Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Wednesday
Dec312014

This Week's Trivia--"No Matter How Bad It Is"

\

  
  

This week's trivia question is from the new book "Clinton Inc--The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machines" by Daniel Harper. Truth be told, it's one of those quick tawdry books that you can read in a day and might--just might--feel guilty for having read it.  For example, Halper spends quite a bit of space being critical of Chelsea Clinton.

However, there's one quote too delicious to pass up.  Hey, someone has to wade through this trash to come up with this juicy material for you.

In expressing doubt that BIll Clinton could forget having sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky, who said (page 110 of the book)?

"A man might forget where he parks his car or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is."

Now I have to come up with some intriguing multiple choice options,

How about?

James Carville

Joan Rivers

Rush Limbaugh

Barbara Bush 

Craig Ferguson

Bill Maher...or

Jimmie Kimmel

By way of an answer, let me just say that I had considered making all of the options Bushes.  Most likely, then you would have picked out Barbara.  According to the book, even as Geroge H.W. Bush became charmed by Clinton, Barbara was less impressed.  

Here's a typically gossipy passage from the book.

"I was surprised by the fact that I liked him, truthfully," Barbara Bush added.  "And I do like him a lot."

Privately, others have heard a different view.  "I expect she didn't fall for him for one second," a Bush family observer says.  According to sources, a former Clinton aide and a person with high-level connections to the Bush family, Barbara Bush not only dislikes Bill Clinton, she despises him.  "What's Clinton call Barbara Bush?" a source asks.  "His second mother?  It's so crazy.  The funny thing is she hates him."

------------------

I'm not recommending the book, but how could one not appreciate the quote?.

Wednesday
Dec312014

15 For 2015--15 Predictions For The New Year


 

Normally I limit predictions to the political front, but since there's no election in 2015, I thought I'd delve into some finance, justice, sports and cultural predictions as well.  Just call me an unencumbered Renaissance man.   I have some extra time hanging out New Years Eve at my brother's house in Vermont, so I've included more than the usual share of graphics. 

1.  No, No, No, No In New Hampshire--The the extent that the same old stuff surfaces again in Concord, expect the New Hampshire Legislature to once again say no.  No to expanded gambling once again.  No to right to work.  No to the death penalty repeal (if it even gets filed), and thankfully, with Republicans in control of both House (14-10 in the Senate and 239-160-1 in the House) no to new layers of nanny state government such as cell phone restrictions while driving, parental notification for tanning, or a tax on paints, all of which were pushed by Democrats last year.  Sadly, it'll probably also be no to the attempt the just plain silly ban of ballot selfies passed last year.

2.  Police Cams Everywhere--Based on the incident in Ferguson, Missouri and other horror stories involving police, expect police helmet cams to pass across the land this year.  Republican Kyle Tasker has filed such a bill in New Hampshire.  It should pass easily, the only question being about the cost of these modern devises.  I look at it this way--the cameras will actual prove that good cops are doing a good job, so only bad cops should fear them.

3.  Decriminalization Yes, Legalization No--Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I have to believe that while not yet ready to pass full legalization of marijuana, the New Hampshire House and Senate will pass (and Governor Maggie Hassan will find a way to sign) some modified version of a decriminalization bill. It's ridiculous to think this libertarian-minded state, this live free or die state, would remain the only state in the Northeast to treat this harmless drug more harshly than we treat truly dangerous drugs.  Of course, full fledged legalization, regulation, and taxation is the only real long-term solution.  That's the only way to get drugs out of the hands of street pushers and for the state to realize a share of the profits.

4.  Jody Arias Lives--Arizona is currently doing its best to put Jody Arias to death. After being found guilty in an especially brutal slaying of her boyfriend Travis Alexander last year, the jury was hung on the death penalty.  The prosecution gets only this second try, and it will fail again thus meaning that Jody will live out her life in prison.

5.  Aaron Hernandez Guilty--A Massachusetts jury will find former Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez guilty on at least one count of first degree murder.  Since the Bay State doesn't have the death penalty, the tattooed "superstar" will simply spend the rest of his days in prison.

