France

This is my bookcase of French related books that I’m working on. I posted a similar picture of the books on China last year. It was one of a number of posts to my “China” category. I have begun a similar category on France which this post is now a part of.

My (now) seven loyal readers will recall that it was my Grandfather’s exploits in France that was the primary driver for this trip. I have in fact polished off a couple books on that subject in the past seven or eight months. But that reading has led to a more intense interest in the nation which gave us our liberty and for which we have twice returned the favor.

I just finished reading Ina Caro’s book “The Road from the Past” to Claudia. (NOTE the preceding link is to a very unflattering WaPo review of the book which was, the book that is, just what I hoped it would be). Shortly afterward we decided to watch the movie Julie and Julia which was a charming little movie about a writer who set out to and succeeded in cooking all 524 recipies in Julia’s Childs first book on French Cooking in one year’s time.

I’ll be posting more about France as I go along. I’ve already made some discoveries I hadn’t expected. For instance I have always thought of English as a Germanic language. But Britain and France’s long entanglement left about one third of our vocabulary coming from the frogs. I must admit that has made it much easier for me to pick up their lingo as I chip away at it every day.

I’m currently on a 54 days in a row tear studying it. I started five months ago and have about four more months to go by which time I hope too have added a few brain cells upstairs. In fact, I think I’ll add a few more right now. Maybe I’ll edit this later or peut être pas.

On my recent posting vacation

My seven loyal readers (one recently excused himself from regular readership as he felt I put altogether too much emphasis on civil rights in Lincolndemocrat) no doubt recall my plan to run a non campaign for the Eighth District Congressional seat this summer and fall online.

I have not changed my mind but over the past week I’ve come to realize how much more committed I am to learning French and studying France’s history than to annoying my political betters. I am also spending three and four hours daily reading the New York Times and listening to National Public Radio (among other sources) to keep abreast with the closest thing to a national emergency since 1968 or 1860.

Superfluous posts are a drain on my time. I really expected Hillary Clinton to win thereby giving me some rest from a preoccupation with current events that goes back to my Weekly Reader in grade school. That has not happened. But I do not consider my limited forays into the diary portion of my blog to be a waste. They serve as a good reference for me when I want to know what was happening in my life vis-a-vis the larger world.

I have tomorrow to write my next post for the Duluth Reader and I’ve not started it yet. I have another post in mind for today on my approach to “vacations.” I’ve had four in recent years in which I intensively studied the lands I was heading to. France has become the most intense of these and, Mon dieu!, far I have a much greater appreciation of its importance to American History than I previously had.

I have been so preoccupied that I can’t be fully trusted to get my normal allotment of duties done. I have yet to paint the bellfry in our church and on Friday I forgot to go to the Damiano Center to help serve lunch. That’s the second time that has happened since I stepped off the school Board. At church my confederates let me know I’ll be getting a good roasting the next time I show up. I deserve it. C’est la vie!

The return of the bad old days?

I have not quite scrupulously avoided mention of the Duluth School District since the public retired me from the Duluth School Board. (a retirement I have been enjoying with gusto I will add) I have largely trusted to Loren Martell to keep the public apprised of its actions. But a couple of recent tidbits relating to the secretiveness of the top administrator and his most sympathetic board members have prompted some reminiscences.

Before I was elected to the School Board its members, some of its members, had a chummy relationship with its superintendents. The one I have in mind is Elliot Moeser. His Era saw the failure of an epic $50 million dollar referendum to replace or fix up our schools. This was almost thirty years ago and that price tag was eclipses six times over by the building plan of one of his successors Keith Dixon now commonly referred to as the Red Plan – a plan not put up for a community vote.

The subsequent years that I ran for the school board I heard that during the planning for this first stab at a facility fix up the board members routinely met with the Superintendent privately at one of their homes. I thought of this recently while driving by and noticing that it was up for sale. I believe that this process of holding private meetings is about to begin again. Its not the sort of process that encourages public confidence as no one is present to document the actions of board members.

And in addition to this a long planned get together for Board members to have a face to face discussion of the their deepest thoughts has been moved from the Administrative Office to a much smaller room in the Duluth Aquarium which will hold at most about twenty people on April 26th. I do not know if members of the public planning to watch the give and take will have to pay to enter the Aquarium. They would not be if the meeting was being held in Old Central and their would be much more room. We had such a meeting one Saturday in the regular Board room of Old Central. The doors were not locked to the public.

I had lobbied fruitlessly for such a get together during my recent years on the Board but was rebuffed by a board leadership that I gathered had no interest in such a meeting with me or Art Johnston who also requested such a gathering. Now that I’m gone I no longer stand in the way……..although the tiny room in the Aquarium does not suggest any particular openness. I’d suggest any members of the public planning to attend brown bag it.

