’ Blog Housekeeping

For several years I’ve been greatly annoyed that bugs sneaked into my blog posts. They are punctuation bugs. Maybe you’ve noticed them especially if you’ve followed my search function to older posts. They are especially common from the time I began serving for my third term in 2014. I still don’t know what caused them to replace simple apostrophes and quotation marks.

Its harder to fathom what President’s means than President’s or School Board’s compared to School Board’s.

Over the past couple years I’ve gone back and corrected some of the old posts when I myself linked back to them. But there are about 900 such posts and I used a lot of apostrophes.

I have found a slow and fairly tedious way to correct the mistakes one by one. I’ve spent the last half hour correcting about seven of the exasperating posts. I’ll keep working on it as this blog is my primary means of communicating and Harry’s blog reads so much better than Harry’s blog.

OMG A new check suggests I have 6000 posts with the strange hieroglyphics.

I have always suspected that one botched attempt to fix of this blog turned all those apostrophe’s and quote marks into weird things. Ditto hyphens. 6,000 corrupted pages is almost 1/4th of ten years work. Sheesh!

A year ago today the most famous man in World History…

…showed up on my front lawn

I know because Facebook reminded me by putting this image on a “year-ago-today” memory function.

And why do I say that he is the most famous person in World History? Well first a prologue.

I woke up today not thinking about Trump, a rarity, but perhaps he was in my thoughts way behind the scenes in my subconscious. You see, I woke this morning imagining going back to a day when I was in college 45 years ago with the memories of me today, at age 66, stuck in my head.

What I thought about was compelling enough, for me, to imagine writing it down as the beginning of a novel. So taken was I by this writing exercise that I decided not to listen to NPR this morning so I could continue thinking about this novelized time travel story. (Actually, last night before going to bed I thought I should stop listening to the morning news because I had been so wrapped up in it that I have been neglecting various projects I wanted to work on. This has become so standard that I find myself going to bed wishing I had done something useful instead of obsess about Donald Trump.)

I got out of bed before the crack of dawn and kept the radio off while I fed my cats and gathered my gym bag to swim some laps at the fitness center. I drove sans radio and swam. On the way home I bought some coffee, orange Juice and a banana nut muffin but made the mistake of looking at my cell. I noticed a New York Times Story (I subscribed to the Times a couple weeks ago to have unlimited Trump News coverage and avoid being limited to ten-a-month) about someone who had attempted to do what I was failing to do with my morning. Block Trump out of my thoughts so I could do something else for a change.

Mr. Manjoo is the columnist who tried unsuccessfully to blot out Donald Trump not just for a morning but for a week. He couldn’t do it either. Then he did a little research and concluded that Trump is the most famous person in world history that has ever been. As I extrapolate Manjoo’s conclusions it appears that Donald Trump has gotten something like a trillion dollars worth of free publicity over the course of the last twelve months. He has me convinced. Its astonishing to think that the most famous person ever is the world’s biggest twit. Or is that twitterer?

It can’t happen here.

I only had to type six characters and a space: It can’ – and the full title of the movie I woke up dreaming about popped up in my Google Search: It Can’t Happen Here. I suspect Donald Trump’s series of unfortunate events has prompted a lot of other people in their sixties to Google that title.

It Can’t Happen Here was a book written by, Sinclair Lewis, the Minnesotan who wrote one of his books half a mile from my house. But I was wrong. The movie I had in mind was Red Nightmare, which you can see on Youtube. This was a Warner Brother’s Film, about what America would be like if Russian Communists took over whereas Sinclair’s book was published a quarter century earlier. Lewis, long suspected be a Commie by Right Wingers had a differenty bogeyman in his 1935 novel. It was a Fascist demagogue, Buzz Windrip, modeled after Louisiana Governor Huey Long. Like Saturday Night Live the book was considered satire although Lewis probably thought it was more of a wake up call.

Ten years after Lewis, Robert Penn Warren would win a Pulitzer for another treatment of Huey Long called “All the King’s Men.” I’ve only seen the Broderick Crawford movie. Claudia, the novel reader in my household, loved Warren’s book.

The line that Democracy calls for constant vigilance is appreciated on both left and right. Eight years ago “conservative writers” were warning that President Obama was going to instigate a communist take over. Count me among the Obama lovers who fret that the opposite could occur. This post was originally going to be titled: “Trump Supporters are Not Brown Shirts – Yet.” That was meant to be a hopeful title.

