All About Me

revised 8/11/2018

I created this site to share my writing. My son Josh originally helped me set this site up. Some of the pieces I have written have also appeared in the Concord Monitor, my local paper.

I also wanted to create a home for my tribute to my sister, Lisa. There are a number of pieces I have written about Lise in the archives as well as pieces I have written about both my parents. Lise and my dad died in 2009. My mom died in 2010. It is hard to believe it has been almost a decade since they died.

I was a lucky person, growing up in a very supportive and loving birth family. My brother Rob, Lise, my brother Richard (who died at age 2) and I all benefited so much from having such cool parents. While my parents had hard financial struggles later in their lives, they lived life with joie de vivre. Even in their darkest times, they modeled a good way to be. They lived it up.

I grew up in Lower Merion, Pa. just outside Philadelphia. My parents belonged to Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood. We grew up in the reform Jewish tradition, although my family was pretty secular.

My parents were hardcore Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles fans. I still love Philadelphia sports teams, especially the Eagles.

I grew up in the 1960’s, in the era of the New Left and the counterculture. That era left its stamp on me. I have been an almost lifelong progressive. I am passionately committed to the struggle against racism, sexism, and class oppression. I am also an anti-imperialist. Like many others of my generation, the Vietnam War schooled me and gave me a more critical perspective on America’s role in the world.

I gravitated to law as a career. That choice reflected my desire to connect my life’s work to my 1960’s values. I live in a small town, Wilmot, NH, where I have lived for almost 30 years, except for a stint living in Anchorage Alaska.

A friend recently compared our present political situation to Germany in 1932. Whatever the merits of that comparison, it is hard to escape feeling like we are at some kind of crossroads. All anti-fascist Americans need to stand up, recognize the gravity of our situation and organize politically. The upcoming elections in 2018 and 2020 are critical. It is conceivable we could lose our democracy, the rule of law and political rights we have taken for granted.

We must oppose and resist the scapegoating of Latinos, Muslims, African-Americans and Jews. The failure of the German people, including the German Bar and Judiciary, to oppose fascism in the 1930’s is an example from which we can learn. It is a historical experience which must not be repeated.

As a species, human beings are failing to put our long-term survival above our short-term needs and desires. Our inability to acknowledge our climate crisis and to take aggressive steps to counter global warming demonstrates a powerful self-destructive tendency and a willful blindness.

I would mention three writers who have been powerful influences on me: George Orwell, Victor Serge, and Edward Abbey. In his essay “Why I Write”, written after the Spanish Civil War, Orwell wrote:

“Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that we can avoid writing of such subjects.”

Near the end of his life, Serge, the committed European left activist, wrote:

“From the heart of threatened democracy, of socialism and the workers’ movement, above all we defend freedom of opinion and the human dignity of the militant, the rights of minorities and a critical spirit. We fight relentlessly, and we will not cease to fight, against controlled thought, the cult of the leader, passive obedience and the despicable ploys of parties subject to blind discipline as well as the systematic use of lies, slanders and assassinations.”

In a similar vein, Abbey wrote:

“Speaking for myself, I write to entertain my friends and to exasperate our enemies. I write to record the truth of our time, as best I can see it. To investigate the comedy and tragedy of human relationships. To resist and sabotage the contemporary drift toward a technocratic, militaristic totalitarianism, whatever its ideological coloration. To oppose injustice, defy the powerful and speak for the voiceless. I write to make a difference. “It is always a writer’s duty to make the world better”, said Samuel Johnson. Distrusting all answers, to raise more questions. To give pleasure and promote aesthetic bliss. To honor life and praise the divine beauty of the world. For the joy and exultation of writing itself. To tell my story.”

As my generation ages and prepares to leave the historical stage, I feel the lack of alternative, critical perspectives daily in the media. In part, it was that absence that prompted me to write. I hope to offer some perspectives that reflect the social justice aspirations of my 1960’s generation.