6.  Guilt But No Death For Dzhokhar--If the trial ever gets under way, Boston Marathon bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev will be found guilty and although the jury might well want to put him to death, problems will arise in coming years.  While a federal death penalty exists, a very real question exists as to whether someone can be given the death penalty for an act committed in a non-death penalty state.  The very prospect of the challenge being out there will Tsarnaev alive for a very long time.

 

Is this the face of a man you'd like to spend an hour with every night?  Me neither.  It's the face of James Corden, Craig Ferguson's replacement for the Late, Late Show on CBS.

7.  Late Night Failure For CBS--Neither James Corden,replacing Craig Ferguson in March for the Late Late Show, nor Steven Colbert, replacing David Letterman for the Late Show come fall, will prove to be a ratings success.   Undoubtedly they'll both be around at this time next year, but don't expect them to make it through 2016, especially  .  Of course, I readily admit-- I'm rooting for a return of Craig Ferguson!

8.  A Foxy Oscar--Movies on the big screen don't interest me all that much; the last one I saw was Lincoln, but I plan to see the Fox Catcher...so I'll predict that either Steve Carrell wins best Oscar for his portrayal of millionaire John duPont who recruited the wrestling Shultz brothers to train Olympic athletes...or even that the movie wins best picture.

9.  Down Goes Obamacare--In his second chance on striking down Obamacare, Chief Justice John Roberts will not fail.  He will join Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy in deciding the case currently wending its way through the court that Obamacare as we know it will for all intents and purposes be dead. 

10.  Supremes Uphold Gay Marriage--Now that two lower courts have come forth with opposing ruling on gay marriage, the Supreme Court will be forced to take a case in the spring.  Expect the decision in favor of gay marriage to be more than 5-4 (with Kennedy once again writing the majority opinion).  I get the feeling Chief Justice Roberts would like to be on the right side of history on this one; and after he flips on the Obamacare case, this will come as a bone thrown to more progressive types.  Hey, is that really the way the court operates?

11.  Gas At $1.50--Now that gas prices have fallen below $2 a gallon in much of the county (it's about $2.25 on average as I write this on New Years Eve...albeit closer to $2.90 in Burlington, Vermont!), why stop there?  Expect the price to be below $1.50 in most of the country by summertime (except probably not in Burlington).

12.  A Strong U.S. Dollar--It's not really that the United States economy is doing all that well, but we're certainly heading in the right direction and stronger than much of the rest of the world, so expect the U.S. dollar to continue to move forward throughout 2015.  I was looking for $1.20 Canadian ($1 U.S. gets you $1.20 Canadian) and 1.20 for the Euro ($1.20 U.S. gets you a Euro), but with the dollar already up to $1.16 Canadian and the Euro down to 1.23, let's look for $2.25 Canadian and 1.15 for the Euro some time in 2015.

13.  Markets Up--Stock markets dipped late in the day January 31 to close at 17,823 for the Dow, 4736 for the Nasdaq, and 2058 for the S. and P.  Look for Dow 20,000 in 2015--that's only a 12.2 percent gain; Nasdaq 5500, a 16.1 percent gain; and an even better move from the S. and P., up more than 20 percent to close approach the 2500 level.

14.  Clinton/Bush Redux--Sad to say but by this time next year, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush will be poised to win our first in the nation primary even if they both should stumble in Iowa.  Don't expect either Mitt Romney nor Elizabeth Warren to enter the fray in 2015.  I fully intend to support Rand Paul, but my record of being with winners is not exactly stellar.

15.  Undefeated Wildcats--Normally I stay far away from sports predictions.  After all, even Nate Silver (who picked Brazil to win the 2014 World Cup) learned that sports calls are much tougher than political ones, but as an out on a limb prediction, I'm going to go with John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats to not only win the NCAA basketball championship but to go undefeated in the process.  The question of a perfect season was being posed prior to the Kentucky/UCLA game a few weeks ago; I thought no, but then after watching the first half in which the Wildcats grabbed a 44-7 lead (they then went on to beat Louisville by eight), call me a believer in Team Calipari (I've never been a fan of Rick Patino or Louisville).