I have no trouble seeing Donald Trump put his own ego over the “American Democratic Experiment.” He’s like one of the Tigers in that embarrassing old relic Little Black Sambo. I can only hope he chases the other tigers around the tree turns and to butter. I’m losing hope that he will grow into the Presidency. He looks more and more like the tinytrump pictures in that Reddit Thread.

When I hear him call legitimate news “fake” I can imagine him being gently led to a psyche ward mumbling to all who will listen that he is Jesus Christ. Is this madness, illiteracy, dementia, a lifetime of unpunished bullying or vainglory? I don’t know.

Thankfully, for every Bannon, Pudzer, DeVos and Miller Trump has been coaxed into appointing sensible people. I’ve got no problem with General Mattis or Judge Gorsuch. I read a glowing review of the jurist in the Denver Post when I was visiting my Uncle last month. As long as Trump keeps appointing one Gorsuch for every Sessions I’ll sleep at night. As long as Republican Senator’s McCain and Lindsey Graham birddog Trump, I’ll sleep at night.

American Dictator Watch – 2-18-2017

Considering turning the National Guard into a police force

Considering curtailing the Founding Father’s right of a free press.

After begging Russia to release hacked US Government emails an About Face calling for prosecutions of American government leakers.

Not to mention this old chestnut from the campaign trail back in February of 2016:

Campaigning on making it easier to sue his detractors and the press for golden showering on his parade.

Prodded by conscience and a blog critic I offer…

…the Duluth News Trib’s take on I.V. Foster the six-month superintendent that I suggested was harassed out of Duluth.

This is what was reported shortly before he meekly departed:

Foster spent 31 days out of office

Former Duluth school Superintendent I.V. Foster was out of the office for more than a quarter of the time during his 5½ months on the job, employee records obtained by the News Tribune show.

According to public data the News Tribune requested in January, the new superintendent used 21 days of combined vacation, personal and sick time and 10½ days of professional leave from July 1 until he was put on paid administrative leave Dec. 19. The 31½ total days away from his office represent 27 percent of the ….

You can read the rest of the story at this link.

Here’s a follow up story.

My critic is in no doubt that Dr. Foster was a ninny. Certainly his many days out of office in his first five months in a big new job raised eyebrows. We have a President who seems similarly disengaged.

My suggestion that the powers-that-be in the District helped undermine the Music Man (Foster was a musician) is still likely true. Ask President Trump about all his administration’s leaks. Whether the new Supe had good reasons for his many early absences has never been addressed publicly. He did take something like seven sick days and as far as I can tell he had every right under his contract to take the personal leave days off. That leaves the issue of the Minnesota Superintendent license which he failed to apply for in a timely fashion. That is harder to explain although I’ve had some ameliorating suggestions offered to me.

For the record, I always thought Dr. Foster would have a tough time after a bruising Red Plan Civil War. He seemed to shrug off the seriousness of the war’s aftermath which struck me as naive. His previous superintending experience was limited as well. He’d been in a small district that only had elementary schools. I honestly don’t know what to make of what happened and at the time I felt no impulse to investigate. Last night I briefly imagined conducting such an investigation with a flurry of after-the-fact interviews. Silly me! I’ve got too much on my plate as it is.

Still, What happened to the good Doctor was embarrassingly consistent with several previous unhappy experiences that our District’s minority teaching staff have encountered. The District may not have failed I.V. Foster but it did him no favors either and this in a District with a damn near criminal gap in achievement between white and minority students.

DFL Monsters?

Loren has a beef with “the DFL-endorsed Board majority.” Whew! Where to begin?

I have had some beefs with the majority of the Board, some of them quite vehement. I don’t however, look at them as the DFL Board. Yeah, they got DFL endorsements. No, I don’t approve and never have of party endorsements for “non Partisan” civic elected positions. Meh! That’s what I think of DFL endorsements. A lot of the endorsements are handed out like party favors to insiders but a good candidate can win without endorsements. I’ve rarely been a “good” candidate but I’ve been a regular candidate and a hard working candidate and I’ve gotten elected three of the 8 times I filed for the school board. I would almost certainly have won re-election to a third term in 2003 had I not changed my mind and told everyone the other guy was OK and stopped campaigning. That would have been four out of eight.