I dedicate this blog to the memory of my sister, Lisa Baird. After a prolonged battle with breast cancer, Lisa died on October 21, 2009. Lisa was an inspiration and a mentor to me. She was a long-time activist and an accomplished immigration law attorney. A quote from the poet and playwright, Bertolt Brecht, captures Lisa:

“There are men who struggle for a day and they are good. There are those who struggle for a year and they are better. There are those who struggle many years and they are better still. But there are those who struggle all their lives: These are the indispensable ones.”

  1. August 19, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Hey! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing many months of hard work due to no backup. Do you have any methods to stop hackers?

    • August 20, 2013 at 12:12 am

      I have never had any problems like that. I do not have any methods to stop them. I have a very small readership. I am sorry to hear about your problems. I can only hope the hackers would not bother which may not be realistic.

  2. September 17, 2013 at 5:27 am

    I am extremely inspired together with your writing talents as well as
    with the format to your weblog. Is that this a paid topic or did you modify it yourself?
    Anyway stay up the nice quality writing, it is uncommon
    to peer a nice blog like this one today..

    • September 17, 2013 at 11:41 pm

      Thanks for your kind words and I am glad you like the blog. Really this is just a hobby for me. I like writing and having a chance to be creative. I appreciate your comments. Jon

  3. ERK
    October 22, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Excellent writing with an interesting, authentic point of view. In comment to some of your ’60’s talk, and although I was born in 1959, I still experienced the 60’s and have wondered why in the world we don’t do it again. Well, maybe without all the hallucinogens and public sex. And, maybe without all the heart breaking meanness showed to the Vietnam Vets. Still, in spite of what I see as over-the-top activities, there was a mass purpose to the 60’s that was authentic and fair minded. Unlike now: How many passwords I need to use to protect my “stuff” from thieves? When did “give peace a chance” turn into “I wanna steal your stuff” and, from political point of view, when did “you’re not heavy, you’re my brother” turn into “these are entitlements and you’re not entitled? ”

    I’m rambling, but feel refreshed from reading through your blog and responding, and I thank you for that.

    My condolences about your sister and parents.

    A new fan

    • October 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      Thanks for reading and I am glad you have enjoyed it. I have to say I never saw all the meanness toward Vietnam vets. I do think people I knew in the movement distinguished between the architects of the war and rank and file soldiers. I think some of that supposed meanness was mythologized. Anyway, thanks also for your condolences. I plan to keep writing.. Jon

  4. January 9, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Hi JP, I used to go to the gym and see you there and occasionally we’d talk politics. Do have an e-mail address? I have a question I wanted to ask you, but I don’t want to post it on here…Thanks! I hope you are well!

  5. cscenglishbabe
    January 9, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Hi JP, Alicia here, (fellow Liberal, and we’ve definitely chatted a bunch about politics, I hope you are well, wondering if you could message me your e-mail address. I have some legal questions to ask trying to help a friend in need. Hope you are well! And Thanks!

  6. March 20, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    Dear Jonathon,

    I am the Director of the Office of Civil Legal Aid in Washington State. OCLA is an independent judicial branch agency that administers and oversees the state’s significant ($12 million/year) in civil legal aid services. I write to thank you for the extraordinarily thoughtful and measured opinion you wrote in the Concord Monitor yesterday. You offer a voice and perspective that is all too often defeated by the din of partisan criticism over federal funding of civil legal aid. I want you to know that I have shared the piece widely within our statewide justice community (Supreme Court on down to smallest provider). I also thought you might be interested in this wonderful historical reflection on Sargent Shriver, Lyndon Johnson and the War on Poverty.

    With gratitude and very best regards.

    Jim Bamberger
    Director, Office of Civil Legal Aid
    jim.bamberger@ocla.wa.gov

  7. job
    March 22, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Hey how are you doing? I just wanted to stop by and say that it’s been a pleasure reading your blog. I have bookmarked your website so that I can come back & read more in the future as well. plz do keep up the quality writing

    • March 23, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      Thanks. I am glad you enjoy it. I do plan to keep going! Jon

    • March 23, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks. I am glad you enjoy it. I have plenty of ideas so I do plan to keep going. Jon

  8. Steven Hamberg
    May 23, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    I am video producer (contract) at HHS and do education around the ACA.

