Hell of a Way to Run a Primary

Our readers have been patient so far, but sooner or later they’re bound to start asking—“Where the hell is our coverage of the 2024 First in the Nation™ Presidential Primary Election®?”

To which hypothetical question, we can only reply, “Show us a primary worthy of covering!” Because so far this thing is an unholy mess.

Stand back, because we’re about to both-sides this issue. We’ll begin with the Party Formerly Known as Republicans, which we will so designate because Abraham Lincoln doesn’t deserve to be held guilty of association with this ludicrous gang of goons, thugs, and pervs.

We’re not even going to list the alleged candidates here. The names are out there, as are the dimwitted meatsacks to which those names are assigned. In other words, they are common knowledge—which is fitting, as they constitute a batch of the lowest possible common demonizers.

If we have not made it abundantly clear yet, we’re going to violate a fundamental rule of journalism here and allow ourselves to be a part of this story. After all, that rule is only about a century old. We’re grandfathered. Hell, we’re great-grandfathered.

Now, where were we? Ah, yes. Those few, those sappy few—not few enough—that band of botherations. They’re vying to lead a party without a platform that does not believe in governing. Oh, Samuel Beckett, you died too soon. This would put a smile on your wrinkled mug.

Someone is presumably polling this situation. We have not bothered to look. Nothing a poll said at this stage of the process would tell us anything anyway. In this world of so-called “alternative facts”—a combination of  words that should be treated as if they were radioactive waste—we offer the following alternative method of determining the odds: put each of the candidates’ names on a label, put each label on a crab, and put all the crabs in a bucket. The ensuing struggle will be as edifying as anything the actual candidates may do.

Casting his dark shadow over this random assortment of doofuses is, of course, the most dysfunctional excuse for a human being ever to have occupied the Oval Office. We would remind readers, at this point, of something that seems to have slipped from common memory: his Republican predecessor was George W. Bush.

How much warning can one country need before it learns not to stick forks into electrical outlets? Installed by the Supreme Court, then re-elected, more or less, by the people—in the midst of a war begun under premises considerably more false than the recent norm. Someday, we suspect—if we don’t all die off first from heat waves or climate-induced starvation—we’ll learn that all this idiocy has been the result of a collective cognitive deficit caused by leaded gas and lead paint.

So much for the Gong Show reboot in the R Ring of this circus. What’s up at the other end of the tent? Nothing terribly inspiring, we fear.

For a hundred years, New Hampshire has hosted the First in the Nation™ Presidential Primary Election®. Of course, for most of that time, no one gave a damn. Ephraim and Ebeneezer are competing for a seat at the national convention that will pick a candidate. Knowing which man won won’t get the chores done. Seventy years ago, though, when genial ol’ Ike surprised everyone by kicking Bob Taft’s butt, and Estes Kefauver did the same to Harry S Truman, it started to get interesting.

Hardly an American is now alive who remembers a presidential election in which the New Hampshire Primary wasn’t important. Now, though, Joe Biden has hit the “Reset” button. Some day some geezer will tell his grand-kid, “Sit down and let me tell you about Dixville Notch, buggy whips, and cloth diapers.”

Yes, our incumbent President, and therefore, by custom, the leader of his Party, as he heads toward his last hurrah, has chucked us overboard in favor of South Carolina—the state which saved his campaign in 2020, after his dismal fifth-place showing here. It’s understandable enough, but it’s hard to see how the local electoral franchise recovers from the blow. We’ll go through the motions, but it just won’t be the same.

During William “Bill” Gardner’s last years in office we began to have doubts about the former Secretary of State for Life. Reluctantly so, because, after all, it was he who, on May 1, 1989, upon the payment of a modest fee, affixed the fake-gold Seal of the State of New Hampshire on the document assigning the rights to the tradename of this paper to the incumbent alleged editor. Naturally this caused us to attribute to him a high degree of integrity and wisdom.

Gardner’s participation in Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in 2017 had us wondering if he hadn’t lost some of his critical faculties.

Now, surveying the 2024 Primary, we begin to think his resignation in January of last year may have been prescient and astute. He was getting out before the whole edifice came down on his head.


Fog. There seems to be a lot of it around these days.


Rep. Dean Phillips [D-Minn.] to Challenge Biden?

It now appears that Marianne Williamson may not be Joe Biden’s only challenger in New Hampshire’s rogue primary. According to news reports, Rep. Dean Phillips [D-Minn.] called New Hampshire Democratic Chair Ray Buckley last week “to introduce myself as I contemplate entering the Democratic primary,” Phillips said in statement. “It was a very friendly conversation.”