Some filler between snow shoveling

Busy, Busy, Busy. I only made about seven hours last week for my French studies……which are mostly a lot of drill, drill, drill. I have effectively set the basement level for weekly (hebdomadaire in French) practice from now until my departure to France in September.

Duluth got enough snow Saturday and Sunday for someone to beg that I build another sculpture. They were about to move out of town and wanted me to build one more for old time’s sake. I don’t think I quite conveyed the lack of enthusiasm I felt for that prospect. The snow did bring everyone over to our house on Sunday and because today is a snow day in Duluth we have grandkids staying with us. I will take them on a snow shoveling expedition to their house later today. Their parents will need to get back into their house after over nighting in ours.

The distractions have knocked me off course in the writings I plan to begin. But I still managed to look at both NPR and the NY Times this morning. One had a review of the movie “Come Sunday” that Claudia had me see before-hand. Evidently the seminary crowd has been spreading the news. Pertinent to me “the politician” was its story about how one preacher escaped from the iron grip of damnation worship that pervades the evangelical community. Their’s is a “you’ll get yours God.” Considering how many of them voted for Donald Trump I suspect the number of them left behind when the rapture finally descends will astonish everyone.

Oh, and I watched the first two episodes of the new “Lost in Space” while others in our Sunday crew watched Call the Housewives. I can catch that later when my grandsons aren’t around. Good fun.

The other fascinating story in the Times was about a hither-to-unknown member of the Trump Team who has sacrificed his marriage for Donald who once tipped him $200 buck tip for caddying when he was a kid. He’s Trump’s tweet master an altogether new job for a President. I’m guessing he will be the first and the last.

It reminded of a story I read the summer I was a summer intern in Washington DC.. It was about one of Richard Nixon’s unknown helpers who was the last person in Nixon’s administration any official wanted to see. That’s because RMN, famously averse to face-to-face personal conflict, needed someone to go out and fire people Nixon wanted to dump. Nixon did have an “enemies list” but Trump’s is infinitely longer. The wisest thing I heard anyone say this weekend was the ousted ex FBI Director Comey who said Trump should be removed by the voters not the Congress. I’m not sure I agree but I’m not sure I disagree either.

And those teachers in Red State’s that have taken their state’s stingy Republicans to task……Ah, that’s a subject for some later post too because I’ve got more shoveling to do.

WriteinHarryWelty forCongress.com

Don’t bother looking for it. I’m busy with snow church family french lessons. I haven’t set any place up to campaign for yet other than my blog. Yesterday’s Duluth Trib gave me second thoughts. Today pushing snow around I had second thoughts about yesterday’s second thoughts.

I may have to figure out a new way to set up such a webpage to collect money. My old software for Snowbizz.com seems to have broken down. But I don’t really need money anyway. Getting elected is a terrible, horrible thought. The only thing worse than that is watching the terrible, horrible politics of the last twenty years getting worse and worse. Hell. There has never been a time for less fighting among Americans than today. And yet….

When I get around to blogging later I have several stories in mind. They involve My Grandmother (on my father’s side) my Grandfather (on my Mother’s side) And Barry Goldwater. It will be a test to see if any of current wannabe Congressman in Minnesota’s Eighth District can tell such stories about themselves. Oh and if I set up a campaign webpage I will post my cell phone background picture. This is it:

I want to (not) run for Congress again

I have always considered myself the most reasonable person. I am far more inclined to begin most arguments by putting the other fellow’s or gal’s shoes and walking around in them till I get blisters. I have a reputation ( at least I suspect I do ) for being an off-the-wall bull-in-a-china-shop. As for being off-the-wall its true that, unlike most people, I’ve gotten into the habit of challenging the adage: “the nail that stands out will be pounded down.” Politically it caused me to become:

1. a Republican (a Nixon opponent) during the wave of college anti-Nixon marches
2. a apostle of moderate Republican values in the most Democratic legislative District in America
3. a staunch critic of the Republican Party from within and then a challenger to the Party in an “independent” race for Congress in 1992
4. a School Board candidate who lost three elections before finally prevailing on a fourth attempt
5. a ENOUGH FOR NOW!!!…..I just paused to fold the laundry and Claudia showed me Trevor Noah’s latest commentary about America’s Ongoing S***storm.

The point of the list above is simple. Against the odds as a grown up I’ve become the little kid who shouted at the Emperor that he has no clothes on during the parade surrounded by the king’s secret police. I once wrote an ending to that story. But dear Readerss, this is not a kingdom. It is, or at least once was, the most formidable democracy on Earth. And yet the gatekeepers of our Democracy kept their mouths shut as the party I once belonged to (with some attitude I might add), allowed themselves to be pushed silently into a corner. Then they put duct tape over their own mouths.

The great irony is that millions of these gatekeepers who once said they were voting for “the lesser of two evils” in the 2016 election are now preparing to reelect a Congress full of the folks that put them in the corner while handing them duct tape. Well, I may run jackass, impossible campaigns but I will not support candidates who champion a minute by minute liar.

