No Cause For Alarm

Eight days ago a criminal defendant, currently out on $200,000 bail, sent a funny video to millions of his social media followers.

For the benefit of those who have not seen it, the video shows a huge black “dually” truck, with two wheels on each end of the back axle. The front wheels are secured by special lugnuts sporting long, chrome, gladiator-style spikes, the better to intimidate other drivers and pedestrians. The truck is so big it’s got its own flagpole, carrying a 3 x 5 foot “Thin Blue Line” flag. Black and white, with a single blue stripe, it’s meant to signify support for the police—not the law, but the police. With its non-standard colors, the flag’s mere existence violates the U.S. Flag Code.

While some might find the truck itself laughable, the punchline is on the vinyl-wrapped tailgate. Through clever use of the painter’s technique known as trompe l’oile, the tailgate creates the illusion of being invisible, or simply not present. This allows a full view of the truck bed, and what it seems to be carrying: President Joe Biden, lying on his side, bound and gagged like a kidnap victim.

If the poster of this video had just been some ordinary run-of-the-mill felon, up on charges of bank robbery or arson, this incident would be unremarkable. It was, however, Donald J. Trump, the self-professed “very stable genius” and acknowledged former President who is the führer of the cult known as the Republican Party and quite possibly the next President of the U.S.A.


A Home-Grown Cheerleader for Fascism

Despite having Windham, New Hampshire’s very own Corey Lewandowski for his campaign manager in 2016, Donald Trump lost this state’s four electoral votes to Hillary Clinton.

This time around, Trump has an Atkinson, New Hampshire native, Karoline Leavitt, as his national press secretary. Will the results be the same? One can only hope.

Lewandowski was notorious, eight years ago, for manhandling protestors and a woman reporting for Breitbart. While Leavitt has yet to show any predeliction for physical violence, she seems eager to make up for that through verbal bellicosity. Here she is talking about what Team Trump has planned for polling places in November:

“We have the team, now it’s time to deploy the troops on the ground. … We’re gonna have soldiers, poll watchers on the ground who are making sure that there are no irregularities and fraud like we saw in the last election cycle.”

All perfectly harmless, of course—mere metaphorical campaign rhetoric. Nothing to be alarmed about. It’s not as if there’s any chance that some gun-totin’ Trump follower would ever decide to strap on his Glock when he heads for the polls on election day.


Standing, Schmanding, or, “Because We Say So”

The state of New Hampshire installed a historical marker in Concord last year, noting the birthplace of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. It went up after Mary Lee Sargent and Arnie Alpert went through the usual lengthy process: research the subject, establish valid reasons why a marker would be appropriate, submit the application, and hope that the Division of Historical Resources verifies your argument and grants its approval.

Two weeks later the state removed the marker. Why? Because the Governor said so.

Sargent and Alpert took the case to court. They asked to have the marker re-installed. The court said no, justifying its decision by declaring that Sargent and Alpert “lack standing.”

After all, what do Sargent and Alpert have to do with Flynn’s historical marker? Who do they think they are? Chris Sununu?

“Standing” is one of those legal terms that can cause confusion among mere mortals. When it comes to being lawyers, we plead not guilty, therefore we cannot explain it.

We do, however, edit a newspaper. We are therefore free to exercise our rights under the First Amendment. In our book—well, in our newspaper—“standing” is the legal equivalent of Silly Putty™.

As evidence that our argument is valid we submit to the reader as evidence the case of FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, now before the Supreme Court.

The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine is a recently-assembled group of medical associations. None of them perform abortions. None of its member organizations work in Texas. Its mailing address is in Tennessee.

What the Alliance does have is a beef against the abortion pill mifepristone. According to the Progressive Caucus Center, the Alliance “alleged the FDA lacked the authority to approve mifepristone, that studies regarding drug’s safety were insufficient, and that mifepristone’s approval violates a 150-year-old anti-obscenity law. …”

Tennessee, Texas—what’s the difference? That was close enough for Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, whom Donald J. Trump appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Bingo. Suddenly mifepristone—proven for over 23 years to be both safe and effective—is verboten because the Alliance has standing.

Appeals of cases in Kacsmaryk’s court are handled by the Fifth Circuit. One might expect the Fifth Circuit to notice that Tennessee is not in their district and throw out the case for lack of standing but noo….