    Here are few segments:

    Young Man in Tampa: http://youtu.be/kxWnePQVlLI

    Young woman in NOLA: http://youtu.be/iB4e7rKZmdw

    Young man in Pensacola: http://youtu.be/THIw2cfOIIg

    Would like to touch base, please email me next week when you have a moment.

    Thank you.

    Steven

  9. John V Kjellman
    January 10, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Nice column about the NFL and concussions in Friday’s Monitor (1/9/2015), but where is the impact? Mostly we all know the situation. Your column could have had real meaning if you added at the end, “Accordingly, I will no longer watch football games.” I’ve been weaning myself off football and your column was the final straw. I will no longer watch football, and I won’t support a new football stadium at UNH.

    • January 11, 2015 at 4:05 am

      Thanks. I will be honest. In spite of its sins, i enjoy watching. I am not ready to do what you suggest. I realize there are contradictions here but i love the athleticism and the teamwork of football. I enjoy talking with other guys about it. I remain hopeful that football can become somewhat safer although probably not that much. I respect your feelings. Your position is probably more logically consistent than mine. Jon

  10. Joyce Turner
    January 11, 2015 at 12:36 am

    Hello Mr. Baird,

    My name is Joyce Turner. I am the former wife of Kevin Turner. I enjoyed reading your article.

    I’d love nothing more than to somehow get “the truth” out there. It’s nothing short of a travesty as to what the NFL has done to our family, and so many others.

    I would love to get my story “the truth” out there, with the help of someone like yourself.

    Would love to talk to you,
    Sincerely,
    Joyce Marie Turner

    • January 11, 2015 at 4:16 am

      Hi Ms Turner – thank you for reading the article and for writing me. I would be happy to talk to you. My personal email is jonathanbaird1@gmail.com
      Feel free to contact me and we will figure out a time to talk. Jonathan Baird

  11. Kathy Gregg
    January 27, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks for your piece on abortion that appeared in the C. Monitor Jan 22, 2015. I’ve always believed Quality not Quantity.

    Now if you could turn your persuasiveness to the fight the southern tier of NH towns is waging with Kinder Morgan over its proposed natural gas pipeline, that would be much appreciated. My town of Mason is threatened with 2 pipelines–one west to east and the other north to south. Maybe a compressor station too!

    All best,

    Kathy Gregg

  12. Robert Gross
    February 14, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    Hi John-Bob Gross in Hartford,Ct. Over the years from about 1951 plus your Dad, and Uncle Carl had many business deals. Believe you went to Trinity here in Hartford. Playing with my I Pad looking for Donold L.Baird this’s log surfaced.

  13. April 4, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Hi Jonathan…my name is Lynn Gold and I’m a folksinger…Sixties, Seventies and on…wanted to thank you for your beautiful post on Kenneth Patchen…in Seventies set the poem to music, whether spoken or sung…sent to Miriam Patchen who heard it and approved the copyright…not actively singing then sang it to a well known friend who was going to put on her album but difficult to sing and in ways falls far short…as a musical friend recently said when I sent this pome, ‘great poems make their own music’, all too true as I feel as you do about both he and Miriam…she was kind enough to call me and it was a gift…also sent me a card which had one of his small paintings on it and a few equally kind words…she would be so happy to know of what your doing…in our conversation, since I also am a writer, particularly now as am working on a novel about 6th ce bards and holiness of the tradition warts and all, she mentioned something that resonated…talking about literature and my then hesitant attempts, she said quite naturally and with no ‘ego’ attachment, ‘why don’t you write our story’…it is a remarkable one as you know, their love as well, and I managed to find a copy of a booklet friends, including Ferlinghetti, put together after Kenneth passed away, and they did it as much for Miriam…if you like I can scan down the line as just learning how to use my new printer unless it’s simpler than moi thinks…in any case, this poem is my favorite if there is such a thing…as for the music I wrote, nah, at least for now…and as for the book, it hopefully will be done as a labor of love by someone who comes to it with the grace needed as it is a lyrical story needing much research and the poetic writing to tell it as it was…is…his voice is so important to us all…especially now…