I have tried to fit in with Democrats. I agree with them on much of their social agenda. My chief differences with them are nit picky but serious. For instance, the idea that humans don’t have the ability to extract copper and nickle from fresh water rich northern Minnesota without poisoning our great grandchildren bother’s me. It bothers me more that its an issue that may very well elect Pete Stauber to Congress. It wouldn’t be the first time such a debate killed the prospects for Minnesota Democrats. The last time was called the Minnesota Massacre. I was a Republican then and it was the second or third most gratifying political event of my 67 years on Earth.

I like Pete. In any election prior to 2012 I would have gladly cast a vote for him. But recent years and this year especially, have changed America. Pete Stauber is a Trump supporter because the people who will vote in both the primary and the general elections detest Trump’s well intentioned critics…..like Trevor Noah.

Here’s a thumb nail of the plan percolating in my head.

I will not run for Congress for the third time. At least I won’t file for election. The possibility of my winning is exceptionally remote, Doing it would require me to bend over backwards to complete campaign data releases that I would have to fill out myself. I’ve done it before in 2006 and they make filling out taxes look like child’s play. More importantly I have no interest in serving in today’s ineffectual Congress where every day is consumed with raising money for the next election and there is no time to read books and be reflective. This has turned our Congress into one of the most ignorant collections of leaders imaginable.

I will encourage both Democrats and Republicans to write my name in for both the Democratic and Republican primaries and, despite being in France all September, for the November General election.

In the meantime I will cobble a book together explaining how America became a scorpion intent on stinging itself into paralysis. I have thousands of posts already written about that. I simply need to select the best and tidy them up a bit while putting them into some kind of linear order. I will begin offering the as yet unwritten book for sale. Any money raised will be sent to me and I’ll have to declare it for taxes as income. Therefore I will keep some small portion of the proceeds to pay for what the “earnings” cost me in taxes so as not to lose money in the process. Someday I’d like to earn money on book sales but not this year. I’m well enough fixed that any; book royalties would be more for my vanity than for creature comforts.

The rest of the money I will likely donate to some of the better candidates running to remove the taint of Donald Trump from our government even though he cannot be removed from our history any more than we can expunge 300 years of slavery. When the history of Trump is written I hope my descendants read the books to find out what the hell happened and make sure its not repeated.

I don’t plan to post all that much until I’m back from France in six months. I’m still working hard to learn French and read French history. I’ll just stick the occasional post to keep my eight loyal readers from falling asleep. The rest of my time will be devoted to selecting past posts that explain how America trumped itself.

Stay tuned.

Whatever happened…..My latest Not Eudora Column

Whatever Happened to the Magnificent Seven

Thanks to the Reader for the nice graphic.

It begins:

In 1966, at age 16, I discovered pop music which was then a witch’s brew of pop, country, and rock about to go their separate ways. One of my early favorites was a song by the Statler Brothers “Flowers on the Wall.” It was about a guy who was dumped by his girlfriend. In the lyrics the fellow claims not to mind “playing solitaire alone with a deck of 51.” Seven years later, after the horrors of 1968 and Vietnam, the Statlers – now confirmed red necks – sang a new song that pined for the days of rugged cowboy heroes. I couldn’t stand it. The lyrics and chorus began:

You can read it all here.

The “wrong side” is winning

Despite the impossibly compelling news items today about our unraveling Presidency I have only one item to mention in the blog today.

It comes from the NPR interview with the author of the soon to be released novel “Varina.” It is about the wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

In real life Varina Davis left the South and took up life in New York City for the years following the war. I can’t vouch for the book but the author mentioned an anecdote that accords with other accounts I’ve heard about the leaders of the Civil War who were more interested in plow shares than swords in its aftermath. These included such luminaries as Robert E. Lee.

Here’s the sentance about Varina’s post war view of slavery that caught my attention:

“She, in later age, said very clearly: The right side won the war. “

Civil Rights in my lifetime came close to nailing the corpse of racism in a transylvanian coffin. Republicans, beginning in the era of George Wallace, did their best to use racism-lite to win over white southern voters with soft core appeals to their racist heritage until eventually they swamped the Party of Lincoln with the descendants of recalcitrant confederate loving, black vote suppressing, chip-on-the-shoulder types. I lived through a lot of this with Nixon, Reagan and most recently Donald Trump. There hasn’t been much room for Lincoln lovers like me in the Party since its ugly transformation. Lincoln lovers are tolerated if we shut up and sit outside the party’s windows on the ledge while the party defers to Rush Limbaugh and his ilk to prevent us from climbing back in. Our only choices are self defenestration or groveling debasement. Most have chosen the later. What’s their rationale? The think it would be terrible to lose control of America by arguing with Donald Trump’s cheerleaders. They are channeling Bashir – Gas my enemies – el Assad.