Wednesday
Dec312014

Grubergate Hits Vermont

Wednesday
Dec312014

The Year Review--Part II--The Best And Worst And Some Fun Things From 2014


 

 17.  Up And Comer Nationally--Arkansas Senator Elect Tom Cotton--Any one of the incoming class of Republicans senators would merit mention here.  Certainly Joni Ernst from Iowa and Cory Gardner from Colorado are up and comers to watch, but let's pay special attention to Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton who took out Mark Pryor by not just a few points in Bill Clinton's home state but by 17 points (56.5%-39.5%).  Just to think, just a month prior to the election, some of those crow eating pundits had Pryor winning due to his family's status in the state.  So much for family status.  Move over, there's a new force in the Razorback state, and his name is Cotton.

18.  Up And Comer Locally--Newmarket Republican State Representative Adam Schroadter--In 2012, Adam survived a Democratic year in a Democratic town; this year, he won handily and is in a prime position to form a coalition of Republicans and Democrats to get decriminalization of our outdated marijuana laws passed at last. Young, hard working, well spoken, and personable, he's everything you could possibly want as a leader in a cause whose time has come...and other causes in years to come.  Keep an eye on him.

Politico Magazine awards this great shot of Dirty Harry Reid meeting Mitch McConnell as its photo of the year...tough to argue with that choice.  Taken by Larry Downing for the Bloomberg pool, it captures the tension as the two Senate leaders met at last year's state of the union speech.

19.  Down And Outer Nationally--Nevada Senator And Majority Leader  Harry Reid--I knew we'd find a spot for Dirty Harry if we kept looking long enough.  The tragedy is that Democrats stuck with this terrible leader, who felt no qualms against lower the reputation of the august chamber by using it to demonize the Koch Brothers time and again, through his myriad of dictatorial Byzantine maneuvering which almost always prevented critical issues from even being voted on.  Hopefully, he'll be reduced to a back bencher this year (yeah, we should be so lucky) and then have to face Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval come 2016.  Sadly, most likely it's wishful thinking to see dirty Harry as really being out.  Like a cat, he most likely has a few lives yet to cash in on, to the disgrace of our country and the state of Nevada.

20.  Down And Outer Locally--Derry State Representative And Former Senator Frank Sapareto--In an attempt to return to the Senate, Frank finished third in a three-way primary.  He will be missed and most likely will be back in some capacity. 

21.  Biggest Outrage--Nationally--The Gruber Revelations--As if any further proof were needed that the entire Obamacare scheme was a fraud from the get go, along came MIT economist Jonathan Gruber who was captured several times admitting on tape what a house of cards he had helped to build.  In the process, he called the American people stupid enough to by into the lies he and Obama were putting forth.  He apparently made millions of dollars not only from the feds but from various state governments.  In fact, I writ this from Vermont which is investigating Gruber's payments which may have been $400 an hour and $100 for assistants, all doled out without proper paperwork.  The scandal is so big here that Governor Peter Shumlin failed to win re-election in November and now faces a vote in the State Legislature; anti-Shumlin (and anti-Gruber) ads are running on TV this week.  What an outrage!

22.  Biggest Outrage Locally--NH Senate Refuses To Even Consider Marijuana Decriminalization--Despite overwhelming popular support, by upwards of a three to one margin, the New Hampshire Senate refused to even consider of well crafted bill decriminalizing marijuana.  Thus, New Hampshire continues to be the only state in the Northeast to treat marijuana more harshly than highly destructive drugs.  How these senators can live with themselves is beyond me.  What an outrage!

23. Happiest Moment For Me Nationally--Nailing All United States Senate Predictions--I always offer the caveat that I base predictions not based on what I hope will happen, but what I think will happen.  I certainly hoped Scott Brown would defeat Jeanne Shaheen who voted for Obamacare and just about everything else Obama proposed.  However, I never thought Brown would win.  I thought he would be the 55th Republican senator if he made it; sure enough, the total stopped at 54.  In predicting all races correctly, I actually went against the polling data in both North Carolina and Kansas.  The wave was building!  Another week and Brown might have pulled it out.  

