To the Editor:
In the lobby of the movie theater last weekend—Oct 22nd—A woman came up to me and said “Are you Viola Davis?! I can’t believe that Viola is here in Newington!”
I was somewhat stunned, but not surprised. Although I don’t look a thing like Viola Davis aside from my skin color I have been somehow been mistaken for; Oprah, Whoopi and Halle Berry to name a few.
Later, as I was discussing the movie we had just seen with my family the same woman came up to me again insisting that I was Viola Davis. Both times my attitude was conciliatory, but I should have told her the comments were offensive. In that moment I felt tired of educating white people, but I wish I had spoken up.
Anyone who reads this may be shaking their heads and wondering why any black woman would be upset for being mistaken for the beautiful Viola Davis. I hope my explanation does this article justice; I am upset because all black people do not look alike. We do not look alike, do not act alike and are only similar to one another by the color of our skin. Even our skin color has different shades and mine is not the same color as beautiful Halle Berry’s, who is a light skinned African American.
I suppose my message is to please be respectful of your black and brown neighbors. Our skin color does not make us alike, nor did it make me Viola Davis.
Thank you for writing, and for sharing this with our readers.
What a classic no-win situation: stifle yourself, or—history and present circumstances being as they are—take a more assertive stance and risk making an already uncomfortable situation even worse.
You say you wish you had spoken up. We find your forbearance—especially during the second round of this incident—impressive. But then, as a white male, your editor is accustomed to having lots of leeway.
Strange, isn’t it? The societal conditions which led up to this incident are as obvious as can be. Yet some would argue that in this country there’s no such thing as structural racism.
You Can Pay Now or You Can Pay Later
Education costs a lot.
Not educating people costs a lot more.
Basic instruction provided by basic schools is necessary for children to grow into adults and adequately participate in our society.
If that didn’t happen it wouldn’t take more than a couple of generations, perhaps even one, for everything to collapse. Everyone needs to know the minimum about what is going on in order to not only participate but to take care of themselves and others in this confusing framework that we have built for ourselves.
Schools in large cities and many rural areas are teaching the bare minimum.
We see on the news parents fighting local school boards about bizarre social experiments that are going on but we see very little in the news about other things school boards and parents are involved in. Sometimes they don’t even see it themselves.
The costs of textbooks are frightfully high.
Our schools may be teaching children about competition and capitalism but very little is seen in the school textbook industry. It’s big business.
McGraw-Hill Education, in 2017, earned more than $1.7 billion in sales. Pearson saw $1.7 from testing alone and a total of $6 billion overall. In the same year Scholastic generated $1.7 billion, as did Cengage. Numbers are hard to collect for the other major players. It is a high profit, closed industry. They are providing a necessary service but at a high cost.
If parents and school boards aren’t looking at these things what are they doing?
You make two good points here.
Your first point is, we think, the more important one: It’s cheaper in the long run to educate children than to let society collapse later due to ignorance. We’re paying the price now—a terrible price—for having long failed to teach civics and critical thinking. The reality-based community seems to lack the guts required to take on the forces of authoritarian ignorance.
Your second point is perhaps less important, but a more curious one, in its way: how in hell does a racket like the textbook market persist? Any “wisdom of the free market” experts out there who would care to explain that to us?
Defeat Republicans in November
In an online op-ed piece, Heather Cox Richardson reports of armed people “in tactical gear” standing at a ballot drop box, in Mesa, Arizona, where early voting has started. Voter intimidation was the goal. One voter was falsely accused of being “a mule,” dropping in illegal ballots favoring Democrats. Baloney. Law enforcement officers arrived. The armed people left. Cox Richardson details the history of voter intimidation, starting when, post-Civil War, black men could vote and Southern whites tried to interfere, instituting the Ku Klux Klan. She details federal legislation passed over decades, so we arrived at (as she ends her piece), “not the vision of the Confederates but that of Lincoln, working to create a government of laws, not of men, and of equal access to opportunity for all.”
What’s to object to? Except that radical Republicans (Gov. DeSantis of Florida, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, now New Hampshire candidate for House Karoline Leavitt who parrots Trump) are intent on screwing Democracy as it has evolved. If they can whittle down Democratic voter numbers, perhaps they can have us a one-party system, essentially, and end the unpredictable representation of all. Honest Abe takes a beating.
