Every American should be troubled, attentive, and very concerned about the mishandling of classified documents by the former president discovered by the FBI during their lawful investigation at Trump’s resort in Florida. Politics aside, the slow but steady erosion of respect for state secrets and the uneven prosecution of those who willfully violate long-standing laws governing security of classified material; in particular, the coddling of the powerful and the harsh punishment of subordinates creates the inevitable extension of our seriously broken system.
In 2003, on two separate occasions, Samuel (Sandy) Berger entered the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and stole sensitive government documents, stuffing them into his socks and pants.
Two years later, after he left his job as President Bill Clinton’s national security advisor, Berger pleaded guilty to the theft. He was fined $50,000, sentenced to three years probation, 100 hours of community service and denied a government security clearance for three years.
In 2016, a U.S. Navy sailor pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of sensitive information for taking selfies inside a nuclear submarine. The sailor, Kristian Saucier, was sentenced to one year in prison, then home confinement with an ankle bracelet and three years of supervision.
The Berger and Navy sailor examples were violations of the laws forbidding the possession or illegal use of security secrets. In Berger’s case, he was preparing for congressional testimony. In the sailor’s case, he was excited to be on a nuclear submarine and forgot his duty.
In January, 2021, just hours before Joe Biden was sworn in as president, Donald Trump shipped a dozen boxes of classified government documents to Mar-a-Lago. These boxes were then stored in an unsecured basement room allowing Trump aides to access them freely (it’s on videotape). These documents were clearly labeled “Top Secret” (among other terms) some so sensitive that protocols require them to be read, but not removed from, secure locations like the White House Situation Room.
In their search, the FBI listed documents relating to national security, the President of France, even nuclear matters. Obviously there is no legitimate reason to have this kind of material in one’s home.
Donald Trump has always considered himself to be above the law and apparently thought he could take what ever he wanted after he lost the election, lie to the FBI about it, and not be held accountable. The reality is, the truth is, American citizens have gone to prison for a lot less.
The former president is renown for his absolute disregard for the rules of law but this inconvenient fact seems to bother his disciples, including the majority of the Republican Party, not at all. That does not speak well for the men and women who have made a clear and purposeful choice to violate their oath of office, emulating a man who willfully placed this nation (the nation he too was sworn to protect) in extreme danger.
The battle for the soul of the Republican Party is over. The challenges that will determine America’s future, from this point on, continue unremittingly. Trump proved beyond all reasonable doubt how ill-prepared America’s institutions were to deal with an unapologetic authoritarian who, throughout his entire adult life, has believed rules that apply to the rest of us do not pertain to him.
We must not, for any reason or perceived circumstance, out of fear, allow the Republican Party (or anyone) to normalize his criminality.
David L. Snell
For the benefit of our readers, we will note here that you know whereof you speak.
David was an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy. He served aboard a sister ship to the U.S.S. Liberty—the intelligence-gathering vessel attacked by Israel on June 8, 1968.
There Can Be Only One
To the Editor:
Russell Prescott is the only candidate in the first congressional district primary who has the public and private sector experience necessary to bring real change to Washington. In the State Senate Russell balanced the budget, cut taxes, and created local jobs. Russell also served several years on the Executive Council balancing his experience of dealing with the Executive and the Legislative side of government.
He is running for Congress in New Hampshire’s first district to bring his Wealth of experience to Washington. As a small business owner for nearly 40 years, Russell knows that taxes and over regulation hurt the private sector. He Also knows what it’s like to sign both sides of a paycheck and balance a budget which he did twice as a State Senator in Concord.
Russell will bring his decades of experience and New Hampshire values to Washington. We support Russell Prescott for Congress and hope you will vote for him on Tuesday, September 13.
Douglas and Stella Scamman
Doug and Stella:
We agree wholeheartedly that none of the other Republican candidates for the First District are qualified for the job. Most of them fail our first test: are they dealing with reality in a forthright manner?
Prescott fails our second test, though. His support for a national investigation of the 2020 election shows he’s willing to pander to the GOP’s lunatic wing—which is to say, the party’s majority.
You have our sympathy. It must be terribly hard, being basically decent people, to watch the Party you’ve supported all your lives set itself on fire on behalf of a monster.
Of course, you survived the Bill O’Brien era, so….
An Excellent Order
To the Editor:
I was happy when President Biden signed an executive order regarding student debt forgiveness. Under his order, the Department of Education will cancel between $10,000 and $20,000 of debt for those with federal government loans, with Pell Grant recipients gaining the most benefit. In addition, the hiatus on student loan payments is extended to the end of December, 2022. Finally, a new cap on payments will not exceed five percentof a borrower’s “discretionary income.”
