To the Editor:
Commuter rail and high-density housing pose imminent threats to the New Hampshire Advantage of low taxes, low unemployment, low crime, high income, solid property values, and clean air.
Commuter rail is being pushed by our federal delegation with Biden’s infrastructure bill. Sununu has been an enabler by not doing much to stop those pushing it from within the state (SB 241).
[The] proposed system will cost New Hampshire taxpayers $11M+ for annual operation and management. N.H. DOT suggests new taxes including $5 vehicle registration fee, increasing property taxes $15.7 million statewide, diversion of five percent state lottery revenue away from schools, hiking gas taxes on those that can least afford it.
According to N.H. DOT final report on Nashua-Manchester commuter rail project, “[m]ost state transit funding comes from General Fund appropriations or through traditional taxes and fees, such as motor fuel taxes, sales taxes, and vehicle fees.”
This system [MBTA], most bankrupt in the country, derailed or crashed 43 times in 5 years!
[Note– Eighty-two words deleted, a redundant rehash of an old, bad argument. For the tedious details see Vol. 265, No. 23, July 30, 2021; Vol. 265, No. 21, July 2, 2021; Vol. 265, No. 14, March 26, 2021, ad nauseam. – The Ed.]
Pardon us for deleting most of your tired diatribe against a policy change which may help to slightly reduce the scourge of high rents. As our note states, we’ve heard it all before.
What’s new and mildly interesting is your new anti-rail screed. “What,” we asked ourselves at an editorial meeting, “has got Jane so worked up about an effort to reduce fossil fuel consumption, traffic congestion, &c.?”
Scratching around in the usual manner we found to our utter lack of surprise an online petition being foisted on a gullible public by that infamous astroturf outfit founded by the Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity. The third paragraph of your letter matches a part of that petition word for word.
Had we not been so diligent, we might have published your letter without redaction. In doing so we would have served as a conduit of lies from the heart of the oligarchy to our readers. We thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster, our Diety of the Fortnight, that we are almost paranoid enough.
Let us be perfectly clear: it is our position that anything coming from AFP is a lie. Anything—even the truth! Nothing coming from that organization can be true—not the time of day, not the weather—nothing. As a source it is irretrievably tainted.
AFP’s most brazen lie is its true identity. Though it masquerades as a citizens group, it is funded by our ruling oligarcy, and works against the interests of ordinary citizens. Billionaires for Skulduggery—BS, for short—would be far more accurate.
There is one thing about AFP of which we may be sure. Its sole motive is to serve the interests of capital, and those who at the moment hold it.
Our own motive, of course, has not changed in the three decades since we snatched this unique entity—the Nation’s Oldest Newspaper™—from the enfeebled grasp of the world’s ninth-richest man, Sir Kenneth of Fleet: level the playing field by spreading that ill-gotten wealth around in a more equitable manner.
Have a nice day.
Tyrannical Intrusive Government
I hope the people who call it government intrusion to require masking or vaccinations against Covid-19 will also throw off their hard hats on those jobs where OSHA has required them. They should not wear reflective vests while alongside traffic, but wear whatever they choose. They should be rid of the burden of protective goggles over their eyes, especially if OSHA has said, “You must…”. As for harnesses required when working at heights—that is clearly a government intrusion. Respirators that will help protect workers’ lungs? Nah.
It’s back, it seems, to rugged individualism, and dying the way one randomly shall, without the benefit of good, tested ideas for safety. So much freedom in the good old days!
Of course, some insurers may then justifiably cross off some customers’ coverage, and surviving families may object to being moneyless when their earner is gone.
Lynn Rudmin Chong
As you say, some survivors of those lost to workplace injuries will likely regret the loss of insurance benefits.
We would not be too surprised to learn though, in these peculiar times, that some might find their cognitive dissonance capable of blaming themselves of their deceased breadwinner.
You Want Me to What?
To the Editor:
According to my dictionary, obedience is defined as “compliance with an order, request, or law—or submission to another’s authority.”