Me. Think of me as Wylie Coyote standing just beyond the ledge in mid air prior to a great fall. I’ve been levitating for the past 25 years.

Pick Pocket Proof Pants

This post was going to be a reverie on Facebook, Google et al and their scarfing up information about their users. It was appropos to Mr.Zucks appearance before Congress. I am still interested in this but I got caught up in my french studies and have lost the time to elaborate. As to the title.

The gods of the Internet have obviously taken note of my googling French subjects and deduced that I will be traveling abroad. That has become apparent as a result of an unending series of pop ups advertising travel slacks with lots of hard to pick pockets. It is appealing to three persuasive concerns I have 1. practicality, 2. looking good and finally 3. fear – of being robbed.

Fear is such a tiresome trope today. Of everything….. It has been so for ages. Fear of change. Fear of those people who look and talk funny and who are moving in next to you.

I’m with FDR on this one.

Molotov’s Wife

Note: I’m afraid I lied. I have not taken the time to proof read and edit this entry. I studied French instead.

I woke up from a dream in which two of my life’s goals were pitted against each other. Contemplating politics I had moved to southern Minnesota while I was in the process of applying for a job in another southern Minnesota town. Come to think of it that’s not all that different from my life’s beginning in Duluth. The wake up time was 4AM a scant five hours since I went to bed after my brain slowed down from a couple rounds of cellphone French lessons. Five hours is still an hour short of my faltering attempt to stave off Alzheimers’ with six or seven hours of brain cleansing sleep.

And I mean brain cleansing. Not of dreams but of cerebrospinal fluid. According to a very brief synopsis of brain research I read recently the brain, unlike the rest of the body, has no lymph glands coursing through it to remove the detritus of the day for later disposal. What has evolved in our brains is the nightly process of fluid from our spinal system surging through the brain to carry out this function. It does so between in the waves of REM sleep that occur each night. The suggestion is that if you wake up before the full course deep cleaning is finished you are left with dirt in your brains. According to another science article I’ve read this gunk ends up being coated with another ancient gift of our evolution a colesteral-like deposits that shields the brain from the dirt. The problem with this is that our brains fill up with a plaque that crowds out the development possibilities for new neurons. In effect, this prevents our brains from collecting new information and worse removes memories. …. then another recent science story told me that the general consensus that adult brains stop growing new brain cells may turn out not to be ……Stop Harry!

The greatest threat to my full night’s sleep is thinking too much. I try to go to bed keeping my head empty of thought. This is, according to my wife’s understanding, threatened by looking a the blue lights of a cell phone before bed. So, when I study French before collapsing I muck up my melotonin…..STOP IT AGAIN, Harry……..Rememer……Molotov’s wife.

Yes, in the hour of wakefullness after my five hours of sleep, I was juggling a dozen blogable ideas starting with Papa Joe.

Claudia and I went to see the movie, The Death of Stalin on Friday. It was very a funny movie about a mass murderer who drew up lists of people to be murdered every day just before he expired, comically, of a stroke from which his toadies were afraid he might revive. All this, by the way, is true (except for the comic part – the movie was/is comical and not at all interested in letting history muck up the grim reality.

Some sober reviewers have found fault with this but not me. I’ll take my history lessons however I can get them and since the three or four generations following me know diddly squat about Papa Joe I’m happy to have his tyrannical story told in any form that will catch an audience’s attention. Not many years ago I read Montefiore’s marvelous history of Stalin’s Russia larded with information about it released after the fall of the Soviet Union. (Check that. It was eleven years ago)

I recalled that one of the Stalin’s henchmen, Molotov, stayed true to Papa even after his wife was put on one of the lists and terminated. According to the movie, which played fast and loose with facts, Stalin’s top executioner Leverenti Beria, hid her in a jail to present to her husband after Stalin’s death as a way of coaxing him to support Beria’s plan to take Stalin’s place.

I rushed up to blog so fast that I have yet to check that out. One moment. Nope. Not true. That was a half truth for cinematic punch. She was convicted of treason, a capitol offense, but merely sent to the gulags. Beria never pretended to kill her. At least according to Wikipedia which pretty much accords with Montefiore’s book.

There, forty minutes on this [prior to a belated editing four days later] and I’m ready to feed my cats and scan the news before returning to my French lessons.

I had a lot of things jump into my head this morning begging for me to write about them. They include the latest human organ to be discovered. The Dark Web, The Deep State, the Illuminati, The Simpsons, Thomas Jefferson vs. Abe Lincoln, My take on the fantasists who have conjured up a paranoiac “Deep State.” It is part of a deep sepsis infecting the Republican Party courtesy of Rupert Murdoch’s “Fair and Balanced” Fox News. Its too profitable to tell old baby boomers the truth because fake news sells ads. Think of it as the news equivalent of scammers calling old people to sell them insurance they don’t need. Oh yeah, and “Pick Pocket Proof Pants.” I’ve got to blog about that last one. I jotted that down in the dark while in bed but the pen’s ink didn’t flow. I had to rub graphite across the paper to read it. That made the unreadable note a palimpsest. That’s what got me thinking about the Deep shit in the first place.