Vote for the Democratic party ticket on November 8th, promoting the equality-vision of Lincoln.
Lynn Rudmin Chong
Life in these United [hah!] States is like being stuck in a restaurant with only two items on the menu. You may not want to order either item, but if one of them is poison, it’s easy to make a choice.
GOP Says One Thing, Facts Say Another
In her daily letter to America, Boston College Political Science Professor Heather Cox Richardson listed a number of very positive economic measures accomplished by the Biden administration. For example, “since Biden took office, we have added 10 million jobs and the unemployment rate is down to 3.5 percent, a 50-year low. In 11 states, unemployment is at all-time lows, and 17 states have unemployment under 3 percent. The country has added almost 700,000 manufacturing jobs and that companies are continuing to invest in new industries, at the same time rebuilding our roads, airports, bridges and ports.”
She also noted that while Republicans claim that President Biden is blowing up the nation’s finances, the data does not support their claims—in fact the opposite is true. For example, the Biden Administration announced that the budget deficit this year fell by $1.4 trillion, the largest decline in the federal budget deficit in history. She noted that the budget deficit grew every year of the Trump administration. Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress added $400 billion to the deficit, most a result of the $2 trillion tax cut for the wealthy and corporations. This is not an exception, but what we have seen as a result of Republican fiscal policies since 1981. According to Politifact, “Republican administrations since Ronald Reagan have exploded deficits, while Democrats have brought deficits down. Reagan sent the deficit from $70 billion to $175 billion. George H.W. Bush took it to $300 billion. Bill Clinton, with help from Bush’s willingness to raise taxes, got the deficit to zero. George W. Bush took it back to $1.2 trillion with unfunded wars. Barack Obama cut that back to $600 billion. And Trump’s tax cuts sent it skyrocketing again, even before pandemic spending sent it higher still.”
Republicans like to claim that they are the party of fiscal responsibility, however the facts say otherwise. Fiscal responsibility is more than just cutting taxes. Fiscal responsibility is assuring that both the revenue and the spending side of the budget are considered while assuring that the government provides the essential services to the people. Excess tax cuts, which significantly reduce revenue, are just as destructive to a budget as excessive overspending. In fact, tax cuts to the extreme as we have seen over the past 20 years, may be even more fiscally and socially irresponsible than overspending as the above data reflect.. Cutting revenue reduces the ability of the government to provide for the sustaining of the nation’s infrastructure, environment, education, health, security and many more vital functions.. This is not living within your means, but living below your means which benefits the few at the expense of the majority of people and the nation as a whole. Cutting unnecessary and unproductive wasteful spending is always necessary, but cutting programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education, infrastructure and the environment are counterproductive and result in greater harm and costs in the future.
Saying you are fiscally responsible means nothing unless you can prove that claim with hard facts and figures. All the data provided above is easily verifiable and accurate, not “fake news.”
Rich DiPentima, LTC. USAFR. Ret.
The maddening thing about the facts Richardson cites is that one-third of the electorate does not give a…a hoot, let’s say.
By the way: we would argue with your phrasing when you write, “Fiscal responsibility is more than just cutting taxes.” That sentence implies that cutting taxes is inherently responsible, from a fiscal point of view. We see no evidence of that—in fact, the last forty years have demonstrated that cutting taxes is nothing but a reckless raid on the Treasury.
We don’t have a budget problem. We have a greed problem.
Sen. Stevens is Harming N.H. Citizens
The Executive Council is a five-person governmental body in New Hampshire functioning since 1679 as a check on the governor. Its approval is required on all federal and state contracts over $10,000, and the appointments of many officials (such as judges, commissioners, and state board members.)
Janet Stevens has been the Councilor for District 3 since 2021. During her time, she has voted to harm the health of New Hampshire citizens.
She voted in September 2021, December 2021, January 2022, and July 2022 to deny funding to Planned Parenthood even though no state planning funds are used for abortion care. These votes jeopardized access to contraception, cancer screenings, and STI testing for thousands of New Hampshire citizens.
In October 2021, Ms. Stevens, and three other Republican members of the Council, voted to reject $27 million in federal funding that would have assisted New Hampshire’s response to the COVID pandemic. Only after of a sustained public outcry did she and the Council reverse their position.