    • April 4, 2015 at 11:01 pm

      Hi Lynn – Thanks for writing and reading. I would be very interested if you could scan down the line. I always have thought Patchen was so creative and kind of weird too but weird in a good way. I liked looking at his paintings. There was an old left bookstore in Philly named Robin’s (no longer in business). They used to carry New Directions paperbacks and my sister Lisa and I would go downtown when we were in high school and hang out there. That might have been where we discovered Patchen. As I wrote in my blog piece, he is not exactly a household name. The system would just as soon disappear him. He is an unknown now. That is cool that you met Miriam and wrote a song. Also cool that you are a folksinger. I love music and like everybody else from the 60’s I pretty much grew up on folk. I can’t sing but my son Josh is a great singer. He used to perform around Boston. Now he lives in L.A. Anyway, I agree that we need people like Patchen now. Good luck with your novel!

      If you want to email me my personal email is jonathanbaird1@gmail.com

      Best wishes, Jon

  14. July 25, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Judge Baird: I greatly appreciate your columns in the Concord Monitor. For more information concerning civil rights/race-ethnic relations in NH, may I suggest my latest book – “Frog Town: Portrait of a French Canadian Parish in New Hampshire” (University Press of America, 2014). I’ve presented on it at the “Franco-American Institute, speaker series” held at St. Anslem’s College. Fellow Social Security Administrative Law Judge (Miami office), Stephen Patterson (former student of mine, fellow Marine) can attest to my varsity. For a short bio – go to “www.justiceworks@unh.edu”. My email is “frogwnmu@yahoo.com. I reside in Webster, NH. Thanks, Laurence Armand French

    • July 27, 2015 at 12:55 am

      Hi Larry – Thanks for writing. I am glad to hear you have found the columns of some value. I will check out your book and your bio. You should write some stuff for the Monitor. The paper needs good writers! I hope your summer is good. Best wishes, Jon

  15. July 27, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Thanks Jon: I was one of the initial “contributors” in the mid-1980s and wrote about local social issues of the time….

  16. August 14, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Hi Jon, Found this online, and do not know how else to reach you. I am considering moving forward with the proctored ALJ exam, and wonder if you would be willing to speak with me. Thanks, Sheila Zakre

    • August 15, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      sure Sheila. I would be happy to talk to you. I will email you privately. Jon

  17. December 27, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    I read your letter in today’s 12/27/15 Monitor about Facism. Yasher Ko’ach. May your parents and sister have aliyot in Gan Aden for the honors that you daily give to the human Spirit.

    • December 27, 2015 at 10:45 pm

      Thanks Arnold. Good to hear from you. I have to say I am curious to see what kind of responses the piece gets.I hope all is well with you. Best wishes, Jon

  18. March 31, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Tom Kneeland (978) 590-3029 after reviewing Appeal of Williamson at 140 N.H.667 (1996)
    Todd.kneeland@aol.com

  19. Mary Anne Broshek
    August 9, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    Hi Jonathan
    Just wanted to let you know that I am running for State Rep. in D
    District 1 (Andover, Salisbury and Danbury)

    • August 10, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Congrats Mary Anne. Good for you. If they had not gerrymandered so much I could vote for you. I will try and help. I hope your summer has been good. Jon

  20. Ned Stuckey-French
    December 9, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Hi, Jon. Debbie Socolar alerted me to your blog. I’ve only read the “About Me” section but I plan to read more soon. Sounds like you’ve had an important and rewarding career. It’s been such a long time since we worked together in Boston. I now teach English at Florida State University, as does my wife who is a novelist and short story writer. We have two daughters who are in college. Good to see your writing, hear about your life, and be in touch. All best, Ned

    http://www.english.fsu.edu/faculty/nstuckey-french.htm

    • December 14, 2016 at 1:33 am

      Hey Ned – Good to hear from you. I just told Debbie I am out of touch with old Boston friends. I did reconnect with Steve Meacham, Nan, David, and Farah last year which was an exception. I have been very fortunate in my career and in other stuff too. My son Josh is grown and he and his wife just had a baby. I will check out your page. I hope everything is good with you. Jon

