Remembering Governor Voldemort

To the Editor:

A 6th housing forum was held at St Anselm’s on December 8, 2023.

The Free State Project is supposed to stand for freedom. So why would they want to impose draconian zoning changes on our towns?

Jason Sorens is the founder of the Free State Project and part of the “Center for Ethics in Society” at St. Anselms’s. In partnership with New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority and the N.H. Office of Planning and Development, this group was the creator of the “Zoning Atlas,” a tool that helps target towns that do not favor high density construction. Why would a supposedly Catholic college engage in such nonsense? Why would FSP members support such socialistic views?

Frankly there are too many non-governmental, unelected government groups that team up with special interest groups such has this one. These groups are then allowed to set policy, and yet, nobody voted for them!

Governor Sununu, who is also sold on this mission, has even praised Sorens’ work.

What is so disturbing is that anyone thinks we need to destroy single family zoning, or even advocate challenging the boundaries set up by HOAs, despite the fact that people who have purchased homes in those communities were fully aware of what living in an HOA would entail.

There are plenty of commercial buildings that can be converted into apartments without invading established neighborhoods where people have bought homes, expecting the zoning wouldn’t change.

No wonder people are beginning to look unfavorably on the FSP. We must stay vigilant on this issue.

Jane Aitken

Bedford, N.H.


Thank you very much for writing. Your letter sent us down a most entertaining rabbit hole. It also sent us back twenty years, to a much simpler time. That certainly was a refreshing respite. Now we’re back, shaking our heads, and asking, as Dorothy Parker did a century ago, “What fresh hell is this?”

An AP story, datelined Sunday, November 2, 2003, began, “Gov. Craig Benson welcomed members of the Free State Project to New Hampshire on Saturday, saying he was excited about their plans to move to the state and promote their agenda of smaller government. ‘We’d love to have you,’ Benson told several Free Staters at the annual convention of the state Libertarian Party, held at the Highlander Inn. ‘We don’t have to agree on everything to make things happen. What we have to agree on is that we’re going to leave things better than we found them,’ he said.”

“[W]e’re going to leave things better than we found them… .” As letter writer and editor, Jane, we seem irreconcilably opposed on the question of the supposedly sacred inviolability of single-family zoning. So be it. But surely we can agree that this sentence fragment from Gov. Benson, about the Free State Project, contains perhaps the highest level of irony ever seen in these pages.

For the record, a 2022 Suffolk University/Boston Globe survey of 500 Granite Staters found that 256 had never heard of the Free State Project. Among those who had, 67 had no opinion one way or the other. That left 177. Of those 177 who are aware of the FSP, just 49 had a favorable opinion, while 128 had an unfavorable opinion. That’s a ratio of 2.6 to 1 against.

The late and much lamented blogger Susan the Bruce called Benson “The Voldemort of the NHGOP”—he who must not be named. The one-term governor certainly earned that moniker, and not just because he welcomed the FSP. His two years in office mortified many Republicans. Of course, this was back in the day when some of them still had the capacity to feel shame.

Also, let us not forget, four months into his term the Old Man came down from the Mountain. Long-time readers will recall Vermin Supreme’s interview with John McCain, in which he asserted that Bush #43’s campaign manager blew it up out of spite over his master’s poor showing here. Karl Rove may have pushed the plunger on the blasting machine, but the Old Man fell on Benson’s watch.

You are shocked, as is your right, that the State would work with Sorens, and that Sorens would work on a “socialistic” zoning project.

We are shocked that the Zoning Atlas was put together using a how-to guide promulgated by the Social Science Research Network [SSRN]. SSRN was co-founded by Michael C. Jensen. If Wikipedia is to be believed—and in this case we do believe it—Jensen provided much of the theory used to justify paying CEOs with stock options. In retrospect, that seems akin to treating Covid by drinking bleach.

The Editor


’Tis the Season to Get Right With the Planet

To the Editor:

We are told that the Holiday Season in the U.S.A. is about giving. Is it really? Or is it more about spending to keep the wheels of commerce rolling for the rich ruling elite?

Considering that most people go into debt each year for the holiday season—meaning they spend more than they can afford—I would say the season is more about spending than giving. What if we didn’t spend money on obligatory gifts and instead, spent it on experiences that bring people together? What if we took the time we carved out to go shopping and instead, spent that time with those that are lonely or rejuvenate ourselves by spending time with Nature? When we are refreshed, we have more to offer others.

The New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) works to raise awareness and drive systemic change by offering education and information on living in right relationship with one another and with Nature. We cannot have right relationship without spending time with another. Reach out at or visit if you would like to learn more.

Michelle Beatty

NHCRN President


Thank you for a seasonal reminder we can wholeheartedly endorse.