Dean who? Dean Phillips was elected in 2019 to serve Minnesota’s 3rd District: the western ’burbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul. He’s said to be moderate, a centrist. Sounds boring, but his back story is pretty wild. When Dean was born his father, U.S. Army Captain Arthur T. Pfefer, was serving in Vietnam. Six months later Arthur was killed in the crash of a Huey on Dragon Mountain. Arthur’s MOS was 4312, Real Estate Officer. How many of those could have died in Vietnam?

His mother later remarried. Her husband Eddie Phillips was the heir to the Phillips Distilling Co., which was, at one time, the largest liquor distributor in the U.S. Dean got his MBA in 2000, at about the age of thirty. His daddy then made him President and CEO of the family business. His net worth is now variously estimated at between $77 and $123 million, making him the ninth wealthiest member of Congress.

As if all this weren’t entertaining enough, Dean’s adopted father’s mother was a certain Pauline Phillips, better known as “Dear Abby.”

The ever-colorful political consultant Rick Wilson is not amused by Phillips’ pretensions. He recently wrote, “Dean Phillips Is A Suicide Bomber – Tremendous wealth + ego + unscrupulous political operatives = a blow to American democracy.” Wilson’s own political baggage gives off a pungent odor. He helped a chickenhawk defeat Sen. Max Cleland—a triple-amputee with a Silver Star—in 2002. But he’s right about Phillips Minnesota Democrats are lining up to challenge him in the primaries.


Ahead of N.H. Primary, Nearly 4,000 Dems Switch Affiliation

By Ethan Dewitt, Oct. 11th

Nearly 4,000 New Hampshire Democratic voters changed their party affiliation ahead of the state’s presidential primary next year, the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office announced Wednesday—a possible indication that they plan to participate in the Republican primary.

In a news release, the office said that 3,542 people who were registered as Democrats switched their registration to “undeclared.” An additional 408 Democrats switched to be registered as Republicans.

Voters in New Hampshire had a window between Sept. 14th and Oct. 7th to switch parties in time for the presidential primary. In New Hampshire, voters registered with a specific party may only vote in state and federal primaries for that party, but voters registered as “undeclared” may choose which primary to vote in on Election Day. Moving forward, no registration changes will be allowed until after the presidential primary.

The Republican presidential primary field is busier than the Democratic field this year; 12 Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination. On the Democratic side, President Joe Biden is running for re-election and is being challenged by Marianne Williamson, a self-help author who ran unsuccessfully in 2020.

Two candidates are running as independent candidates: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornell West.

Secretary of State Dave Scanlan has not yet set New Hampshire’s 2024 primary election date, which is typically held in February. The filing period for candidates to appear on New Hampshire’s presidential primary ballot began Tuesday, Oct. 10th, and will continue until Oct. 27th.

The secretary of state’s registration numbers reveal that registered Republicans now outnumber Democrats 269,766 to 265,159 in New Hampshire, but undeclared voters tally 344,212. That balance may shift next year if Democratic-leaning voters switch their affiliations back to the Democratic Party ahead of the state primary and general election in fall 2024.

In total 4,920 people switched affiliations in this latest round: 78 people switched from Republican to Democratic; 719 switched from Republican to undeclared; 41 switched from undeclared to Democratic; and 132 switched from undeclared to Republican.


This report was first published in New Hampshire Bulletin, which is part of the nonprofit States Newsroom, a national network of news bureaus supported by grants and donors. It is published here under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.


A Muzzle For The Officers Who Removed A Teenage Journalist From A GOP Event

By Dan Kennedy

It’s hardly a surprise that Republican officials in New Hampshire would throw a 15-year-old out of a political event for doing nothing other than shooting video. But there is no excuse for police officers going along with their outrageous demand.

According to Samantha J. Gross of The Boston Globe, Quinn Mitchell, an aspiring journalist who’s become something of a celebrity for asking tough questions of presidential candidates, was escorted out of a political event at the behest of party officials in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Friday—apparently because someone didn’t like his recording videos of a longshot presidential candidate.

“They told me I was being a disruption,” Mitchell was quoted as saying. “I was taking a video like anybody else.” He added that five officers were involved in removing him from the Sheraton Nashua hotel.

