How to End a Shutdown

To the Editor:

The first of the month is when people’s rent comes due. It is also when most people get paid. Unfortunately, federal employees will not be getting paid this October first because rogue members of the GOP in the House of Representatives won’t allow a vote to fund the government.

They do not care if federal employees cannot pay their rent without a paycheck, or buy food for their family, or make a car payment. They also expect our men and women in uniform to protect this country without getting paid on time. They expect Air Traffic Controllers to work without receiving their paycheck too. They do not care about creating hardships for government employees. They think their constituents do not care either. They do not care because they are not going without a paycheck.

If public employees have to experience hardship, so should those who benefit from their work. I believe the Air Traffic Controllers should stay home until the government shutdown is over. If the public found their flights cancelled because a few Congressmen want to hold the country hostage the shutdown would be over in hours not days or weeks.

Walter Hamilton

Portsmouth, N.H.


Since Speaker McCarthy and the Democrats managed to get a temporary spending bill passed, we won’t be seeing this played out this month. However, Congress shows no sign of becoming significantly more functional. So, we’ll get to go through the whole #@&ing rigamarole again in six weeks.

The last time Air Traffic controllers went on strike, Reagan fired them all. If Trump gets a second term and they strike, he’ll have them all executed.

The Editor


Constitution, Schmonstitution

Dear Editor,

Trump’s team of rascals charged in the Georgia election interference case are attempting to overturn Constitutional law in the twinkling of an evil eye.

For example, former federal justice department employee Jeffrey Clark is making a claim that the President has an “unqualified and illimitable right” to change federal job responsibilities from public to private to enable folks like himself to undertake Watergate-style partisan political activities at the state level. The idea was to change Georgia plumbing using federal stationery to coax Georgia into withholding certification of their election results (The Hill, September 15, 2023).

Articles I and II of the Constitution are all about qualifying and limiting the President’s general functions in every way imaginable. Also, there is a long history of law qualifying and limiting how the President runs his own branch, ultimately tying employment decisions and directives to legislative branch checks and balances.

The President is not the footloose and fancy-free employer Clark makes him out to be. But Clark’s lawyers are taking a stab at transferring his case to a more friendly federal court and will appeal if they lose. Who knows, some judge somewhere might be asleep at the wheel or maybe swayed by road rage.

Kimball Shinkoskey

Woods Cross, Utah


Your plumbing and stationery metaphor threw us for a minute there. Thanks to your citation we were able to track down the piece in The Hill.

Your point is well taken about “some judge somewhere”. It’s probably just a matter of time before the 5th Circuit decides in Trump’s favor on this.

The Editor


From Whence Cometh Our Salvation?

To the Editor,

Most of the creatures that inhabit this planet—aquatic, insect, and mammal—are subject to mechanisms that regulate their populations, the apparent exception being human beings, whose profligate reproduction coupled with an inherent inclination to kill everything in sight including each other, has rendered those mechanisms more or less moot. But perhaps we are subject to some innate mechanism that simply hasn’t yet fully activated. Perhaps, as the United States’ third president, Thomas Jefferson, wrote to James Madison on December 20, 1787: “When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become corrupt as in Europe, and go to eating one another as they do there.” That speculation, for Jefferson I suspect recourse to hyperbole, was dramatized in “Soylent Green,” a 1973 film set in the future year 2022. It’s 2023 and we’re not eating canned each other, so guess that hasn’t happened, yet.

The other likely innate population limiting measures are a function of our penchant for self-destruction. Thus far, we’ve refrained from incinerating ourselves and exterminating by way of collateral damage most of the rest of the life on this planet through a global war, nuclear or, sans incineration, biological. It seems we’ve chosen a slower, albeit rapidly accelerating, alternative honed on our destruction of other species’ habitat, that is, destroying our own. How remarkable that even as we recognize what we’re doing, we seem impotent to stop. We pay mindless obeisance to a flawed economic construct that inhibits anything that threatens capital while world leaders variously wage localized wars and deny reality. So what’s to become of us? Well, unless there are alien beings of superior intelligence watching and prepared to intervene (there are, and they are, but that’s a subject on which I’m not at liberty to discourse at present), there will either be wailing and lamentation in the deserts left by ravaging wildfires and mass drowning where the rising and warming seas meet the land, or the taking up of pitchforks and torches and peremptory turning out of the gilded servants of Capitalism and its god, Mammon. I favor the latter… or the aliens.