The Editor


The Bloody Hands of Editors

Dear Editor,

A recent New York Times article presented “three entities most responsible” for the high civilian death toll in Gaza. (“The Morning,” December 7, 2023)

The report explained the roles of Israel, Hamas, and Egypt without the faintest breath of concern about the contributory role of the United States, which any concerned college student can plainly see is immense.

America provides Israel several billions a year in military hardware and Biden green-lights Netanyahu by refusing to place any conditions on its use.

The Times apparently believes it is more important to blindly serve as Biden’s devil’s advocate than to do anything to upset his chances in 2024.

This kind of anti-civic thinking turns newspaper editors into war propaganda champions and makes of them another important entity responsible for the civilian death toll.

Kimball Shinkoskey

Woods Cross, Utah


If we could play the devil’s advocate for a moment, we’d like to point out that there’s nothing new about newspaper editors howling for warfare and bloodshed.

Back in our younger days, the language in this and other newspapers was generally more elevated and civil—but the Revolution didn’t exactly come out of nowhere.

Some newspapers were notably uncivil leading up to the Civil War. Rightly or wrongly, the Spanish-American War is largely attributed to William Randolph Hearst.

The Iraq War could never have happened without the timid acquiesence of myriad editorial dimwits.

We, on the other hand, have a default position of opposing wars. The one exception might be if Canadians swooped in to occupy our sugar bushes.

The Editor


Counting Down from 402

Dear Sir:

In an interview this week with Donald Trump regarding his plans if he were reelected president, Sean Hannity asked him “You are promising America tonight you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?” Trump’s response was, “Except for Day One.”

So, Mr. Trump has publicly stated that he would abuse his power, violate his oath, and go after all those he considers his enemies. On the first day of his second term.

Unfortunately, Trump would only need one day to put his authoritarian plan into action.

Consider the immense damage he could do in just one day. For starters he could sign a slew of executive orders that had been prepared before taking office. These executive orders could involve all sorts of illegal and/or unconstitutional actions to solidify his power and control. He could declare martial law or even invoke the insurrectionist act to begin a purge of the government and to take control of the entire executive branch. He could appoint his zealot friends as acting cabinet secretaries of all executive departments who would follow his illegal orders. No need to wait for Senate confirmation. God knows what else he has planned. This is what other dictators have done to secure unlimited power throughout history, and it can happen here.

One day is all that Trump would need to fulfill what he and his fellow conspirators have already stated publicly. Failure to take his promises and threats seriously would be a grave mistake. Unfortunately, most Republicans are still too fearful of Trump to speak out and he still remains the leading potential Republican Presidential candidate. If we fail to stop Trump now or in November, we may never get another chance. This is not a drill; our democracy is at grave risk.

Rich DiPentima

Portsmouth, N.H.


You’re absolutely right.

We may have only 402 more days to enjoy the freedoms and protections of the U.S. Constitution as we know it.

If we were broadcasting the news from a TV studio, our set would have as its backdrop an enormous Countdown Clock to January 20, 2025.

The Editor


Recognize The Humanity of Both Peoples

To the Editor:

Some New Hampshire residents have stated that “Hamas wants an extermination.” There is widespread disagreement over the meaning of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.”

Such citizens have criticized Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, for using that phrase. Tlaib justified the slogan: “From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction or hate.” Yousef Munayyer, head of the Palestine/Israel Program commented: “There isn’t a square inch of the land between the river and the sea where Palestinians have freedom, justice, and equality, and it has never been more important to emphasize this than right now.” To many across the globe, the chant echoes the desire for Palestinians’ freedom from oppression.

If one examines the original platform of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, it said that between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, “there will only be Israeli sovereignty.” So much for the “two state solution.” And with over 600,000 illegal Jewish “settlers” living in the West Bank mainly on stolen Palestinian land, the “two state” idea is a fairy-tale.

During my five trips to Israel and to Palestine, the Israelis I met disliked Netanyahu, and the Palestinians I met said they didn’t hate Jews, but they hated the brutal occupation. Both Israelis and Palestinians should be able to live in a state where all its citizens may live in dignity, equality, and freedom with guaranteed human rights.

Finally, let us recognize the humanity of both peoples.

Will Thomas

Auburn, N.H.


Thank you for this eye-witness account. We lament the general tendency, in media framing of this issue, to overlook the fact that Palestinians are human beings.

