “according to Wikipedia.” And also, verify that another school purchased the school in 1999?

In closing, a little tidbit about this Senator. I have 5 grown children, 17 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. And yes, “you” will never know how pleasurable it was to have my great-granddaughter sitting in my Senate seat when her 4th grade class came to visit their state capital. I was 15 when my dad died and I worked summers and weekends to assist to maintain a living for my mom and I. I didn’t drop out of school. But some families who had farms did. And with the $88 per month back in 1953, we received from my dad’s Social Security.

We survived. Thank you all.

State Sen. Sam Cataldo
R-Farmington
District 6 
I find this letter pretty incomprehensible.   Let's go through it slowly.
I am replying to a letter by Ann Wright alleging I received my diploma from a diploma mill — “A person’s character and a so-called diploma mill?” 
The first half of the sentence makes sense.  But the unattributed quote is odd -- it does not appear to be from Ms. Wright's letter.  Is the senator quoting himself?
This is the first I am hearing about this from what I am reading in this newspaper, via someone informing me that it was in Foster’s letter to the editor. Then finding a link to the New Hampshire progressive Democratic web site, in Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/NHProgressiveDems
I think he's trying to say someone informed him of Ms. Wright's letter in Foster's and he also found a link to a progressive Democratic Facebook page.  Why the reader might care is left a mystery.  (Dear Foster's, did you know that liberals use the internet too?) It's clear the senator gave up before he finished turning his thoughts into sentences.  Also, I didn't see anything on that Facebook page about the senator.
First, I shall reply as to my voting. “Senator Cataldo voted to lower the dropout age for our high school students” as “mailed” to the citizens of New Hampshire by the N.H. Democrat Party.
The first quote indeed comes from Ms. Wright's letter.  I have no idea where "mailed" comes from -- again the senator appears to be quoting himself.  Maybe these are scare quotes deriding internet posts as not really mail.
House Bill 429; dated; 03/15/2011; when I was a “State Representative.” “Para. (g) The pupil has been accepted into an accredited postsecondary education program; (h) The pupil obtains a waiver from the superintendent, which shall only be granted upon proof that the pupil is 16 years of age or older and has an alternative learning plan for obtaining either a high school diploma or its equivalent. And, a student “can” at age 16, with the approval of the parents and the school Superintendent leave school.” Wish you had read the Bill. Also, two bills they said I voted for, in their mailings were wrong; gads, that one (1) day I was sick in 8 years in Concord. And I voted?
I was tickled by the use of the scare quotes around "State Representative," as if the senator is acknowledging he was not really a state rep.  We're also getting some very creative uses of semicolons here.  When I read them as hiccup marks it starts to make more sense.

Here is the relevant text of House Bill 429 (which passed in the house but not the senate).  I've included the parts the senator attempts to quote as well as the parts that follow.  Note the formatting scheme is from the original.  Text in regular type is the same as existing law -- not anything the bill changes.   Text in bold italics are proposed insertions, and [strikeouts] are the proposed deletions.  Note the parts the senator tries to reference were (and still are) current law (RSA 193:1) and would be unchanged if this bill became law.

(g) The pupil has been accepted into an accredited postsecondary education program; [or]
(h) The pupil obtains a waiver from the superintendent, which shall only be granted upon proof that the pupil is 16 years of age or older and has an alternative learning plan for obtaining either a high school diploma or its equivalent.
(1) Alternative learning plans shall include age-appropriate academic rigor and the flexibility to incorporate the pupil's interests and manner of learning. These plans may include, but are not limited to, such components or combination of components of extended learning opportunities as independent study, private instruction, performing groups, internships, community service, apprenticeships, and on-line courses.
(2) Alternative learning plans shall be developed, and amended if necessary, in consultation with the pupil, a school guidance counselor, the school principal and at least one parent or guardian of the pupil, and submitted to the school district superintendent for approval.
(3) If the superintendent does not approve the alternative learning plan, the parent or guardian of the pupil may appeal such decision to the local school board. A parent or guardian may appeal the decision of the local school board to the state board of education consistent with the provisions of RSA 21-N:11, III; or
(i) The pupil is 16 years of age or older and furnishes written permission from a parent to the superintendent of the school district.
2 Truant Officers; Duties. Amend RSA 189:36, I to read as follows:
I. Truant officers shall, when directed by the school board, enforce the laws and regulations relating to truants and children between the ages of 6 and 18 years not attending school, or who are not participating in an alternative learning plan under RSA 193:1, I(h); and the laws relating to the attendance at school of children between the ages of 6 and 18 years; and shall have authority [without] with a warrant or the permission from a parent to take and place in school any children found employed contrary to the laws relating to the employment of children, or violating the laws relating to the compulsory attendance at school of children under the age of 18 years, and the laws relating to child labor. No home school pupil nor any person between the ages of 6 and 18 who meets any of the requirements of RSA 193:1, I(c)-[(h)] (i) shall be deemed a truant.