24.  Happiest Moment For Me Locally--Marijuana Legalization, Regulation,and Taxation Passes The N.H. House--Ultimately my sensible bill for legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana for recreational (as well as medical) purposes failed in the House, but for one bright and shining moment, it passed.  The bill was based on highly successful programs in place in Colorado and Washington states which are reaping millions of tax dollars.  Ironically, after the bill passed the NH House, it ran into trouble in the Ways and Means Committee, ironic because that committee is supposed to be limited to financial ramifications, and the fiscal projections were better than originally expected.  Oh well, we advanced the cause on the national scene, and ultimate failure comes as good news for shady drug dealers who will continue to make tens of millions of dollars with their street sales.

25.  Funniest Something Nationally--The Vermont Gubernatorial Debate.--A woman in a funny hat called Governor Shumlin "uncivilized" for cutting back hours on interstate rest areas. Another candidate in claiming that he was born and grew up in Vermont had to correct himself in mid-sentence to acknowledge that he was actually born in New York City.  Only in Vermont could they sell a debate as a TV sitcom.  The race will be decided by the Vermont Legislature next month.  Sadly, only the top three candidates are eligible; thus the lady in the funny hat is out of the running.

Internationally, Russian President Vladimir Putin's well intentioned effort to give a shawl to the Chinese President's wife and the reaction it invoked was funny in a most bizarre way.

26.  Funniest Something Locally--The Shaheen Spelling Bee Ad--"Close enough."  That was the tag line on the ad which devastatingly pointed out how Senator Jeanne Shaheen has voted in lockstep with Barack Obama.  A spelling bee student, asked to spell Shaheen, answers, "O-B-A-M-A."   "Close enough."    Apparently similar versions of the ad ran in other states.  Humor can backfire if not used properly; this commercial was perfect.

27.  Smack down of the Year Nationally--Mary Landrieu Losing "Her" Louisiana Senate Seat--Democrats were hoping against hope that if they could limp into December trailing only 50-49 in U.S. Senate seats, Mary Landrieu could pull it off. That was never going to happen, especially after she accused Louisiana voters of a history of racist and anti-feminist tendencies.  The 56-44 defeat was well earned and a true smack down in a section of the county increasingly hostile to nanny state, tax and spend Democrats. 

28.  Smack down of the Year Locally--Secretary of State Beats The Municipal Association--The New Hampshire Municipal Association, which spends millions of dollars from cities and towns lobbying against their interests, managed to get a bill to have town clerk appointed through the House Municipal and County Government Committee.  However, a funny thing happened on the way to the House floor.  Secretary of State Bill Gardner opposed it, and in a smack-down of epic proportions, the bill failed by nearly a three to one margin on the House floor, once again proving that "whatever Bill wants, Bill gets."  (He even got that totally inane bill making ballot selfies illegal.  Hopefully that nonsense will be repealed in 2015  

29.  Biggest Surprise Nationally--Kansas Senator Pat Roberts Wins By Double Digits--Even when Pat Roberts was trailing Independent Greg Orman, he of the strange speaking dialect, I thought the long-term Republican would come back (if in fact he was ever really behind).  However, most pundits, even those who cling to a shred of credibility, considered him road kill.  Not only did Roberts win, sweeping nearly every county in the state, but it wasn't even close.  Roberts won by 10.8 points (53,3%-42,5%), a total surprise for those who are paid big bucks for more astute analysis.

30.  Biggest Surprise Locally--George Lambert Wins District 18 Republican Senate Primary--When you're wrong, admit it.  I was wrong in thinking State Rep George Lambert could not win the Republican District 18 State Senate primary in Manchester Wards 5-9 and Litchfield.  Not only did he win handily, but he surprised the political world again by coming within six points of incumbent Democrat Donna Soucy in November.  Mea culpa.  Maybe Lambert will try again and win the Senate seat when Soucy runs for governor in 2016 (those are the rumors).

31.  Just Go Away Award (someone you prefer never to see or hear from again)--Nationally--Race baiter Al Sharpton--If he weren't doing such harm to the fabric of our society, the "Reverend" Al Sharpton would actually be funny when he shows up, like an ambulance chasing attorney, to inflame racial tensions at every incident one could imagine.  He's actually become a paraody of himself, and President Obama merely puffs up his ego by constantly inviting him to the White House for advise.  Such buffoonery should be ignored at the highest levels.