The Editor


Shady Leadership Permitted Bad Votes

To the Editor,

The fact that the Republican leadership in New Hampshire knew about Representative Troy Merner’s move before the start of the legislative season is so frustrating. This representative voted with the Republican party 95 percent of the time. He voted against the greenhouse gas emission reduction goal, to net zero by 2050; voted for penalties for health care providers who violate the state ban on abortion after 24 weeks; voted to increase the household income limit for Education Freedom Accounts from 300 percent to 350 percent of federal poverty guidelines; voted against larger electric generators participation in net metering; removed the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services to require vaccinations; voted against 30-day to 6 month notice period before a rent increase; voted against raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour; voted against expanding background checks for firearms; voted against mail-in voting; voted against State-run marijuana legalization with state-run stores, or home growing or private stores; voted against local zoning changes for housing development, and the list goes on. (per Citizens Count) Troy Merner says he was encouraged to stay on in the position by the Republican leadership, according to recent reporting. The leadership in the House is just as much at fault as Troy because of their need for power and lack of respect for the North Country.

We already have fewer representatives than we used to; having such a puppet under fraudulent circumstances takes the cake.

Kathleen Kelley

Randolph, N.H.


Thanks for digging into the consequences of this shameful and undemocratic incident.

Unfortunately, we expected no better from the House leadership.

The Editor


Republicans Are the Death Panel

Dear Editor,

A recent United Nations report documents 10,000 Ukrainian civilian deaths due to Russia’s aggressive war. That number is dwarfed by an estimated 15,000 Palestinian civilians killed in Israel’s military response to Hamas’ 1,200 murders October 7th. How then should we characterize the deaths of nearly 319,000 American civilians by what Brown University medical researchers call “Covid-19 vaccine-preventable deaths?” This devastating number is higher than a previous estimate by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and Harvard School of Public Health, that 232,000 American deaths could have been prevented had the deceased been vaccinated.

“All of this comes down to trust—whether the political leadership creates a climate of trust in public health agencies’ efforts, in the science,” says Dr. Thomas Tsai, co-author of Harvard’s analysis.

This deadly legacy is the crime for which Donald Trump’s anti-vaccine, anti-mask, anti-science harangues must disqualify him from holding public office ever again.

Bruce Joffe

Piedmont, Calif.


Every fortnight we intend to harp on this issue. We nearly always forget. Thank you for making up for [one of] our deficiencies.

We agree that this instance of appalling judgment should be reason enough to dissuade any thinking person from voting for this buffoon.

Actual disqualification, though? That’s a different question. Defining and quantifying appallingly bad judgment seems like a dangerous enterprise.

The Editor


Spain’s Government’s Impressive About-Turn: Democratic Horizon For Catalonia?

To the Editor:

Today’s Spanish nationalism was heavily influenced by General Franco’s forty years of dictatorship. Due to international pressure, fascism agreed to move towards a more or less democratic system and was therefore not defeated and eradicated as in Germany or Italy. In Spain, fascism persisted, more or less disguised, at the base of the army, the police, big business, the Popular Party (the PP was founded by seven of Franco’s ministers), the media and the judiciary.

This overwhelming domination by the heirs of the regime caused even the most open or left-wing sectors to drift towards a supremacist nationalism that excluded those who were different and tended towards aggressiveness. And it was further accentuated by the confrontation against the armed struggle of Basque independence, in which all means were used to win at any cost for the sake of the sacred unity of Spain. And they have treated the peaceful and democratic Catalan independence movement equally, legitimising the use of all the tools of the state (police, secret services, media and judicial system) to destroy the supposed enemy.

The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, PSOE, which had supported the PP’s outrages, continued the dirty war when it governed from 2018. At the same time, far-right politicians within the PP created their own party VOX, against feminism, immigrants and the Catalans and Basques. In its beginnings, the PSOE demanded that VOX be in the televised debates with the intention of damaging the PP electorally, although it was not appropriate because they were an extra-parliamentary force. In the short term the PP lost votes at the expense of VOX, but then the beast became big and now everyone is regretting it.

In the 2023 elections, the PP won but could not form a government, while the PSOE’s Sánchez could form a government if he got the support of Junts, the pro-independence party of Carles Puigdemont, exiled in Belgium and whom the PSOE had vilified to dehumanising extremes. Now that they need his support, Puigdemont has demanded a “historic agreement” to democratically resolve the Catalonia-Spain conflict, foreseeably with a referendum. Puigdemont has set the following conditions: an end to the dirty war, the removal of independence from Europol’s terrorist list, an amnesty for all those persecuted by the “lawfare” (judicial dirty war) carried out by the Spanish justice system, and negotiations in Switzerland with international mediation.

Sánchez has accepted everything, because he wants to stay in power, but also because it was reasonable and it was the opportunity to put an end to the orgy of repression that had become unsustainable. This abuse by the state could no longer be sustained, because independence has been winning elections, because Spain has been condemned by the Council of Europe and the United Nations, and because the lawsuits that the Catalan independence movement has brought against Spain before the European courts are about to come to light.