I might have won in 2007 without party endorsement except that a horrid man blackened my reputation three days before the election by circulating a highly inflamatory portrait of me to every front door in the School District. That would have been five out of eight.

I don’t have anything against Democrats. In fact, that word is half of the title of this Blog. I filed for Congress when I created the blog with the initial idea of running as a Democrat in 2006. At the last minute I filed independently as a “Unity Party” candidate after the name of the blog was set. I was the Unity Party. Subsequently, I attended three or four DFL precinct caucuses including the best one I ever attended in 2008 as an enthusiastic Obama supporter. I can’t tell you how much it warmed my heart when the DFL party machine gave a tribute to the Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, at one meeting I attended. Lincoln has become an embarrassment to his own party.

My Buddy likes to criticize me for being a bigot towards all things Republican. He’s wrong, of course. I’m bigoted about the purging of Lincoln lovers from the Republican Party. As a result I’ve heaped abuse on the Republicans non stop for the last decade. Checking my search engine I have categorized 674 of my posts under the biting title “God’s Own Party.” A little math tells me that this is about 3.5% of my total postings so its not exactly obsessive. And under the category of “Good Republicans” I found 147 posts. There is a little balance there. And I’ve stopped attending DFL precinct caucuses. I’m a creature of habit – the habit of being mostly honest about what I think. I think we did pretty well with two middle of the road parties for most of my first century on Earth. Sadly that has not been true during any of my second century except for a couple years after 9/11. My blog is my personal, pathetic attempt to find common ground again. I’d like to be nice to Republicans but God Dammit! Their obsession with strangling unions and Obama and Roe v Wade and indifference to poor people stuck us with Donald Trump. Its not easy to forgive all of that.

I don’t blame the DFL for mucking up the Duluth Schools like Loren does. True, they gave the vast majority of boneheads who have brutally ruled the School Board over the past decade their endorsement……… hmmmmm.

I guess I’d suggest that Duluth’s DFL inner circle owes it to the voters, our children and itself to be a little more thoughtful in the future……..just as the DFL would certainly wish Republicans everywhere do the same.

By the By – I’ve heard from one person who chills with young DFLers that they think I’m a jerk. He asked them if they’d ever met me. They admitted they hadn’t. I’ve got a reelection campaign coming up this summer and fall. I hope I get to have a beer with one or two of them so that they can size me up and dispel some of that negativity I seem to be saddled with. In the privacy of the voting booth they don’t have to limit their votes to DFL endorsees.

Oh and this just popped up on Facebook from my sister in Ecuador. It seems appropriate to share it.

To Err on the side of self flagelation is….

Loren Martel.

Loren has been outdoing himself lately. His columns have been churned out almost weekly and he is in the Duluth Reader yet again this week aiming a blow torch very narrowly at his favored whipping boy “The DFL-endorsed Board majority.” He has a little left over for our Superintendent’s wandering eye as well. More on this in the next post but I’d like to linger on the meat of his retraction in the first paragraph. Loren admits a mistake, not his first, but offered one of his most important corrections.

He recently explained that since the days of Dixon our taxpayers had suffered a 60% increase in their local school taxes. It turns out Loren was way off the mark. He corrected himself: “Our tax levy from the district has risen by a whopping 246% since the start of the Red Plan.” Yup. Yup. Yup.

I’ll add some additional details, one of which I learned today in a conversation with an MDE finance expert from that Era who watched with astonishment as the Duluth Schools proceeded with their exploding hot potato. I learned that a few years ago the District had the opportunity to raise money for capital costs to help pay off the Red Plan but chose instead to take the money out of the General Fund and thus from classrooms. The reason is understandable. Having already failed miserably in their promise not to raise taxes as a result of the Red Plan, the powers-that-be decided it was better to raid classroom money rather than further anger voters. For many years we took six million annually from the classroom for bond payoffs. Now its a little over three million stolen annually- and that’s not an unfair description.

