To the editor:
Humans may be a self-screwing species—genetically disposed to solve one problem by making another one worse. Maybe the biologists will find something to confirm this as they continue to develop a better understanding of our genome.
ln the 21st century, Jackson, Mississippi, the capital of one of the fifty states in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, with a population of 150,000, has been unable to provide water to its residents. Yes, there was some flooding there recently, but we can’t just blame the weather. The New York Times reports:
“…state officials offered a more dire outlook, saying the city’s water system had appeared to be barreling toward a breaking point even before the floods. ‘It was a near certainty that Jackson would begin to fail to produce running water sometime in the next several weeks or months if something didn’t materially improve,’ [Governor Tate Reeves), a Republican, said on Monday.”
Our response to this crisis includes trucking in lots of little disposable plastic bottles filled with water. Yes, it’s an emergency, but the image of all that plastic headed for landfills, rivers and oceans, is hard to get out of your head.
Is it a coincidence that the population of Jackson is over 80 percent African-American? It’s not the first time we’re seeing this. In Flint, Michigan a few years ago, where the population is over 80 percent African-American, the tap water had so much lead in it that it was unsafe to drink, though you could still use it to flush a toilet. Maybe there’s a sliding scale: at 50 percent African-American you get water, poisonous but at least you can still flush, at 75 percent or higher, you need to go dig a field latrine.
In Flint too, the plastic flowed freely, even if clean water didn’t. According to the University of Nebraska’s Institute of Agricultural and Natural Resources, Nestle donated 1.6 million bottles of water for free distribution in Flint (100,000 bottles per day for several months). You do the math there.
Peter C. Dolan
Let’s see here…call it 100 days…that’s ten million bottles.
Money to Burn
I saw a letter stating money support for Sen. Hassan “isn’t coming from New Hampshire or anyone interested in the people of New Hampshire.” Wrong. I give a campaign donation to Sen. Hassan’s campaign about every third mail piece asking for it. I live in Sanbornton. I’m not the only donor from New Hampshire, either.
The letter writer supports candidate Don Bolduc, whose closest rival in the primary, by poll numbers, is Chuck Morse. Any time now, one or the other will likely get a Trump endorsement. Bolduc’s campaign says that like Trump, Bolduc “will go to DC and drain the dreaded swamp.” Does it mean Bolduc is all right with the bloody January 6th attack on our Capitol building and the legislators therein doing their job—the attackers showing they support Trump? Morse, in an interview with Fox News, said he’d “welcome the endorsement of Trump.” He also must find no fault with Trump’s lunatic anti-Democracy behaviors. Clearly Sen. Hassan, who is responsible and normal in her behaviors, and at work every day for us all, is the best choice to continue to represent us in our U.S. Senate.
Lynn Rudmin Chong
You wrote before the primary election was held. Now, in hindsight, we know two interesting things: 1) the Morse campaign received more than $4 million in anonymous donations from a super PAC, presumably from out-of-state Republicans; and, 2) he lost.
Justice, Heal Thyself
Last week, in a speech, Chief Justice Roberts said, “lately some critics of the Court’s controversial decisions have questioned the legitimacy of the Court.” His comments seemed very defensive and overly sensitive for good reason. I wonder if Justice Roberts recalls the vicious attacks by the right-wing against the Warren Court for decisions they did not like? Decisions that protected and supported Constitutional rights, not remove them, as your court has done. Did Mr. Roberts consider those attacks questioning the legitimacy of the court?
No, Mr. Roberts, it is when nominees to the Court, during their confirmation hearings, state under oath that certain decisions are settled law and have precedent, and then overturn those decisions at their first opportunity, that questions arise about the legitimacy of the Court. When the court overturns a 100-year-old gun safety law, that raises questions about the legitimacy of the Court. When the Court gives corporations the same First Amendment rights as individuals, that raises questions about the legitimacy of the court. When Justices twist their interpretation of the Constitution to fit their political ideology or religious beliefs, that raises questions about the legitimacy of the Court.