While obeying an order might lead someone to commit an unpalatable deed, acting in a subservient role can be freeing because it transfers responsibility for the act to a higher authority.
“Hey, don’t blame me! I was just following orders.”
In fact, one of the more seductive fringe benefits of Trumpism is the golden opportunity it provides to abdicate personal responsibility for committing unruly acts.
For example, Kyle Rittenhouse dons his vigilante hat, guns down three demonstrators, then claims to be the victim. Or, insurrectionists breach the U.S. Capitol, get caught red handed on video destroying property and assaulting police, then proclaim innocence because they believe Donald Trump “sent them there.”
You get the idea.
However, for a more comprehensive primer on the pitfalls of blind obedience, I recommend looking up some of the classic psychological studies conducted in the 50s and 60s following World War II. Then draw parallels to what’s happening now.
It turns out, once freed from the constraints of our own conscience, it becomes very difficult to reverse direction. Witness anti-vaxers who swear they don’t have Covid-19 with their last dying gasp. Or consider politicians who continue to propagate Trump’s Big Whopper, claiming against all evidence that Joe Biden lost the election.
Of course, not all orders are bad, and researchers tell us our inclination to obey them is baked into our DNA. In fact, a degree of obedience is necessary to prevent anarchy and hold the tribe together.
Case in point, most of us believe stop signs improve our odds for survival, so we stop. It’s the “patriots” who believe stop signs infringe on their God-given right to travel freely we need to worry about.
And, worry we should, because once it begins, there doesn’t appear to be a simple way to turn back the clock.
It’s a tragic thing to watch. It often takes the better part of a couple of decades to turn a willful, freshly-minted Homo sapiens into a tolerable person. The corrosive hyper-individualistic philosophy that’s been pushed on the nation since the mid-70s, though, has now borne fruit. All those repressed inner two-year-olds have come out to play—only now they have AR-15s.
Shirkers, Abdicators, and Obstructionists
On November 12, 2021, 1,007 new cases of Covid-19 were reported by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, the largest number of cases in a single day since January.
Most of the cases, 657, were in children less than 18 years of age, and there were 255 hospitalized and five new deaths. The most recent seven-day average number of cases was 725, a 20 percent increase over the previous week. There are currently 6,466 active cases in the State.
To date, New Hampshire has reported a total of 144,626 cases and 1,622 deaths from Covid-19. All of these cases and deaths have occurred in less than two years, an unprecedented amount of mortality and morbidity resulting from a single infectious disease in less than two years in our history.
Yet despite this terrible burden of death and disease, New Hampshire is treating this epidemic like no other where there is such efficient transmission of the disease from person to person in public places. In fact, the State has taken specific steps to either prevent actions that they require with other communicable diseases, or to delegate their responsibility to implement appropriate public health control measures to non-public health entities.
The manner in which the State is responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic is inconsistent with established State law. The State policy regarding communicable diseases is contained in RSA 141-C:1 Policy, which states, “The outbreak and spread of communicable disease cause unnecessary risks to health and life, interfere with the orderly workings of business, industry, government, and the process of education, and disrupt the day-to-day affairs of communities and citizens. Because the control of communicable disease may be attained by personal actions, the timely intervention of medical practices, and cooperation among health care providers, federal, state, and municipal officials, and other groups and agencies, it is hereby declared to be the policy of this state that communicable diseases be prevented, and that such occurrences be identified, controlled, and, when possible, eradicated at the earliest possible time by application of appropriate public health measures and medical practices.”
Unfortunately, unlike any other communicable disease with this level of person-to-person transmission, disease incidence and mortality, the State has taken an approach inconsistent with its stated policy, and the manner in which it has managed other communicable disease outbreaks. In my many years of experience in public health in New Hampshire, including Chief of Communicable Disease Epidemiology. I had been involved in the investigation and control of many disease outbreaks. These included tuberculosis, meningitis, hepatitis, chickenpox, measles, pertussis, norovirus, shigella, E. coli. salmonella, and many others.