Now its been 50 minutes. Those cats are hungry. I’ll proof read this later today [or three days later] but you can read it now. I know! I know! Reading my blog entries pre-final edit is kinda like watching me sculpt snow.

It was the best of Times

The beginning of one of the few dozen novels I’ve read begins:

“It was the best of times it was the worst of times.” That’s how I feel now. My blog’s recent quiescence reflects my intense involvement with, reading the news, studying history, learning French, thinking about it all, all the while making sure not to neglect my family. If I was less preoccupied I’d be blogging like mad. I don’t even feel sorry for depriving my eight loyal readers. I’m sure they have enjoyed the vacation. Even when I lie in bed knitting together the many strands of my thinking I don’t feel too badly about my zipped fingers.

The past couple of days I’ve I’ve progressed in my French studies teasing out the elusive eliasons of the spoken language and developing enough vocabulary and grammar to imagine myself muddling along splendidly when I get to France five months from now. I better start making reservations.

Just now I was thinking of Dicken’s first words in A Tale of Two Cities and I came up with a useful corollary.

It was the best of times but don’t forget about the distressed and it was the worst of times but don’t be jealous of those who are doing better.

Putting aside Trump’s empty blue collar rhetoric I loath him because he only cares about himself. Despite his riches he can’t hide his envy of even richer plutocrats. Running for President was just another scheme to get richer which was spoiled by actually getting elected and facing the legal roadblocks to his corruptly getting richer in the swamp he poured more alligators into. Poor baby. He may even end up losing his billionaire status.

I have been accumulating blog material that I may never get around to pontificating about. I’ll just paste in a dozen stories from the New York Times, Guardian and Washington Post from the past few days that beg for our attention:

In 83 Million Eviction Records, a Sweeping and Intimate New Look at Housing in America

Sworn to secrecy, Trump’s history of using nondisclosure agreements

How the Party of Lincoln Became the Party of Racial Backlash

Why I left Fox News

A Riposte to European Superiority

And finally a story about the death of Linda Brown, nine years older than me, whose father helped integrate the Topeka Schools I would soon begin attending a short time later.

Today or tomorrow I mean to write my next “Not Eudora” column. So much to choose from but I’m leaning on talking about the old Western “Magnificent Seven” which I saw with my Grandsons……… It reminded me of this Statler Brother’s Song, lyrics below:

Lyrics here”

Everybody knows when you go to the show
You can’t take the kids along
You’ve gotta read the paper and know the code
Of G, PG and are and X
You gotta know what the movie’s about
Before you even go
Tex Ritter’s gone and Disney’s dead
The screen is filled with sex.

Whatever happened to Randolph Scott
Ridin’ the range alone
Whatever happened to Gene and Tex
And Roy and Rex, the Durango Kid
Whatever happened to Randolph Scott
His horse, plain as can be
Whatever happened to Randolph Scott
Has happened to the best of me.

Everbody’s tryin’ to make a comment
About our doubts and fears
True Grit’s the only movie
I’ve really understood in years
You gotta take your analyst along
To see if it’s fit to see
Whatever happened to Randolph Scott
Has happened to the best of me. Continue reading

A Rose by any other name

For a couple of days I’ve gotten two comedian’s confused. But first let me interject a completely unnecessary digression about female comedians (since I’ve been studying French for the past several months) The two entertainers I’ve confused are both women. In french, and also English, they could be called “comédiennes.” My wife would object to this female designation and she got me to drop “mailman” for “letter carriers” years ago. French, however is riddled with gender. Nouns are all either male or female and I have yet to discern a memorable pattern that would allow me to know whether a cow or a horse is one or the other. I’m not alone.

In The Greater Journey David McCullough relates the story of a rich American expat during the German seige of Paris. He was doubly beseiged when a mob of radical Parisians stormed his house and demanded that he give them his horse and cow so that they could postpone eating rats a little longer. When the old gentleman came out to confront them all he had at his command was the impoverished French he had avoided learning for his decade or more, of residence in the City of Light. He told them he would let them have his cow “le vache” but not his horse “le cheval.” He did so with great dignity and this made his use of “le” before the “vache” so comical to them that they broke out in good-hearted laughter. That was because his “le” indicated a cow was a male and everyone knew cow was a female word.
The mob let him keep his horse.

“Rose” is also a “female” word in French. A speaker is required to precede it with a “la” rather than a “le.” It is French for the adjective pink. As in English it is also a girl’s name and my confusion had to do with two comedians – Roseanne Barr and Rosie O’Donnell.