The Judiciary Branch of our federal government is the only branch that has no direct accountability to the people. Supreme Court Justices are granted a lifetime appointment and are not accountable to anyone, save the almost impossible threat of impeachment. They are free to make any decision regardless of its Constitutional merits, and there is no recourse or appeal of these decisions. As such, the only option remaining for the people and the Executive and Legislative Branch is to protest and condemn egregious Court decisions that are inconsistent with the Constitution. This does not delegitimize the Court, it provides the only remaining avenue for debate and future change in a democracy.
No, Mr. Roberts, if you want to see who is delegitimizing the Court, look no further than to yourself and your five reactionary colleagues. Do not blame the victims of your Court’s right-wing fanaticism.
Rich DiPentima, LTC, USAF, Ret.
Lest We Forget
As Election Day approaches, Governor Sununu is still marketing himself as an affable moderate. He wants us to forget that he’s been in cahoots with Free State Project radicals for years. In 2019 and 2020, the Democratic majority in the Legislature passed dozens of bills to support workers, families, children, and vulnerable adults, but as a gift to the FSP-led Republican minority, he vetoed over 60 of them—even a bill to extend federal Covid-19 family and medical leave, reduce costs for testing and treatment, extend unemployment insurance, and establish sanitary protections at the height of the pandemic. He was caught on video laughing about it with his country club friends.
New Hampshire deserves better. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to elect a Governor who will be truly representative of the good people of New Hampshire: Democratic Sen. Tom Sherman. He voted with the majority for all the legislation Gov. Sununu killed in his 2020 veto rampage. Dr. Sherman’s voting record, both as a Representative and as Senator, shows his life-long commitment to children, families, workers, access to affordable health care, reproductive freedom, the environment, and democracy. All this is on the line this November. Non-partisan websites like justfacts.votesmart.org have well-organized and easy-to-navigate information so voters can compare and contrast candidates’ biographies, public positions on important issues, and voting records. It is clear that Sen. Sherman represents the best of New Hampshire values and has earned the right to serve as Governor.
Thank you for detailing a few of the ways our Hereditary Governor has chosen to accommodate this band of yahoos. Sometimes, when we need a laugh, we imagine him gritting his teeth as he tries to govern this crackpot rabble, invited in by Craig “One-Term” Benson.
American? Patriot? Good Citizen?
To the Editor:
Dan Rather recently tweeted, “When you are more worried about the reputation of Donald Trump than the safety and security of the United States….”
Though he left his thought hanging, I surmise his comment was directed to all American citizens, Republican politicians and others who seem to be complacent about or partially responsible for the January 6th insurrection and the continuing threats of violence America faces.
My question, following Rather’s observation, would be: Do you believe it appropriate to use violence to resolve political disputes?
If you actually do, then you would do well to dig into our Civil War history and consider buying a ticket to an appropriate country where despotic, authoritarian dictators rule their countries, violating their laws and their people’s civil rights! For instance: Brazil, China, Egypt, Hungary, India, Iran, Pakistan, The Philippines, or Venezuela.
Just don’t call yourself an American or Patriot any more if you don’t support:
· our Constitution
· the peaceful transfer of power after an election
· the belief that nobody is above the law
· the very humanitarian institutions and ideals that make America unique in the world.
We’ll second every bit of that.
Biden Didn’t Go Far Enough
To the editor:
President Biden has been criticized by some pundits for being “divisive” in calling MAGA Republicans “semi-fascists.” His mistake was not in alienating Republicans; it was in not calling out the Republican Party as fascist to its core.
Let’s review some of the characteristics of fascism. Fascist Parties customarily are controlled by authoritarian leaders. There is an emotional connection to their followers through national identity, ethnicity or religion. Fascists often harken to a mystical golden period in their group history that has been debased by enemies who have betrayed the fascist identity. For example, Hitler’s Nazi Party fantasized about a mystical Teutonic Knighthood whose martial virtues were betrayed by Jewish and political elites during World War I resulting in Germany’s defeat. Fascists reject the rule of law, viewing it as a means of oppression by their cultural enemies. They rely on the force of will to achieve the leader’s objectives even to the point of using violence. The Nazi overthrow of the Weimar Republic is instructive. Do these characteristics sound familiar?
