Here in New England we love to brag about rapid weather changes. Hah! We’re pikers.
Monday afternoon in Denver the temperature was 93°. The weather was described by NOAA’s ever-succinct web page as “Smoke.” By Tuesday morning the temperature had dropped nearly 60 degrees in 15 hours. It was 34° and snowing.
Coloradans weren’t complaining about the snow, of course. It would help to counter all the smoke coming down from the Cameron Peak fire, up north. Still burning after three weeks, it had scorched 160 square miles and was still only four percent contained. The fire crews needed all the help they could get—especially after some of them came down with Covid-19. Between Cameron Peak and the Pine Gulch fire—the largest in Colorado history—an area of that state one-third the size of our Rockingham County has burned this year.
Although the theory is still controversial in some quarters, many scientists now suspect that there may be some link between the increased frequency of extended, oppressive heat waves and the rapid oxidation of matter in the exothermic chemical process of combustion we know as fire.
Putting aside questions of scientific theory for further consideration by experts such as Dan Bongino, Newt Gingrich, and Jeanine Pirro, let us retun to the safer, less controvertible matter of facts: the fires in Colorado are nothing compared to what’s going on in Washington State, Oregon, and California.
Washington had done pretty well throughout the early part of this year’s fire season. Then, on Tuesday, Governor Jay Inslee tweeted, “Yesterday, 330,000 acres burned in WA. That’s more than 12 of the last 18 entire fire seasons. In a single day.” Oops.
As for Oregon, some 1,228 square miles have gone up in smoke. That’s Rockingham and Strafford Counties combined, with a little bit left over.
Meanwhile California has seen five of the 16 largest fires in its history this year. The total area burned covers about 3,125 square miles. That is an area 8.4 times the size of the State of New Hampshire.
It’s not over yet, either. According to well-known regional weather person Eric Fisher, “Pattern ahead is no bueno for the west in an already bad wildfire season. A lot of warmth expected to dominate this month.”
Portsmouth may be a bastion of Democratic voters, but, paranoid fantasies notwithstanding, the town has yet to ban pro-fascist banners. This prime example of the genre depicts Donald J. Trump, his face in a pugnacious grimace, wearing a Captain America costume. Beyond noting that one might just as plausibly kit up Florence Nightingale in a Nazi dominatrix costume, the Flag Police take no position on such ludicrous juxtapositions of disparate elements. That said, the banner also shows Trump holding an American flag. A synod will be held next month, to pore over the Flag Code in search of any applicable clauses.
White Terrorists? What White Terrorists?
Robert Evans, who has covered the protests in Portland, Oregon for Bellingcat, wrote recently, “Wild that antifa lighting that trash can on fire was an objectively bigger national story than all of Oregon burning down.”
It’s kind of wild, too, that the Department of Homeland Security whistleblower story seems to have vanished in the smoke of corruption pouring out of the White House.
Brian Murphy was the Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at DHS until late July, when he got demoted to a lesser position. According to Murphy’s whistleblower protection complaint, Chad Wolf, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, and Ken Cuccinelli, whose official title is apparently “Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security,” abused their authority by rewriting a Homeland Threat Assessment [HTA] because they were concerned about “how the HTA would reflect upon President Trump.” Two specific problem areas were “White Supremacy and Russian influence in the United States.”
According to Murphy’s complaint, “Mr. Cuccinelli stated that Mr. Murphy needed to specifically modify the section on White Supremacy in a manner that made the threat appear less severe, as well as include information on the prominence of violent ‘left-wing’ groups. Mr. Murphy declined to make the requested modifications, and informed Mr. Cuccinelli that it would constitute censorship of analysis and the improper administration of an intelligence program.”
“Dereliction of Duty”
U.S.P.S. Board Issues Gushing Praise for DeJoy Amid Mail Slowdowns, Medicine Delays, and Straw-Donor Scandal
by Jake Johnson, Common Dreams
Brushing aside widespread alarm over mail slowdowns, prescription medicine delays, potential election sabotage, and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s reported role in an illegal straw-donor scheme, members of the Republican-dominated U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors on Wednesday said they are “thrilled” by DeJoy’s performance thus far as the head of America’s most popular government institution.
After meeting with DeJoy behind closed doors to discuss several ongoing congressional investigations into his actions as U.S.P.S. chief and previous work as a GOP fundraising powerhouse, two Republican board members gushingly praised the postmaster general and said there are no plans to discipline him over his destructive policy changes or possible criminal actions.
“The board is tickled pink, every single board member, with the impact he’s having,” board member John Barger—who, like DeJoy, is a Republican donor—told the Washington Post in an interview following the private meeting. “He’s an excellent leader. He’s an excellent supply-chain logistics savant. And I’m very, very pleased with his performance since coming on board.”
William Zollars, another GOP member of the board, said DeJoy has the full support of the panel, which currently consists of four Republicans and two Democrats—all appointed by President Donald Trump. Zollars told the Post that DeJoy insisted during the closed-door meeting that “he feels like he has done nothing wrong.”
“From a logistics and operations standpoint, Louis DeJoy is as good as it gets,” said Zollars. “He has support on both sides of the aisle.”
The board members’ comments drew outrage from lawmakers and watchdogs who have been urging the body to exercise its authority to remove—or, at the very least, suspend—DeJoy over policy changes that have significantly disrupted Postal Service operations just weeks ahead of an election that could be decided by mail-in ballots.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Operations, tweeted late Wednesday that “when given the opportunity to restore confidence in the U.S.P.S., the Board of Governors today chose instead to continue their dereliction of duty.”
“Mr. DeJoy’s term as Postmaster General has been defined by conflict, sabotage, incompetence and politicization,” said Connolly. “Anything short of his immediate removal is a total failure in oversight and accountability.”