In every outbreak the investigation and implementation of appropriate control measures were taken by the State Division of Public Health Services, or by the two local health departments’ authorized to do so. In no case of a vaccine-preventable disease was a State law passed to prohibit vaccination by government against that disease, as has been done with Covid-19. When we had outbreaks of measles, chickenpox, or pertussis for example, requiring vaccination for those susceptible to the disease was required unless there was a documented medical or religious exemption.
If requiring vaccination was prohibited in those cases, the outbreaks would have continued, expanded and caused many more cases, as we are seeing now with Covid-19. If there was no vaccine available, or the disease outbreak was caused by a non-vaccine-preventable agent, we would order other appropriate control measures to prevent the outbreak from spreading and to end the emergency. The decision to implement the appropriate control measures was a decision made by the appropriate public health agency responsible for the investigation. In no case was the decision to implement control measures, or what type of control measures to implement, delegated to non public health individuals.
If the outbreak involved a school for example, the required control measures would be discussed with the school administration as to how best to implement the measures, but the decision to implement the measures was ultimately a public health decision.
Unfortunately, with Covid-19 the State has again taken an approach that is not consistent with its stated policy on communicable disease control. Since requiring Covid-19 vaccination of children age five and older in public schools is prohibited by State law (the only vaccination prohibited by the State), one of the few remaining effective measures to control the spread of the disease in schools is through requiring appropriate face coverings of all students and staff while within the school building. Unlike with any other communicable disease outbreak in a school, the State has left the decision to implement appropriate Covid-19 public health control measures up to the local School Board. While the State requires school food handlers to wear gloves when handling food, they have left mask requirements, even in the face of an expanding serious communicable disease threat, up to individuals with no public health expertise. This would not happen with any other communicable disease, let alone one causing historical numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and for which we still do not fully understand the scope of its long-term effects on those who have been infected and survive.
When the history of how New Hampshire, and for that matter, the U.S.A., handled the great Covid-19 Pandemic, it will not be kind to many of those individuals in positions of authority who either shirked their duties, abdicated their responsibilities, or who took direct action to prevent or impede the actions that would save lives.
They will deserve their place in infamy and disgrace.
Rich DiPentimna, RN. MPH
Thank you for once again reporting with such clarity on this issue.
If only it were not so sad, so terrifying, and so infuriating.
To the editor:
With all of the present attention to the global warming crisis, we should not fail also to attend to the other most urgent issue of our time: nuclear hair triggers that could wipe out most of civilization within hours.
For many years, nuclear experts have tried to call our nation’s attention to an act of sanity that could save the planet from unspeakable horror.
Unlike the nuclear weapons on submarines and airplanes, the 400 land-based Minuteman ICBMs that sit in silos in our midwest are vulnerable to a surprise attack. On hair-trigger alert, once launched they cannot be recalled. That gives the President less than 30 minutes to make the terrible decision, whether to go to the sort of war that can only be lost by all of humanity.
In 1961, Daniel Ellsberg drafted the Pentagon’s top-secret guidance of operational planning for nuclear war. Recently, he and Norman Soloman, author of War Made Easy, point out, in the Nov. 1-8 issue of The Nation, that “The single best option for reducing the risk of nuclear war is hidden in plain sight…shutting down all of the nation’s ICBMs.”
Most of our people don’t know that many false alarms have already brought the world dangerously close to disaster. Rather than dismantle the weapons that serve no useful purpose, our government plans to pay Northrup Grumman $364 billion to modernize the vulnerable ground-based leg of our nuclear triad—at more expense than building it in the first place. Former Defense Secretary William Perry has called that “insane.”
That’s the political power of the military industrial complex [MIC] about which President Eisenhower warned us. Five years ago Secretary Perry wrote that “the U.S. can safely phase out its land-based forces.” It can be done unilaterally by the U.S. with no downside if Russia chooses otherwise. Many other nuclear experts agree, but several Senators continue with the false assumption that there is safety in numbers.
What will it take to wake them up?