Honorable Mention to New York Congressman Peter King--I actually have a second choice here.  He's far less harmful than the "Reverend" but I for one am so sick of seeing Congressman King rush to a microphone every day or so that I change channels whenever his face or voice appears.  Won't you join me in 2015? 

Locally--Media Gadfly James Pindel--It wasn't just that Pindel was wrong about where Sullivan County is but his smarmy arrogant manner in posing the question to Scott Brown was all too typical of this clown who has outlived his New Hampshire expiration date.  Also typical was how Pindel revels in making himself the story rather than doing what any good reporter should be doing, covering the story.  No wonder he dissed long time Associated Press reporter Norma Love upon her retirement.  Unlike Pindel, Norma never forgot that her job was to cover the news, not make it.

32.  We Wanna See More Award (someone you want to heard more from)--Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker--Bay State voters, who never fail to send huge Democratic majorities to their State House and Senate, apparently continue to believe some type of brake is needed on such liberal excess.  It'll be fascinating the see how Baker, who apparently has been known to shed a tear or to over a fisherman's sons unable to pursue football scholarships, deals with the Dems.  

Locally--Epsom Republican State Representative Dan McGuire--With my departure, Dan is now alone at the top as the most fiscally conservative elected official in the state.  Hang in there Dan.  There's always another dollar to be cut.

Special Irreplaceable Awards--To Retired Associated Press Reporter Norma Love and Nashua Telegraph Report Kevin Landrigan who moved from the print side to TV with NH1 (he's not used nearly enough there).

Wednesday
Dec312014

The Year In Review--Part I--The Best And Worst And Some Fun Things From 2014

The 32 categories have remained the same for the year in review this year.  The big question all year concerned whether or not the election would turn into a Republican wave; it did.  Democratic claims that they would do just fine because turnout would be higher than in normal off year elections...well, they were simply totally wrong.  Turnout was the lowest since 1942 (36.3 percent vs. 33.9 percent in the middle of World War II).  White turnout was up three points, from 72 to 75 percent, between 2012 and 2014, and Republican House candidates captured 59 percent of the white vote.  African American turnout was down one point, from 13 to 12 percent, and Hispanic turnout down two points, from 10 to eight percent.

That, plus Barack Obama's abysmally low favorable numbers, spelled Democratic doom.  We seemed to see a direct relationship between how unpopular Obama was (down 30 to 40 points in some states) and how poorly Democratic candidates fared in those states.  Put that all together, and more pundits should have pointed to a Republican sweep year all along (since summer, I was saying that it was either going to be bad for Democrats, very bad, or out and out bloody; as it turns out, we saw the blood on the floor).

Race relations took a turn for the worst, due in large part to the Ferguson, Missouri story and race baiting tactics of celebrities like the Reverend Al Sharpton.  With men like this haunting the body politic (he actually has a prime show on MSNBC each night), it's more likely that the nation's wounds will be torn open rather than healed.  That's sad, but true.

Internationally, despite our nation's past history of being drawn into world conflicts and becoming the policeman of the world, a history which should caution us against further involvement, we seem inexorably to be headed that way.  Blame it on the emotional reaction of some gruesome beheadings.  Like on the domestic front, that's said but true.

There seems to be no end in sight to additional trillion dollars of budget deficits, and neither party seems committed to solving the problem.  Thus, the Republican victory at the polls may well serve as little more than a new cosmetic on a hag which has seen better days.  That it seems is the saddest but also the truest of all comment as we wrap up what can only be considered a very bad year.

Here is Part I of the best and worst, the winners and losers.  Try as I might to be brief, I can't (hey, I probably won't write anything at all for the entire month of January; I'm going into hibernation), so Part II will come soon. 

1.  Person of the Year--Iowa Senator Elect Joni Ernst--(fully detailed in another blog)

2,  International Person of the Year--Brazilian President Dilma Yousseff--(fully detailed elsewhere)

3.  New Hampshire Person of the Year--Market Basket Entrepreneur Arthur T. DeMoulas--(fully explained elsewhere)

4.  Sports Person of the Year--San Francisco Giants Pitcher Madison Bumgarner--Even as World Series attendance hit record lows (it truly is tough to watch a four hour game with a full hour of commercials, including no less three minutes between each half inning) and I personally watched less than ever, the performance of Bumgarner was truly one of the best in any fall classic--three wins, only one run allowed in 21 innings pitched including five scoreless innings on two days rest in game seven.  I was reminded of my first year watching baseball, 1963 when a couple of Dodgers named Koufax and Drysdale overpowered the Yankees.  Now if the powers that be would only cut the commericials in half and the game time by an hour--and get all the games on the same network--I (and undoubtedly millions of others) would start watching baseball again.