The main thing being voted on was the addition of subhead (i) which lets parents allow their kids to drop out at 16.  I think it's clear that Ms. Wright fairly characterized then State Rep. Cataldo's vote, and that in his letter Senator Cataldo is attempting to mislead as to what the vote was about.

The bill also greatly weakens the authority of truant officers to return children to school, requiring them to have a warrant or parental permission before acting.

The senator addresses subhead (i) in his letter, but it's hard to follow because it's still within what's supposed to be the quoted text of the bill.  Here it is again, from where the quote deviates from the actual bill:
And, a student “can” at age 16, with the approval of the parents and the school Superintendent leave school.” Wish you had read the Bill.
Given the senator's track record, you won't be surprised that the word "can" does not appear in subhead (i).  (It doesn't appear in the rest of the bill or the affected law either, which says "shall attend [...] unless.")  Ironically, it appears the senator has not read the bill.  He must have read an imaginary bill where superintendent approval was required, because there's nothing about it in this bill.

State Rep. Cataldo is clearly listed as a YEA vote in the HB 429 record.   Since he brought it up with his snarky aside, let's spend a few more seconds on the question of whether Senator Cataldo read the bill.  Here's the beginning of HB 429:
HOUSE BILL 429

AN ACT permitting a child 16 years of age or older to withdraw from school with parental permission.

SPONSORS: Rep. Parison, Hills 3; Rep. Mirski, Graf 10; Rep. Sova, Graf 10; Rep. Ingbretson, Graf 5; Rep. Bates, Rock 4; Sen. White, Dist 9

COMMITTEE: Education

ANALYSIS

This bill permits a child 16 years of age or older to withdraw from school with the written permission of a parent.
I don't really see how it could be any clearer that this bill is about lowering the dropout age to 16.  Parent permission is required; superintendent permission is not.  Let's move on.
Also, two bills they said I voted for, in their mailings were wrong; gads, that one (1) day I was sick in 8 years in Concord. And I voted?
Free associating, the senator starts to vent here about a mailer he didn't like. Gads!  I'm not sure what he's saying about being absent. What two bills, and who's "they"?  He appears to be claiming that the Democrats have chosen to go after him for two bills that happened to be voted upon on the one day in eight years he missed. I'll be as mad at the Democrats as he is if this one's true.

Now the senator finally gets to the topic at hand.
Yes, I did receive my degree from LaSalle University back in June 1996, not, as was written.
Huh?  I didn't see any claim of a different date in any of the sources.  This is a first person verification that he did indeed obtain his degree from LaSalle U La (youtube). Though I can imagine his laywer one day arguing, "my client issued a clear denial: 'Yes, I did receive my degree from LaSalle University back in June 1996 - NOT! ' "  
I was working as a private contractor, and living in Baton Rouge, LA at that time. A week later I was driving home, back to New Hampshire. I worked in several nuclear health physics positions, from project manager to health physics shift supervisor, instructor, and site superintendent; prior to June 1996. I won’t talk about the 5-years at one nuclear plant in New Jersey where we went to school every 8th week for one (1) week and that allotted additional college credits from an “accredited” State University in N.J. Why leave the nuke business, June 1996? It was time to come home, period.
The relevance of most of this is questionable, but it's nice to have an interlude of pretty good grammar.    I think the senator's point is that he didn't use his fraudulent degree to obtain employment in the nuclear industry, which we can all agree is better than the alternative.  I and others were careful to raise this as an important question without asserting it as fact, though Ms. Wright did go a bit too far in her letter.  It's odd that Sen. Cataldo would purchase the degree as he was leaving the field, but I suppose plans change. Again, note the amusing scare quotes around “accredited,” making it mean not really accredited.  And you went and talked about that thing you just said you wouldn't talk about.
In September 1996, with the help of NH Works, I went to computer school in Hollis at Micro C; while living in Newmarket. I completed and received my certification in Novell 4 and 4.1 in December 1996. I started teaching computer courses and Windows applications the following month at various companies throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts. My last class was Dec. 16, 2001. I began serving my first term as an elected N.H. state representative, in January 2002.
More irrelevant biography.  I'd love to hear from any of the senator's former students.

