Rep Steve Vaillancourt


NH House Already Killed Fireworks Ban


The Fourth of July has come and gone, and not surpisingly, a series of fireworks accidents has led State Fire Marshal William Degnan to call for a ban on the sale of all types of fireworks.

Also not surprisingly, the Union Leader ediitorialized against such a ban while the Concord Monitor came out in support, at least of a partial ban.

Both papers and others ran large bold headlines on Degnan's crusade (see link below).

What is surprising, however, is that no one in the media seems to have picked up on the fact that the New Hampshire House Criminal Justice Committee (on which I sit) explored the issue in great detail this past session and was unanimous against legislation to further restrict fireworks sales.

It wasn't just libertarian-minded committee Republicans, like Mark Warden, Kyle Tasker, and I.

It wasn't just your more establishment Republicans on the committee.

Each and every Democrat, some who could rightly be termed nanny staters, also came down solidly against any fireworks ban.  I recall former Rep.Delmar Burridge, from Keene, (he resigned mid-term) being particularly against any crackdown.

This was after the committee held a marathon hearing (four or five hours) and heard heart-wrenching testimony from those involved in that Pelham disaster a few years ago.  Yes, William Degnan was among those present and testifying at the hearing.

The reaction from all committee members was that as tragic as fireworks accidents can be, the fault is not with the devices, but rather with those who fail to properly follow directions which come with the sale of all type of fireworks.

The bill never had a chance of passing.  Even a watered down version, offered by Chair Laura Pantelakos, D-Portsmouth, was quickly voted down.  

Why? Because the amendment would have mandated warnings which already exist.

Allow me to repeat that.

Warnings and instructions already come with all fireworks sold in New Hampshire.

The Concord Monitor, I suppose, could be excused for not rehashing the hours of testimony on the bill.  After all, Monitor reporters come and go so frequently, this year's writer was most likely not here last year, but I seem to recall several reporters sitting in on that marathon public hearing.

If the House decided to do nothing in the wake of the terrible tragedy a few years ago, I fail to see how a few far less serious accidents this summer could turn the tide, but then, of course, that all depends on who gets elected in November.

I frankly was shocked at how the entire committee, while sympathizing with the plight of those injured in fireworks accidents, simply failed to slip into nanny state mode. (Recall how Democrats on the committee were falling over themselves to pass a bill allowing police to purchase license plate scanners; the committee fortunately was overturned big time on the House floor).  Nary a soul agreed with Degnan.  Maybe that's why even the Monitor, in its editorial, could not concur with Degnan on a total ban.

In the battle of editorials, I'll side with the Union Leader this time.  In a July 9 editorial entitled, "Ban fireworks?  Get serious", the Union Leader notes how fireworks-related injuries nationwide for the past 15 years have been 3.2 per 100,000 people as opposed to 298 traumatic brain injuries per 100,000 for those involved in youth sports.

The Monitor, in its editorial "State should ban some types of fireworks" a day later, scoffed at the Union Leader analogy, but it seems valid to me.

"Freedom is risky," the Union Leader concludes, "but it's better than the alternative."

Such logic on the issue of legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana would be welcome from the Union Leader.

While fireworks if used improperly can indeed hurt other people, marijuana hurts no one and in fact has been proven to be befeficial.

Thus, we would hope the Union Leader would apply its newfound "freedom is risky" philosophy when the marijuana debate heats up again nexy year.  As the consummate nanny staters, Concord Monitor editorial writers are most likely beyond hope.

As always, I choose to separate my personal beliefs (I truly dislike these fireworks; yes, they scare me) from my ideas of what public policy should be.  I need not use these fireworks to defend your right to use them, just like I need not be gay to champion marriage equality nor need I be a pot smoker to favor legalization.

Government should leave people alone to the greatest extent possible.

With fireworks, it's clearly a case of caveat emptor; the buyer (and user) should beware.

You'll never see me with fireworks.  A few years ago, a friend of my brother had some he was setting off just before (and after) the city of Vergennes ran its official fireworks display.  I didn't like them one bit, but rather than telling this person he shouldn't be using them, I simply got out of the way.

That's also what I did on New Years Eve when I was living in Berlin, Germanhy.  I considered it unsafe to be out--the Germans apparently are big on explosions--so guess what...I stayed inside.

Those who fear accidents with fireworks have every right to simply avoid them...just like those who oppose gay marriage need not marry a gay person.

