Why Not? Why Can’t We?


Let’s have a logical argument. Not one driven simply by emotion. 

As children we were all curious asking our parents “Why” and “How come” all the time.  The answer “because I said so” satisfied no one.  It was an answer based on frustration. 

I look at things going on in the world today and I want to know WHY? WHY NOT? And HOW COME?  I think it is time for answers. 

For example- If someone asked me WHY is there no affordable housing in downtown Portsmouth? I would say, it is an old town with the downtown area in the historic district. The cost on upkeep, preservation is a factor. The fact that it is a small area with a limited amount of space for buildings will also keep the price high. 

With building being built in the west end and potentially in the old federal building this could see the market price come down as the availability goes up. 

Here are my questions that I would like honest and logical answers to.  

Why can’t we have better writing for TV shows? 

Why can’t we all have good healthcare?

Why can’t we free ourselves from our dependence on foreign fossil fuels? Wouldn’t stimulating the electric and hybrid car industry help with this? 

Why can’t we put solar panels on all viable government buildings? 

Why can’t all the US Mail trucks be electric? 

Why can’t we have better gun laws? 

Why can’t we make each public school a PALACE of EDUCATION? 

Why can’t we have FREE community colleges? And maybe 4 year public Universities? 

Why can’t we solve the problem of childhood hunger and homelessness? 

Why can’t we take climate change more seriously? 

Just some questions. 

Fox News and The Cost of Lies


Fox News And The Cost Of Lies

By  Bruce Maiman, Guest Writer Found on Huffington Post.

Leaked emails confirmed what many of us suspected: Fox News anchors lied to viewers about the presidential election being stolen from Trump and didn’t care enough to stop it.

A single sentence from Erik Wemple’s recent column for The Washington Post tells you everything you need to know about the Fox News flap over internal emails admitting that the network knew it was lying to viewers about a stolen election.

“The network had called Arizona on election night for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, a move regarded as treason by the network’s MAGA crowd, which declared viewers would flee to the competition.”

The emphasis is mine. As Wemple, the Post’s media critic noted, network executives were in a panic, worried they would lose viewers to other upstart cable outlets.

This is a normal consideration for a business ― and make no mistake: Fox News is a business. No business wants to lose customers to the competition, especially after secrets become public fodder. But what terrified Fox executives wasn’t the “secrets” that the network’s biggest stars knew all along they were peddling total bovine excrement. It was that the revelations in the Dominion lawsuit defied viewer expectations.

Columnist Mike Kelly’s accusation in a piece for USA Today unwittingly makes the point.

“This wasn’t journalism,” Kelly writes. “It was consumer fraud at its worst. The desire for money trumped truth.”

Actually, no, it wasn’t consumer fraud. True, it wasn’t journalism, and in that sense, the Fox business model has regularly committed fraud against the truth. But the business model for Fox was never journalism. Rather, it was, and is, an advertising distribution system whose primary function is to deliver an audience expectation for an audience it identified, targeted and cultivated. It was a business model that began the way many businesses do, as a marketing solution.

Before the network’s inception, the marketplace had a hole. It wasn’t the lack of “conservative” journalism. It was the lack of a resource that could tell people of a certain mindset what they wanted to hear. Journalism doesn’t do that, but at the Fox network, that is business as usual. 

Whether Rupert Murdoch and CEO Roger Ailes realized it when they sought to fill that market hole and exploited a fundamental human weakness: a desire for approval, for meaning. People like to be told they have value, that what they believe is right and good, even if it is wrong and bad. That’s what the Fox cable audience craved, and the network gave it to them in droves. 

Fox wasn’t defrauding its consumers; it was servicing them. If that meant delivering broadcasts with distortions, omissions or outright fabrications — so-called “alternative facts” — so be it.

We make a mistake in thinking of Fox as a news channel; it’s not. It’s television, more precisely, a television programming format, one no different from a sitcom, a crime drama or a reality show. Each of those television formats comes with an expectation. If a program doesn’t deliver that expectation, the audience reacts, and not in a good way. They might even regard it as treason, which is the very description applied to Fox viewers after the network called Arizona for Joe Biden on election night.

Think of it like this: If you turned on your favorite classic rock radio station and suddenly heard Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande coming out of the speakers, you’d start wondering if someone changed the presets in your car. When you realized that wasn’t the case, that perhaps the station changed its music format, you’d be unhappy, maybe even angry. Why? Because the station no longer met your expectations. Even worse, no one warned you that the station would no longer be meeting that expectation.

When that happens, listeners often flip out. “What did you guys do to my radio station?” they’ll say. “Where’s my favorite DJ?” “You guys suck!”

We’ve all had that experience. Every radio broadcaster has been on the receiving end of it. To paraphrase 17th Century British playwright William Congreve, “Hell hath no fury like a listener scorned.” Or a viewer. Especially one deeply tethered to an extreme set of values and beliefs.

Executives, hosts and producers at Fox knew exceedingly well: to report that the 2020 election was fair, and even worse, to report that Donald Trump was peddling a lie, would be tantamount to blasphemy. They had already endured the backlash from viewers angry the network had called Arizona for Joe Biden on election night. In the days that followed, had they dared report the truth about the election results, those Jan. 6 rioters might have gotten a head start and assaulted the Fox network headquarters first.

Every media operation, every radio station, every print publication, every writer, actor, comedian, you name it, creates an audience expectation. We know what to expect, whether we turn on the PBS News Hour or Ellen DeGeneres. 

The danger, particularly for Fox or any other ideologically driven operation, is that they created a trap. Fox has one product: Conservatives are good, and liberals are evil. There’s an audience for that kind of thinking and for nearly three decades, Fox not only cornered that market but also fostered it, augmented and cultivated it. You might even say they were groomers.

Fox knew something else, too: They had to take great care not to broadcast anything that might offend that audience.