Recently characterized in local press as benefitting “affluent, middle-class New Hampshire student loan borrowers,” the Department of Education actually estimates 90 percentof the forgiveness will benefit families earning less than $75,000 a year. Are families earning less than $75,000 per year really considered “affluent”?
Ironically, I note that criticism of the current administration’s forgiveness did not extend to the forgiveness extended to the Paycheck Protection Program loans, despite the average of these being over $70,000. This is a fine example of how socialism subsidies are acceptable for businesses, but not for the people.
For New Hampshire families trying to educate the next generation, and at the same time wondering how they are going to heat their homes, feed themselves, and keep the lights on this coming winter, this executive order is a blessing.
Oh, for shame, sir! How were you raised? Were you not taught that it’s impolite to draw attention to the blatant hypocrisy inherent in our socio-political system?
We Need Public-Oriented Candidates
The IRS will have $80 billion in new funding over the next 10 years. This, as Republicans have steadily blocked needed funding for the agency, abetting the “tax gap,” difference between taxes owed and taxes paid. Up to 87,000 new IRS hirees are on the horizon, going after people and businesses who don’t pay their owed taxes. Those making less than $400,000 per year or small businesses are not the targets. The miscreants are the super wealthy, whose lawyers will fight their cases. We have some number of those hiding out in New Hampshire.
And “income” itself can be a word-distinction that hinders taxing. A clever CEO can take no “income.” Bernie Sanders promoted a wealth tax instead of income tax. He envisions those worth more than $32 million being taxed on their wealth, netting the public purse $4.35 trillion over the next decade “and cutting the wealth of billionaires in half over 15 years, substantially breaking up the concentration of wealth and power of this small, privileged class.” Yeah, Bernie!
What does this have to do with our New Hampshire primary voting, coming up September 13th? The Republican leadership, filtering down from distant desks to our hinterlands, maintains a tone of nicely deceiving the public as to the ailing old party’s goals. They deceive; they’re ailing. Our ballot lines will need public-oriented candidate names on them, even the Republican lines, if possible. These September 13th choices yield our so-important November ballot. But, if the Republican candidates are so bad, it could steer Independents / Undeclareds to vote for the Democrats, who, under President Biden, take on the muddle left by Trump and his sidekick Mitch McConnell who governs the Senate Republicans to do not much, just block.
Lynn Rudmin Chong
Republicans are at their most transparent when they get apoplectic about the IRS getting adequate resources to go after fat-cat tax cheats.
It reminds us of what George W.[MD] Bush said at the Al Smith Memorial Dinner in October, 2000. As CBS reported, Bush “gazed around the diamond-studded $800-a-plate crowd and commented on the wealth on display. ‘This is an impressive crowd—the haves and the have-mores,’ quipped the GOP standard-bearer. ‘Some people call you the elites; I call you my base.’”
Why All This Vitriol?
While not surprising considering today’s political atmosphere, it is still disturbing to hear all the anger, jealousy, and misinformation resulting from President Biden’s recent decision to forgive some student loans. Considering this outcry from so-called “fiscal conservatives,” it might be appropriate to discuss the actual anticipated costs of this program and compare it to other economic decisions such as tax cuts, corporate bailouts, and the pandemic Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.
The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School estimates that Biden’s education loan debt cancellation alone will cost between $469 billion to $519 billion over 10 years, depending on whether existing and new students are included. About 75 percentof the benefit falls to households making $88,000 or less per year. Loan forgiveness for 2022 will cost an additional $16 billion. It is interesting to note that in the sixty year history of the student loan program prior to the Biden forgiveness decision, only 0.6 percentof student loan debt has been forgiven.
However, when compared to other economic decisions such as tax cuts, corporate bailouts and PPP loans, for which the people receiving them them did nothing in particular to deserve them—in fact, with the case of the 2008 Great Recession corporate bailouts, those receiving the money actually contributed the problem in the first place—the picture looks quite different.
In 2019 the MIT Sloan School of Management estimated that the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 cost the economy $498 billion, or 3.5 percentof 2009 GDP. Most of the funds were used to bail out corporations “too big to fail” that were responsible for causing the financial crisis requiring the bailouts.
The two tax cuts of President George W. Bush are estimated to have cost a combined $3.5 trillion.
The President Trump tax cut is estimated to cost $2.3 trillion.
The Payroll Protection Program or PPP business loan program cost $953 billion.