Finally we get the actual attempt at a denial, though it's not really a denial.
I shall verify this so-called “diploma mill” not via “according to Wikipedia.” And also, verify that another school purchased the school in 1999?
The senator seems to be questioning the veracity of the Wikipedia article, but he fails to offer any evidence to the contrary (why should a 1999 sale matter?).  OK, let's verify that LaSalle U La is a diploma mill.  It's pretty easy -- I did it in my original post about the topic.  Here's just one well-sourced highlight from the Wikipedia article, already partially quoted in Ms Wright's letter:
The school was shut down after a July 1996 raid by the FBI, U.S. postal inspectors, and the Internal Revenue Service.[7] According to John Bear, the U.S. Attorney wrote to every person in the LaSalle files, officially informing them that LaSalle was nothing more than a diploma mill. All were advised that funds were available for refunds, providing they turned in their diploma(s). Many didn't, presumably so they could continue to parlay their degrees for more money in the marketplace, with impunity (they could always claim ignorance, later). The FBI report stated that LaSalle had only one faculty member serving 15,000 students (and her only degree was a Bachelor's from LaSalle). Furthermore, the back of the student application forms contained a disclaimer advising students that their signatures simply made them Ministers of Kirk's World Christian Church, and that any degrees they might get would merely be religious degrees, regardless of the subject.[8]
John Bear is an expert in diploma mills, and co-author with FBI agent Allen Ezell of the book Degree Mills: The Billion-Dollar Industry That Has Sold Over a Million Fake Diplomas (amazon).   Minister Cataldo has not attempted to refute any of this.  Note the timing -- the FBI shut down LaSalle just one month after the senator got his degree from there.

It's a bit ironic the senator uses the phrase "so-called."  That happens to be a very good definition of the meaning of scare quotes, which the senator has repeatedly demonstrated he does not use correctly.

Brace yourself for a final burst of irrelevant, semi-grammatical biography:
In closing, a little tidbit about this Senator. I have 5 grown children, 17 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. And yes, “you” will never know how pleasurable it was to have my great-granddaughter sitting in my Senate seat when her 4th grade class came to visit their state capital. I was 15 when my dad died and I worked summers and weekends to assist to maintain a living for my mom and I. I didn’t drop out of school. But some families who had farms did. And with the $88 per month back in 1953, we received from my dad’s Social Security.

We survived. Thank you all.

State Sen. Sam Cataldo
R-Farmington
District 6 
The quoted "you" makes this especially bizarre.  Even without the quotes, which the senator appears to (incorrectly) use for emphasis, it's odd.  Is the senator taunting his defeated opponent?   More bad sportsmanship.

I'm not immune to the charming story of the senator's great-granddaughter's 4th grade class visiting their senator, who as a boy supported his mom when his dad died.  If I were to advise the senator, I would recommend he try to draw attention toward the great-grandpa stuff and away from his credentials and lucidity.  He might also want to let someone else write for him going forward.  By the way, $88 a month in 1953 is $782 a month in 2014, or $9,384 a year -- a nice boost from the government.  

The overall level of the writing in this letter makes me concerned with the abilities of our legislators in general.  I would have hoped one would know how to write before one was empowered to write laws, but apparently that is not the case.  You'd think a senator, especially one who struggles with the written word, would have the sense to have someone else proofread their letter before publishing.

Senator Cataldo was not given a committee chairmanship in the upcoming session.  I'll speculate that this may be recognition by his Republican peers that someone with this particular combination of poor literacy and jumbled thinking should not be supervising the production of laws.  It's scary enough that he has a vote in the chamber. 

I do take it as hopeful that Senator Cataldo appears to be a Republican who values Social Security.  Let's end on that positive note.