Take Nancy Pelosi. She is a history-making figure. The first woman to serve as House Speaker and one of the most powerful leaders ever to hold the gavel. She was exceptionally good at her job and a force in Washington politics. 

Plenty of people will disagree, mostly because they just don’t like her, but you know who would agree? Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and any of the other Fox hosts. They’re not stupid. In the privacy of their own thoughts, when the cameras are off, they know Pelosi has been an extraordinary figure in political history, and they know people like Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene couldn’t hold a candle to her. But they can never say that during their broadcasts. Their viewers would revolt.

That’s the trap. They simply cannot risk being honest because that would be bad for business. When you become trapped like that, lying becomes a survival mechanism and business as usual.

That’s why Fox is in a panic. It’s why they told a judge that Dominion had no evidence to support its “staggering” $1.6 billion damages claim in their defamation lawsuit over the network’s coverage of election-rigging conspiracy theories. Of course they had to say that in court. You’ll say anything to protect your business interests, whether in court or on the air. And by telling their viewers what they wanted to hear — that the election was stolen and those Dominion voting machines must have been part of it — they were simply protecting their business interests.

It’s why Fox fired Chris Stirewalt, the political editor and chief number cruncher at the network’s Decision Desk in 2020 who called Arizona for Joe Biden. The network called Stirewalt’s firing the following January (along with about a dozen other colleagues) a “restructuring.” Don’t you believe it. His firing was likely a way to get back in the good graces of viewers that began seeking other, safer spaces that would deliver their expectations.

I’d like to think rational consumers of current events wouldn’t do that. When the conventional wisdom of a blue wall collapsed and signaled Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the presidential election of 2016, her supporters may have been shocked, and even angry over the prospect of who would be their next president, but no one concocted a series of lies and absurdities to deny reality. No one called The New York Times in outrage for reporting Clinton’s defeat, or abandoned CNN for a new “safe space.”

If, however, those and similar outlets had lied as badly, as embarrassingly as Fox did, you wouldn’t blame their consumers for the lack of trust that would follow and the likelihood they would seek more reliable sources. But that would be because they were lied to, not because they weren’t told what they wanted to hear. For those consumers, such lies would have destroyed a bond of trust, not a safe space.

Some argue that all media push an agenda with their own narrative, and you’ve surely run into people who claim that outlets like The New York Times or NPR are just part of the liberal media.

They overlook three things. 

Have you ever noticed that the people alleging those criticisms are themselves so biased in their conservative perspective that they consider anything to the left of Attila the Hun to be too liberal? It’s a great irony: Politically biased critics criticizing the media for being politically biased. The real bias is amongst the critics, not the entities they criticize.

Second, there is a difference when the owner of a network and its popular talking heads knowingly push lies on their audience, telling them they were true when they knew they were false. When spreading the lies perpetrated by a sitting president leads to unrest to the point of an insurrection, the lies have gone too far. There are no words to justify or diminish what Fox did.

Third, mistakes happen, and reputable outlets correct them. Publicly. It’s clearly marked, “Correction,” either in a specific section or at the bottom of the story (as happened with this writer last week). Listen to how hosts Ailsa Change and Mary Louise Kelly correct a reporting error on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

When mistakes happen, you have two choices: You either accept them and learn from them, or you double down and deny them. Guess what Fox did.

Fox committed three grievous errors: They lied. They refused to concede that they lied. They defended their lies as truth.

“It knowingly sacrificed its integrity to maintain its market share,” New York Times columnist Dave French wrote. I would suggest that one first needs integrity in order to sacrifice it, but that’s another matter. 

A radio consultant once told me she had talk show clients willing to be whatever a potential employer wanted them to be. “I can be liberal; I can be conservative. Whatever they want.” At the talk radio station where I worked, where I was a political outlier, the program manager once told me, “Try not to upset the furniture.” As in, toe the political line. 

I couldn’t do that. I now work in a different industry and write when I can.

For journalists at Fox, and the network truly has some excellent journalists, I would think it’s a terrible dilemma. You work in a profession you love — and it is a profession — but you have to take a back seat to a network that defiles the core tenants of that profession. And you have to deal with the shame of having to defend yourself from justifiable criticism. We all have to make a living, but it can have a cost: Can you be a person of integrity while working at a company that so many feel has none?

What is the cost of lies? Dominion is seeking a judgment of $1.6 billion. I’m not sure that’s enough. They should demand that Fox air disclaimers to all their commentator programs at the beginning and at the end, letting viewers know that the opinions of the hosts are not based on facts and are only to provide affirmation, not information. Dominion should require that for the next month, every host, every day, admits to their lies and apologizes for uttering them. And a judge, if not Dominion itself, should write that disclaimer and apology. No one at Fox should have a hand in writing any of it.

That should be the cost of the lie, at least for the liars. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. Coverage of the story ranges from scant to nonexistent among conservative sources. Circle those wagons, boys! We can’t afford to burst anyone’s bubble!

Sadly, that’s another cost: Omission of an admission of guilt continues to allow the lie to live on and spread. Silence is consent.

But the cost goes far beyond the price the liar may one day pay and beyond, even, the people who believe the lie.

The riotous assault on the Capitol was entirely based on a lie. As a nation, we all paid a price, in reputation, money and blood.

Families have told countless stories of being torn apart by the grooming that Fox and other conservative media sources have done over the years to sisters, brothers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and children. The father who taught his sons to be critical thinkers was now a walking billboard for talking points he heard night after night from Fox news hosts. Family members disappointed in each other because they voted this way or that. Certain subjects were now off limits at holiday gatherings. Certain relatives would refuse to attend family functions, or were no longer invited. So much for those vaunted family values conservative outlets love to champion.

“What is the cost of lies?” asks the central character in the HBO dramatization of the Chernobyl disaster.

“It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth,” he says. “The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth. What then?”

For Fox, it might mean an even greater danger: Business as usual.