I asked if any other school districts in the state had ever done such a thing. “Yes,” I was told. Minneapolis and St. Paul did it briefly. I asked if they took anything close to 5% out of their General Funds for bond payoff purposes. “No,” was the answer. And of course we both knew that Duluth will be doing this for ages. “Some of these bonds won’t be paid off for 35 years,” I was told. (Or was it 50 years?) This major outlay from the General Fund was made necessary by change orders, cost overruns, lying, grossly inflated charges even more excessive than those recently exposed at Prior Lake. What makes it worse is that the Red Plan Board members regularly denied that they were taking General Fund money to pay off the bonds on the Red Plan. No wonder they wanted to remove Art Johnston when he kept asking for the public data that confirmed how bone headed the Red Planners had been.

Loren quotes one of the applicants for the Superintendent job who the Board passed on in 2012. Stan Mack was a thirty year administrator who frankly told the board that the Red Plan’s financing was “unprecedented in Minnesota…a most serious problem…major leakage from the General Fund, caused by school board action.” Mack did not get the job but three of the Board members were unable to get their preferred candidate Mr. Gronseth hired. But time heals all wounds. Six months later the new Superintendent was sent packing after a well orchestrated campaign to make him look like a ninny. Positivity at last.

PS. That Martell article is in the news stands but not yet online. I think the Reader stalls a few days to keep its advertisers in the print version happy.

Rascals are rascals no matter under what banner

My Buddy sent me a link about DFLers who were taking advantage of their connections to leach off of our new Billion dollar Football Stadium. He said he was “grateful for living in a state where the political reaction to this shit (finally?) seems to reflect that it stinks.”

I agree. I’d hate to live with the hypocrisy we are seeing in Washington DC. https://www.facebook.com/CREDO/videos/10155814178245968/

I began researching one of my many quickly evaporating books in 2005. It was about the biggest political scandal in Minnesota History that I know of and which was centered in Duluth. One of the chief rascals was a fellow named Tom Kelm. Michele Kelm-Helgen is his daughter. Apparently the acorn fell close to the oak.

Still, Michelle’s extravagances are a pale shadow of her Father’s exploits which are only hinted at in News stories of his Era. He was a preternaturally lucky gambler in Vegas. He escaped the law only to reincarnate as a lobbyist for the Cancer stick industry but there was one little tornado after his exit. It was called the Minnesota Massacre. The link in the last sentence takes you to a story that puts all the focus on the BWCA controversy and none on the scandals overseen by Mr. Kelm during Governorship of Wendell Anderson.

I can only hope that a politial massacre of political ne’er do wells also ends up being reflected in national politics some day in the near future.

Americapocalypse

I love my blog’s search function. It always surprises me what it can reveal in and about my ten years of blogging. Apparently, not counting this post I have mentioned “paranoia” in 47 previous posts. Its easy to count as the search function shows me 20 posts per page and there were three pages with 20 + 20 + 7 such posts. A couple even had the word “Paranoia” in the Title. Now that’s a small fraction of my total 19442 posts (not counting this one). I think that shows some restraint on my part as it means I’ve only mentioned it in .0049724926 percent of my total posts. (You gotta love calculators)

It’s on my mind now despite living a pretty mundane life. Last night my very interesting evening with the School Board (beginning with our hush hush closed meeting to discuss……….) Shhhhhh!

As I was saying – after my night of school board meetings I had eight minutes to drive up to my heart-dappled Glen Avon Presbyterian Church to practice with our choir. This will be difficult for me to continue thru June because Claudia is now working Wednesday evenings helping register homeless folks in at CHUM. Until June I’ll be skipping choir practice to take care of our grandsons. I’m looking forward to these evenings but since I can’t really read music I’ll be missing my only chance to practice our music by ear. I don’t mind looking foolish at a School Board meeting (that’s a lie) but I hate the thought of coughing out an unplanned solo or hitting a false note in church.

Ah, but a sick grandchild and my rare Wednesday board meeting left me free for the night and I hurriedly parked on the south side of Lewis street as I have for twenty years. Thank goodness I got the music. It is tricky and syncopated. When I left the practice feeling relieved I opened my car door and saw a parking ticket fall to the street. Twenty-four bucks! I guess I should thank my lucky stars I got away with that for the past two decades. It was bound to catch up with me sometime.

So this morning I awoke in our guest room bed alone. I moved there after waking up and fretting for a couple hours that would have been better spent sleeping. I have all day to fret. Last night however, I decided the deep well that I have put in my mattress may explain the sore shoulder muscles I’ve endured for the past week after shoveling snow. If so, maybe its not simply the Americapocolypse that has me up at nights. I’m going to lobby for a new mattress.