Neal W. Ferris
Well, presuming that they survive—as they might, if they happen to be back home in, say, just picking a state at random, West Virginia—we suppose that the first wave of Russian nukes might open their eyes.
Then again it might not. The record shows that water-carriers for the MIC have a remarkable capacity to overlook the interests of the voters in favor of their true constituents: those who own the arms industry. The safest thing to do, therefore would be to drive every one of them out of Congress.
A huge task, we know. Yet, taken in the right spirit—we advocate a mindset best characterized as perversely joyous existential anarchy—it can be strangely rewarding.
Conservative National Figure Makes Strong Recommendation: “Vote Democrat”
To my Republican and Undeclared friends.
On a recent segment of Christian Amanpour’s “Amanpour & Company” (a terrific PBS current events news show), the guest was notable and long-time Republican conservative columnist and reporter Max Boot. Below is the link to the 17-minute video (well worth watching, whether you are a Republican or not) and Max’s message to fellow Republicans & Independents: “Vote Democrat.”
Why would such a noted Republican stalwart recommend people vote Democrat? Watch the interview with Walter Isaacson and learn why this conservative luminary feels the Republican Party is shamelessly working to undermine our very Democracy! Once again, Max Boot’s mantra: “Vote Democrat.”
Max has worked for many Republican presidential candidates (John McCain and Mitt Romney among them). Witnessing the 180-degree turn Rubio made from initially opposing Trump to wholeheartedly supporting him, made Senator Rubio the only Republican candidate he was sorry for having supported.
*Spoiler Alert ! Max Boot uses the word “lickspittle” in reference to Florida Senator Marco Rubio becoming Trump’s lickspittle. (Definition: A Toady, somebody who shows unique deference toward social superiors or powerful people).
A quick referral to the record confirmed our view of Boot. He’s a walking, talking, warmongering example of the old adage that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
That said, there may well be some Republicans who might give his arguments some consideration.
GOP Courts Radicalization
To the Editor:
In New Hampshire there are more undeclared or independent voters than either registered Republican or Democrat voters. They decide who will represent us in the House of Representatives. That will end if the Republicans in our state house have their way.
Today, the 1st District is roughly the eastern half of the state and the 2nd District the western half. Under the proposed new map, heavily Democratic Seacoast towns would be moved into the 2nd District and replaced by heavily Republican towns. This would guarantee a Republican winning the 1st District and a Democrat the 2nd District.
Candidates in the majority party would know that winning their primary guaranteed winning the general election. Because primaries attract the most loyal and usually partisan voters, candidates would have every incentive to court the most left- or right-wing voters of their party.
Incumbents would base their votes on pleasing their party’s base ignoring independent voters.
If you are an independent voter who wants your vote to matter or a citizen who does not want rigged elections make sure this radical undemocratic change to our voting districts does not happen. Contact Governor Sununu and let him know he should veto this map or get voted out of office.
The map proposed by Republicans would indeed have the effect you predict. We believe you left out two salient points, though.
Locking a Republican into the 1st District would eliminate one of the few remaining “swing districts” in the country—the political equivalent of harpooning a right whale.
Also, there’s a huge qualitative difference between electing a “most left-wing Democrat” and a “most right-wing Republican.”
What “most right-wing Republicans” have done is bad enough. They tried to overthrow the government, to reinstate a megalomaniac who killed hundreds of thousands of people.
What our “most left-wing Democrats” would do if we let them would be to create a liveable nation in which everyone would have a roof over their head, health care, an education, &c., and profit-seeking ghouls would be forced to pay enough taxes to pay the damn bill for a change.
We would like nothing better than for readers to do as you suggest and call the Governor. We only wish we had any that he might do the right thing.
The Party Problem
Forget the gerrymandering and redistricting of the electorate. There is a crisis that has been going on for a long time, called party politics. Think out of the box. The box is television without any thought from the viewer. All attention is drawn by the surface sense of a fantasy, unrelated to the actual fact of what is happening right now. Take away this fix and on comes the panic attack. The fix is a substitute for the bare necessities—a reasonable standard of living. Party politics is a very absurd outcome of the delusion that it’s the other party that is the problem.