Many Corporations are like Teenagers

The current bank failures were NOT caused by WOKE policies nor were they totally the responsibility of Donald Trump. Although he signed the bill into law that rolled back regulation of the banking industry (and safety regulations in trains- more on that later) these were not executive orders. They both passed congress with bipartisan support.

The banks which failed simply made some business mistakes and took risks they shouldn’t have. Smarter people than me will be figuring out this for a while. The banking industry as well as the transportation (Rail) industry lobbied congress to roll back regulations. Regulations put in place to prevent incidents like what just happened.

Now that there was a major train derailment which poisoned a town and a couple bank failures these companies want the government to come in and clean up the mess.

As a gymnastics coach, I have seen thousands of teens grow up. I had two children of my own and teen age years can be troubling. Your child wants independence. They want to be free of your rules. They want to police themselves. BUT- when there is a mess, they want you to come in and clean it up.

Luckily, there are some parenting books out there. Books which I feel every member of congress (as well as CEOs) should read.


Nostalgia is a Lie. The Best is Still Ahead.

It is easy to look back on life and remember only the greatest things. It is your brains way of keeping you from going crazy. I have always written in a journal. It started as a way to keep track of my workouts when I was an athlete. What worked and what didn’t. I was talking on the phone with one of my former teammates the other day. We were catching up and laughing about events in our past. There was one event that we were trying to recall but we both remembered it differently. Having moved recently I knew that I still had a journal or two from that time- more than 30 years ago. I went up into the attic to find it, sat down on the floor and started to page through it. I found the event we were talking about. It was a practical joke we played on our coach. Both of us were mostly right but there were somethings that I would have sworn were true that we were both WAY off.

As I went down the rabbit hole of reading some of the old entries I realized how many painful incidents I have packed away and moved on from. From perceived injustices in practice to being bullied by an older teammate. There were so many things going on in life at that time that were NOT good. Why would I ever want to go back to that time? I remember all the great things going on. Not the terrible things.

HIV/AIDS- I don’t think there’s anything that I can say about this terrible disease that hasn’t been said better by others already, but suffice it to say, AIDS sucks, and it was almost always a death sentence in the ’80s. Casual racism and other completely insensitive things were common place in the 80s. Do we really need to do that again?

The more things change the more they stay the same. In the 1980’s we were worried about THE COLD WAR. Of course it might’ve been harder for Americans to care about others back then because there was still a chance we might be instantly evaporated by a rolling wall of fire when a Russian ICBM landed in our backyard. The Cold War kinda looks quaint now, but paranoia over a nuclear war with our global enemies was still running high in the ’80s. To quote an old hardcore punk song: “If AIDS don’t get ya, then the warheads will.” Those underlying fears seemed likely to come true back then.

Gone are the days (mostly) of gas guzzling cars and archaic technology. There was a FREAKING HOLE IN THE OZONE! But through government regulations things have gotten better. You hear people complain about the price of gas today yet In the year 1980, the average retail price of gas was $1.19. This is equivalent to $4.60 in 2023 dollars! The AVERAGE MPG of a NEW car in the 1980s was less than 17 MPG. Do you really want to go back to that time now?

Nostalgia Is a Liar, So Keep Moving Forward

They call it nostalgia and not the past because nostalgia is a rose-tinted lens that distorts the past, a lens through which we bend and contort memories to fit our whims and desires, to have them slot neatly into narratives and weave seamlessly into wider stories we tell ourselves, stories about when we were younger, stronger, better, happier.

Nostalgia, in short, is a liar.

We all indulge in nostalgia. It’s an affliction, a condition, it’s the way we’re wired. Stories are how humanity passed on instruction and moral code for millennia. The past can’t just be the past, it has to have meaning, we have to contextualize it and use our present to justify what went before, we have to romanticize how got here through nostalgia’s dirty lens.

This would all be fine, but the truth is nostalgia makes us unhappy.

Czech author Milan Kundera noted:

“The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering.’ So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”

Nostalgia is toxic. It removes us from the present, it takes us out of gratitude and mindfulness and plunges us into the movie playing in our head. It has us comparing our reality-based present to a fabricated, fantasy past.

An Antidote

I say all this because so many of us wallow in yesteryear glory. How many of your friends talk incessantly about “the good old days” of 20 years ago, when they weren’t even so good? The MAGA crowd that believes that YESTERDAY was the best they will ever be.

Nostalgia is disempowering. The only natural conclusion when in its thrall is to believe your best days are behind you and you’re powerless to change that.

Fuck that.

Right now, in the present, is the youngest you’re ever going to be, so stop wallowing about past conquests and set sail once more.

The antidote to nostalgia is action.

Our present and future can be anything we want it to be. The past has gone, and it doesn’t need to have a bearing on where we go next.

Good times are coming and you could realize this much more readily if nostalgia didn’t sit on your shoulder, whisper into your ear and feeding you lies.

So don’t believe it. You have that choice. Hear the whispers and realize they’re deception.

This doesn’t mean disregard your fond memories or abandon the lessons your past has taught you, it just means focus on the present without holding onto a false narrative about who you were.

After all, it is only the present we live in. The present is your life; one long expanding present that rolls out in front of us all, a crest of a wave we are riding together.

Don’t look back, keep moving forward because, in case you hadn’t realized, nostalgia is a liar.

“Nostalgia is a dirty liar that insists things were better than they seemed.”

AMERICA is a country with great possibilities. We are relatively young and our democratic experiment will still grow and evolve. Look forward to what we can be.

How US police training compares with the rest of the world

More people are killed by police in the US than in any other developed country, and there are growing calls for improved training to reduce the use of lethal force. 

I originally found this in a BBC article in 2021. I am not an advocate of Defunding the Police, but as a businessman I wonder if our money is being well spent. Police, like teachers, are a vital part of our community. I believe that a police officer should have a MINIMUM of an associates degree before they even qualify for the police academy. There needs to be equal time spent on deescalating a potentially violent situation. They need to be able to TALK THEM DOWN, not just TAKE THEM DOWN.