In recent days I’ve heard Donald Trump praise Roseanne Barr for bring back her old television series “Roseanne” from the dead. She also brought her TV hubby, actor John Goodman, from the dead. His character suffered an apparently fatal heart attack so that he could go on to a more exalted career in Disney voiceovers. I was confused because I’d thought that Roseanne had been having a very public feud with Trump some years earlier and that Trump had even berated her during one of his debates with Hillary Clinton.

Nope. That was Rosie O’Donnell. Trump had been calling her ugly since she joined “The View” a collection of women who talked about politics on Network television. O’Donnell like Barr both had strong opinions and raise hackles. In the end O’Donnell’s outspokenness got her pushed off The View. But I had another memory to recover about one of the Roses, Roseanne Barr it turned out, that I wanted to review. By chance it was about “recovered memory.”

The Rose that supports Donald Trump once hopped on the then faddish “recovered memory” movement. During the fad a great many women began recalling what they argued were long suppressed memories of their having been sexually abused as children. I have no doubt that suppression like this happens. My two years teaching at Proctor were so humiliating for me that I tried not to think about them for years afterward. Even now they are particularly hazy for me much to my regret. But in my case I never forgot them completely.

When Roseanne Barr told her audience that her father had sexually abused her she got a lot of pushback from her family saying it just wasn’t so. In time Roseanne Barr walked back the allegations. The following comes from Barr’s Wikipedia Page:

On February 14, 2011, Barr and Geraldine appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show where Barr admitted that the word “incest” could have been the wrong word to use and should have waited until her therapy was over before revealing the “darkest time” in her life.[105] She told Oprah Winfrey, “I was in a very unhappy relationship and I was prescribed numerous psychiatric drugs… to deal with the fact that I had some mental illness… I totally lost touch with reality… (and) I didn’t know what the truth was… I just wanted to drop a bomb on my family”.[105] She added that not everything was “made up”, saying, “Nobody accuses their parents of abusing them without justification”.[105] Geraldine said they did not speak for 12 years, but had recently reconciled.[105]

Barr, like so many other celebrities is a creature of the modern age in need of attention to maintain her career. Much as claiming to have been sexually abused her current “blue collar” support of Donald Trump is a smart move to revive her career. Take that Hollywood! Having given this some though I’m reminded of the adage, “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” I’d add that the question of fragrance might depend on the definition of “sweet.” Which reminds me of a french term I learned yesterday. I read it in the travel book, Five Nights in Paris, that I began reading to Claudia. “l’odeur.”

As for Trump’s nemisis Rosie O, She got in dutch with the networks for saying the same thing that Donald Trump would say twenty years later and that would help get him elected President. I’ve clipped a couple paragraphs from O’Donnell’s Wikipedia page if you like irony as much as I do.

Continue reading

Rank Choice

I listened to an interview on MPR today that raised my hackles. It was not this story from two days ago. Instead it was an interview with Forest Lake Republican, Mark Koran, pushing a law to forbid any ranked choice voting in Minnesota even where the local voters have put it into affect. In other words local control is good but only when Republicans agree with it.

When Koran was interviewed by the Star Tribune he told them that ranked choice confuses people. On his interview today he added more thought but first pointed out that while he lives outside the Twin Cities he’s really not against the big city since he grew up in the Metro area. Yeah sure.

I don’t have much sympathy for ranked choice as evidenced by my previous posts on the subject. But I do have some thoughts about “local control.” However, awkward I find it some voters have put it into effect. The tyrant Koran wishes to take it away from them rather than let them change their own system.

He squawked that some voters felt “disenfranchised” because some of the ballots cast didn’t get people elected. Hell. That’s like my saying I was disenfranchised every time my candidate lost because my vote didn’t count. Its like complaining when your teacher gives you a multiple choice test because you prefer true/false questions.

Koran, as a Republican, has a lot of nerve talking about disenfranchisement because his party has taken the old Dixiecrat talent for preventing black people from voting and found dozens of new methods to discourage people likely to vote Democratic from casting ballots. That has been a common complaint of many of my posts about God’s Own Party over the past decade. Now, suddenly, Koran wants to protect people who didn’t bother to vote in the Ranked Choice referendum or who aren’t smart enough to understand how the damned method works.

I’m particularly bitter about his ignoring the Republican’s old faithful talking point – “local control.” When Duluth voters were deprived of the right to vote on the ruinous Red Plan our then Governor, Tim Pawlenty, explained his reluctance to let Duluth have a referendum on it based on the big shots from Duluth and Johnson Control’s lobbyists guaranteeing him that everybody in Duluth wanted to skip a “wasteful” election. As a result, today Duluth’s Public Schools are in tatters.

Ironically, I see no advantage for Republicans in ending St. Paul’s experiment with Ranked Choice Voting. Republicans have always had a hard time getting elected to the City Council in either of the Twin Cities or, for that matter, in Duluth. Killing Ranked Choice won’t end that. Naw! I think its just the same sort of “nanny state” crap that Republicans complain Democrats are guilty of. Thank you Rep. Koran. Your a good Big Brother.