The U.S.P.S. Board of Governors unanimously appointed DeJoy—a former logistics executive with zero prior Postal Service experience—in May following a search process that Democratic lawmakers have deemed “highly irregular.”
David Williams, a former board member who resigned in protest in April, told the Congressional Progressive Caucus last month that he believes it was Barger who suggested DeJoy as a postmaster general candidate “late in the process.” Williams also alleged that Barger assisted DeJoy in job interviews with the board, helping him “finish a number of sentences where he got stuck.”
Members of the board have come under closer scrutiny in recent weeks as they’ve remained largely silent about DeJoy’s policy changes, which have altered longstanding U.S.P.S. practices and required postal workers to leave mail behind, significantly delaying package deliveries across the country.
As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, documents show that Robert Duncan, the chairman of the U.S.P.S. Board of Governors, is serving on two major Republican super PACs, one of which is closely aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Duncan, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, also briefly appeared in a GOP convention video clip in which he backs Trump’s reelection bid.
According to the New York Times, Republican members of the U.S.P.S. Board of Governors have “helped raise more than $3 million” to support Trump and “hundreds of millions more for his party over the past decade.”
“It’s appalling,” Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said of the board members’ ties to Trump and the GOP. “The Postal Service is respected and revered because it has a single job: delivering the mail, not serving the partisan interest of whoever happens to be president at the moment.”
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The red-hatted gentleman on the bench proudly told a passerby, as our Wandering Photographer was dropping off his ballot last Thursday, that he had been banned from City Hall. When the passerby asked why, he explained that it was because he refused to wear a mask. “There’s no law that says I have to,” he said.
RIP David Graeber
David Graeber died on September 2nd, of natural causes, at the age of 59. As far as we can determine, he was probably the most influential person ever to have combined the politics of anarchism with the study of anthropology.
Graeber was born in 1961 to Kenneth and Ruth (Rubenstein) Graeber. They were working class, self-taught intellectuals who had taken part in the labor struggles of the 1930s. Kenneth, who fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War, worked as a plate stripper for an offset printer. Ruth was a garment worker.
His book, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, published in 2011, will, we suspect, go down in history as the the most gripping and frequently-amusing 534-page work on economics ever written. It begins by taking a closer look at a familiar story—commonly used to introduce freshmen to the topic of economics—and demonstrates that it’s fiction, with no basis in the historical, anthropological record. Money, as it turns out, was not invented to solve the problem of the inefficiency of a barter economy, and Graeber has the receipts to prove it.
If that were all he’d accomplished, it would be more than most. He was also one of the minds behind the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement.
“Debt cancellation would not only relieve human suffering, it would also remind us that money is not ineffable, that these are human arrangements and that if democracy is going to mean anything, it is the ability to all agree to arrange things in a different way.”
– David Graeber
Wicked New Hampshire
Our readers are no doubt familiar with the small volumes put out by Arcadia Publishing: generally well-edited, always profusely illustrated, and tightly focused on a particular topic. From time to time we get unsolicited copies in the mail. Recently, for example, we received Catholic New Hampshire, by Barbara D. Miles. We assumed it was a review copy, although we can’t rule out the chance that the sender may have had some ecclesiastical intent. One day we’ll take a closer look.
Renee Mallett is a prolific writer of these works. We recently received her latest, Wicked New Hampshire. That one, we ate right up.
Leading New Hampshire politicians are forever going on about our First in the Nation™ Presidential Primary Election.® That’s all well and good, but, one has to wonder, considering the popularity of a certain genre of TV, why is it they never tout Herman Webster Mudgett? He’s the Nation’s First Serial Killer, for pete’s sake.
Mudgett, probably one of Gilmanton’s least favorite sons, was a rather odd child who grew up into an exceedingly bad man. Under the alias H.H. Holmes, he became a pharmacist, with a sideline of preparing skeletal remains.
We’ve long been fans of the colorful Judge John Pickering, whose early legal career was co-temporaneous with our first decades of publication. A multilingual graduate of Harvard, he was destined for a great legal career—and might have had one, if not for the drink. As it was, he did attain a high level of infamy as the first federal judge to be impeached.
We were particularly astonished to learn that the infamous English Satanist Aleister Crowley lived for a time in the Granite State. John Lovell gets his due here, too, as a scourge of the Abenaki.
Altogether, this is quite a lively, fun little book, though not for the faint-hearted, perhaps. For example, we haven’t yet read the story of the murder of Josie Langmaid. That one’s a little too close to home. Josie was a schoolmate of the editor’s grandmother, Georgie Ann Fowle.
Sununu Silent on The Bad Spillane
There are two Jim Spillanes. They’re easy to tell apart.
One is the frequent Portsmouth City Councilor and State Representative who wrote the law which put the New Hampshire Primary first.
The other one is a State Rep. from Deerfield, who posted the following message on his Facebook page:
“Public Service Announcement: If you see a BLM sign on a lawn it’s the same as having the porch light on for Halloween. You’re free to loot and burn that house.”
Spillane has since deleted the post, and no doubt passed it off as a joke which everyone should just get over. Governor Sununu has apparently done so, having been silent about the matter.
Spillane’s sense of humor is known to be quite robust. Last summer he tweeted a photograph of small mass of gore which once was a squirrel. “I shot a squirrel on my bird feeder today with a .50 caliber muzzleloader,” he wrote. “Enjoy.”
Squirrel season runs from September 1st through January 1st. Spillane blasted this one into eternity in late May, 2019, so it was out of season. According to the Union Leader, “Spillane serves on the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee and is described in his General Court biography as a ‘life-long hunter’ who is committed to ‘preserving the great American tradition of hunting, and ensuring that the game animals and their environment remain healthy so that every future generation can enjoy hunting New Hampshire.’”