Katherine Harake is running for Executive Council for District 3. Born in New Hampshire and a graduate from Winnacunnet High School, she is a successful business owner. Smart, experienced and capable, she has been a state representative and served on the budget committee. She understands the importance of supporting the healthcare system. She will strengthen our public education system, address climate change, and support small businesses.
As far as we can tell, the primary function of the Executive Council is to give the Republican Party another opportunity to practice their gerrymandering and pack a panel with reactionaries.
If we had an Executive Council and a Governor who genuinely reflected the wishes of Granite Staters, this state would be a lot better off.
Ruminations On Republican Talking Points
To the Editor:
Inflation: The U.S. rate is high! But, at 8.2 percent it is one of the lowest rates in industrialized nations, and the U.S. is one of only three countries in which the rate is falling! So, I guess we Republicans should give a big round of applause to Joe Biden.
Crime: Crime in 2020 was 60 percent lower than in 1980. The crime rate began to consistently decline in the early 1990s, and fell every year between 2001 and 2020. But for some reason we’re calling it a crime wave—despite the facts.
Abortion: We are pretty much against it, no matter what the mother, father, and doctor want. Our motto: “politicians know best.” Or maybe our motto is “the church knows best”?
Open Border: Customs and Border Patrol turned back two million people crossing the Mexican/U.S. border so far in 2022, an all-time record. So, I guess we need to thank Joe Biden for keeping our border closed.
Defund the Police: Only we Republicans have even mentioned defunding the police in the last year or more. Maybe the Dems have just lost interest?
Law and Order: We are all for it—when it comes to people of color. The Jan 6th riots at the Capitol, that attempt to overthrow the results of the election, injuring 115 police officers—not so much.
Being a Republican sure gets complicated!
Complicated, indeed! Thanks for helping us keep it sorted out!
Sununu to Students: No Food for You!
To the Editor:
Chris Sununu offered $100 million in federal funds to developers this spring, but turned down $33 million to provide school lunches to New Hampshire students. Is it because students cannot vote and their parents don’t contribute to his campaign?
We do not need a governor who showers the rich with taxpayer funds while letting children of the poor and middle class go through school on empty stomachs.
We need a governor who would do the opposite. We need Tom Sherman.
The Guv’nor goes to great lengths, at his frequent and interminable press conferences, to present himself as a friendly, folksy kind of guy.
Thanks for reminding us that when it really matters, he’s taking food out of the mouths of hungry school children.
General Don “I Got Mine” Bolduc
To the Editor:
Has anyone called out Bolduc on his issues of eliminating Social Security and Medicare?
As a retired Brigadier General, he receives a generous taxpayer funded retirement and almost free lifetime medical care for himself and his wife, not to mention other perks such as PX and Commissary privileges, etc.
According to Wikipedia, his service years are 1981-2017, a rather long tour, but there was probably some interruption as he received an ROTC commission in 1989. Doing some numbers, giving him a minimum of 30 years multiplied by 2.5 percent multiplied by the average base pay of a Brigadier General, 2015 through 2017, I arrived at a monthly retirement pay of approximately $13,431/mo. That’s $161,176 a year.
Well, he earned it, but so did all the retirees collecting Social Security payments of a mere fraction of that. That includes Veterans who didn’t qualify for retirement but did their bit. Takes some balls to decry government expenditures while making a career of government work, then grabbing a nice retirement and trying to pull the rug out from under the rest of us.
As a former enlisted person during the War to Defend Long Beach from the Viet Cong—in which we were victorious, of course—your editor has never believed in the myth that brass hats inevitably contain any measurable amount of wisdom. We must admit, though, that General Don has surprised us. 5Or, rather, that the Army has surprised us. How does it continue to function with men like him running the show?
Wait, what are we saying? No wonder it functions as it does.
Five Years of Catalonian Independence
To the Editor:
On 27 October 2017, after a decade of mass demonstrations, Catalonia organised a referendum on self-determination without the consent of the Spanish state. It did so in spite of everything because Spain refused to debate and wanted to impose its will. A total of 2.3 million people took part, with 90 percent in favour of independence. With the referendum, the Catalan government wanted to push Spain to negotiate, but the state continued to refuse dialogue, sent 10,000 police to repress the vote, and Europe did nothing to demand that the conflict be dealt with democratically.