There needs to be a focus on community policing. The officers need to be on the street talking with people. Not hiding in their cars. I have seen a marked change in the attitude toward the police in Dover, NH where I live since they got rid of the mounted patrol.

The cost of BETTER policing will (probably) be more than what we currently pay. The results will be worth it.

By Jake Horton

BBC Reality Check

How many people are killed by police? 

About 1,000 people a year are killed by police officers in the US, according to an independent project that tracks police violence. Most are shot dead.

The majority of the world’s police forces carry firearms, but no developed nation uses them against their citizens as often as officers in the US – and disproportionately against African-Americans, compared with the percentage of the population they represent.

Part of this is to do with gun culture – the US is home to around half of the world’s civilian-held firearms.

In 2020, fewer than 10% of people killed by police were recorded as unarmed.

Rashawn Ray, professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, says: “In most states people can carry guns either on their body or in their vehicles, so that escalates things for police – they instantly perceive that anyone can be a threat.”

In 2020, 49 police officers were shot dead while on duty.

In the same year, officers killed more than 20 times as many civilians – and some argue the use of force is disproportionate to the threat, with better training needed to de-escalate situations.

Prof Ray says: “Nine out of 10 calls for law enforcement have nothing to do with violence at all, and while they definitely encounter violent situations that could escalate, often… it’s police officers who are escalating the situation.”

How long does police training take?

There are around 18,000 police agencies in the US, but with no national standards on training, procedures and timescales vary across the country.

On average, US officers spend around 21 weeks training before they are qualified to go on patrol.

That is far less than in most other developed countries, according to a report by the Institute for Criminal Justice Training Reform (ICJTR).

The report looked at police training requirements in more than 100 countries and found that the US had among the lowest, in terms of average hours required.

Also, many other countries require officers to have a university degree – or equivalent – before joining the police, but in the US most forces just require the equivalent of a high-school diploma.

In England and Wales, it has recently become mandatory for officers to have an academic degree.

Maria Haberfeld, professor of police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says: “Some police forces in Europe have police university, where training lasts for three years – for me the standouts are Norway and Finland.”

Finland has one the highest gun-ownership rates in Europe, with around 32 civilian firearms per 100 people – but incidents of police shooting civilians are extremely rare.

What type of training do police get?

US police academies spend far more time on firearms training than on de-escalating a situation – 71 hours against 21, on average, according to a 2013 US Bureau of Justice Statistics report.

And in the US, the escalation of force is at the discretion of the officer, whereas in countries such as Norway and Finland, there are more rigorous rules as to what is considered justified use of force.

Prof Haberfeld says: “Most of the training in the US is focused on various types of use of force, primarily the various types of physical force. The communication skills are largely ignored by most police academies.

“This is why you see officers very rapidly escalating from initial communication to the actual physical use of force, because this is how they train.”

ICJTR executive director Randy Shrewsberry says more emphasis also needs to be put on mental-health training – both for when officers are responding to suspects and for officers themselves.

“Police officers are up to five times more likely to kill themselves than to be killed by homicide,” he said. “We’d like to see a greater emphasis on police officer mental-health training. Currently, they only get a few hours of training – if any – on self-care.”

The US spends almost 1% of its GDP on policing – and some activists are calling for this to be cut and directed to other services.

But Mr Shrewsberry says: “Unfortunately, when we look at defunding or budget cutbacks, training divisions are often the earliest to be hit.”

Who and What Influenced the US Constitution

The US Constitution is possibly one of the best documents ever written. The Constitution of the United States established America’s national government and fundamental laws, and guaranteed certain basic rights for its citizens. It influenced many other governments constitutions in the past 200+ years.

It was signed on September 17, 1787, by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Under America’s first governing document, the Articles of Confederation, the national government was weak and states operated like independent countries. At the 1787 convention, delegates devised a plan for a stronger federal government with three branches—executive, legislative and judicial—along with a system of checks and balances to ensure no single branch would have too much power.  

I am not an absolutist or originalist.   I believe the Constitution was written deliberately vague because when it was written they realized that the future was unpredictable. At a time where slavery was legal and a sign of status who could have seen a women of color as vice president of this new country?  I just returned from a business trip to Italy. 8 hours direct Rome to Boston. A trip that would have taken more than a month in the 1780s.  Who could have predicted the medical advancements we made even in the last century? The life expectancy  of 55 years (excluding child mortality) was largely unchanged between the 12th and 19th centuries.

Constitutions should consist only of general provisions; the reason is that they must necessarily be permanent, and that they cannot calculate for the possible change of things.

Alexander Hamilton

Change is inevitable. The constitution needs to remain a living document.  

The Constitution gave us a set of rules to follow in this American Experiment with democracy. The United States is among the oldest modern democracies, but it is only the oldest if the criteria are refined to disqualify claimants ranging from Switzerland to San Marino. Where did the founding fathers get the ideas for our democracy? 

When the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met in 1787 to debate what form of government the United States should have, there were no contemporary democracies in Europe from which they could draw inspiration. The most democratic forms of government that any of the convention members had personally encountered were those of Native American nations. Of particular interest was the Iroquois Confederacy, which historians have argued wielded a significant influence on the U.S. Constitution.

What evidence exists that the delegates studied Native governments? Descriptions of them appear in the three-volume handbook John Adams wrote for the convention surveying different types of governments and ideas about government. It included European philosophers like John Locke and Montesquieu, whom U.S. history textbooks have long identified as constitutional influences; but it also included the Iroquois Confederacy and other Indigenous governments, which many of the delegates knew through personal experience.

The Iroquois Confederacy was in no way an exact model for the U.S. Constitution. However, it provided something that Locke and Montesquieu couldn’t: a real-life example of some of the political concepts the framers were interested in adopting in the U.S.

