Sunday, March 10, 2024

Invasive Forces Plundering NH

Governor Chris Sununu, VP Charles Koch Institute William Ruger, and Free-State Project Founder Jason Sorens at the Cato Institute celebration of NH as their choice for "freest state."⁠1

Traditionally, NH folks have been known to be self-reliant – maybe to the extent of appearing standoffish – because of our ‘live and let live’ philosophy.  Yet, while flinty and frugal, we believe in community: coming together to raise barns, build schools, and practice home rule through direct democracy in our town meetings. That is until three Republican governors have come along to disrupt our Yankee ecosystem just as invasive species are decimating our forests.

First came Mel Thompson, a law book publisher who became our 73rd governor, aided and abided by William Loeb, the fiery, right-wing editor of the Manchester Union. Both of these carpetbaggers were cosmic bad luck, warping our destiny to this day. They were the ones who brainwashed us with the motto, ’No Broad-based Taxes, which is still reverberating in our heads like a stuck record, continuing to wreak havoc on our poorer schools.

It was Meldrim, you may remember, who lobbied to arm the NH National Guard with nuclear weapons, coincidentally or not, at the same time the Clamshell Alliance was holding mass protests against the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant.  It was also Mel who led the push to construct a huge oil refinery in Durham – it would have been the biggest in the world at that time – defiling, in the process, the Great Bay Estuary, that precious jewel on our already minuscule 19 miles of ocean coastline.

Then we have Governor John Sununu, Chris’s Daddy. As chief of staff to President George H. Bush, he thwarted the US from joining the international conference to address climate change. In addition, he single-handedly pushed through the completion of Seabrook, that colossal white elephant first championed by Mel. 

The reactor ended up costing seven times the original estimate, causing the utility owner, Public Service, to go bankrupt. Of course, we, the NH taxpayers, had to bail them out. We are still on the hook to shell out the fortune it will cost to decommission Seabrook, which is supposed to happen soon, hopefully before it blows a radioactive gasket.

Now, let’s move on to John Sununo’s son, Chris, who has served as our popular governor for four terms now. His affable-appearing personality hides a dark agenda.

Governor Sununu has ties to Koch Industries, The Free State Movement, and the Libertarian Party. The Koch brothers (Charles is now deceased) own Koch Industries, the largest privately owned company in the country. The Kochs were instrumental in creating the Libertarian Party in 1989, using it to increase their business profits by maximizing individual liberty, no matter the social or environmental cost. They and their colleagues have spent hundreds of millions to weaken democracy nationwide.⁠1 

At the state level, Sununu has installed Frank Edelblut, libertarian-leaning with a divinity degree, as our commissioner of education. Together, they are laying the groundwork to eliminate public education by promoting private charter schools and giving folks vouchers to defray the cost of private schools, which will be paid for by—you guessed it—our hard-earned tax dollars. 

Governor Sununo also has ties to Jason Sorens, founder of the Free State Movement, who has recently moved to NH to become a professor at St Anselm’s College –  conveniently appointed to the post after the Kochs donated $1 million to the college in 2018.⁠2 

Another strand of this dark web is Koch’s Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), an anti-public education PAC based in Texas that has made significant inroads into our state, listing nearly 100 NH GOP state house representatives as members of its coalition.⁠3

These extremist groups are planning a coup that would spell disaster for NH. As Leonard Witt explains in InDepthNH, “Almost half of the GOP members of our state legislature have become YAL-inspired ideologues, not guardians of our children’s future and certainly not champions of fiscal responsibility.” Public schools are just the beginning, a wedge issue followed by plans to end Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”⁠4

If we do not confront these dark forces now, our traditional way of life will be dismantled in the same way invasive species like the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle are demolishing our forests today.




2 Ibid.


4 Ibid.

Monday, March 4, 2024

A Modest Proposal to Save the World

The art that united early Patagonians1


With our mild weather so far this year, NH has avoided calamitous climate change. Texas hasn’t been so lucky with its still-raging, million-acre Smokehouse Creek Fire. Neither is the rest of the world.