“Beware the Jackboot” – my latest Reader Column

The Readers are still being placed in their bins across town but my column is already on their website. I don’t want to discourage anyone from picking up the newsprint so here’s the first paragraph:

“I had a friend who talked me into taking an NRA gun safety class with him. I don’t remember anything more important than what I had already known. Never point a gun at anybody.”

Damn it. I repeated the word “recent” in one of the sentences and another “sentence” seems to be a clause short of full sentence-hood. Ah, but I’m up to seven columns in my latest Reader run. That’s far short of the 100 I’d written in my first engagement but a nice start.

Twelve Gallon Excuse…..for not blogging

I donated my 96th pint of blood at Memorial Blood Center Yesterday. That’s twelve gallons. I plan to write a Reader column about this aspect of my civic mindedness when I’ve hit the 100th donation. I still get twitchy feet doing it but I’ve greatly improved over the little boy who threw a fit the first time he was given a shot in the doctors office. Its not quite the fear of blood. I’ve been bloodied hundreds of times. Its needles going into my veins…..It will be worth an appeal to donate this year or next whenever I cross the century mark.

For the time being its just a good excuse not to have blogged yesterday. I am always warned not to do any heavy lifting after my draw.

I also gratefully finished reading the Greater Journey to Claudia yesterday. I know a lot more about the American Artists that began populating Paris after the American Revolution than I probably ever needed to know but I was pleased to read about Elihu Washington one of Abe Lincoln’s Illinois confederates (I’m being ironical)……a staunch union man who was our Ambassador to France during the German siege of Paris in 1870. That story is a nice lead up to my planned journey to France this September. Its also a bit of a preview of how the French felt as they were being invaded by Germans for the second time in 1914. By the way, I got my Grandfather’s dog tags back from Park College yesterday as well his son-in-law’s Second World War dog tag. His son-in-law was my dad Dan Welty. I lent them for an exhibit last year of Park Colleges contributions to the US military.

My Grandfather loved his years at Park. My Dad endured his V-12 officer’s training there with no special affection for the school. Their dog tags will once again be placed in my official family shrine.

I am irritated that my old 2003 Window’s Front Page software has gone bad and won’t let me update my Snowbizz website’ page on my lifetime reading. None of the three books I’ve completed in 2018 so far will show up when I try to update the page. I am not merely an old dog resistant to learning new tricks but I am resistant to restoring failing tech from the past. And yet I am duolinging myself through the French language. I got another near 20 hours in last week and I’ve got almost ten in for this week so far.

This entry is being cataloged to Harry’s Diary. Its public of course so it doesn’t disclose the dark details that can emerge from real diaries. Unless I’m feeling like an exhibitionist. At least I seem to have a lot less to hide than our exhibitionist Commander in Chief. There have been some very funny late night bits at his expense lately. And his positives have crept up to 42% from the mid thirties. I guess bad news really is better than no news.

Back to the school grind – Not

My heart fluttered a bit when three days ago my readership tripled for couple days. (8 “loyal readers” x 3 = 24) Well, a bit more than that. The visitors seemed to be drawn to my comments about the wider world. I presume my “eight loyals” come to see what I’ll pontificate about the Duluth Schools being the consummate, if recently ousted, insider that I am.

I am eager to encourage new readers but I don’t want to disappoint the regulars. Although I look at my current, and perhaps permanent, absence as a vacation, for the time being, I still feel an obligation to keep people up on the Duluth School District’s ongoing traumas. To that end I will point to the paragraph that caught my attention in Jana Hollingsworth’s recent story about the tussle between charter and regular Minnesota School Districts over the division of the special education spoils:

“Gronseth in December, however, overstated the district’s expenses for Edison, citing a number much larger than the actual $400,000 increase from 2015. The $1 million shortfall he cited included the overall increase in what the district paid for all of its students receiving special education services elsewhere. In 2016, Duluth paid for services provided to its students enrolled in 43 other educational entities, although Edison by far gets the largest chunk.”

Second thought – Yes, it seems to me that Duluth’s Edison’s share of special ed is disproportionate compared to the Duluth District’s spending.

First thought – I am not at all surprised that I was given slanted information from our superintendent instead of a fair and dispassionate appraisal. Ah, but I’m gone now so a new crop of School Board members will have to decide for themselves whether this is a problem or not.

I will continue to offer up my thoughts about the Duluth School District as compulsion dictates but I much prefer writing about my other eccentric thoughts. I’ve got to start a column for the Duluth Reader shortly. Deadline is 6 o’clock, today. Six hours……gotta hustle.

Oh, and Loren Martell, Duluth’s most thorough reporter on the Duluth School District, was a little injured that I wrote about ISD 709 in my first Not Eudora column. It is his beat and I have no great desire to horn in on it. He’s been busy.