Quinn said that a party official told him he was being kicked out because he had a reputation for disrupting events. No doubt that official was referring to Mitchell’s journalism, which can indeed be disruptive because he does it the right way. Earlier this summer Quinn asked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, “Do you believe that Trump violated the peaceful transfer of power, a key principle of American democracy that we must uphold?” He also asked former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a born-again Never Trumper, whether Hillary Clinton would have been a better choice than Donald Trump in 2016.

Although Mitchell was reportedly back in the hall Friday an hour after his removal, the incident led to a story in The New York Times. It also leads to an important question: Should police officers who work for the public go along with a demand to remove a teenager—or anyone—from an event simply because he was exercising his First Amendment rights? The answer, quite obviously, is no, and it really doesn’t matter whether the officers were on the taxpayers’ dime or if they were being paid as part of a private detail. (The Times reported that it tried and failed to get a comment from the Nashua police department.)

For that, police officers who removed Mitchell from the hotel have earned a New England Muzzle Award.


Since 1998, Dan Kennedy has awarded Muzzles to call attention to outrages against free speech. This item was published October 16th at Media Nation. It is published here under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial- Share Alike 4.0 United States License.


Haven Court, as seen from Fleet Street, on Sunday afternoon, October 8th. It’s a part of town not generally mentioned in the glowing profiles of Portsmouth which periodically appear in the big-city dailies. It, too, will be made more presentable one of these days. Once it has, we’ll forget what it looks like now—hence this photo, for the record.


Can Capitalism Solve The Environmental Crisis?

by Zoe Alexandra

Every year government officials, think tanks, NGOs, and representatives of the “private sector” convene in the Conference of the Parties (COP) to discuss what actions world leaders should take regarding the climate crisis. This illustrious meeting is sponsored by the world’s largest transnational companies such as Unilever, Danone, Bayer, Nestlé, and others, companies that are responsible for a large part of the environmental devastation that has brought our world to the brink.

As such, the discussions which take place in such a space, are rarely ever able to point to the real culprit and much less so, demand the changes which are necessary to save life on the planet. The more radical resolutions, fought for, tooth and nail, by those countries most impacted by climate devastation, are rarely respected.

Spaces such as the III International Dilemmas of Humanity Conference, become all the more important in today’s context, wherein experts, members of people’s movements, and activists from all over the Global South have come together to discuss the primary questions facing humanity, such as the climate crisis. As in the other discussions, the debate on the climate crisis on Day 3 of the conference was focused less on the impacts of the climate change which are today well known, and more on the necessary solutions to save life on the planet. Speakers also debunked the same solutions that are formulated by ruling elites and big business to allegedly address the climate crisis, highlighting that capitalism is incompatible with life.

The speakers on the environmental crisis panel included Theodora Pius of the National Network of Small-Scale Farmers Groups in Tanzania (MVIWATA), Tikender Singh Panwar researcher and political activist from India, Houcine Rhili of the Nomade Association in Tunisia, and Carlos Barrientos of the Committee of Peasant Unity of Guatemala.

The Tanzanian leader spoke about the struggle of the peasantry in Tanzania and across the world, who continue to constitute a significant portion of working people. In Kenya, peasants are 70 percent of working people and are on the frontlines of the struggle against climate change. “People are trying to defend their rights to use and access land. People are defending the forests, their rights to use water, and seeds. We are defending life on land, for human beings, animals, and everything that exists,” Pius said.

She sharply condemned the solutions proposed by capitalists and corporations to address the environmental crisis as both anti-people and further climate devastation. “The capitalists have created a crisis, and they have come with the solution. GMO is their thing. They are forcing everyone to believe that GMO should be used as a strategy to resolve what the Africans are facing with climate change.”

Her rallying cry is to “reclaim the rights to use the commons.”

The Indian left scholar Singh Panwar in his talk pointed out that even the world’s top scientists are conscious that the current system is leading humanity on a path to destruction, “The IPCC report points out that there has to be a systemic shift.” However, he highlighted, “They are not communists…they cannot go beyond this vocabulary.”

He emphasized: “we know what this systemic shift means: the end of capitalism and the birth of socialism.”

Houcine Rhili, whose country Tunisia in recent years has been suffering from frequent droughts and heat waves, said that the battle of discourse is central to combating climate devastation. For example, the U.S. military is one of the single largest polluters on the planet, more than 140 countries combined, yet the poor countries of the global South, and poor people themselves are often pointed to as those responsible. “We [must] fight and undermine the narrative of the capitalist system and fight against this idea which accuses the poor of being responsible for global warming.”