5.  Biggest Winner Nationally--Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell--Remember how for most of the year pundits were speculating that Republicans could well take control of the United States Senate but Mitch McConnell might lose his own seat and miss out as majority leader?  Pundits could not have been more wrong.  Not only did Republicans pick up nine seats (including five held by Democratic incumbents), but McConnell beat Alison Lundergan Grimes by 15.5 points (56.2%-40.7%), a landslide in anybody's book.  Sadly, McConnell will most likely represent only a small improvement over Harry Reid as majority leader. McConnell fits right into the Bob Dole mold; the Kansas icon (who resurfaced to save Senator Pat Roberts this year) was once famously referrred to as "tax collector for the welfare state"; McConnell has shown little inclination to cut back either runaway spending or crippling debt.

6.  Biggest Winner Locally--Nashua State Senator Kevin Avard--This Nashua area seat, including towns like Brookline, New Ipswich, and Ridge to the West, was the only New Hampshire Senate seat to change hands. Republican Avard, who was savagely demonized throughout the campaign by the holier than thou members of the state's left-wing media, provides Republicans with a 14-10 advantage, but even more importantly, a real dose of conservatism; he replaced Peg Gilmore, one of the most left wing members of any political body anywhere.   Apparently I'm about the only pundit who predicted Avard would win, and my confidence level soared higher and higher the more the media attacked him.  I've actually kept the press clips, but rather than turn this into an attack on the media, allow me to just quote one passage from the Nashua Telegraph.  "On one hand is a former legislator with a record of limiting human rights, undermining the constitutional principles of separation of powers and enabling political cronyism," the paper wrote.  That was just the beginning of vicious attacks, and the "geniuses" at the Concord Monitor were even crueler.  The papers got what they deserved and so did the people of New Hampshire, an Avard win!

7.  Biggest Loser Nationally--Colorado Senator Tom Udall-- As tempted as I am to point to Harry Reid, one of the most vile creatures every to occupy a seat in the United States Senate, as biggest loser, the award goes to Colorado Senator Tom Udall who ran such a terrible campaign that he was mocked even by the usual fellow travelers in the liberal media.  Udall followed the Democratic playbook of attacking Republicans on women's issues to the extreme.  The only problem for Udall was that Republican Cory Gardner did not come across as a neanderthal with blood dripping from his lips.  There's a lesson to be learned here.  Be careful how far you go to demonize a rather likable opponent.

8.  Biggest Loser Locally--Republican N.H. State Representative Gene Chandler--Republican takeover of the New Hampshire House was right in the sweet spot for Chandler, substantial (239-160) but not so big as to stock the House with neocons who would back Bill O'Brien.  Still, Chandler lost the Republican caucus by four votes and then rather than forming a coalition (which certainly would have worked) with Democrats, Chandler sat back and let Shawn H.V. Jasper be the bad guy (for Republicans), putting the New Hampshire House in a most untenable position heading into the new year.  Chandler could not have played his cards worse.  (Always split aces and eights, Gene).

9.  Best Non-Fiction Book--"Talk" By Radio Talk Host Michael Smerconish--As a subscriber to XMSirius Radio in the spring, I listened to Smerconish regularly and came to rely on him as one of the voices of wisdom and moderation in an increasingly hostile medium.  When his book "Talk", dealing with a corruptible radio talk host in the all-important Florida media corridor, came out, I couldn't wait.  In fact, for the first time in my life, I devoured a novel in less than a 24 hour period.  I don't think it ever fared very well on best seller lists, but for me "Talk" defined the words "page turner".

10.  Best Works of Non-Fiction--I've read so many history books this year that I'm going to go with three subcategories here--best biography, best American history book, and best European history book.  Even with those, I could offer several choices in each category.  Fueled by new source material, historians are at the top of their game; these are perhaps the best of times in historical and biographical writing.