Claudia, it turns out, had to leave early for her Twin Cities Seminary classes this morning. She left me a pot of coffee and two sleeping cats which she had fed. Nice. Then, I read the 25th day straight of unsettling news about our new Command-her and Chief. Then, I thought about the likely imminent departure of our Superintendent. Then, I thought about how unless we can find alternative funding the School District may have to pull money out of the classroom to pay for replacement of tire mulch. Then, I thought about how to lobby the Minnesota Dept of Education to take money out of our Capital funds instead. Then, I saw my parking ticket on the dining room table. Phooey!

The ticket explained that I could pay easily over the phone and easy sounded, well, easy. But when a cheery voice announced I could do it easily for an extra $3 charge for phone processing I hung up and wrote a check instead. I’ll pay 54 cents for Post Office processing instead, thank you very much.

And behind all this personal minutiae lies a fearful political collapse of the Republic. The press won’t cut Trump any slack as he blunders his way proving that he can make the national political transition of government as chaotic as last year’s election. He has read his political mandate about as well as he can read. The saving grace is that in a pinch the Republican’s in Congress will likely not give him authoritarian powers lest he do to the Republicans what Kim Jong-un did to his half brother a couple days ago. They still need a powerful enough justification to impeach Trump so as to shield themselves from their fire-breathing Limbaugh and Rapture-ridden Christian base.

I take little comfort when I read an old testament Christian’s explanation that God chose lots of evil men to work his will in Old Testament times and that’s why they voted for Trump. Trump is our Nebuchadnezzar. An illiterate, pussy grabber is God’s judgement on America. Maybe that explains Trumps stunning retreat from his last thank you to the RNC convention for cutting Gays some slack. Then he backed off and threw a bone to the fundamentalists scrapping the Johnson Amendment.

I’ve often joked that “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get you.” Looking at my Facebook feed which keeps growing exponentially as I add new friends I see how the folks on my side of the political divide are rallying. I only get short glimpses of the pro-Trump side as they typically eschew the Fake News I rely on. They probably feel paranoid about my jokes about the impeachment of Trump. That may be cause for alarm. At choir practice last night a friend told me of a retired school superintendent he knows (and that I know too) who is out buying all the ammunition he can.

I really need a good mattress.

How the Cookies resist crumbling

The Education Committee lasted almost three hours yesterday. We had several long presentations but the surprise was what I might have imagined to be a non controversial new policy on Wellness.

The initial Wellness policy presentation was given at our January meeting and Alanna Oswald joined by Art Johnston raised a number of objections about snacks in schools that might be outlawed by new federal regulations. I’ll be honest. I quickly tuned out the discussion eager for a quicker end to the meeting. But this was much bigger potatoes than I realized. Our student reps from the high schools became quite engaged.

Yesterday we learned from Student Rep. Ben Emmel that 200 Denfeld students had signed a petition supporting cookie sales by classes for special ed students which sold their school baked cookies each lunch period. In addition sports teams and many other school related groups were worried that their sales of similar goodies might be curtailed. and then there was the question of elementary students who brought birthday goodies to their classrooms.

After yesterday’s discussion it became obvious that many people had been researching the issue and the Superintendent himself bent over backwards to explain that the Federal Government had a lot of exceptions and flexibility built into its nutrition regulations. In the end I’m not sure the new Wellness Policy will pose a threat to these long lived traditions.

But then again when I was on the School Board the principals effectively killed a proposal to get rid of vending machines that sold pop and candy. Our fellow Board member, UMD Physical Ed teacher Pati Rolf, decried these unnecessary calories. She left before she won her argument but after the fact she prevailed. Nonetheless, calories have a stubborn habit of sneaking back. Just look at my Girl Scout Cookies which, by-the-by, do qualify as a “smart snack” under Federal nutrition regulations. I just ate three of them. “Smores” ummmm, yummy!

The Game of Life

Yesterday I spent the morning and afternoon with my first grade grandson. He was sick. His Mom brought some games over to our house for us to play with him including “The Game of Life.”