Trump is the clearly dominant leader of the Republican Party. His propensity toward authoritarianism was on full display during his presidency and it continues today as his purloining of classified government documents demonstrates. The Republican base is comprised of white, working class, religiously conservative supporters who share an emotional attachment to Trump based on their social identity rather than support for any policy platform. The MAGA base demonstrates a blind loyalty to him that is not amenable to reasonable discussion. They display a deep resentment toward coastal elites and Democrats who they blame for compromising their economic well-being and disregarding their values.
The presence of militant white supremacists and Christian Nationalists among the MAGA base, groups that openly advocate the overthrow of the Constitution, exemplifies the party’s disregard for the rule of law. Trump’s disregard for the Constitution was on full display after he lost the election. He lied to his gullible base, claiming that he had been denied re-election because of voter fraud. He and his sycophants then embarked on several illegal efforts to retain power and invalidate the election. These failed efforts culminated in a violent and shambolic insurrection by his supporters on January 6th, calling to mind Marx’s maxim that “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”
Pundits argue that some Republicans can be persuaded to reject Trump yet the overwhelming majority of elected Republicans continue to support Trump’s Big Lie either openly or tacitly. Those who dissent are isolated and ostracized. Recent polls tell the story. Seventy percent of Republicans believe that the election was stolen. Seventy-six percent of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Trump and seventy-one percent believe he should run again. In Weimar Germany, the violent Brown Shirts were a minority of Hitler’s supporters. It was the quiet support of the majority of Party members that ensured Hitler’s rise to power and led to the horror of World War II. Quiet support of Trump by Republicans does not indicate that they are likely Democratic voters nor does it make them less culpable for the Party’s fascism.
If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck. The Republican party demonstrates all the characteristics of fascism. It is to its very core, a fascist party that presents a clear and present danger to American democracy.
Robert D. Russell, Ph.D.
Thank you very much. The next time this question arises in casual conversation, we’ll skip our customary frothing at the mouth, and just point to this letter.
Take Control of Electric Bills
To the Editor:
Most New Hampshire residents have seen their electricity bills increase dramatically within the last month. It is frustrating, and everyone is looking for someone to blame. Some recent opinions blame our utility companies for gouging us and charging outrageous rates. However, as our Consumer Advocate Don Kreis has explained in numerous pieces, this is not true. Here in New Hampshire our utilities are regulated by law and are not allowed to profit from the sale of electricity to customers. They make their profits from the Distribution Charges and other services, not Supply Charges for electricity). In fact, it is the oil and gas companies and the fossil fuel processors that are most likely overcharging for their product, because they can charge whatever they can get. With the global fuel crisis and the war in Ukraine driving up the demand and the price of natural gas, they sell at the highest price, whether in the U.S., Europe, or Asia. So, what can residents in New Hampshire do? We have the power to purchase electricity from third-party suppliers, and it is not complicated. In fact, more than 80 percent of New Hampshire businesses are already doing this, resulting in lower rates, stable contracts and even buying 100 percent Renewable electricity, instead of only the 12.9 percent contained in the utility’s offering.
For the last six years I have been purchasing 100 percent renewable energy from a third party supplier. Once I signed the contract for my two meters for one to two years, I continued to pay my monthly bill, including the supply charge, which went to my third party supplier.
A) Go to the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) website:
B) From the top tabs select Consumer, Choose an Energy Supplier, and Comparison
C) You will now see a list: 2nd column describes the kind of energy, while the 3rd column gives you the rate, the term of the contract 6 to 27 months, finally the 1st column provides the name of the company, a phone number and a Sign-Up button.
If you need any assistance, contact the Office of the Consumer Advocate, who assures me that they are eager to help: Tel. (603) 271-1172. Do this soon, because rates offered are constantly changing. Yes, the rate may be only 2-3 cents per kWh cheaper (a $22. saving), however, it is locked in. And if you always wanted 100 percent Renewables you can get that too.
State Rep. Peter Somssich
Member Science Technology & Energy Committee
Banning Books Harms All of Us!
To the Editor:
The New Hampshire legislature passed HB2, and Governor Sununu signed it into law. Public schools, state agencies and state contractors are now effectively banned from providing instruction that frames racism, sexism or ableism as systemic issues that remain endemic in our society. (This ruling is referred to as “banned concepts” in many arenas.)