Since the initiation of PPP loans in 2020 over 80 percent have been forgiven, totaling over $600 billion. Some of those who have been forgiven their PPP loans are some politicians who are the most vocally opposed to President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. For example, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) received $183,504 in PPP loan forgiveness, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) received $987,237 in PPP loan forgiveness, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) received forgiveness of more than $2.3 million, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) received $1.4 million in forgiveness, Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) received more than $1 million in loan forgiveness, and Rep. Matt Goetz (R-Fla) received $482,321 in loan forgiveness.
Even our own Gov. Chris Sununu (R-N.H.), who has condemned the student loan forgiveness, was OK with his family business receiving $3 million in PPP loan forgiveness. These PPP loans were no different from student loans, when the borrower made the loan it was with the expectation that it would be paid back. In addition, the forgiveness of a student loan to an individual meeting certain economic standards, is in fact, much more stringent than PPP loan forgiveness made to those with substantial financial resources.
Many people complain that these student loans being forgiven is nothing but a handout. The same could be said to those wealthy individuals and corporations who received tax cuts, or the businesses who received Emergency Economic Stabilization funds, or those who received PPP loan forgiveness. However, the level of anger and vitriol being expressed over the student loan forgiveness was never directed at any of those receiving tax cuts, bailouts or PPP loan forgiveness which were at levels much in excess of $10 or $20 thousand the vast majority of those getting loan forgiveness will actually receive. I wonder why?
Rich DiPentima, LTC, USAF, Ret.
The right wing regression towards infancy continues. They assume that everything is theirs. No one else has a right to anything.
Student Loans, PPP Loans and Gov. Sununu
To the Editor:
Once again, Governor Sununu has made an uninformed and misleading public statement, this time about President Biden’s student loan relief plan. His opening statement that Biden “transferred it on to the backs of millions of hardworking Americans who chose not to go to college for expensive degrees” is insulting to two groups of hard working Americans: those who are saddled with student debt and those who chose not to go to expensive colleges. He gives the example of truck drivers, again using stereotypes. Some of those with student debt are truck drivers. Our son who went to college, had student debt, and is now an EMT/FF, was a truck driver. And while the rising price of diesel, which has more to do with Russia’s war against Ukraine and the decisions made by oil executives than anything done in Washington, is an issue, it is the high cost of commercial trucking insurance that is “whacking” New Hampshire’s truckers. There is just one company in New Hampshire that provides that insurance.
On top of all that, I do not recall Sununu or any Republicans complaining when $742 billion dollars in Payment Protection Plan loans were forgiven. In fact Sununu signed a bill, SB 3, to make forgiven PPP loans exempt from New Hampshire’s business profits tax. Additionally, the Sununu’s consulting firm received a a $23,600 PPP loan which potentially protected two jobs (U.S. Treasury), and Waterville Valley (Sununu maintains an ownership interest in Sununu Holdings, which owns Waterville Valley Holdings) got two whopping PPP loans ($1.43 and $1.71 million), among the first 100 loans dished out, loans which were forgiven.
Patricia L. Frisella
We’re perplexed by the Governor’s ability to sell himself as a folksy, reasonable kind of guy. That persona seems to us to hide multitudes, not all of whom are equally committed to telling the whole truth.
Calling a Traitor a Traitor
Three Top Secret documents were found in Donald trump’s desk drawer in Mar-a-Lago. They weren’t even stored in the unsecured storage rooms of Mar-a-Lago. Has the Former President, who was reported to own three passports, already spilled the beans? Has he already called people, possible foreign government officials, and told them what the documents said?
If anyone else had illegally stolen Top Secret documents and tried to cover it up, as Trump and his employees have, wouldn’t the obvious conclusion be that this was the action of a spy engaging in espionage against our country? Wouldn’t we call such an ex-government employee a traitor?
Yeah, but what about that time Obama wore a tan suit?
Huff ‘n Puff
To the Editor:
Meet MAGA’s newest Congressional Candidate and Disinformation Specialist, Gail Huff Brown.
Consorting with the likes of Newt Gingrich and Sean Hannity, there’s no question whose team she’s on. But, retired from the news business and liberated from the tethers of journalistic integrity, Gail is perfectly free to go full MAGA and prop up the Big Lie if she wishes.
Hell, Kari Lake did it and it’s working well for her.
In fact, MAGA World loves to recruit retired newswomen like Gail because, as successful reporters and anchors, they’re articulate, assertive, attractive on camera, and (more important) well-schooled in the art of manipulating information. Their candidacy also helps to soften the image of a party otherwise hostile to women and to project the illusion of journalistic integrity even though it was checked at the door.
So what’s not to like about Gail’s campaign?
I think Liz Cheney expressed it best when she said, “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonour will remain.”