Other than having Homer Simpson characters all over the gameboard and playing cards it was the same game I was always asked to play by my old next door neighbor, Becky. I was never a big fan of the game. It was sort of like playing house only with mortgages and car repairs. Besides that, when I played it with Becky we were in fifth grade. Jacob is in first grade and while he’s a remarkable little reader he can’t yet fathom mortgages, promissory notes or tax shelters. so, we sort of played by the rules he had learned although I did my best to read the instructions as we began the game. At least it ends by reaching the end of its path of rectangles unlike Monopoly which requires going round and round in a square circle.

Jacob got help from Grandma after she returned from her religious internship. She kept his money in order and he ended up with a half million bucks compared to my hundred grand. Now I don’t want you to think I was a sore loser or anything but we were playing by Jacob’s rules.

Well, there is playing “The Game of Life” and there’s living life. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, so much so, that I haven’t kept up with my blogging and have yet to commence this darned book I want to write. So, to catch my eight loyal readers up here are a few of the lifelike things I’ve been doing.

Which of my relatives brought an illegitimate child into the world?

I got an email from a second cousin who had been contacted by a non relative who was trying to figure out the connection between our family and a mother-in-law. We share a surname, my Grandfather’s, but the legal birth documents are full of frauds. My second cousin and I have been putting our heads together and recently narrowed the connection down to some other cousins once or twice removed. The connecting of dots has been greatly aided by DNA tests. The floor of my office still has records strewn across it as a result of this little family research detour. Unfortunately, there is more stuff on the floor from other recent searches. Its been easier to put off a refiling than it has been to put it all away.

Honoring World War Vets and the V-12 Program

Park College has made several appearances on previous posts. My Grandfather the war hero was a very devoted alumnus and I’ve visited there several times this century to help them celebrate his life. This spring they are setting up an exhibit of the college’s (now a University) long history of collegiate military training. It began with the V-12 naval officer’s training program in World War II. It was set up to help the military train officers for the war and to help salvage colleges which had lost enrollment as young men poured into the military. My Father, then living in Kansas City, Missouri, enrolled directly into Park’s program from his high school’s ROTC program.

I just sent Park University both my Grandfather’s dog tag from the First World War and my Dad’s tag from the Second. I thought the father-in-law/son-in-law connection made them an interesting pair. I also sent a few photos of my Dad’s V-12 graduating class down as well.

This photo came from my Dad’s high school yearbook which I found in the KC Public Library. Its my Dad in about 1942 in his ROTC uniform. He’s in the center of the front row.

Some serious history candy

In addition to the fascinating history unfolding before me in the news everyday I’ve also been watching some interesting programs on PBS.

Last week I saw the Independent Lens program about the movie that created Hollywood, which is now so roundly criticized by Republicans for propagandizing America, – Birth of a Nation. Oh, and two-and-a-half years later my Grandfather would find himself assigned to be an officer with black soldiers who enlisted in Harlem to fight the Hun.

I’ve never watched it but am well aware that it helped reestablish the Ku Klux Klan in the United States after its appearance in 1915. What makes it particularly interesting to me is the fact that it was shown in New York City despite loud objections from Harlem’s black population. That was the same time that my Grandfather, neighbor of an escaped slave, was studying for his Master’s degree in history at Columbia University right next to Harlem.

As the program makes clear the Democrat my Grandfather told me had been the worst vote of his life, President Woodrow Wilson, eulogized the film at the same time as he instituted segregation in the Federal bureaucracy. I don’t know how my Grandfather felt about this but he would tell me with bitterness years later that he blamed Wilson for getting America into the First World War. That was an ironic thing for an MOH winner to say. In one more irony Columbia University’s history department was also the leading exponent for the revisionist history of Civil War Reconstruction that argued that the KKK cleaned up the South by instituting Jim Crow. And on that note I’ll mention once again that I gave a little talk about my Grandfather’s service to a VFW in Topeka to which my Grandfather belonged.

And this week there was an equally interesting Independent Lens on PBS called “Accidental Courtesy.” Its about Daryl Davis, a black musician who found himself getting to know members of the Ku Klux Klan and disarming them to the point that many of them renounced the Klan. The contrast between his success with the Klan and the distaste his work caused some members of the Black Lives Matter movement is arresting.

It is a study in how to win over people through sheer human decency and I imagined myself in Mr. Davis’s shoes albeit with other adversaries.