Biography--The Brothers, John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, And Their Secret War By Stephen Kinzer  --A side by side look at the lives of Eisenhower Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother CIA Director Allan Dulles, this book not only informed me, but it angered me.  The role these two men played in ruining American foreign policy for a generation is shameful. You want to know why America is still hated around the world today?  Read this book.

European History--The War That Ended Peace, The Road to 1914 By Margaret MacMillan-- Lengthy and studiously researched, this book provides new insight into how and why European statesmen blundered into the savage war a hundred years ago.  If you think you know all there is to know about those days and months after Sarajevo, you're in for a pleasant surprise.

American History--The Mantle of Command, FDR At War, 1941-42 By Nigel Hamilton--I picked this up expecting to read only a few sections here and there (the chapters on the Atlantic Charter and Pearl Harbor, for example).  I literally couldn't put it down.  It's long, very well footnoted, fair, and extremely well written, a true joy; I can hardly wait for the sequel.  At last FDR gets the attention other historians have heaped on Churchill, Stalin, and Hitler as war leaders.  The chapters on how FDR handled his generals and war advisers is priceless.

11.  Story of the Year--Nationally--The Republican Electoral Sweep--Like any good story (and unlike the Ebola, Isis, and Ferguson stores), this one featured the drama of momentum.  Replete with good guys and bad guys (and gals)--although not the same for different observers--and with moments of comedy approaching lunacy, this story should be analyzed for decades to come. Most pundits got it totally wrong which makes it all the more savory as the top story of the year.

12.  New Hampshire Story of The Year--Republican Senate Cave-In To Obamacare--Enough said; it's too sad to even think back on how Republicans, who controlled the Senate 13 to 11 even as Democrats (with a 40 vote majority) could do anything they wanted in the House, simply sold out the people of New Hampshire, and yes President Chuck Morse and Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, that means you!  Not only did Obamacare take effect in New Hampshire, but Governor Maggie Hassan was provided a tailor-made campaign issue, the right to boast how she could work across the aisle.  To quote Shakespeare from "Julius Caesar", "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones." This evil will be interred with the bones of the likes of Senators Morse and Bradley.

13.  Most Over-Reported Story--Sony/The Interview/North Korea--I'm not even convinced the North Koreans were behind the scam; it sounds like the work of a disgruntled former employee to me and after reading "The Brothers", I know never to trust the American government's version of things.  Such a fuss over what is most likely a bad movie seems way overboard to me...even if an intrusion into rights of of privacy is involved. Enough already; let's not use freedom of speech to reward bad film making.

14.  Most Under-Reported Story--The Catalonia Vote-By no less than a four to one margin, the people of the Catalonian region of Spain (that's the area around Barcelona) voted to secede from the country.  We in the U.S. heard when Scotland decided to stay with Great Britain, but this major story out of the Iberian peninsula was missed by all but the most observant news hounds, a true black eye for the media in not reporting something that really matters.

15.  Winning Media Personality--Nationally--Julie Mason SiriusXM/POTUS The Press Pool--For a small price, one can get hundreds of channels, from music to politics, on your car radio.  Julie Mason alone, the 3-6 p.m. host of "The Press Pool" on POTUS, makes the subscription worthwhile.  Not only are the guests great, but Julie's sense of humor (not to mention great bumper music) sets this show apart, into a class by itself.  Now...if I could only find a way to spend more afternoon hours in my car, the only place to get this wonder of modern radio!

16.  Losing Media Personality--Bill O'Reilly--Fox News--Fox has removed itself from the Dish Network, and I realize I don't even miss it, in large part because I'd become totally fed up with the self-serving smug Bill O'Reilly.  For every good thing he does, we have to sit through endless promotions of his coffee mugs, his pseudo historical books, his concert tours, and his special pay features. It's all about "me, me, me" with O'Reilly.  I have nothing against a guy making a few tens of millions of dollars, but give it a rest, Bill.  Plus, it's really not fair to shut the microphone off when a guest starts to make a fool of you in an debate setting.  If I never see this blowhard of a bully again, it'll be too soon.  And that's the No Spin analysis.