Full disclosure: I've known Ann Wright at least since 2009 -- her daughter and mine were together in Mrs. Nadori's wonderful 2nd grade.  While she served, Ann was my favorite person on the Oyster River School Board (which I also blog about).  Ann is the president of the Lee NH Democratic Committee (leenhdems.org), of which I am a member.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Frank's Fabrications

Frank Guinta is a conservative Republican, which is reason enough not to vote for him as far as I'm concerned.   But I started this blog to highlight where former Rep. Guinta distinguishes himself above and beyond the fairly high level of awfulness of his party. 

I do lots of Internet commenting during elections and I usually get Frank's ethical lapses in a sentence, e.g. here
First Foster's endorses Frank Guinta, who still can't explain how he loaned his campaign $355,000 he didn't have, ran for RE-election with robocalls claiming he was the challenger, and (as AP reported) staged job fairs that were sham events where no one got jobs and seniors, women and veterans were exploited for photo ops then sent to us all as official correspondence at record taxpayer expense.
It's hard to fit all of Frank's bad acts into a sentence, as you can confirm by checking the old posts in this blog. It leaves out so much, including Rep. Guinta's dissembling about the Tea Party and the Sequester.   And it's really only current through 2012 -- I haven't updated it.

Fortunately, I just got this email from the Democrats where they've gathered Rep. Guinta's fabrications, as they refer to them.   I give it here to you:




Fabrications by Frank and Frank’s Friends 2014

 

Corruption Schmurruption: At debates and in a TV ad, Frank Guinta has been trying to dodge his ongoing investigation by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

  • He has been using a “look here, not there” approach, claiming he has been cleared by the House Ethics Committee—which is not the same as the FEC. He points to a standard form he received from the Ethics Committee, but this form, requiring all Members of Congress to report their income, has nothing to do with a specific investigation into Frank’s finances due to a complaint.  The House Ethics Committee in fact has no jurisdiction over any actions taken by candidates before they are sworn in as Members of Congress, and therefore House Ethics has not exonerated him for campaign finance law infractions.
  
Dodging His Do-Nothing Record:  Last week, Guinta claimed he had “3 bills” with his name on them signed into law (separately, and not as provisions of larger bills).
  • The Congressional record shows that NONE of Guinta’s nine bills (two of which were actually authored by Carol) were signed into law.
  
Affordable Healthcare Whoppers: 22,000 People did not lose their health insurance, and no, Members of Congress are not exempt from the health care law. 
  • Politifact debunked the 22,000 claim way back in January, noting that New Hampshire’s 22,000 Anthem “individual policyholders did have a chance to keep their same network of hospitals and doctors next year,” thanks to Carol’s hard work.
  • Mailers and TV ads have claimed that Shea-Porter voted (with other Democrats) to exempt herself from the Affordable Care Act.  This is not just false, but Politifact rated this one a Pants on Fire lie.  According to Politifact, “Section 1213 of it requires members of Congress and congressional staff, starting in 2014, to buy health plans created by the health care act or offered through the state exchanges the act establishes.”
  
Middle Class Tax Tall Tales: Shea-Porter does not want to raise middle class taxes, and has supported legislation to lower taxes for small businesses.
  • Guinta voted for the Republican Budget, which raised middle class taxes by more than $1,000. He also voted against the fiscal cliff compromise, which made the Bush tax cuts permanent for the middle class. If Guinta had gotten his way, we would have gone over the fiscal cliff and every single American would have seen their taxes go up substantially.
  • Shea-Porter has voted to cut taxes for small businesses and has introduced legislation to lower small businesses’ taxes, too. Politifact rated Guinta's claim that Shea-Porter wants to raise taxes on small businesses false.  
 
Bungling On Big Oil Agenda: Guinta claims Shea-Porter voted for an energy tax that would raise each family’s costs by $3,100. He also claims that Shea-Porter doesn’t support an all-of-the-above energy strategy.
 
  • On a “national energy tax,” Politifact has rated Guinta’s outrageous claim false, twice.
  
First-Class Travel Fiction:  Mailers and TV ads have claimed that Members of Congress, including Shea-Porter, voted to fly first-class on the public dime.  
  • This false claim was debunked by the Washington Post fact checker.  The tale begins when Republicans inserted a “poison pill” section (Sec. 608) into the Ryan Budget – which every Democrat voted against – that prohibited first-class flying.  Republican mailers claim this vote means Democrats favor flying first class.  But of course all it means is that Democrats opposed the Ryan Budget, which turned Medicare into Voucher-care, and was a complete non-starter for Democrats.  The fact checker gave this fiction “4 Pinocchio’s” (the rating they reserve for outrageous whoppers), calling it a “smarmy tale of congressional political games.”  
  