John Simon

Portsmouth, New Hampshire


The traditional approach, we understand, has been to look unto the hills for salvation. That was before the Trumpazoid caucus of the House took over, though. We’d like to keep This Olde Rag going for a few more decades—or centuries. Could you ask your extraterrestrial friends to get a move on?

The Editor


DeSantis at Gitmo

To the Editor:

The August 11th edition of the Gazette contained on its front page , middle left column, a brief bit about Gov. DeSantis that started “DeSantis, as a young lawyer at Gitmo…”. That is the second time that I have seen that story, but I have not seen a source. Do you have a source? If so, I would appreciate knowing it.

The use of old Southern Plantations as source wedding destinations increased dramatically once their previous name “Former Negro Slave Concentration Camp” was dropped.


Stanley D. Stephenson

Grew up in Georgia/Tennessee


We’re glad you asked. The March, 2023 issue of The Baffler[]—an outstanding publication—carried a piece by Jasper Craven headlined, “The Sunshine Imperium: the militarism of Ron DeSantis.” It’s not pleasant reading, but… .

The Editor


Beware “AFP Action”

To the Editor:

My mailbox has been inundated with 11 x 6 inch, heavy stock, two-sided, 4-color mailers. About two weeks ago I started saving them and have already collected four. These same political ads are plastered all over Facebook every day, multiple times, all-in-all costing millions of dollars.

They come from AFP (Americans for Prosperity) Action, a super-PAC funded by billionaires—the Koch Family network—for the benefit of, well, billionaires.

The message is always the same: Don’t support Trump, because if he wins the nomination, Biden will win the Presidency! So, the question is, why are they so against Biden? The answer is simple, but don’t look for it on their mailers.

Biden has worked hard to reverse the failed trickle-down economics of the Republicans—which is to give billions of dollars to the rich. Instead, Bidenomics is grassroots economics, supporting working and middle class people with programs and policies that save them money and provide needed services. And the economy is thriving with this approach.

The Koch billionaires do not want this. What they want is More—more money, more tax cuts, more power over workers, more ability to pollute and more ability to do whatever they want—all without any government oversight or restriction.

If AFP Action is for it, you need to be against it!

Michael Frandzel

Portsmouth, N.H.


Trump vs. the Justice Department

Dear Editor,

“A government shutdown is the last chance to defund these political prosecutions against me and other patriots.” – Donald Trump

Though the government shutdown was averted at the last minute (literally), not only was it an attempt to “burn it all down” by the MAGA extremists, it was yet another obstruction of justice “Hail Mary pass” attempted by the four-time, felony indicted, former President Donald J. Trump.

This travesty must stop. The country has been damaged enough by Trump’s nefarious ways and his pact with the extremist MAGA members of Congress.

If the end game is to eventually shut down and knee-cap our Constitutional Democracy by attempting to destroy its governmental structures, the bad guys seem to be gaining ground.

Genevieve Harris-Fraser

Orange, Mass.


Who ever would have thought that the Party of Lincoln would some day devolve into carrying water for a guy who’s trying to shut down the government to avoid prosecution for treason?

The Editor


Trump vs. the Defense Department

Dear Editor:

Recently, two now-retired generals who served within the Trump administration spoke out about what it means when you take the oath as a member of the military to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. They also passionately expressed the sacrifice so many have made to protect and defend that Constitution. In doing so, they made direct and indirect references to Donald Trump and his disdain for those who sacrificed for our nation.

Trump’s former chief of staff Marine Corps General John Kelly confirmed to CNN a number of the damning stories that emerged during Trump’s presidency about his denigration of wounded, captured, or killed military personnel as “suckers” and “losers,” with whom he didn’t want to be seen.

Kelly went on to call Trump: “A person that has no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is all about. A person who cavalierly suggests that a selfless warrior (Gen. Mark Milley) who has served his country for 40 years in peacetime and war should lose his life for treason—in expectation that someone will take action. A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law… . There is nothing more that can be said. God help us.”

At his retirement ceremony, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley stated; “You see, we in uniform are unique among the world’s armies. We are unique among the world’s militaries. We don’t take an oath to a country. We don’t take an oath to a tribe. We don’t take an oath to a religion. We don’t take an oath to a king or a queen or to a tyrant or a dictator. And we don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator. We don’t take an oath to an individual. We take an oath to the Constitution. and we take an oath to the idea that is America. And we’re willing to die to protect it.” Those who sacrificed themselves on the altar of freedom in the last two and a half centuries of this country must not have done so in vain. The millions wounded in our nation’s wars did not sacrifice their limbs and shed their blood to see this great experiment in democracy perish from this earth. No. The United States military will always be true to those that came before us. We will never, under any circumstances, turn our back on our duty.”