Faced with this reaction from Spain, the Catalan government of Carles Puigdemont found no alternative but to proclaim Catalonia’s independence, which was what the people had voted for. The declaration of independence was unanimously approved by the Catalan Parliament and is now historically proclaimed. More than 70 countries pronounced themselves on the matter, mostly against it, as is normal in this type of case so as not to contradict the existing state, until independence is confirmed by the facts and the international recognition of the new state is made official.
At that time, the Catalan government did not want to ask citizens to defend independence in the streets, as they were certain that the Spanish state would react violently to a people who resisted massively and peacefully. That is why President Puigdemont, faced with his imminent arrest, went into exile in Belgium. He has been elected to the European Parliament, where he defends Catalonia’s right to independence, and is battling in EU courts.
Five years later, the resolutions of the European judiciary are about to come out, so the Council of Europe has published, on 25 October, a new resolution (1) drafted by its Secretary General, Marija Pejčinović, which follows on from the Council of Europe’s Cilevics Report (2) that criticised Spain’s reaction against the Catalan independence movement. It also follows up on the report of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (3) which found Spain’s repression totally unacceptable. The new Council of Europe report argues that it is lawful to pursue the independence of a European territory as long as it is done without using or inciting violence. This completely disavows the Spanish justice system that is persecuting the peaceful Catalan independence movement as if it were terrorism.
Five years ago we already showed that we were committed to a negotiated solution. The next time we are at the same point, and it won’t be long, we will not stop to look for negotiated solutions and we will go ahead with the non-violent struggle, Gandhi style, to control the territory with crowds that will disobey and overwhelm the Spanish state. If Spain uses the police and the army against a peaceful population, Europe will have to take that responsibility on its conscience.
Jordi Oriola Folch
Thanks for writing. It gives us an excuse to publish the following excerpt from George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, his indispensible account of the Spanish Civil War.
“…I defy anyone to be thrown as I was among the Spanish working class—I ought perhaps to say the Catalan working class, for apart from a few Aragonese and Andalusians I mixed only with Catalans—and not be struck by their essential decency; above all, their straightforwardness and generosity. A Spaniard’s generosity, in the ordinary sense of the word, is almost embarassing. If you ask him for a cigarette he will force the whole pack upon you. And beyond this there is generosity in a deeper sense, a real largeness of spirit, which I have met with again and again in the most unpromising circumstances.”
Community Power To Stablilize Rates
To the Editor:
Fifty five percent of New Hampshire’s electricity is produced by natural gas, much of it delivered by ship. As the price of natural gas fluctuates, so does the rate we pay for electricity.
New Hampshire electric utilities buy electricity from producers that rely mostly on natural gas. So, depending on the price at the time, the rate charged is based on the contracts they sign.
The way to minimize this price fluctuation is having the ability to purchase electricity made from a variety of fuels and contract lengths to create a portfolio of contracts. Recent legislation allows communities to combine their electric power use to purchase from producers offering contracts with the best prices.
The Community Power Coalition of New Hampshire, CPCNH, plans to do this. Currently, 23 cities and towns are members of the CPCNH, representing 20 percent of New Hampshire electric power use. The utilities will continue to deliver the electricity, while providing billing and customer service. If all goes as planned Community Power will launch spring of 2023.
Community Power will stabilize the rates we pay for electricity, allowing members to choose local producers using technologies like solar, wind, and hydro, instead of commodities like natural gas. This reduces emissions, while producing more local business investment and jobs.
This launch of Community Power was a long time coming due to many efforts to derail the legislation and reduce its effectiveness. As you consider candidates for the November election, ask whether they support the business investment and jobs that transitioning to clean, lower cost and local energy will provide.
Howard Kalet and Tom Pfau
Howard and Tom:
Hmm…interesting. You say “if all goes as planned,” our electric rates could be lower. Good luck getting CPCNH past the GOP.
A Pox On Both Their Houses?
The middle class in America has been trained by decades of propaganda to accept the extremely simple-minded notion that we must spend ourselves mindlessly into the grave.
When inflation is up, and we lose our freedom to buy whatever we want whenever we want, we want to throw the Congressional majority party out, thinking we are doomed unless we do.
Isn’t it possible to cinch up our belts a little and open a few books to see how the democracies of the past, including our own, handled economic problems?
Oh no, we must believe what the one-percent class pours into our brains—that the only solution is to rotate national governance back and forth between two corrupt political parties.
Woods Cross, Utah
Perhaps we’re not reading you right, but it seems like you’re equating the two parties here.