This law has brought book challenges to our schools and libraries; censorship and threats to academic freedom are heard in New Hampshire and in many other states. Teachers are needing to navigate curriculum restrictions for fear of losing their positions. They are clearly erring on the side of caution when deciding whether, for example, to deal with LGBTQ+ topics, or to assign “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” into their classrooms. Sadly, many of them are removing some powerful topics, books and writers from their curricula!
As a former high school teacher, I ask myself why the pressure to take issues of race, gender, sexuality and class out of the curriculum. My position as a teacher and designer of curriculum has always been, “What is the consequence of not including issues of racism, sexism, gender identity in the classroom?”
The consequence of omission, of a narrowing of perspective, of absence of historical and cultural facts and experiences: ignorance! Without wide exposure to a broad range of ideas, the diversity of humankind is marginalized; equity (fairness) is omitted; inclusion of the good, the bad, and the ugly is diminished. How, then, can we expect that justice can be an educated conclusion?
Authentic history and literature will include political and military campaigns, and racism and sexism and homophobia that are part of real human history. Reality and knowledge are the only way to avoid repeatedly making mistakes in how we conduct our lives.
Undoubtedly some of what we learn when honest history is included in our human history will cause discomfort, anxiety, even guilt among students. Teachers are usually prepared for navigating difficult conversations about complex and even contradictory information. That is what education is all about: opening our eyes to the range of human experience, in all of its failures and successes!
Fearful folks who want to eliminate access to some aspects of human history and culture from the libraries and classrooms of our country are actually working against the very democratic principles of our Constitution.
The basic question to ask when challenges to libraries and schools arise, is,
Whose freedom is at stake? Parents have a right to question, even reject, an assignment for their own children; teachers will offer alternative readings. But parents do not have the right, nor should they, to demand the restriction for everyone! Libraries and schools are supported by taxpayers, that is, all of us. The objections must be heard, but they must not limit what is authentic, truthful reality in what we read and teach!
The Racial Unity Team, in collaboration with Oyster River Equity and Justice and the Exeter Public Library, will present a panel discussion addressing these very issues on September 20th, 6:30 p.m., to which the public is invited at the Exeter Public Library. At this program, the New Hampshire law restricting what may be/may not be taught will be reviewed, and a brief history of book censorship will be cited. Responses to book challenges by public and school librarians, will follow, as well as a summary of a legal challenge to the law by ACLU-NH. Suggestions for effective opposition to censorship and academic freedom will conclude the evening.
For more information: RacialUnityTeam.com.
It’s entirely understandable that an uninformed person might discount the legacy of slavery in notoriously white New Hampshire.
Here’s one fact that might get them thinking: beginning in 1756, and for decades thereafter, much of the printing done in New Hampshire—this newspaper included—was done in part by enslaved labor.
The Catalans Have Done It Again
To the Editor:
On 11 September, the Catalans commemorate the loss of Catalonia’s sovereignty, because, on that day in 1714, Philip V entered Barcelona with his army and annexed Catalonia to an absolutist state, governed from Madrid, which annulled all Catalan institutions and imposed the Castilian language, banning the Catalan language.
In the face of the increasing disagreement with Spain, for the last 10 years, the Catalans have been demonstrating peacefully by the hundreds of thousands, demanding the independence of Catalonia from a state that treats us as a colony. This year’s demonstration was attended by some 300,000 people, according to independent estimates (700,000 according to the organisers and 150,000 according to the police under the orders of the PSC, a Spanish nationalist party). Thus, Catalan independence is proving to be the most powerful European movement, organising the largest demonstrations on the continent year after year.
In the face of this, Spanish nationalism, accustomed to fighting ETA with the police and judges, treats the peaceful and non-violent independence movement as if we were terrorists. From Madrid they feel legitimised to impose our membership of Spain on us, as if we were in a dictatorship, instead of trying to win us over politically or democratically, for example, by accepting that the Catalan people can decide what they want to be in an agreed referendum.
And it is true that it is not necessary for all stateless nations to constitute new states within Europe. Each case should be studied on its own merits. However, the Catalan case, in terms of its manner and volume, has earned to be considered as a very singular case, and above all because of the repression and abuses carried out by Spain, which prove that the Catalans are a national minority within the Spanish state that has a “just cause,” since it needs to constitute itself as a sovereign state so that it can guarantee basic democratic and social rights to its citizens.