Surely, then, the Supreme Court will look at the case and say, “Can’t anyone on the Fifth Circuit read a map? Dismissed for lack of standing.” What fools ye editors be….

The paragraphs above exhaust our understanding—or misunderstanding—of legal standing. To mitigate the confusion they may have generated, we now offer a slightly truncated press release which we received from the litigants on Monday:

Flynn Marker Sponsors Ask Court to Reconsider Standing Issue

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE—In a motion filed Friday by their attorney, Andru Volinsky, Mary Lee Sargent and Arnie Alpert have asked Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger to reconsider his ruling that they lack standing to sue the State for removing a historical marker about Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

Sargent and Alpert led an effort for the Division of Historical Resources (DHR) to install a marker near the Concord birthplace of Flynn, who gained notoriety as a labor activist, civil libertarian, and advocate for women’s equality in the early twentieth century. Later, she became a leader of the Communist Party for which she was jailed under the Smith Act during the McCarthy Period.

The Flynn marker was installed at the corner of Court and Montgomery Streets in Concord on May 1, 2023 but was taken down only two weeks later on the orders of Governor Chris Sununu, apparently on the grounds that Flynn’s involvement in the Communist Party disqualified her from historical recognition.

When Sargent and Alpert sued the State in August, the Attorney General moved to have the case dismissed on the grounds that they lacked legal standing. Judge Kissinger agreed.

“While no one disputes the time and effort expended by the plaintiffs in relation to the Flynn marker, the Court finds no support for a determination that such efforts give rise to a legal right interest, or privilege protected by law,” Kissinger wrote in a March 20 order.

“The Court’s ruling protects the decision to remove the marker no matter the reason,” Volinsky wrote in the motion for reconsideration. “All removal decisions are protected from review by the Court’s ruling on standing. No one could challenge a similar decision to remove a marker because the subject of the marker was a Republican or Democrat, woman, LGBTQIA, Black, Brown, Asian, or any other factor an executive councilor or a governor deems objectionable.”

Volinsky’s motion also reasserted his clients’ views that their recognized status as the marker’s sponsors gives them legal standing.

“The purpose of the marker program is educating the public about places, events, and people of historical significance, a category which certainly includes Elizabeth Gurley Flynn,” said Mary Lee Sargent, a Bow resident who taught American history and women’s studies at colleges and universities for several decades. “There is no provision in statute or in the rules governing the marker program that says established markers can be removed based on ideological rather than historical grounds.”

If Judge Kissinger accepts the motion for reconsideration, the case would move to the discovery phase and perhaps to a trial. If the judge sticks to his previous opinion, the plaintiffs’ only legal recourse would be an appeal to the N.H. Supreme Court.

Born in Concord to an Irish immigrant family on August 7, 1890, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was already a well-known speaker before reaching her twentieth birthday. As a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, a labor union which sought to organize workers without regard to race, sex, or national origin, Flynn crisscrossed the country lifting the spirits of striking workers, raising funds for their defense, and helping to organize textile, mining, timber, and other workers to win better pay and working conditions. A staunch defender of women’s equality, Flynn became a fierce defender of civil liberties during the first “Red Scare” and was among the founders of the American Civil Liberties Union.

At the age of 46, Flynn joined the Communist Party at a time the group was campaigning against fascism and promoting a “popular front” in support of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. She soon rose to prominence within the party, for which she was indicted, tried, convicted, and sent to prison under the Smith Act.

It was Flynn’s Communist affiliation which attracted the ire of Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, who two days after the marker was installed demanded it be removed. Governor Sununu agreed, and the marker was taken away by the Department of Transportation on May 15th. It is believed to be still in the custody of the Department of Transportation. …


Abandoning, now, the orderly text of the press release, we’ll resume our own barbaric editorial yawp to note that Flynn, though a commie, never tried to overthrow the government.

Sununu has stated on record, though, that he’ll vote for Trump, who has.


Going, Going … ?

A little over a year ago the Portsmouth Herald’s presses at Pease fell silent. It now trucks papers in from Massachusetts or Rhode Island. More recently, home delivery ended. Subscribers get their papers from the postman now. Last month the paper’s parent company, Gannett, dropped its contract with AP.

What’s left?

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