In the democracy of a republican form of government, the authority is derived by the consent of the governed. It is the party leadership who call on the representatives to vote what is dictated from the top down.
A two-party system is about coming together and finding mutual standing in defining the politics of the guiding principle rules of the Bill of Rights. It’s time to face the actors of self interests, using the power of party leadership.
Local Self-government is not a theory but a tried and true form of a democratic republic from the bottom up. An educated public acting responsibly, rather than an entertained social disorder of ignorance, can and will bring forward a vision of a better a future. It just takes perseverance, honesty and a potential for good.
All can learn more about Local Self-governance at nhcommunityrights.org, a non-profit organization educating people about what you need to know when taking on needed activist tasks in your communities.
Ctr. Barnstead, N.H.
Gerrymandering Without Representation
To the Editor:
“Will my town receive its own representative?” This was the most frequent request I heard at the “listening sessions” I attended last month, offered by the Special Committee on Redistricting.
The New HampshireConstitution (Articles 9 & 11) stipulates that a town meeting a population threshold shall have its own unique representative. This year, a town with a population of 3,444 or more should have its own representative.
With 400 members in New Hampshire’s House of Representatives, it seems we should be able to achieve our state Constitution’s goal—that as closely as possible, each eligible municipality has its own representative.
The new maps haven’t achieved this. Look at an analysis from the “Map-a-Thon” citizen mapping project. For example, Belknap County would have eight towns without a dedicated House district—eight “violations”—under the Majority (Republican) party map. Belknap would have six violations under the Minority (Democratic) party map, and five violations under the Map-a-Thon’s maps.
Maps for Coos County had the fewest violations: none from Minority and Map-a-Thon maps, one from the Majority (Republican) map.
Rockingham would have the most violations: 17 from the Minority (Democratic), 14 from the Majority (Republican), and 12 from the Map-a-Thon.
House maps proposed by the Republicans had 19 more “violations” than one of the other two maps acquired. That’s 19 towns deprived of a representative who lives in town, understands the local issues, and will fight for the town’s interests.
We should not settle for the Majority’s substandard maps. We should demand the most representative maps we can get.
Given what the Republicans are trying to pull with the Congressional District maps, it’s no wonder they’re trampling the rules on this one.
I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up
To the Editor:
Let’s face it, unless you’re well set up, it’s too expensive to live in America. Housing, medical care, transportation, food, and all the rest. Millions of people are living paycheck to paycheck or worse despite having jobs. And we wonder why people join cults.
Unfortunately, Donald Trump doesn’t wonder why people join cults. He’s got it figured out.
The power of a charismatic American President isn’t anything new. As a young sprout during the Kennedy era, I recall Camelot vividly. The veneer may have been thin, but despite the cold war, it was time of hope, great promise, and optimism. It felt good to work hard and to aspire. At least until JFK and his brother were gunned down like dogs and Lyndon Johnson decided to harvest the flower of America’s youth for cannon fodder in Viet Nam.
However uninspiring he may be, President Biden has it right. We who manage to eke out a decent living send a healthy chunk of it down to Washington every year. Nice someone is giving serious thought to spending it on something useful. According to honest Abe, the income tax was instituted to take care of jobs too big for state and local government to handle. Perpetual warfare, bank bailouts, tax breaks for people who don’t need them, and oil company subsidies probably wouldn’t top Abe’s list.
But I digress. Given the current atmosphere of institutionalized greed and disrespect for labor, if Donald Trump dropped dead tomorrow it would only be a matter of time before another pathological autocrat took his place. As long as our so-called democracy continues to betray the interests of main-street America in favor corporate power, then expect Americans to continue abandoning democracy for the false promise of white nationalism and authoritarianism.
Who wouldn’t long for better treatment?
Let the government provide the same basic services that are available to everyone in other industrialized nations, take the fat cats at the top off the no-tax gravy train, and there’d be a whole lot less angst and tsuris.