From now on, Sánchez has the difficult task of explaining why he is amnestying the Catalan independence movement if, until now, he said that they were criminals who could not be negotiated with. The right wing is right to criticise him for having made a U-turn out of a lust for power and because the PSOE governs almost nowhere and, to maintain the party, it needs the economic income allowed by the central government. We shall see if Sánchez’s personal need can help find a democratic solution to the eternal Spain-Catalonia problem.

At the moment, there are people demonstrating in the streets against stopping the judicial prosecution of Catalan “coup perpetrators.” The PP will try to make Sánchez pay a price for separating himself from nationalist postulates and VOX accuses Sánchez of being a coup leader, a dictator and compares him to Hitler. Protesters make fascist proclamations and call for the death of Sánchez and Puigdemont. From the army, some fifty retired military officers have called for a coup d’état to save the homeland and nobody has said anything to them. And the judges have also protested against the allusion to “lawfare” because they say it undermines the separation of powers. They have even demonstrated in their robes, violating the principle of non-participation in politics and, worst of all, they are forcing the judicial machinery to convict the maximum number of people before the amnesty and they are raising the charges to terrorism so that they cannot benefit from the amnesty.

The amnesty law is being processed, but the fact is that in Spain there has never been a problem with the laws, nor with the ordinary justice system comparable to that of Europe, but rather the problem is with the high judges when they have to judge Catalan pro-independence supporters, because then they use justice for political ends to harm their enemy.

In any case, the facts show a powerful Catalan independence movement that has managed to force the Spanish state to contradict itself and accept an amnesty that all state powers described as impossible until four months ago. We shall see how events evolve.

Jordi Oriola Folch

Barcelona, Catalonia


Yes, indeed, we shall see. And, judging from this and your earlier dispatches, we will be able to comprehend, thanks to the clarity you provide.

The Editor


Does Hate Have a Home in N.H.?

To the Editor:

On Sunday, December third at 1:00 p.m., a demonstration in support of Mamadou Dembele, the victim of a hate crime in Portsmouth on November 22nd, was held at the African Burial Ground Monument. It was a rainy day with several dozen supporters turning up to listen to the words of leadership address the attack on a fellow member of the community. They had inspirational messages of persistence, community, and support. They expressed their love of New Hampshire and its people and shared their pain of constantly being on guard for incidents like Mr. Dembele’s horrible attack.

Significantly less inspiring was the distinct absence of New Hampshire’s white leaders. Assistant Attorney General Sean Locke sent a letter that was read by Manchester NAACP president James McKim that had the generic condolences and platitudes of “hate having no home here,” and one white faith leader was called to speak and hit the nail on the head. White people shy away and stand in the back of the room when these all-too-common events transpire.

New Hampshire is 92 percent white per the latest census. Almost all our state leaders and law enforcement officers are white. Yet no law enforcement or state leaders were present to show the community that hate indeed has no home in New Hampshire. With the global rise of white supremacy and the increase in activity of Neo-Nazi groups that attacked residents in Concord in June of this year, and the rumors that a former police officer was the one who conducted the attack on Mr. Dembele, I’d like to think that our leaders would want to get on top of a high visibility incident like this one and prove to the public that this will not be tolerated.

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “…We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Perception is reality and the perception indeed is, Hate has a home in New Hampshire. Prove to your residents otherwise.

Curtis Register

Durham, N.H.


While we would quibble with your estimate of “several dozen supporters”—our direct, on-scene estimate was just shy of 100, not bad for such a wet, raw day—we agree that white leaders were conspicuous in their absence.

The Editor


One Revolution Was Enough

Dear Editor,

There are three reasons former president Trump must not be on the ballot in any state devoted to rule of law.

First, no person found liable for large-scale business fraud should be trusted in public office, where the societal stakes are even higher than in private business, and the consequences of misbehavior are even more dire.

Second, no person convicted of felony crime should be allowed to vote, let alone run for office, otherwise the sacred civil rights of all upstanding Americans will be diminished and stained. America must prepare for Trump’s pre-election conviction of crime by enacting explicit laws to bar felons from holding positions of public trust until well after they have served their time.

Third, no person who engages in, or gives aid and comfort to an insurrection or rebellion should be allowed to take the reins of any government institution. The only exception must be a case where his or her party writes a new constitutional law that the people of the land overwhelmingly agree to support, as was the case with our founding fathers and mothers.

Kimball Shinkoskey

Woods Cross, Utah


We have indeed come to a sorry state when it seems necessary to explicitly bar crooks and insurrectionists from public office.

The Editor


“By second or third grade, I was doing my own thing. I still resent being told what to do in any way, shape, or form. I’m sure it’s clinical.”

— Maya Lin

American designer and sculptor

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