We are turning parts of our planet into uninhabitable deserts as rising waters from melting glaciers threaten coastal cities and freak storms erupt everywhere.  In the words of UN chief Antonio Guterres, we have ‘opened the gates of hell.’1


Our polarized, growth-at-any-cost society has hit a potentially fatal roadblock that could be the beginning of the end. All because we think we know everything. If we don’t make drastic changes, we, along with most of our fellow sentient beings, will soon be pushing up daisies.


This need not have happened if we had taken a different path, one suggested in a recent article about early Patagonians in Argentina.2 Around 8000 years ago, they were challenged by extreme climate change lasting 3000 years that would have spelled doom to our fickle, tech-consumed culture.


The secret of their survival is revealed in their cave art, which, over this enormous span of time, stayed true to a single motif, dedicated not to gods, great deeds, or military victories. Instead, their symbol simply consisted of wavy lines, looking much like an out-of-focus comb.


Anthropologists say this motif “represented a resilient response to ecological stress,” 2a acting to preserve cultural knowledge and maintain collective memories, critical to survival during thousands of years of extreme drought.⁠ 3  


While scientists understand the function of this symbol, they have no clue what it signifies. Solving this mystery would be a priceless achievement because it would likely equally apply to us today. If so, it might forestall our pending nose dive into oblivion.


I came across a theory that sheds light on this mystery in the work of Alan Watts, the writer and speaker who was instrumental in introducing Eastern philosophy to Western audiences – and a guru to the Sixties generation. Steeped in Eastern thought, he viewed the Tao as the source of all existence: Agency unseen but not transcendent, all-powerful yet humble, the root of all things.4


Watts’s Taoist perspective can appear elusive or paradoxical: a good example is its slippery definition of ‘non-acting,’ which can mean not acting, not forcing, acting spontaneously, or flowing with the moment.5


Two elements of Watt’s philosophy stand out: humans, rather than being the dominant species, are but a tiny thread, which, when woven together with all other sentient life on earth, form an interdependent whole. And second, life is change or, in Watt’s words – wriggly.


In that regard, early Patagonians and Watts have much in common.


 The Patagonian’s common motif was wavy lines, while, for Watts, it was wiggly lines: “Everything wiggles: the outlines of the hills, the shapes of the trees, the way the wind brushes the grass, the clouds, tracts of streams. It all wiggles.6


Meanwhile, Westerners, as Watts points out, live by straight lines: “You know, wherever human beings have been around and done their thing, you find rectangles. We live in boxes.7


Because we think in straight lines, it follows, according to Watts, that we spend our lives trying to control things by trying to straighten out the wriggly lines. Of course, that’s a fool’s errand because our very essence is wriggly. 


Just before Watts died, James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis came out, lending credence to Watts’s theory by proposing that the whole earth was not only wriggly but a single living organism.


Watts expressed it this way: “Just as there is an interdependence of flowers and bees: where there are no flowers there are no bees, and where there are no bees there are no flowers. They’re really one organism… I am, as it were, one of the cells in this tremendous brain.”8


Watts’s conclusion is “that our failure to feel at home in this astonishing brain in which we live is” due to our inflated view of ourselves, coupled with our mistaken attempts to improve our lot through technology. As a consequence, “we seem to be destroying the planet by our very efforts to control it and to improve it.”9


So, there it is in a nutshell: The ancient Patagonians believed they were essential components in a magical, wriggly world that gave their lives meaning, so much so that they painted that symbol on their cave walls as their anthem. 


Our only hope for long-term survival is to adopt their way of being, replacing our nationalistic symbols – like taunts hanging from pretend fortresses by immature boys – with banners of wavy lines, peaceful and enduring like waves of amber grain.



My Photoshop illustration



Watts, Alan. Tao of Philosophy (Alan Watts Love Of Wisdom). Tuttle Publishing. Kindle Edition. Loc. 1112


10 Ibid.