Fecklessness, lack of imagination, dependence on the benevolent rich, and a general failure to improve material conditions are certainly ample grounds for vigorous criticism. When compared to nihilistic greed, though—allowing billionaires to set the Earth on fire, to steal a few more billions—those are merely venial sins.
Libertarian Would-Be Gubernators Duel
A woman candidate for New Hampshire governor is being interviewed on the radio. She’s spouting the indoctrination done by Trump and his followers. She accuses teachers and public schools of indoctrinating our children. She herself is a victim of what she falsely decries, being a fervent Trumper. School teaching is about presentation of facts, but Trump’s press secretary Kelly Ann Conway introduced the idea of “alternative facts,” and there went or goes our reliable world. “Goes” if it’s still in process and not a done deal. “Went” if irreversible.
Perhaps we’ll never return to the days of my (now middle-aged) children when teachers in public schools were deservedly respected. Our school boards were competitively elected and duly respected. We parents back then didn’t live with a paranoia induced by a miserable man who abused his high power and then called on followers to “stand by” and do whatever dirty work it took to perhaps have the reins in his self-serving hands.
God bless America by saving us from Trumpers, I pray. Or concerned voters do that good deed, I pray.
Lynn Rudmin Chong
As this state is blessed with two women running for governor, we can’t say who you heard. It could have been either Karlyn Borysenko or Kelly Halldorson, both of whom are Libertarians.
Neither, of course, will be elected. Our winner-take-all method of deciding elections effectively rules that out.
Even if we were to adopt ranked choice voting, we’d still bet against them both. There are enough free staters now in New Hampshire to do some damage in Concord.
For a libertarian to take the corner office, though, would require too many Granite Staters to become unhinged.
Most voters wish to see smart and intelligent State Representatives advocate for the interests of their towns. But labels such as Independent and/or Support Freedom, may not mean what voters think they mean. Candidates who use such labels must explain them clearly for voters.
Over the course of six years serving as a State Representative it was clear to me that while Republican Representatives almost always voted as their leadership advised them, the Democratic Representatives often would break with their leadership, if they were convinced that this would benefit their respective towns’ residents.
Portsmouth is fortunate to have a group of smart and intelligent Democratic candidates who support reducing property taxes, spending state money frugally, and ensuring the state government makes good on its promises.
That is why I encourage you to cast your vote for State Representative for the following individuals: Ned Raynolds, David Meuse, Robin Vogt, Gerry Ward, Rebecca McBeath, Joan Hamblet and Kate Murray.
State Rep. Peter Somssich
We Can’t Rely on Republicans
To the Editor:
New Hampshire has the 9th worst gun safety laws in the nation. In 2017, Governor Sununu signed a bill guaranteeing constitutional concealed carry without a permit. In 2019, our governor vetoed three bills passed by the Democratic majority in the Senate and House. One year later, the Red Flag Law was also vetoed, which would have provided temporary removal of a firearm through a court order if a family member or police felt a person was at risk of doing harm.
Gun violence is the number one public safety priority for many Americans. Yet, in our state, hidden and loaded guns can be carried without a permit. Ghost guns are permitted, individuals over 18 can enter our schools while openly carrying or concealing a firearm, and a gun owner can legally use a “bump stock” to make a gun more like an automatic gun.
Governor Sununu and New Hampshire Republicans have acted to weaken national bipartisan gun laws believing that the “responsible gun culture” in New Hampshire is static and the world and human nature don’t change.
The citizens of New Hampshire deserve better and can no longer rely on our gun culture, the Republicans, or on Sununu. He is not supporting state and national laws that will protect us all. We need to elect a Democratic majority that will. New Hampshire Democrats have proposed a package of bills to address the rising threat of gun violence.
Vote for Democrats on Tuesday, November 8th.
Barbara and Vincent Prien
Suzanne and Henry Sonneborn
Major Mike Returns
To the Editor:
“Acta non verba”
Those words are Latin for “Actions, not words.”
They also happen to serve as the motto of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, an organization whose graduates serve this country, with actions, not words.
It’s also a great motto to live by, and to use in our everyday lives.
Do our words carry weight…
Major, USMC (Ret.)
As you see, we ran out of room. We’ve been forced to trim your letter by 92 percent. Perhaps next time you write, you could try harder to get to the point.