  21. Phyllis Benoit
    March 23, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    Jonathan would you please contact me about giving an Olli course at Granite State College on Black Lives Matter

  22. John V Kjellman
    June 26, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Re: The ballad of the white working class. And what do you think the chances are of what you suggest as long the Democratic party is led by entrenched bureaucrats like Shaheen, Hassan, Kuster, Pelosi, and Schumer? They aren’t bad people, but they have outlived their usefulness in terms of righting the ship of Democrats.

    • June 26, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      Thanks for your comment John. I agree there is a need for new young leaders. I am hoping that some of the people who participated in the Sanders campaign will step forward. I think I have a more positive view of Maggie and Jeanne than that they are just entrenched bureaucrats. I know Maggie from my past life as a lobbyist and I like her personally. I think what you say is true of the higher up institutional leaders like Pelosi and Schumer. There we really need new blood. I was sorry to see Keith Ellison lose when he ran for DNC chair. I do not know what it will take to wake the Dems up. If losing to Trump doesn’t do it, you have to wonder what will.

  23. July 29, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Hey, Thanks for your http://www.concordmonitor.com/White-working-class-blues-10799439 that was in The CONCORD MONITOR on Sun., June 25 ’17 @ pages D1+4 to which I just Facebook shared as #10: ” J.P.B. : re: column #3 of 4 on page D1: “stagnation in wages” WHY? because the Sheeple do not know HOW to claim the “lawful money” in quality coin NH RSA Ch. 275:43,I(a) and the “banksters” do REFUSE to write that 31CFR100.2 letter to get what the 12USC411 “advances” were for.

    footnotes:

    1.) http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/XXIII/275/275-43.htm

    2.) https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/31/100.2

    3.) https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/12/411

  24. September 26, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Jonathan,

    Until your August article about Charlottesville, I had no idea that you grew up in Lower Merion also. Maybe about the same time I did. I went to Merion School, Ardmore Junior High, and Lower Merion High. Graduated in 1961. I have not run into many here in NH. Felice Belman was also an LM graduate but she’s now in Boston as you know.

    Doug Hall

    • September 26, 2017 at 11:35 pm

      Hi Doug – I grew up near 54th and City Line, near Akiba Hebrew Academy. I lived on Melrose Rd which is off Montgomery Ave. I went to Friends Central until 7th grade and then went to Episcopal Academy. I was one of three Jewish students there at the time. I graduated high school in 1968. I know Merion School well. Isn’t that where there was the helicopter crash that killed Sen Heinz? Where in Merion did you live? Jon

  25. dnnwise
    April 15, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Dear Jon – All of our columns are excellent. I am glad you find the time to research and think them through. Go Iggles!

    • April 15, 2018 at 9:37 pm

      Thanks Dan! I am still celebrating the Eagles and will be for a long time.

  26. JOHN V KJELLMAN
    April 16, 2018 at 12:36 am

    Why did it take three decades for the state to address women’s prision? (Concord Monitor, Sunday, 4/15/2018). I hope that was a rhetorical question. The real question is, how did we get a new prison at all? (Oh, by court order, kicking and screaming, not by the will of the people.)

  27. May 23, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Hi Jon,

    Really appreciate Monitor column.

    Increasingly looks like Venezuela may be facing a coup with US sanction if not direct support. Complicated situation but Maduro is nowhere near the “brutal dictator” he’s made out to be in mainstream press. Any chance you write something about it? Good balanced info at nacla.org including this article https://nacla.org/news/2018/05/19/venezuelan-labyrinth ..

    Best,
    Judy

    • May 23, 2018 at 5:53 pm

      Thanks Judy. That is a hard one to write about. I am no expert. I will think about it. I would not be surprised if there was a coup attempt. Jon

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