Rhili also pointed out some of the false solutions to the crisis proposed by capitalism, such as the green energy alternatives, which extract natural resources from the south to power the north. He declared, “Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia and all countries of sub Saharan Africa will witness huge extraction of resources from their land and even loss of land. The extraction of green hydrogen requires huge quantities of water.”

He added, “I can assure you that these transnational companies will use our sea and ocean water and gases in order to provide clear alternative energies for themselves and we will be unable to provide the lowest quantity of water to provide our dignity. There is no dignity without water, water is life.”

Ntima Makhetha, of UNITE union in Lesotho, also pointed out the contradictions that occur when the South has to produce green energy for the north, “Our country sold water…but in our country 70 percent of our people don’t have access to water, and right now the country is embarking on a hydrogen deal to export energy to other countries but it can’t even feed itself. It is said that clean energy will help with climate change, but what about us the people who are living there, how do we survive?”

Indigenous and peasant revolutionary Carlos Barrientos stated that the environmental crisis must not be seen as separate from the survival of humanity, but that the struggle for the survival of both the people of the world and the planet are one in the same, “We have to understand that we are sons and daughters of mother earth and what corresponds to us is to fight for life and for socialism.”


The text above is the property of Peoples Dispatch, and was originally published at peoplesdispatch.org. It appears here under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA) license.


Poorer Countries Just Can’t Afford Climate Change

A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows how mounting external debt is hampering low- and middle-income countries’ ability to respond to the climate crisis, even as climate-related disasters increasingly affect these same countries. The report warns that this is leading to a “vicious cycle” of more debt and ongoing vulnerability to climate change that prevents these nations from progressing toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report, “The Growing Debt Burdens of Global South Countries: Standing in the Way of Climate and Development Goals,” by Ivana Vasic-Lalovic, Lara Merling, and Aileen Wu, examines what many economists and experts see as a looming external “debt crisis,” and how these countries’ inability to reduce their debt burdens is limiting their capacity to respond to other crises, including the climate crisis.

“Most of the world is going through what many have termed a ‘polycrisis,’ facing down high levels of external debt, combined with interlocking crises of food insecurity, fluctuating energy prices, impacts of war, and of course, the climate crisis,” report coauthor Ivana Vasic Lalovic said. “Countries are limited in what they can do to respond to the climate crisis, though, when they are forced to divert so much of their resources toward servicing their debts.”

“The response so far from the international financial community has been inadequate to help countries break this vicious cycle,” the report states. “A more ambitious response — combining an updating of debt resolution frameworks, debt relief, more grant-based finance, and a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) — is urgently needed.”

The report notes that low- and middle-income countries’ external debt stock has doubled since 2010, and currently stands at over $3 trillion, of which almost 60 percent is held by private creditors. Additionally, there are almost 80 countries that international financial institutions consider to be in, or at risk of, debt distress. “But debt from private creditors comes with high interest rates, short maturities, and is difficult to restructure,” the report notes.

Most—three-quarters—of these countries are also “highly climate vulnerable,” the report states. “These countries face the least responsibility for the climate crisis but are facing the greatest burdens in terms of the impacts of climate disasters.”

Interest payments on external public debt are limiting countries’ ability to spend on pressing needs, including climate response and climate change mitigation. Interest payments have “gone up sharply since 2010” relative to low- and middle-income countries’ export revenue. “This year, total debt service is estimated to exceed non-climate-related SDG investment needs for over 100 countries around the globe,” the report finds. “The inability to finance non-climate SDGs has direct human costs and also has an adverse impact on climate resilience, as stronger health, food, and other social systems are needed to withstand the effects of climate disasters.”

For countries to exit this vicious cycle, the authors recommend that debt resolution frameworks be updated, and that there be “rapid and fair debt treatment across all creditor classes” – which may require legislation to compel private investors to follow the same terms for debt restructuring as public sector creditors.

The authors also call for debt relief “from all creditors” and more grant-based financing for lower-income countries’ climate response from rich countries, which are, after all, mostly responsible for the climate crisis. They also urge a major new Special Drawing Rights allocation from the International Monetary Fund “as a quick way to give climate-vulnerable and debt-constrained countries more fiscal breathing room.”

“The international finance community needs to accept that the current dynamic, which prioritizes debt service—no matter how burdensome—over human needs and the urgency of climate crisis preparedness and response is unsustainable,” coauthor Lara Merling said. “They need to step forward with solutions. Millions of lives may depend on it.”


This article was published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. It appears here under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

– A.J. Liebling, The New Yorker, May 14, 1960.

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