“Free Health Care for Life” Fantasy:
  • This false claim derives from another “poison pill” inserted by Republicans into the Ryan Budget – which every Democrat voted against:  “Retirement benefits for Members of Congress should not include free, taxpayer-funded health care for life” (Sec. 608).  Shea-Porter voted against the Ryan Budget, which turned Medicare into Voucher-care, and was a complete non-starter for Democrats, and so Republican attack ads claim that Shea-Porter therefore supports health care for life.  No, Shea-Porter was just voting against the Ryan Budget’s damaging cuts to the middle class and the vulnerable, and against privatizing Medicare.  This is absurd logic and a fantastic falsehood.  Political rated a similar claim made about a Republican congressman a Pants on Fire lie.
  
$700 Billion Cut to Medicare Myth:  This one is an oldie.  Some ads and mailers attack Shea-Porter by claiming she cut $700 billion from Medicare.  
  • The Washington Post fact checker found this claim false, finding that, “The savings mostly are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries — who, as a result of the health-care law, ended up with new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs” and concluding that the so-called cuts “did not come at the expense of seniors.”  To highlight an absurdity of this false claim, the Ryan Budget “retains virtually all of the Medicare ‘cuts’ contained in the health-care law.”  
  
Frank’s “Independence” Fable:  The National Republican Campaign Committee claims that Guinta is the “independent” candidate.  
  • Politifact has debunked this claim:  “Guinta scored a 96 percent partisan unity with Republicans during his term in Congress, which is hardly evidence of a big contrast. We rate the claim Mostly False.”   
  
Frank’s Fictional Record Supporting Women
  • Guinta aired a TV ad about himself that alleged he had a record of supporting women, including equal pay for equal work, but Guinta did not bother to cosponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act. He also voted for a terrible version of the Violence Against Women Act, which excluded Native American, immigrant, gay, and college abused women, and even voted against an amendment to protect abused women’s confidentiality and so save them from their batterers.

Friday, October 31, 2014

NH State Senator Cataldo, Nuclear Engineer, Has Fake Diploma

Senator Sam Cataldo
New Hampshire Republican State Senator Sam Cataldo appears to have a fraudulent Master's Degree in Nuclear Engineering from disgraced diploma mill LaSalle University in Louisiana.   Senator Cataldo has reportedly worked at Connecticut Yankee Nuclear Power Plant and Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station.  It is unknown if Mr. Cataldo knew his degree was fake when seeking employment, if he used a fake credential to gain employment, and what the consequent risks to the public were.

Mr. Cataldo is currently seeking reelection in NH Senate District 6 (Rochester area) against Democrat Rich Leonard.  Election day is Tuesday November 4th, 4 days from now.

The evidence has been in plain view for quite some time.  On 8/20/2012, Foster's Daily Democrat reported Mr. Cataldo's biography:
He is a native of Lawrence, Mass., attended Lowell Technical College and, later in his career, Northeast University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in industrial management and Lasalle University in Louisiana, where he gained a master's degree in nuclear engineering.

[... He] was also a cemetery superintendent, before becoming a commercial nuclear contractor for the next 20 years. This included working at both Connecticut Yankee and Pilgrim nuclear power stations as a trainer, consultant, shift supervisor and site superintendent.
Senator Cataldo's official page at the General Court is a bit more vague:
The senator is a graduate of Lowell Tech, Northeastern University and Lasalle University.

There is a similarly named La Salle University in Pennsylvania (website) that is legitimate, so we are relying on Foster's reporting here for the important detail that this is LaSalle University in Louisiana.  There is also a discrepancy between "Northeastern" and "Northeast" Universities that doesn't exactly fill me with confidence in Foster's.  It does not appear that the accredited La Salle U in Pennsylvania offers a master's program in Nuclear Engineering.