I sincerely hope that all my fellow veterans who took that oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic take heed of the words of Generals’ Kelly and Milley. Donald Trump remains an ongoing threat to that Constitution, and we have a sacred duty to make sure we do not give him aid or comfort in his attempt to destroy it.

Rich DiPentima, LTC, USAFR, Ret.

Portsmouth, N.H.


Among the myriad problems ensuing from the presidency of Dolt .45 is this: millions of people have felt compelled to uncritically defend the Defense Department. Being generals, it’s only natural that Milley and Kelly would cast the military in a glowing light. Former draftees, and formerly-coerced “vounteers,” particularly those now getting long in the tooth, may have a more nuanced perspective.

It was bad enough when Reagan exploited Vietnam veterans to rehabilitate the military in the eyes of the American public.

To think that a draft-dodging, orange-makeup-wearing goon could repeat that cynical stunt by insulting the nation’s war dead… well, that would be a pretty good measure of the times.

The Editor


Bethlehem Landfill Seems to be Leaking

Dear Editor:

I have some bad news to share with my fellow Granite Staters. Based on my analysis of the numerous groundwater monitoring reports, and my research of the historical record, it is my belief that we are witnessing the failure of the North Country Environmental Services [NCES] Landfill in Bethlehem, N.H.

According to the July, 2023 Tri-Annual Groundwater Monitoring Report, submitted to New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services [NHDES] by Sanborn, Head and Associates on behalf of Casella and the NCES Landfill, “forever chemicals,” also known as PFAS, were detected in groundwater at 11 of 19 monitoring wells tested for PFAS compounds. Of particular concern is the detection and levels for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), present in 11 of those 19 groundwater monitoring wells tested for PFAS. The EPA is proposing to designate PFOA as a hazardous substance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as “Superfund.” According to the EPA, this proposed rulemaking “would increase transparency around releases of these harmful chemicals and help to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up their contamination.” According to Mr. Tim White, of Sanborn, Head and Associates, “concentrations (of PFOA) detected at B-304DR and B-928D (9.17 ng/l) represented new maximum concentrations at those locations. The PFOA concentration at B-304DR increased from 41.1 ng/l in July 2022, to 63.4 ng/l in April 2023, and to 91.4 ng/l in July 2023” (from page 10, August 24, 2023 SHA cover letter to NHDES). New Hampshire’s Ambient Groundwater Quality Standards (AGQS) for PFOA is 12 parts-per-trillion (ppt), or 12 ng/L. The July concentration for PFOA at B-304DR is 7.6 TIMES the AGQS limit!

I have recently obtained and analyzed lab test results for NCES leachate, obtained thru 91-A Right-To-Know requests submitted to the City of Concord WWTP and the NHDES-operated Franklin WWTP, from 2018 thru 2023. I have identified the PFAS compounds detected in those NCES leachate lab test results, so as to establish a PFAS “profile,” based on concentrations detected. The top 7 PFAS compounds present in NCES Landfill leachate have been consistently detected in the groundwater at the B-304DR monitoring well, as well as numerous other monitoring wells. In other words, it would appear that the NCES Landfill is failing to contain the leachate generated, based on the PFAS compounds detected at the various groundwater monitoring wells, and most particularly, at the B-304DR well. That, of course, is my conclusion, based on the data from both the NCES groundwater monitoring well reports and the NCES leachate lab results.