The Iroquois Confederacy dates back several centuries, to when the Great Peacemaker founded it by uniting five nations: the Mohawks, the Onondaga, the Cayuga, the Oneida and the Seneca. In around 1722, the Tuscarora nation joined the Iroquois, also known as the Haudenosaunee. Together, these six nations formed a multi-state government while maintaining their own individual governance.

In 1744, the Onondaga leader Canassatego gave a speech urging the contentious 13 colonies to unite, as the Iroquois had at the signing of the Treaty of Lancaster. This cultural exchange inspired the English colonist Benjamin Franklin to print Canassatego’s speech.

“We heartily recommend Union and a good Agreement between you our Brethren,” Canassatego had said. “Never disagree, but preserve a strict Friendship for one another, and thereby you, as well as we, will become the stronger. Our wise Forefathers established Union and Amity between the Five Nations; this has made us formidable; this has given us great Weight and Authority with our neighboring Nations. We are a powerful Confederacy; and, by your observing the same Methods our wise Forefathers have taken, you will acquire fresh Strength and Power; therefore whatever befalls you, never fall out one with another.”

He used a metaphor that many arrows cannot be broken as easily as one. This inspired the bundle of 13 arrows held by an eagle in the Great Seal of the United States.

Franklin referenced the Iroquois model as he presented his Plan of Union8 at the Albany Congress in 1754, attended by representatives of the Iroquois and the seven colonies. He invited the Great Council members of the Iroquois to address the Continental Congress in 1776.

Iroquois Confederacy and
the Great Law of Peace
United States Constitution
Restricts members from holding more than one office in the Confederacy.Article I, Section 6, Clause 2, also known as the Ineligibility Clause or the Emoluments Clause bars members of serving members of Congress from holding offices established by the federal government, while also baring members of the executive branch or judicial branch from serving in the U.S. House or Senate.

Outlines processes to remove leaders within the Confederacy

Article II, Section 4 reads “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and the conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Designates two branches of legislature with procedures for passing laws

Article I, Section 1, or the Vesting Clauses, read “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” It goes on to outline their legislative powers.

Delineates who has the power to declare war

Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, also known as the War Powers Clause, gives Congress the power, “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;”

Creates a balance of power between the Iroquois Confederacy and individual tribes

The differing duties assigned to the three branches of the U.S. Government: Legislative (Congress), Executive (President), and Judicial (Supreme Court) act to balance and separate power in government.


We invite you to a lively exchange!

Moderated panel discussion ~ Interactive Q & A!

A Zoom Event Tuesday, February 28, 7:00 – 8:00pm

Register HERE

Bring your ideas, hopes & concerns.

What happens in Concord impacts us now and in the future!

Let your voice be heard.

Tuesday, 2/28, 7pm: First-Time Reps


Monday, 3/6, 7pm: Re-Elected Reps


  Gail Pare WARD 3

Luz Bay, Wards 1,2,3,5,6

Geoff Smith, Wards 1,2,3,5,6

Thinking about Critical Race Theory

I was working in Italy when I came across the article and I cut and pasted it into my notes. I did NOT write down where I found it. If you know- please cite it.


In January, on her first day in office, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued an executive order banning the teaching of critical race theory in her state’s K-12 public schools. She joined the parade of other mostly Southern Republican lawmakers and governors who have banned teaching CRT in their states’ schools.

Ironies abound in the CRT controversy, starting with the fact that “critical race theory,” properly understood, is an area of academic legal study not actually part of K-12 education. But for the last three years, conservative activists have been using the term as a catch-all for a variety of subjects they don’t want taught in schools.

Which leads to another irony: In some of the states where Republican lawmakers crow about having banned CRT, it is not explicitly defined in the law. For example, in my home state, our governor last year signed legislation with the aim, according to his press release, of “keeping critical race theory out of Mississippi schools.” But the law enacted in Mississippi doesn’t even mention CRT by name.

So what does the Mississippi law do? It forbids forcing students “to personally affirm” that “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or inferior or that individuals should be adversely treated on the basis of their sex, ethnicity, religion or national origin.” Which is something no reasonable, decent person can argue with.

Still, talk of banning teaching CRT excites the conservative media complex and the Republican base, who worry that students who study racism in America are being indoctrinated to hate their country.

Meanwhile, liberals worry that these Republican-led Southern states will, while making a show of rooting out left-wing bias in the classroom, limit the teaching of American history in ways that leave students with major gaps in their knowledge of their country’s past, consigning these states to remain among the poorest and most poorly educated in the nation.

Of course, the trick to teaching anything, especially history, is context.

When my young adult novel Sources of Light came out in 2010, I was invited to visit high schools in Arkansas. Set in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi in the civil rights era, Sources of Light is about 14-year-old Samantha, who sees and photographs injustices all around her. She joins marches for voting rights, she becomes involved in the sit-in at Woolworth, and she helps solve the murder of her mother’s close friend at the hands of a racist neighbor. The story is loosely based on my experiences growing up in Jackson during the 1960s and became a way for me to talk with students about the civil rights movement and race.

At the high schools in Arkansas, I showed black and white pictures taken in the 1960s of civil rights marches and sit-ins that helped inspire me to write Sources of Light. The pictures show mostly African Americans marching while white people hold up signs saying things like “Integration is Communism,” “Stop the Race Mixing,” and “Integration is Illegal.” One picture shows a white boy who looks to be 12 holding up a sign that reads “Put Me Down as No [N-word]-Lover.”

I recall one moment at Central High School when I paused on the iconic photograph of the sit-in at the Woolworth lunch counter in Jackson. I read the passage I wrote in Sources of Light, focusing on that scene where Samantha watches all the white men and boys in the room taunting, cheering, punching, and pouring ketchup, mustard, and sugar on the protesters sitting at the counter.