Those who want to waste their money on fireworks....well, just like with gambling... it's their money  I prefer spending my money on a trip to Montreal where they do fireworks big time--the real thing that is; in fact, there's an international competition every summer.

By the way, that recent photo was of the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal with fireworks exploding overhead. Along with thousands of others,  I actually walked to the top (about 20 minutes each way, I kid you not) for the USA show last night...pretty good, but I can't imagine making the trek every week (sometimes twice) as Montrealers do in the summer.


  1. Fire marshal: Ban all fireworks - New Hampshire Union ...
    Jul 8, 2014 - New Hampshire State Fire Marshal William Degnan is calling for a banon all “reloadable mortar” style fireworksand eventually, a ban on all ...

This Week's Trivia--The Demise of Vargas

Getulio Vargas served as Brazilian dictator from 1930 till 1945 and then as President from 1951 until his death in 1954.  The question is--precisely how did he meet his end?

Actually I pose the question because I've come up with some great choices in an attempt to stump you?

Vargas died peacefully in his sleep;

Vargas was poisoned, by his own son;

Suicide--Vargas shot himself through the heart;

Vargas was shot in a military coup at his Presidential palace in Rio de Janiero;

Vargas faced a firing squad after being convicted of treason.

For more on Vargas and his demise, check out the new book "Brazil, The Fortunes of War" by Neill Lochery, a surprise gem.

For the answer, let's go to the Republic Museum in Rio. 

1954: With a shot in the heart, Vargas left life "to enter history." In the photo, the pajamas and gun used in the dawn of suicide and are exhibited in the Republic MuseumRio de Janeiro.
      • Image result for vargas brazil president
  1. Getúlio Dornelles Vargas (Portuguese: [ʒeˈtuʎu dɔɾˈnɛlis ˈvaɾɡɐs]; 19 April 1882 – 24 August 1954) served as President of Brazil, first as dictator, from 1930 to 1945, and in a democratically elected term from 1951 until his suicide in 1954.

When Polling Averages Don't Synch

Polling Nerd Alert

A Look Behind The Numbers In Arkansas, Kentucky, and Colorado

Single polls are no longer enough for those of us addicted to polling data.  As noted here before, it's better to look at an average of polls, and usually I've sited Real Clear Politics for averages, but it turns out that RCP isn't the only outfit doing averaging, and just like polls vary, so too do averages of polls.  It all depends on just what polls are used for the averages of course, and while I don't want to get carried away here with minor differences, I've discovered that (a division of Huffington Post) might be better than RCP.


Let's look at one race in detail.  I've noted all year that incumbent Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor will most likely lose his Senate seat to Tom Cotton, but thanks to one poll, from NBC/Marist, back in early May, Pryor pulled ahead in the averages for a while.  That's because, contrary to all other polling data, he led Cotton by 11 points (51-40) in that survey.  This clearly isn't right, I thought, and sure enough, Cotton has held a lead in all eight of the most recent polls.  You wouldn't know that, however, by looking at the RCP data.  Only with pollster do we discover the details.  

Clearly, RCP isn't using as many polls for its averaging as does pollster, and it seems to me that if you're going to do averaging, you ought to include as many different polls as you can find.

That questionable Marist Poll is so outdated it's no longer used by RCP, and Cotton is back ahead by 2.8 points. However, he's up by 3.9 points in the pollster average.   That's only a 1.1 percent difference, but in this case, it's enough to confirm my feeling that Pryor in fact will lose his seat. I've copied the presentation of both RCP and pollster here, not because the Arkansas seat is all that vital, but to give you an idea of how not all polling averages are created equally.  With a few clicks, you can find such data on most races on either site.


Arkansas is not the only place we find differences, and in most cases, Republicans fare better in the pollster averages.  In Kentucky, for example, Mitch McConnell is viewed as vulnerable (I've never thought so; it may be close, but he'll survive), but what do the polls tell us?  If you look at RCP, McConnell is up  only 1.5 points (45.8-44.3), but the pollster average has him ahead by a more comfortable margin of 2.6 points (47.4-44.8); he's leading in seven of the ten polls pollster uses; RCP uses fewer polls. I won't reproduce the charts here (see if you can find them yourself).

I'm not suggesting a conspiracy on the part of RCP to understate the Republican advantage, but as we get closer and closer to the election and polls tell us more and more, we should be cognizant of the differences.