Jordi Oriola Folch
The Catalan People Speak Out
To the Editor:
11 September is the “Diada de Catalunya” (Catalonia Day), the day that commemorates the end of the War of Succession, which took place in 1714. The fall of Barcelona came after a long year of siege. The city and the civilian population suffered the consequences of a fierce attack. Visiting the archaeological remains in the Ribera district, you can get a sense of what that loss and the subsequent repression suffered by the people of Barcelona must have meant.
More than three hundred years later, the feeling of lack of freedom is still present. This is evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of people who demonstrate year after year calling for the independence of Catalonia—a territory whose rights have been curtailed. A language, in this case Catalan, should not be undervalued, nor should the identity of a people. No state should be allowed to crush a people’s yearning for freedom in such a dramatic way. That is why many voices are being raised towards Europe calling for the same understanding they have shown towards other nations.
While Scotland is preparing for a new referendum on self-determination, we Catalans continue to be denied this right and are punished and criminalised for wanting it and wanting to put it into practice. The European Union lost credibility, in terms of its democratic values, the very moment it looked the other way, when the Spanish state ordered its police to attack the people that was going to the polls to vote in Catalonia’s 2017 self-determination referendum, and later when Spain imprisoned politicians, social activists and protesters.
The “Diada de Catalunya” is more than a festive event, more than a claim, much more than a memorial: it is the cry of a people who want to break free from the chains of repression.
Catalonia, Seven Times Independent
To the Editor:
The independence movement in Catalonia, which made headlines around the world in 2017 following the holding of a referendum on self-determination and which is still being severely repressed by the Spanish state, is not new, but has a long historical trajectory dating back centuries. Catalonia has always aspired to be free, independent, trying to form a republic with the aspiration of creating a fairer society and improving the lives of its inhabitants. In fact, Catalonia has already been an independent state on several occasions:
1. Since 988, Count Borrell II became independent from the house of Anjou, because the Franks did not help in the wars against the Arabs. He reunited his counties to form our nation, Catalonia, which remained independent, alone or in confederation with other territories of the peninsula, until, in 1714, a Bourbon, Philip V, thanks to the military reinforcements sent to him by his French grandfather Louis XIV, entered Barcelona, subsequently breaking all the agreements made with the Catalans. It had been practically eight centuries of independence.
2. Between 1793 and 1871, as an echo of the French Revolution, conspiracies took place in Catalonia aimed at the creation of a Catalan Republic. Between 1810 and 1812, under Napoleon’s protection, the Catalan Republic was declared, much to the anger of his brother Joseph Napoleon I, King of Spain.
3. In 1873 the Diputació de Barcelona proclaimed the Catalan State.
4. In 1928 the Catalan Republic was proclaimed in Cuba by the exiled Constituent Assembly of Catalan Separatism.
5. On 14th April 1931, President Francesc Macià proclaims the Catalan Republic, which he later calls off.
6. On 6 October 1934, President Lluís Companys proclaimed the Catalan State within the Spanish Republic. He was imprisoned and years later, in 1940, he was shot by the dictator Franco, thanks to the Gestapo who arrested him in France and handed him over to the Spanish dictatorship.
7. Finally, on 27 October 2017, the president of the Generalitat Carles Puigdemont, on the basis of the overwhelming “yes” in the Referendum of Self-Determination held on 1 October, proclaims in the plenary of the Parliament the independence of Catalonia in the form of a Republic, which he then suspends under the threats of the powers of the Spanish State, including another Bourbon, Felipe VI, of provoking a bloodbath in Catalonia if this proclamation goes ahead.
It is clear that Catalonia will keep trying until it achieves a sovereign state within Europe. Right now we Catalans suffer within Spain, which is an expression of the Castilian worldview, based on imposition, uniformity, rejection of difference and dependence on royal and oligarchic power. On the other hand, Catalan society needs, like the air it breathes, to be able to live according to its worldview, forged over centuries, based on pacts, democracy, respect for plurality and social justice.
Josep M. Boixareu
Les Franquees de Vallès, Catalonia
Jordi, Lola, and Josep
We are honored to receive your letters. The more we learn about Catalonia, the better we understand the depths of our ignorance; time to re-read Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, for a start. By all means, please continue.