I asked students to look closely at the photo and choose one person in the group to write from that person’s point of view about what’s happening. The idea was for them to use their imagination to experience or at least consider a different point of view, hopefully helping them to think critically and empathize.

The results were surprising. African-American girls wrote from the point of the view of the white man pouring ketchup on a black man’s head. White girls wrote about the black man sitting at the counter, while one white boy wrote from the point of view of Anne Moody, the black woman at the counter staring at a glass of water. I asked them questions: How does it feel to be that person in this scene? What in your life led you to be there in that moment?

As a white author, I admit, I was petrified talking about the civil rights movement at Central High School, where a group of black students known as the Little Rock Nine enrolled in the formerly all-white school in September 1957. Who was I to tell them anything about the history of this era?

And yet, I was flabbergasted when I discovered how few students knew about sit-ins, the famous anti-violent protest tactic used by civil rights activists. Some of these students were the children or grandchildren of people who had participated in sit-ins or marches in one way or another.

Later, when I asked the teachers about this, they said the same thing: Even though their parents and grandparents had lived through that time, nobody wanted to talk about it anymore. They wanted to move on.

After my talks at Central High School, a student’s mother volunteered to walk me through the impressive Little Rock museum run by the National Park Service. We toured the exhibits together, viewing archival news footage of the Little Rock Nine.

For a long time, we stood in front of that famous photograph of Elizabeth Eckford arriving for her first day of school with a notebook in her hand as a crowd of hostile white students and adults surround her, screaming and spitting on her. We read that they called out for her to be lynched and yelled slogans like “Two, four, six eight, we don’t want to integrate!” As Eckford tried to move forward, one white girl screamed, “Go back to Africa!”

The volunteer mother told me she’d been in the same class with Elizabeth, who often sat alone at lunch and at school assemblies. When the woman, who was white, told me this, she started to cry. She said she was ashamed at how she acted and she didn’t want her children acting the same way.

Here was a woman who lived through a historical moment and regretted her actions. That regret changed her, and she volunteered to host me and other authors to visit schools to teach students about civil rights. This woman’s shame and regret is exactly what Republicans want to avoid in classrooms across the nation.

Decades after she first walked into Little Rock Central High, Elizabeth Eckford said, “True reconciliation can occur only when we honestly acknowledge our painful, but shared past.”

And it’s impossible to acknowledge without knowledge—without knowing. To teach about morality and standing up to injustices, you have to know what the injustice was. And there’s a lot of injustice to be found in history.

Last year, at the Mississippi Book Festival, I attended a discussion about a new book called Blackout. The panel was led by Jackson State University professor Ebony Lumumba, who asked the panel of authors who had contributed to Blackout about their own books, many of which are banned.

Panelist Angie Thomas, author of the 2017 novel The Hate U Give, made an important point: Banning books hurts kids. She had her dog Kobe with her, and even though Kobe jumped and licked her, making everybody laugh, as Angie talked about the consequences of book banning, she started to cry. It was a highly emotional moment.

Angie said she worried for students who wouldn’t be able to read their own stories. They were the ones being cheated. Borrowing a line from Rudine Sims Bishop, the scholar of children’s literature, Angie referred to books as “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors”—that is, books can help you better see yourself, help you better see others, or help you better see worlds different from your own.

“Kids that see themselves in my books need those mirrors,” she said.

But there are other kids who need those sliding glass doors and those windows—because when you have young people who see who don’t see lives unlike their own, who don’t understand people unlike themselves. They grow up to be narrow-minded leaders who don’t care about nobody beyond themselves.

The Hate U Give was banned in Angie’s own hometown library in Jackson. In fact, according to the American Library Association, The Hate U Give is among the most banned books in the country, supposedly for “profanity, violence, and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda.”

I suspect the real issue with The Hate U Give is not the swearing or the violence, because those are everywhere in our culture. Rather, the book banners hate the hate in the title, which, lined up correctly on the book’s cover, spells out THUG, a reference to the musician Tupac Shakur’s philosophy: the hate society dishes out might come right back at it.

It is the book banners who are THUGs, and they will reap what they sow. Angie got it right: The hate you give will in the long run become the hate you receive.

While Angie spoke at the panel, a young African American girl from the back of the room walked to the front. She was there to tell Angie how much she loved the book, how she takes the book with her everywhere she goes so she can stop and re-read it. Presumably, she feels a connection with Starr, the main character who witnesses her cousin being shot by police after a traffic stop, a lively, funny, smart, tough, honest heroine who fights her hardest against injustices and things that are just plain wrong. People rub off on you. Characters do, too.

There’s a rule in writing young adult fiction. The young protagonist might get herself into trouble, but she has to get herself out, too. Grownups are mostly background noise and often get in the way.

If I could write that moment with Angie and her reader, the girl saves herself just by reading a banned book.

Angie signed that girl’s book, still fighting through tears.

For the last five years, I’ve had the privilege of serving as a judge for the National Scholastic Writing Contest, an annual award competition for students in seventh through twelfth grades. I read essays from Indiana students, judging on content, style, originality, and voice.

In the past, these students mostly wrote about divorce; sibling rivalry; having a best friend; breaking up with a best friend; moving; cooking; sports; the loss of a family member, friend, or pet; eating; not eating; feeling too fat; feeling too thin; and failing or excelling in school.

In recent years, I’ve read more and more essays about loneliness, suicide, school shootings, and depression. This year’s batch felt significantly different.

Here were younger students wrestling with major depression. They were frustrated with the mindlessness of virtual learning. Many had no one to talk to. They wrote about domestic abuse, reconsidering one’s gender, dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, figuring out reasons to live, being deported as a new immigrant, racism, and coming out to their parents. They also wrote about getting COVID and surviving a shooting.

These students were grappling with life’s biggest challenges, often involving life or death.