It pains us to say it, but sometimes we wonder if the news racket is a net plus for this country, or a minus.
Put Up Or Shut Up
To the Editor:
There has been a lot of criticism generated regarding President Biden’s Student Loan Debt Forgiveness plan. I had the good fortune to attend and graduate from Williams College from 1980 to 1984. Even though I hailed from the great state of Rhode Island, where Senator Claiborn Pell was rightfully considered a god for, among many things, developing the Pell Grants for Education, I was not considered a candidate for a Pell Grant. So my four years at Williams College was paid for by my mother’s savings; gifts from grandparents; a modest trust fund from my late father’s estate; my savings from working at Burger King and delivering newspapers; two high school academic scholarships that I sought out, applied for, and won; and a Financial Aid Package from Williams College that included basic grants; a $2,000 interest-free loan; the guarantee of a on-campus job for four years (I chose working in the dining halls washing dishes); and the suggestion to apply for the maximum GSL loans which at that time was $2,500 per year. So I got four consecutive Guaranteed Student Loans (GSL) and graduated Williams with $10,000 of GSL debt which technically was private debt (through Citizens Bank if memory serves me correctly). So I would not qualify for debt forgiveness nor up to $10,000 debt cancellation. I would have still had to pay off the loans over seven years (I received a payment booklet with 84 monthly coupons of $116.10 @ 7.00 percent APR—which was a deal in 1985 when Prime Rate was 15 percent) with Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. The only extra benefit I would have received due solely to COVID was that the automatic six month deferral period would have been extended up to 24 months due to COVID.
Remember, Biden and the Federal Government—i.e. the U.S House of Representatives and U.S. Senate—have no authority over private lenders like Citizens Bank even if they set the standards for GSL loans. And while there are lots of holes in Biden’s proposal (remember that no President can make loans—only recommend them (applies even for Trump and his zealots)—at least it is a reasonable proposal that does not overstep the bounds of the federal government by dictating changes to private lenders. If the nay sayers (i.e. Republicans) have an alternative plan—we are all ears. But if not, then do your elected job, lawmakers, and start drafting or get behind this plan.
Bruce E. McEldowney
Do you actually mean to suggest that the U.S. Government ought to take action that would improve the material conditions of the average citizen?
What a remarkable concept. Bravo.
Elections and Consequences
To the Editor:
Will Democrats work harder than ever to rebuff Republican extremism and national treachery ? Will they, Independents and disaffected Republicans get active and interact politically in their communities to help secure our Democracy from “Insurrectionist Supporting” current politicians and their candidates?
Elections have consequences. We have seen, in the last election, how the absolute calamity created by Democratic timidity at canvassing door-to-door resulted in a wave of extremist “Free Staters” getting elected to the New Hampshire Legislature in this past general session. We have seen the Republican/Libertarian effort to have New Hampshire secede from the union! We have witnessed and suffered through the public attacks on the poor, programs for the elderly, public education, school boards, teachers, principals, superintendents, selectpersons and on our electoral system itself. Such extremes of governance have seriously set back our state because Republican extremists, facilitated by Governor “Super-Veto” Sununu, were in charge.
We cannot, we must not have a repeat of the regression to the 19th century led by muddled-thinking Republicans in the last election. We cannot let them set the agenda for the next series of elections.
If you care about your/our Democracy and the very fabric of American culture and society…you must do all you can at all levels of our political efforts to elect, thoughtful, caring, progressive Democratic candidates to undo the “wrongs” of Republican leadership and create the caring, thoughtful, responsible and fair society we crave!
Elections used to have consequences. Nowadays, that’s not so certain. Apparently we’re supposed to wait patiently, while Merrick Garland decides whether or not elections have consequences.
The End Of The European Model?
To the Editor:
The signs are many: the resurgence of fascism, unbridled individualism, the absolute domination of economic power over political power, racism, exploitation, and poverty.
The signs, more or less strong, are everywhere and the European economic and social model is crumbling in all its versions: the Christian democratic, liberal and socialist versions. With all their limitations, the welfare models of Old Europe, its imperfect democracy, always under the tutelage of the American Friend (but has everyone forgotten the Stay Behind networks?), left room for hope that there might at least be a rational response to the looming crises. Like the unpresentable communism of the USSR, the European model continued to act as a competitor (certainly not as an alternative) to the savage Anglo-Saxon capitalism. And now?
Beyond the inefficiency of the legislative and executive powers, beyond the mediocrity exuded by today’s politicians, with minimal and often ephemeral exceptions, the symptoms of gangrene are evident in the judiciary and the media.