The DNT’s take on school leadership

The DNT Editorial today was longish and reasonable. You can read it here.

I’ll only include my remarks as they were reported:

Count Duluth School Board member Harry Welty among those wishing Gronseth good luck in his job hunts.

“(He) has a lot to offer any school district, and I told him I wish him well whether he remains our superintendent or seeks new experiences and challenges elsewhere,” Welty, one of the three School Board members who has been “less than positive,” said in a statement this week to the News Tribune Opinion page. “I don’t begrudge Superintendent Gronseth the chance to consider a new superintendency. It is rare for school leaders to anchor themselves to a single district for their entire career, although it is obvious Bill has deep ties to our community. He tells me his roots in Duluth go back to the 1890s.”

As for “positivity”………It’s often overrated. Witness Hillary Clinton’s SNL Avatar Kate McKinnon in October of last year at the 3:30 mark – “I think I’m going to be President!”:

Heart-Henge

Some folks from church prevailed on me to use the snow in Glen Avon’s front yard to have some fun. On Saturday with the help of my grandsons we made Heart Henge. I described its making as the work of ancient Picts and Scots building a temple to the heart. Think Stonehenge (The original Presbyterians were descended from the Picts who gave the Romans bloody hell while the Romans gave them bagpipes. I’d say that was a fair trade.)

On Sunday we added a bit of color.

In case you were wondering – tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.

Chuck Frederick asked me what I thought …

…about the Superintendent’s looking for a new superintendency.

He may put a quote in tomorrow’s newspaper.

In short, I said I had no problem with it although I typed up a longer response to give my quote context.

Here is a little context. I got a call from a member of the Elk River School Board about Mr. Gronseth. We had a long cordial and frank conversation. Afterwards I suggested he call our superintendent and explain to him that I recommended he give him a call to follow up on our conversation. Then I called Bill because I didn’t want to blindside him about the possiblity that an Elk River school board member would call him to follow up on my conversation.

Mr. Gronseth and I had a long dinner together on Friday and had a frank and cordial conversation about my chat with the Elk River School Board member as well as other subjects relating to the Duluth School Board. Both our wives were out of town so our dinner was unhurried.

Put another way, I see nothing wrong with the Superintendent looking for new challenges. I think he would be foolish not to explore his options and I would never hold his search against him any more than I would condemn an East or Denfeld graduate for shopping for colleges other than UMD.

“drown the liberals”

A distant relative Facebooked a story about the 120,000 Californians fleeting the possible collapse of the Oroville Dam. Some troll commented underneath the story. “Drown the liberals.”

My best guess about the troll is that he/she is a fan of Donald Trump.

I woke up Sunday morning and lost a couple hours sleep composing a post about how Donald Trump’s election has revived Saturday Night Live. I fell asleep and didn’t get around to it until now. I’ve resumed watching SNL regularly after years of ignoring it. Trump has pumped life into the program and on Saturday night Trump and his administration was a nonstop presence from 10:30 to midnight. Today the Trib had a story about how its viewership is soaring.

And its not just SNL that is surfboarding on Trump. After Claudia and I came home from a birthday dinner at the Scenic Cafe we caught up with three recent episodes of Samantha Bee on Netflix. Its breathtaking how an existential threat to the world’s longest lived Democracy has inspired both trolls and comics.

Just take a look at the latest John Oliver piece. I’ve never seen horror/comedy/news so tightly intertwined.

Debating red flags

My Debate over the Constitution with my Buddy:

——– Original message ——–
From: “Your Buddy”
Date: 2/10/17 10:02 AM (GMT-06:00)
To: Harry Welty
Subject: Raising my flag to America’s judiciary | lincolndemocrat.com

Harry:

Since you are raising your flag to America’s judiciary — see http://lincolndemocrat.com/?p=19380

also see http://www.breitbart.com/video/2017/02/09/dershowitz-9th-circuit-ruling-not-a-solid-decision-looks-like-its-based-more-on-policy-than-on-constitutionality/.

Further, you said:
. . . I wonder if his [Trump’s] Supreme Court nominees would agree. After-all, most of them will be fans of “originalism” which exalts our Founder’s 18th century notions of Constitutional interpretation which, among other things . . .