This year, when I finished reading these essays, I wanted to write back to each student to tell them It’s all right, you’re going to be fine. But then I read the newspapers and I’m not so sure. Recent studies show that, even before the pandemic, teen depression was up, roughly doubling from 2009 to 2019, and so was the adolescent suicide rate. There are new viruses, increased poverty, extensive climate damage, more school shootings, and politicians are focusing on . . . CRT and book bans?

How are students supposed to learn how to deal with these weighty subjects if they can’t read about them—and read about them from different perspectives? The solution is not to take away the books that might address these issues.

We shouldn’t be afraid of students reading whatever books they can read and learning all the history they can learn. Studies show that the more you read and write, the less likely you are to go to prison and the more likely you are to finish high school, graduate from college, get a job, and volunteer in your community. Young readers are also more likely to vote—and chances are they will be better informed voters because they read and think critically.

The best young writers in the contests I judge clearly sense form and structure, and I like to think that if they know what makes good writing, they will know how to shape their lives. I give these students a lot of credit for just sitting down and mulling over complex and deeply personal subjects, topics many adults spend a lifetime avoiding.

They inspire me.

I wish the book banners and the anti-CRT folk could read these student essays and see for themselves how young people process, understand, and, often, overcome life’s traumas and injustices.

But then, they’d probably ban them.



Time and time again, we find people convulsing over our nation’s uncomfortable truths, past or present, horrified at the thought of examining them, let alone acknowledging them, and fiercely determined to censor them.

Today’s targets are familiar: race, diversity, inequality, oppression, inclusion, gender and gender identity, anything that offends the sensibilities of whomever in whatever quarter.

The latest bogeyman: the College Board’s Advanced Placement history course on African American studies.

Based in New York, the nonprofit Board administers AP programs outlining concepts and skills students need for a college-level history course. High school students get college credits for taking such courses. The Board offers over three dozen courses in various disciplines — the arts, math, computer science, the sciences, world languages, U.S. and world history.

Sixty high schools across the country began teaching a pilot version of the African American course last fall, which has since been the target of conservative lawmakers seeking to limit how teachers approach discussions on history and race.

Last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) threatened to block the course from being taught, saying it violated state law and was historically inaccurate. He gave no specifics. (Maybe he should take the course.)

He has also announced plans to defund diversity, equity and inclusion programs at every public college in the state.

DeSantis, an expected presidential candidate in 2024, has spent his governorship signing one absurd law after another to protect the feelings of fragile conservatives, including the “Don’t Say Gay” law and the Stop WOKE Act.

“If we want transparency from our government, and surely we do, we should also insist on transparency in our history.”

Several outlets claimed the College Board caved to DeSantis’ demands. The Board vehemently denied that, arguing it had completed its revisions last December, with time-stamped documentation to prove it.

Such opposition isn’t new. In 2014, critics objected to the AP curriculum for U.S. History — not African American studies; American history.

“Too negative,” critics cried.

Larry S. Krieger, who had already written several commentaries attacking the guidelines, argued that the framework “inculcates a consistently negative view of the nation’s past.”

Before long, local lawmakers in multiple states had gotten into the act.

Oklahoma state Republican Dan Fisher introduced a bill criticizing the framework for emphasizing “what is bad about America” and that it doesn’t teach “American exceptionalism.”

William Ligon, a Republican state senator in Georgia, said the framework painted free enterprise in a negative light and focused “more on what divides us instead of what unites us.”

Ligon, a 2020 election denier who pushed for a special session of the Georgia General Assembly to overturn the state’s presidential election results, was one of 16 state Republicans who signed on to an amicus brief for a Texas Supreme Court lawsuit that sought to nullify the results of four states in the 2020 election, including Georgia.

He’s also the subject of a grand jury investigation into whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally meddled in the state’s 2020 election.

So he’ll likely merit a historical footnote as one of this nation’s dividers.

Policymakers tried their hand, as well. Objecting to what they also thought was a negative portrayal of America, the school board in Jefferson County, Colorado, proposed a review of the AP History framework that would require teachers to “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system.” Teachers were further told to avoid lessons that “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

Like, what, the civil rights movement? The labor strikes of the late 19th century against horrid working conditions wrought by rapacious corporate robber barons of the Gilded Age?

In response, hundreds of students from at least five high schools recognized this for the act of intellectual vandalism it was and did a very American thing: They protested, staging mass walkouts. The district had to shut down four schools briefly because teachers called in sick in protest.

For what it’s worth, the school board comprised a newly elected conservative majority. Guess them folks would have a heck of a time with that Jan. 6 thingy.

“That weren’t no danged civil disobedience, just a big cookout that got a little out of hand!”

The board quickly aborted plans for the framework review, claiming it had been misunderstood.

Wrong. Students understood you all too well. You wanted to promote a “happy history” that would have left the students positive, patriotic and poorly informed. Can you imagine a criminal trial in which the jury only got half the truth and not the whole truth?

But then, what do you expect from a party and ideology with its own sordid history of engaging in falsehoods, conspiracy theories, and creating solutions for nonexistent problems?

It is simply a whitewashing of history (no pun intended). Only “happy history” will do. Discuss nothing offensive. How ironic that critics of “wokeness” who always mock people needing safe spaces have themselves gone all woke on certain subjects and are trying to create their own safe space by omitting what’s offensive or banning it altogether.

Book burning in the digital age. Too hyperbolic? Perhaps, but it’s not exactly inaccurate. It is disturbingly “Animal Farm”-ish and assuredly hypocritical in a nation where the oft-quoted momily reminds us we learn from our mistakes.

If that momily is true, how can we learn from the error of our ways if we refuse to examine them, let alone acknowledge their existence?

As Florida U.S. District Judge Mark Walker wrote in declaring the state’s Stop WOKE Act unconstitutional, “If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case. But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents.”

In other words, more free speech, not less. I assume conservatives put the freedoms of the First Amendment at least on par with that of the Second.