However, Mr. White of Sanborn, Head and Associates has consistently downplayed these numerous detections and exceedances of PFAS contaminants in groundwater at NCES, which happen to be outside of the lined landfill. In his reporting to Mr. James O’Rourke of NHDES, Mr. White has consistently relied upon a narrative of placing blame on the old, unlined landfill, as well as past earthwork at the landfill site, as causal factors. In the July, 2023 report, “unlined landfill” comes up 52 times in a text search. This despite the fact that the old Sanco unlined landfill was excavated by Doug Casella and Casella Construction in the fall of 1993, and relocated to the “state-of-the-art,” double-lined landfill, as touted by Casella Waste Systems in an August 23, 1993 public notice printed in the Littleton Courier. Ironically, in a “Contamination Assessment” letter, dated November 5, 1993, Mr. Paul Sanborn, President of Sanborn, Head and Associates wrote to the NHDES Waste Management Division to inform them of the completion of the waste-relocation project and that “it does not appear that residual VOC contamination is present in the soils in the excavation area,” clearing the way for the development of Stage II over the excavated site. Furthermore, in a December 9, 1993 letter, with the subject line reading “Contamination Assessment Refuse Relocation Project,” Mr. James Berg of NHDES Waste Management Division wrote to Mr. Leo Larochelle of Consumat-Sanco, Inc. of the department’s “concurrence” that “no further excavation to remove additional soils is necessary.”

In other words, which is a more plausible explanation for the continuous detections, and exceedances of AGQs limits, of PFAS contaminants, and 1,4-Dioxane, in groundwater at the NCES Landfill; that the old, unlined landfill, excavated 30 years ago and given a clean bill of health by both Sanborn, Head and Associates and NHDES, is to blame, or that we could be witnessing the failure of the 30-year old “state-of-the-art” double-liner system of Stage I?

Regardless of the cause, the data does not lie. There is, and has been, a steady, consistent release of contaminants from the NCES Landfill, all within the watershed of the Ammonoosuc River, and upstream of Littleton. Is this a violation of the Clean Water Act? I would think so, as both SHA and NHDES have stated that “downgradient dilution” is occurring, as well as downgradient migration of contaminants in groundwater flowing towards the river. Will the EPA investigate? I’ve sent numerous requests, since NHDES seems unconcerned, seemingly accepting of the narrative advanced by Mr. White. Once the EPA designates PFOA a hazardous substance under CERCLA, will the Town of Bethlehem be home to a new Superfund site? I don’t see how it doesn’t. The fears and concerns of so many residents over the years of contentious growth of this landfill seem to now be justified, and sadly, realized. Will Casella be held responsible for the expense of cleanup and remediation? We shall see, as their track record of accepting responsibility is shaky at best.

In the meantime, I would ask that you reach out to NHDES officials and ask them what they are going to do about this mess, which they have known about since at least 2017, when PFAS testing began at NCES. It is dangerously irresponsible for NHDES to allow NCES to continue to operate, thus ensuring the continued generation of millions of gallons of leachate, which the data seems to confirm is not being contained within the lined landfill. It’s time to close the dump, once and for all. We certainly don’t need another one of these environmental disasters next to Forest Lake, at a site surrounded by wetlands which also feed into the Ammonoosuc River, also upstream of the Town of Littleton.

All of this, of course, is my opinion, based on my research, the historical record, and of course, the data provided to NHDES by Sanborn, Head and Associates on behalf of the NCES Landfill, owned and operated by Casella Waste Systems of Rutland, Vermont. I invite you to review my work, as well as the vast amount of documentation which I continue to gather, all of which is available on my website,

Thank You!

Jon Swan

Dalton, N.H.


Well, that’s horrifying.

The Editor


Republicans are Angry…

Dear Editor,

The second debate showed us that Republicans are angry about people’s lives being destroyed by fentanyl ferried across the border by brown-skinned mules.

They are angry about parents being frozen out of school choice and curriculum decisions. They are angry about blue-collar crime being ignored by liberal prosecutors.

They are angry about America’s endless overseas wars which require debt-financing from creditors like China. They are angry about government welfare programs that wouldn’t be needed if people listened to evangelical preachers and simply repented.

They are angry about overseas energy dependence when this country has plenty of resources. They are angry they lost their seat of power in the White House.

In all their anger, it seems two things have been lost. First, the Constitution. No Republican debater mentioned any foundational Constitutional issue like term limits, proper exercise of the war power, or the executive branch usurping Congressional powers.

Also, not a single debater mentioned the party’s real bottom line issues—protecting and expanding the wealth of the one percent class and downplaying the prosecution of white-collar crime.

Kimball Shinkoskey

Woods Cross, Utah


Republicans may very well be “angry about people’s lives being destroyed by fentanyl ferried across the border by brown-skinned mules”—but that doesn’t mean their anger is based in reality.

Many Republicans seem to us to be angry about schools challenging their ability to inculcate fascist principles in their children.

Your last point is your best point: The GOP is all about protecting and expanding the wealth of the one percent. That’s been the case for decades, but it’s more obvious now than ever.

The Editor

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