I suspect that Scalia would say that he favored construing the text of the Constitution, instead of trying to otherwise divine what the “notions” of the founders might have been. Isn’t that why we have laws in writing?

[Your Buddy]

To which I replied:

Buddy,

How is construing different from divining?

Harry

My Buddy’s riposte:

Harry:

Construing or diving what? How are unwritten “notions”, construed or divined? Words, too, can be slippery, but they seem to be more fixed than notions; and we have the words; but where or how do we find and ascertain what the notions were?

Say what you mean, and mean what you say?

Your Buddy

And my reply:

Buddy,

This gets to the old issue of the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law. I think both are important. However, I think Scalia shortchanged the “spirit” of the law. In 1860 Scalia would have had no patience with Lincoln’s contention that the Declaration of Independence suggested that blacks and whites should be regarded as sharing the same rights. In 1954 he would probably have panned the decision of Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education.

I also suspect that from Bush v Gore to Citizen’s United Scalia tried to hide his political leanings behind his worship of “originalism” while suggesting that he was somehow holier than his colleagues who were less reverent towards the Constitution.

[Scalia] was a Roger B. Taney not an Earl Warren.

Harry

—————————————–

Raising my flag to America’s judiciary

There were two clarifying interviews on NPR this morning which I thought were helpful in making sense of the Federal Court’s decision which President Trump called “disgraceful.”

In the first Jonah Goldberg commented that he thought it was unfair of the court’s to pay too much attention to Trump’s campaign rhetoric about barring Muslims from America because the President’s hasty executive order did not go as far as his rhetoric. I think that’s a fair critique but I wonder if his Supreme Court nominees would agree. After-all, most of them will be fans of “originalism” which exalts our Founder’s 18th century notions of Constitutional interpretation which, among other things, treated black slaves as 3/4ths of a human being. Wasn’t banning Muslims Trump’s original intention? If so, shouldn’t that be how the court views his executive order?

Also Goldberg commented sensibly that it could be troubling if every time any law is passed or enforced in such a way as to disadvantage a single state that the disadvantaged state could have veto power over a nationally administered law.

Then another guest made another sensible comment in an NPR interview. The second person noted that the courts had not overruled the executive order meaning that it could yet be determined to be legal. What the Appellate Court had done was simply set in motion a means for the courts to analyze whether the rushed Presidential order had overreached.

I wouldn’t have expected such views to be aired on most television news programs which is why I stopped treating television news as particularly helpful about 40 years ago. Of course, the Republicans are always threatening to stop public finance of NPR and PBS. I guess that makes Big Bird a commie although in the new Trump world being an ex KGB agent is no big deal. However, Mitch McConnell has deemed quoting Coretta Scott King on the floor of the US Senate a national disaster.

Here are some more of today’s NPR stories I found heartening and a good reason for me to raise Old Glory over the backs of Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leia:

Appellate Court doesn’t revoke the lower court order to stay Trump’s executive order to deny entry into the US by travelers from seven predominantly Islamic nations.

Trump lies about being invited to appear on John Oliver’s show.

Trump lies about Gorsuch saying the nominee for the Supreme Court never said that Trump’s anti court rhetoric was disheartening to the third branch of Government.

Utah Republican Congressman Chaffetz is booed back home in conformist Utah when he says Trump is exempt from self dealing as President.

If Donald Trump is ever to become a rational President he will have to be treated as ferociously by his critics as Trump treated them when he campaigned for the Presidency.

HAPPY # 7 (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER OTHER THAN #1)

I was quite taken with a couple of academics who were analyzing the reaction to the Trump Presidency. They in turn were taken with the many patriotic ads on the Superbowl which seemed to be challenging the “Nativism” so prominant in the new Donald Trump Presidency. They both were intrigued by a nascent partiotism they sensed that the Trump victory brought out in Americans who did not share his values. It was as though his critics vision of America had been rocked in a way that offended what they loved about America. It was something of a rebuke to the patriotism trumpeted by the new President’s loyalists but it was as genuniely pro-America as the Trumpster’s flag lapel pins.

I had already fished out my American flag when I heard this and it struck me as a very positive development.

I have always been drawn to silver linings and just maybe the election of an unpalatable Donald Trump has galvanized a lot of folks who will refuse to roll over and play dead. I hope so.

This discussion is not yet on the PBS Newshour webpage either.

The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."