If we want to protect speech in all its forms, good and bad, why would we not say the same thing about our history in all its forms, good and bad?

Governments exist today that hide truths from their people, nations like North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

We pride ourselves on being different from those nations. One reason is that we’re not afraid to air our dirty laundry. What makes us any different if we try to oppress the dark parts of our past?

If we want transparency from our government, and surely we do, we should also insist on transparency in our history.

Without question, America’s history is brimming with moments of monumental greatness. But that greatness coexists with abominable atrocities and indefensible violations of our founding principles. You cannot celebrate a nation’s splendor without acknowledging its shame. Censoring discussions on one side in favor of only the other is not a path to enlightenment.

Yet some of us seem unable to accept that our nation has had and continues to have growing pains and is not perfect. Some of us behave as if American history were some sort of sacred cow.

It’s not. But we attack those who cite the ugly moments of our history as unpatriotic. Sorry, but if you can’t face the music about the bad in America’s history as well as its good, you are the unpatriotic one. Such a mindset is not only unpatriotic and servile; it is also morally treasonable and ultimately perilous, a crime against knowledge and, ultimately, wisdom.

“Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it,” George Santayana wrote in his “Life of Reason.”

But he also wrote, “The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns.”

And that is why history — all of our history — must be embraced. It is our great teacher. From it, we can learn who we were, what made us who we are, and guide our aspirations of who we can be. Unfortunately, some of us aren’t interested.


My parents divorced when I was 10. I felt loved by both parents, they just didn’t love each other. Financially the divorce was difficult on both sides. I spent the impressionable years of my life pretty poor in a town in upstate New York. My mother lived in an apartment in the projects. My father in an apartment on the other side of town. I had what was necessary but never had name brand clothes. I was never hungry (but I know my mother went hungry some nights) and I received free or reduced lunches at school.

I started working at 11 or 12 years old. Just so I had some money in my pocket. Menial tasks at a grocery store owned by my uncle. I was one of the lucky ones. Many kids in the projects didn’t have anything to do to make any money and nothing to do when they weren’t in school. Bored kids get into trouble. Trouble with drugs, trouble with petty crimes. I am grateful for the job and for the gymnastics program at the local YMCA as well as the youth ice hockey program. Things which kept me busy and out of trouble.

I was an average student. I did well on tests but was often late with assignments or had not fully completed my homework. It wasn’t for lack of effort or that I had an issue with the work. I was busy. My parents were busy. When they got home from work after a long day, the last thing they wanted to do was to go over my homework and check up on me. They wanted to spend some family time. Some of the projects required extra material which we needed to buy. I am sure my parents would have figured out a way to buy what I needed. I didn’t want to stress them out so I often just never brought it up. I remember one assignment from 6th or 7th grade. I needed to cut out the political cartoon from the newspaper a few times each week and write an explanation on it. The end project was creating our own cartoon. I remember the embarrassment of not having this fully completed. We didn’t get a newspaper at my house. I was too respectful to cut one out of the library’s paper. I could afford to buy the paper myself maybe one time per week. My final project was a pencil sketch on a piece of loos leaf notebook paper. Others had pasteboard done with colored markers or pencils. I was so embarrassed turning mine in.

Why didn’t I ask for help? I WAS A KID!! Maybe 12 years old! Is this the fault of the teacher? No way- the class had maybe 25 students in it. I was one of maybe 5 or 6 classes she taught each day. I wasn’t a trouble maker. I flew below the radar.

The USA is the richest country on earth and probably the richest country in history. We have accumulated wealth at an unprecedented level. But that money is not evenly distributed.

Poverty is the defined as a “lack of access to basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.” The term can also apply to those whose conditions prevent them from acquiring education, medical help, or stable employment due to a lack of money. In the United States, the government sets poverty thresholds and guidelines each year to indicate the income a person or family needs to cover their basic needs. These measures are based on the Consumer Price Index, which measures the costs of goods and services. The U.S. poverty guidelines fail to consider regional differences in cost of living. Thus, the experience of poverty may vary widely from state to state.

In 2022, the poverty guideline for a single-member household is $13,590 a year. An individual earning at or below this amount is considered to be living in poverty. The threshold increases by $4,720 for each additional household member, making the poverty guideline for a two-person household $18,310 a year and $27,750 for a family of four. To put that into perspective, a minimum-wage worker earning $7.50 an hour earns $15,000 a year working full-time, putting them below the poverty threshold for a family of two. The seacoast of New Hampshire where I live, I find it hard to believe that a SINGLE person making less than $25-30,000 would be able to make it.

Unfortunately, poverty is also associated with worse health outcomes, lower living expectancies, substandard housing and homelessness, and poor educational opportunities. In 2020, the U.S. poverty rate was 11.4%, up a percentage point from the previous year. The rate varies widely from state to state, with most wealthy states having a poverty rate below 9%. In contrast, the nation’s poorest state has a poverty rate twice that. Nationwide, more than thirty-seven million Americans fell below the poverty line in 2020. Of these, 17.9 million fell below half the poverty line – with an income of $13,123 for a family of four.

The Republican Party wants you to believe that they are the party of fiscal responsibility. That a vote for them will help put money in your pocket. The truth is far from that. The current debt ceiling fight shows once again they are more concerned with the top 1% than the rest of us.

Here are the 10 states with the lowest household income:

  1. Mississippi – $65,156
  2. West Virginia – $65,332
  3. Arkansas – $69,357
  4. New Mexico – $70,241
  5. Alabama – $71,964
  6. Kentucky – $72,318
  7. Louisiana – $73,759
  8. Oklahoma – $74,195
  9. South Carolina – $76,390
  10. Montana – $76,834

8 of the 10 states with the highest poverty rate are controlled by the Republican Party with the GOP controlling both the governors seat as well as the legislature. If the Republican Party was really the party of fiscal responsibility and the party that will put more money on your pocket wouldn’t they be doing a better job?!