The Wikipedia article entitled "James Kirk Diploma Mills" (much to the regret of us Trekkies) relays the following:
In the mid-1990s, LaSalle provoked the attention of authorities because of evidence that government workers had been awarded promotions and salary increases based on fraudulent advanced degrees. According to a prosecutor with the Attorney General's office, more than a dozen known diploma mills had been set up in Louisiana, where the laws were particularly lenient. Federal investigators estimated that LaSalle, alone, had issued in excess of 40,000 fake diplomas, the bulk of them to government employees. In fact, LaSalle's sales and marketing materials highlighted the fact that many of its graduates occupied high positions in government.[citation needed]

The school was shut down after a July 1996 raid by the FBI, U.S. postal inspectors, and the Internal Revenue Service.[7] According to John Bear, the U.S. Attorney wrote to every person in the LaSalle files, officially informing them that LaSalle was nothing more than a diploma mill. All were advised that funds were available for refunds, providing they turned in their diploma(s). Many didn't, presumably so they could continue to parlay their degrees for more money in the marketplace, with impunity (they could always claim ignorance, later). The FBI report stated that LaSalle had only one faculty member serving 15,000 students (and her only degree was a Bachelor's from LaSalle). Furthermore, the back of the student application forms contained a disclaimer advising students that their signatures simply made them Ministers of Kirk's World Christian Church, and that any degrees they might get would merely be religious degrees, regardless of the subject.[8]
The article goes on to report that:

 According to a 2004 Government Accountability Office report on diploma mills, which discussed the widespread purchase of fake degrees by high-ranking government officials, one manager in the National Nuclear Safety Administration paid $5,000 for a masters degree from LaSalle in 1996. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force at the time, when he felt pressured to purchase the degree in order to be promotable to Colonel. He did not attend classes or take any tests, and he called his degree a "joke."[20]

Senator Cataldo is not the only politician whose degree from LaSalle has been questioned. That article contains the passage:

Allen Ezell, a retired FBI agent and leading authority on phony diplomas, said he remembers well the FBI's investigations into LaSalle. He said any degree handed out by LaSalle before the raid is "utterly worthless," and he questions the legitimacy of any degree after that, too.

The date of Mr. Cataldo's Master's Degree in question is unknown. Connecticut Yankee Nuclear Power Plant ceased electricity production in 1996 (Wikipedia).

The story seems to have first appeared in the comment section of Foster's Daily Democrat's endorsement of Senator Cataldo.

P.S.  Here is some further verification that LaSalle degrees are bogus from geteducated.com:

LaSalle University (LA)
College State: Louisiana
College Website URL: none
Distance Learning Accreditation Status: CAUTION: You should be aware this college is NOT ACCREDITED by any agency recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation or the US Department of Education to award degrees.


[Permission granted to anyone who wishes to copy and publish this article, all or in part, with or without attribution to me. Permission granted to edit or modify, as long as the gist is preserved. - Dean Rubine. ]

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dear Foster's: Vote Democrat

[This is the letter to the editor I just sent to Foster's Daily Democrat. It's pretty terse in order to fit everything into the length requirement. They don't always publish my letters, so I'm posting this here as well - Dean.]

To the editor:

On November 4, I urge every Democrat to vote and everyone to vote Democrat.  Issue after issue, Democrats offer and implement real solutions while Republicans offer fear, ignorance or meanness.  In 350 words:
 
Economy: Over Obama's term: Unemployment from 7.8% to 5.9%,  -800,000 to +200,000 jobs a month, 55 months job growth, S&P 500 up 130%, deficit reduced from 10% to 3% of GDP, financial reform.  Republicans offer default(!), government shutdowns, gutting environmental regulations, privatizing Medicare and severely cutting CDC, NIH and defense.  Domestic energy production near independence levels, gas prices low, auto sector saved.
 
Income Inequality: Democrats lower taxes on 95%, got Republicans to raise taxes on the top, want a livable minimum wage and job-creating infrastructure building.  Republicans offer severe cuts to the safety net (including food stamps) and tax breaks for job exporters.

Women's Issues: Democrats champion reproductive freedom, equal pay, Planned Parenthood, violence prevention.  Republicans offer forced transvaginal probing, TRAP laws, personhood and bosses dictating contraception.

Science: Democrats believe in evolution and climate change, letting science guide policy on sex education, product safety and environmental regulation.  Republicans not so much.
 
Foreign Policy: Obama got bin Laden, Dubya "not that concerned."  Obama destroyed Assad's chemical weapons. Republicans advocated attacking Assad, leaving ISIS to grab those chemical weapons.  Obama gets us out of wars.  
 