Let's go to Colorado, and this gets really interesting because three new polls were out this week.  NBC/Marist had incumbent Democratic Senator Tom Udall up by seven points (48-41); Quinnipiac has challenger Cory Gardner up two points (44-42) and both pollster and RCP included those two polls in their averages.  However, RCP totally missed another poll, one from Gravitas, which had challenger Cory Gardner up by four points (47-43).  That's significant not only because it obviously changes the overall average, but if you use it, Gardner is ahead in two of the three polls, and the Marist poll (with Udall up seven) looks more and more suspect, something you wouldn't know if you only looked at RCP.  Udall leads 44.5-43.5 in the RCP average but only 44.9-44.5 with pollster.

Even without Colorado, RCP currently has the Republicans picking up seven seats for a 52-48 lead come January. That includes Iowa with the hog castrating Joni Ernst a real surprise against the farm loathing Democrat Braley, but it doesn't include North Carolina where incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan has pulled slightly ahead of Thom Tillis, but I suspect that will change; Tillis is suffering from negative publicity as the North Carolina House wraps up its session (he's the Speaker), so I'd look for numbers to turn there in a few weeks.

You can be sure I'll be looking to pollster, not just RCP, to see if they do.  Having found a flaw in the way RCP does its averaging, I don't trust it as much any more.

If you know of any other sevices which do polling averages, feel free to share.

Here's the Arkansas data, first from RCP, then from pollster.




  Cotton (R)Pryor (D)Spread
RCP Average 4/25 - 6/29 -- -- 46.3 43.5 Cotton +2.8
Impact Management Group (R) 6/29 - 6/29 1290 RV 2.7 47 43 Cotton +4
Magellan Strategies (R) 6/4 - 6/5 755 LV 3.6 49 45 Cotton +4
Rasmussen Reports 5/27 - 5/28 750 LV 4.0 47 43 Cotton +4
PPP (D) 4/25 - 4/27 840 RV 3.4 42 43 Pryor +1

All Arkansas Senate - Cotton vs. Pryor Polling Data





2014 Arkansas Senate: Cotton vs. Pryor

  Currently tracking 34 polls from 25 pollsters
  Updated 4 days ago
  Election on November 4, 2014
This chart combines the latest opinion polls using a poll-tracking model and is updated whenever a new poll is released.

HuffPost Model Estimate

  •   Tom Cotton 47.6%
  •   Mark Pryor 43.7%
  •   Undecided 

CONFIDENCE OF LEAD The probability that Cotton leads Pryor is 94.1%.



Latest Polls

Gravis Marketing 7/7 - 7/8 987 RV 51 44 - Cotton +7
Impact (R) 6/29 - 6/29 1,290 RV 47 43 10 Cotton +4
OnMessage (R-Cotton) 6/9 - 6/11 600 LV 47 40 - Cotton +7
Fabrizio (R-Government Integrity Fund) 6/6 - 6/9 600 LV 51 43 5 Cotton +8
Magellan (R-National Mining Association) 6/4 - 6/5 755 LV 49 45 4 Cotton +4
Public Opinion Strategies (R-American Crossroads) 5/27 - 5/29 500 LV 46 41 7 Cotton +5
Rasmussen 5/27 - 5/28 750 LV 47 43 - Cotton +4
OnMessage (R-Cotton) 5/6 - 5/8 600 LV 42 40 12 Cotton +2
NBC/Marist 4/30 - 5/4 876 RV 40 51 7 Pryor +11
PPP (D) 4/25 - 4/27 840 LV 42 43 16 Pryor +1

Name This Bridge

No, Chris Christie has nothing to do with it.

That is to say, it's not the GW Bridge, but it is a bridge being blocked off from traffic, a common and happy experience as it so happens.

Hint--You may be able to glimpse a roller coaster under the bridge as fireworks explode overhead.

Another Hint--As fun as the rides might be, a bike ride over the bridge is quite a thrill in itself, not recommended for those with fear of heights (I have no such fear).  Plus you get to look down on all those coasters coasting.

First one with the correct answer wins a spot in the greeting line when Chris Christie arrives back in NH...whoops...that's more like a booby prize.

Another hint--I'm writing this at midnight from an outdoor cafe within walking distance of the bridge.

Tomorrow night's fireworks are from the U.S. with a scary music theme.  Hmmm...maybe I'll try them; that would involve a walk to the top of the bridge.

Final hint--it's named for an explorer.  Not Samuel de Champlain--his bridge is actually on the other end of the city.  Oh, all he is.