The Spanish state in this respect is a paradigm, but this should not surprise us, given that it is unique among all the countries that have suffered a dictatorship. In Spain there has never been a change of economic, political, military or legal elites, not even apparent or partial. The timid transition to democracy that the current Constitution supposedly represented, with the yoke imposed at the dictation of the outgoing Franco regime, did not affect the deep state, the powers that be, the spheres where the law is decided and interpreted at will.
Cases of espionage against any opposition, whether political, regional (the Catalan case now, the Basque one for many years) or even cultural, the repulsive impunity from the royal family to the corrupt and corrupters, even during the pandemic, the coup declarations of a significant part of the military commanders, the annulment of any proposal for parliamentary investigation are the order of the day. All this with the absolute complicity of the high judiciary and the national press. This press is always ready to slam, on the front page of the newspaper, the enemy of the homeland manufactured with communicative engineering, but later, when it is shown that all the accusations were false, they are denied in a small news item or not denied at all.
As Rafael Correa said recently on Televisión Española, talking about the control of the media by the economic corporations: “freedom of the press means communicating what the owner of the channel freely decides.”
With regard to Spanish justice, the sentences against Catalan politicians are also emblematic: judicial harassment of a proposal for self-determination that should be addressed through political negotiation and not through court rulings. It is enough to review the statements of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty, or the responses of the courts of other European states that have refused to extradite Catalan politicians exiled in their countries due to the lack of judicial guarantees in Spain.
In this context, the role of the European Parliament and the European Court, subsidiary to the raison d’état of each of the states, is regrettable. This conniving behaviour is unworthy of the power entrusted to them.
It is not that the Belgian, Swiss, Scottish or German courts, which opposed the inconsistent justifications for the extradition of exiled Catalan politicians, are the paradise of the just. Simply put, magistrates in states with somewhat more mature democracies have a different dignity, often more corporate than deontological, but still capable of a lesser degree of servility. They have a different conception of their role, which is that of a buffer: to block any drift towards the too acidic or the too basic, to maintain neutrality. Chemical, of course, not ideological: that would be too good!
Guido Angelo Ramellini
El Masnou, Catalonia
To the Editor:
Rick Littlefield’s letter about how we refer to fetuses and the editor’s response about being forced to write in the colonizers language reminds me how easy it is to be careless with the words we choose. These misused words have impacted the brains of otherwise astute beings.
My favorite example is “pro-life.” Outside of gun manufacturers and those who support and buy their products, I think the rest of us are “pro-life.” Those who don’t support the right to choose abortion are “anti-choice,” an accurate term, but one rarely used.
I hope that as we claim the bits of our language we take care to accurately describe who we are, what we think and how our actions may reflect our best selves.
A Lesson in Fascism From Don Ewing
To the Editor:
[Mr. Ewing begins by offering up a straw man: a convenient definition of fascism equating it with a central government, specifically one that rewards its supporters and oppresses its opponents.]
[Deleted: a gratuitous introduction of the right wing shibboleth, “Constitutional Republic.”]
Examples of domestic Fascist actions:
• [Xenophobic alarmism.]
• Government officials who allowed, encouraged, and some supported (e.g., Kamala Harris), their supporters’ widespread 2020 riots that destroyed public and private property, and injured, and killed, people.
• Officials who closed Churches while leaving casinos and other gathering places open.
• [“Cancel culture.”]
• Officials who, contrary to our laws, allow supporters to harass the Supreme Court Justices that Biden dislikes.
• Prosecutors, like L.A.’s [George] Gascón, who treat violent criminals very leniently, releasing them to victimize others.
• Using government power to harass political opponents, pressuring FBI agents to inflate Domestic Violent Extremist numbers (https://tinyurl.com/2u5ny6vj), and enforcing laws unequally (only against political opponents).
• Supreme Court Justices who decide cases based on their preferences rather than the clear meaning of our Constitution (usurping power from the American people).
[Remarkably, Ewing closes his letter by citing genuine political sins committed by Democrats—as if the heirs to that political tradition did not shift, under Nixon and Reagan, from the Democratic to the Republican party.]
Democrats falsely call Republicans Fascists to divert attention from Democrats’ Fascist actions. Slavery, the KKK, Jim Crow Laws, dog attacks on peaceful protestors, and refusal to protect innocent people from criminals reveal Democrats’ long history of Fascist actions and character.
We hope you will understand that, given your record, if we print your letter we must include a response. Unfortunately, because most of this space has already been taken up by more reliable writers, we will have to excise some of your verbiage to make room for necessary annotations. Fortunately your pomposity can be condensed easily enough.