Healthcare: Democrats produced 10 million newly insured, no preexisting condition exemptions, no lifetime caps, subsidies as needed, Medicare solvent 14 more years, closing doughnut hole, working cost controls, five more companies on our exchange.  Republicans cry "repeal, repeal, repeal" which would take all that away, and never agree on "replace."

Ebola: The president bases protections on science.  Keeping America safe means beating Ebola in West Africa.  He honors the heroic health care workers who go fight this disease.  Republicans treat them like lepers, constitution be damned, making it harder to volunteer, and us all less safe. Republicans absurdly stoke fears about infected ISIS soldiers crossing the Mexican border.
 
I'll just mention voting rights, Citizens United, marriage equality, gays in the military, and immigration reform.  On Tuesday, vote Democrat.
 
Dean Rubine, Lee
 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Frank Guinta Answers Constituent Forthrightly

click to enlarge
Sorry readers, I misled you. There is no actual news that former Rep Frank Guinta spoke honestly and forthrightly to a constituent's question.  You know that's not going to happen, certainly not before election day November 4th, 2014.  Democrats, New Hampshire has same day registration, so if you're eligible you can walk into your polling place on election day, register, vote and avoid a repeat shellacking.

WMUR just came out with a piece showing Rep Guinta answering questions from constituents.  The first question was "What are you going to do for me?" which Rep Guinta pivoted to eradicating ISIS.  But I thought it would be fun to imagine what it would be like if Rep Guinta had given a forthright response.  Here is Frank Guinta's honest and forthright response, as imagined by me:

"Thank you for your question. It might be more accurately rephrased 'what am I going to try to do to you?'

"If elected, I will vote to repeal Obamacare again. If repeal became law, at least 10 million newly insured adults would lose their insurance.  Their kids would too.  The rest of us would discover insurance companies once again not covering our preexisting conditions. The repeal might pass a Republican Senate, but of course the President would veto, so ultimately the repeal will fail. But we'll try it twenty more times just to be sure.

"I will also vote for the Ryan Budget again, which privatizes Medicare, turning it into a 'premium support' system much like Obamacare, which I despise. I can't explain it either. Also, I'm going to try to stop the terrible effects of the one important bill I voted for that became law: the sequester. I'm going to leave all the cuts to programs like Head Start and medical research, of course, but I'll try to restore the defense spending.  The president will veto anything like this that managed to reach his desk, so nothing done here either.



click to enlarge

"I bet my party comes up with some really awful stuff to do to women seeking abortions that I'll be happy to support, being pro-life and all.  Truthfully, it's going to be pretty hard to top the stuff we came up with last time, like mandating medically unnecessary transvaginal probes or forcing a woman to watch her own ultrasound as the operator highlights baby's 'external member.'  Maybe every fetus gets a court appointed lawyer.  But there's that darn veto.


"We'll just shut down the government if we can't get our way through the normal legislative process.  I'm sure voters will blame the president.

"In summary, we're mostly going to pass a bunch of stuff the president won't sign, but sometimes we'll be able to chip away at some programs that help people.

"Oh yeah, if we had followed my party's advice on Syria a year ago we would have attacked Assad, which would have of course strengthened Assad's enemy ISIS. ISIS may have been able to get their hands on Assad's chemical weapons, which would have still been there.


"Did that answer your question?"

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Democrats Need To Vote in the Midterm Elections


Click to enlarge



Hi.  Welcome back to NotIntaGuinta.org.  I've kept up the payments on the name because I suspected that former Rep. Guinta would run for the US House again in 2014.  This is indeed what is occurring.  Mr. Guinta is likely to win the Republican primary for NH District 1 on September 9 and will then face the incumbent Democrat Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in the general election November 4th.

I may be wrong, but I suspect this cycle is less about convincing swing voters on policy and more about turning out Democrats who normally stay home when there's no presidential election on the ballot.  The rise of the Tea Party in 2010 was exacerbated by Democrats staying home that November, resulting in a 63 seat pickup in the US House for the Republicans, who now have a comfortable majority.  They're hoping for similar results in 2014.

The most important race in New Hampshire is for US Senate. Control of the Senate is up for grabs this cycle.  The Republicans are hoping that the typical Democratic midterm lethargy will lead to a majority of least 51 Republican senators.  At this point, it's a pretty good bet they'll succeed but by no means certain.