Rand Paul Is GOP's Best Chance To Beat HRC

First a truth in blogging alert--I was a proud and ardent supporter of Ron Paul for President and most likely will support and work for his son, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, as well.  However, that's not why I've created the headline, "Rand Paul Is GOP's Best Chance To Beat HRC."

Facts (and polls) speak for themselves, and in polls this week from three of the most purple states, states which Barack Obama carried twice, Rand Paul does better than any other Republican in head-to-head match-ups with Hillary Clinton (that's HRC), the most likely Democratic nominee.  Pay no attention to all those headlines about Democrats really wanting Elizabeth Warren; she would be a McGovern-type disaster for the party--we should be so lucky as to have Warren run.

In fact, Rand Paul is the only Republican to lead Clinton in any of the three states polled, Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire.  Note that we have an Eastern, a Midwestern, and a Western state, a good cross section of America.

Paul leads Clinton by three points (46-43) in Colorado; is even with Clinton in Iowa (45-45); and trails Clinton by three points 46-43) in New Hampshire.  Thus, if you add numbers from all three of the critical (albeit small) states together, Rand Paul is dead even with Clinton.

I'm not cherrypicking polls.  These were widely reported this week.  The Iowa and New Hampshire data is from Marist/NBC; the Colorado numbers are from Quinnipiac.  

You can either take my word for it or look at the data yourself; fortunately Real Clear Politics ran them all together, and I'm able to copy them here.

If Clinton carries the usual blue states (from New York to California) and the Republican nominee carries the usual red states (mostly in the South) and if the election is close, it will be determined in states like Colorado, Iowa, and even little New Hampshie with our four electoral votes.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz does worst in match-ups against Clinton.  As you can see, he trails by 12 in Iowa, 13 in New Hampshire, and Quinnipiac didn't poll him in Colorado.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker doesn't do much better; he's down 13 in Iowa and nine in New Hampshire.  Florida Senator Marco Rubio fares slightly better, but still nowhere near as well as Rand Paul.  He trails Clinton by nine in Iowa, five in New Hampshire, and once again, Quinnipiac didn't poll him in Colorado.

Jeb Bush, whom some old guard Republican insiders continue to tout as the salvation for the party, doesn't do particularly well.  He trails Clinton by four in Iowa and Colorado and five in Iowa for a net of minus 13.

Chris Christie, whom I particularly loathe but who insists on coming back to New Hampshire time and again, trails Clinton by one in Iowa, two in Colorado, and five in New Hampshire (a net of minus eight).  That's second best to Rand Paul.

Rand Paul apparently is not only doing all the right things with Republican insiders, but with the voting public as least in three extremely important states.

I know it's early, but what did Yogi Berra say about getting late early? 

Yeah, that's it.  "It's getting late early."

Here are the raw numbers. You do the math.

Iowa: Christie vs. Clinton NBC News/Marist Clinton 44, Christie 43 Clinton +1
Iowa: Paul vs. Clinton NBC News/Marist Clinton 45, Paul 45 Tie
Iowa: Bush vs. Clinton NBC News/Marist Clinton 46, Bush 42 Clinton +4
Iowa: Rubio vs. Clinton NBC News/Marist Clinton 49, Rubio 40 Clinton +9
Iowa: Walker vs. Clinton NBC News/Marist Clinton 50, Walker 37 Clinton +13
Iowa: Cruz vs. Clinton NBC News/Marist Clinton 49, Cruz 37 Clinton +12
New Hampshire: Christie vs. Clinton NBC News/Marist Clinton 47, Christie 42 Clinton +5
New Hampshire: Paul vs. Clinton NBC News/Marist Clinton 46, Paul 43 Clinton +3
New Hampshire: Bush vs. Clinton NBC News/Marist Clinton 47, Bush 42 Clinton +5
New Hampshire: Rubio vs. Clinton NBC News/Marist Clinton 47, Rubio 42 Clinton +5
New Hampshire: Walker vs. Clinton NBC News/Marist Clinton 48, Walker 39 Clinton +9
New Hampshire: Cruz vs. Clinton NBC News/Marist Clinton 51, Cruz 38 Clinton +13
Colorado: Christie vs. Clinton Quinnipiac Clinton 42, Christie 40 Clinton +2
Colorado: Paul vs. Clinton Quinnipiac Paul 46, Clinton 43 Paul +3
Colorado: Bush vs. Clinton Quinnipiac Clinton 44, Bush 40 Clinton +4
Colorado: Huckabee vs. Clinton Quinnipiac Clinton 44, Huckabee 41 Clinton +3