Having both houses under Republican control will cause the country great difficulties.  Presumably, like now, not a lot of legislation will pass given a presidential veto.  Once again, the president's judicial and executive nominees will be unable to get confirmed.  (The so-called nuclear option allowed the Democratic senate to fill many vacancies this term because the rules were changes so only a majority, not 60 votes, was required.)  The biggest loss will be in filling Supreme Court vacancies, which will effect the country for decades.  Potential Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said he'd attach riders to bills which must pass in order to roll back the president's accomplishments on health care, regulation, the environment, immigration, etc.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is running for reelection, probably against former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.  At this point things look pretty good for Sen. Shaheen, but with the crazy money available to Republicans in the post-Citizen's United world, anything can happen.

Let's be honest.  The US House is almost certainly going to remain majority Republican this cycle.  As a result of statehouse victories in 2010, a census year, Republicans in many states got to redraw the congressional districts to their liking.  It will be virtually impossible for Democrats to overcome this gerrymandering in this cycle.

So the choice for Shea-Porter or Guinta is not really about control of the house.   If the last two terms are any indication, the House is going to be controlled by the extreme right wing of the Republican party.  While Rep. Guinta could conceivably add his extra bit of nastiness to this effort, legislatively it's probably not going to make that much difference who represents NH1.  To me the choice is about who I want to represent me, the honorable Carol Shea-Porter or the reprehensible Frank Guinta.  Check the old blog posts here if you want details on the myriad ways in which Rep. Guinta is deplorable.

References for the Graphic


The stories referenced in the photo are accessible through these links:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/poll-major-damage-to-gop-after-shutdown-and-broad-dissatisfaction-with-government/2013/10/21/dae5c062-3a84-11e3-b7ba-503fb5822c3e_story.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/09/us/politics/many-in-gop-offer-theory-default-wouldnt-be-that-bad.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/Decoder-Voices/2014/0729/Hobby-Lobby-could-be-creating-new-gender-gap-problems-for-Republicans

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/senate-republicans-eye-aca-repeal-vote-if-given-majority

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/05/03/happy-hour-roundup-new-report-confirms-gop-obstructionism-is-unprecedented/

http://articles.latimes.com/2014/apr/01/news/la-pn-paul-ryan-gop-budget-20140401

http://thehill.com/blogs/213758-dems-fear-a-debacle-on-turnout


Friday, January 25, 2013

GOP Brazenly Pushes Electoral Vote Rule Changes in Blue Swing States

I made this graphic in response to the new GOP attempt to win presidential elections by changing the rules of elections rather than putting forth candidates that a majority of people would care to vote for. 

With the failure of the Voter ID laws to swing the presidential race in the Republican's favor, the GOP has turned its attention to the way electoral votes are counted in some swing states.   The Republicans in these states, all of which went for Obama in the recent presidential election, have proposed assigning electoral votes within a state by congressional district, with the remaining two electoral votes going to the candidate which wins the most congressional districts.   

Congressional districts were successfully gerrymandered in the GOP's favor as a result of the fortuitous (for them) coinciding of the Tea Party landslide of 2010 with the 10 year cycle of the census-driven redistricting process.   In many of these states, the legislature has remained in Republican control (in no small part due to gerrymandering of state congressional districts.)   

The way gerrymandering works is to concentrate Democrats in the smallest number of congressional districts, while leaving small but significant Republican majorities in the remaining districts.   Then, a Republican can most of the districts even with a substantial loss of the popular vote in the state.

Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida are have Republican-dominated state governments which are considering laws like this.   Had such laws been in effect in the last election, Mitt would have won most of these states, and thus the election.

It's a crazy system we have where the rules are different in different states.  Gerrymandering is a terribly problem, resulting in anti-democratic (small d) outcomes in many states.   It makes no sense to allow politicians to draw district lines, and it certainly is a terrible idea to change the rules in a partisan way so that states that tend to go Democratic (big D) have less impact.


Refs:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/republicans-in-virginia-other-states-seeking-electoral-college-changes/2013/01/24/430096e6-6654-11e2-85f5-a8a9228e55e7_story_1.html
http://www.cnn.com/election/2012/results/state/VA/president
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/election-by-virginia-districts/2013/01/24/f14e7efe-6689-11e2-85f5-a8a9228e55e7_graphic.html