“Nous avons lu assez de livres”

Among the many news articles that have drawn my attention was one today about Trump son-in-law schmoozing his way around the world to make more money as the President’s plenipotentiary for foreign business deals. Since reading all this news cuts into my French studies I’ve tried to blend the two activities. When I read this story I was struck by Kushner’s ignorance and arrogance which were mentioned I take it are part of his qualifications for the job……if not for a national security clearance.

I translated part of a Kushner quote into French which you can read in the title above: “We’ve read enough books.”

The full quote: “We don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books.” (Nous avons lu assez de livres) He might have been speaking for his father-in-law, the President, who can barely bring himself to glance at 5 and 10 page National Security briefs let alone full books. I’m not sure Trump has bothered to read his own auto-biography. Only one grownup seems to have survived the recent staffing blood spilling in the Trump administration. Fortunately he is a serious book reader.

The President’s Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, is my age, 67. He has been nicknamed the “Warrior Monk.” The President famously upgraded that to “Mad Dog Mattis” in one introduction. It was not a sobriquet that the monk appreciated.

He is resolute, so much so that he was bid farewell by the Obama Administration for being too much of a hardliner

This winning story in the New York Times magazine intrigued me, not the least because we are the same age, but also because this is one former official that Barack Obama may have under estimated. I can’t help wonder if Trump’s recent willingness to join our European allies in kicking out Russian embassy staff wasn’t the monk’s doing. Just a week ago Trump was calling up Putin to congratulate him on winning his fixed election. Oh, and in addition to hacking the last election, poisoning former Russians who have the goods on him and subverting the Olympics Putin’s minions have also been giving weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Of course, Putin calls all of these things “fake news.”

The Warrior Monk is no Jared Kushner. He visits service members in the field, never married so as to give full devotion to the military and, most arrestingly, always carts his library of 6,000 books to wherever he has been assigned a command.

You Go, General Mattis!

I know I should write something about Stormy Daniels and the recent marches to regulate guns. I find myself impressed by both the individual and the collective. I will just share this recent DNT column from an English prof about the students across our nation who are following the lead of “Dumbledore’s Army.” I love JKR. (She writes big books not that our President would understand them if he ever had the patience to read them.)

More on vigilance

I have been heartened by the large response to my recent post on Vigilance. If we had a smarter adversary trying to undermine our Democracy than Donald Trump I would be closer to hysteria. The late night hosts are doing a far better job explaining his administration’s follies and machinations than I could. That gives me hope. One thing does not give me hope – the cowardice of Republican leaders who fostered much of the anger, paranoia and misinformation which have led us to this era of disunion despite our nation’s vast prosperity. For this reason I have no interest in any Republican candidate for public office who keeps his/her lips zipped or worse hops on the Trump bandwagon. Are you paying attention Pete Stauber?

For those looking for more on this concern I highly recommend this intelligent summary of the Trump record from Andrew Sullivan. For nearly ten years I read Sullivan’s must-read blog. Now he rations his Internet thoughts and thus, unlike me, better manages his diminished proof reading needs.

Take a look: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/america-takes-the-next-step-toward-tyranny.html

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty

Reading the morning news over two plus hours has burdened me on a day I was hoping to shove away some paperwork to more narowly focus on 1. planning a trip to France. 2. start writing a book (an idea I’ve had for about twenty years now) 3. Studying my French. But first, I took a quick break to buy some coffee and breakfast sandwich from McDonalds where I discovered poor Batman’s head had tumbled into the street. After the news I’m now worried about losing mine.

The morning news from NPR, the New York Times and the Duluth Trib put me in mind of the famous quote headlining this post. Its variously attributed to Thomas Jefferson and a famed abolitionist among others. I agree with Wendell Phillips, the Abolutionists, thesis which reads more fully:

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few. The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day or it is rotten. The living sap of today outgrows the dead rind of yesterday. The hand entrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continued oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.”

So, daily objectives 1, 2, and 3 must be placed on hold until I lecture my poor eight loyal readers about those news stories.

I’ll start local:

Poor old Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle is once again the butt of condemnation for his ham handed reply to a woman who told the council of her miscarriage 30 years ago that she thinks could have been avoided if Duluth required local business to pay their employees during times of illness. Fosle turned a vulnerable disclosure into an inept lecture on personal responsibility. As the only old woman left on a council brimming with colleagues who want to build barricades in the streets of Paris I feel badly for the moderate/conservative position he single-handedly maintains. The question he could have asked was simple in retrospect. Did the speaker really believe it was the responsibility of the store owner who employed her to pay her to stay home for the next 24 weeks of a pregnancy? The answer is pretty obvious – No. Was it fair that she had to work? The answer to that is also – No. Obviously her Doctors at the time who advised against work knew what they were talking about.

I see only one logical solution but its not one that can be implemented locally in isolation. Small business owners should not be put in a position to shut down when confronted with the medical costs of a single employee. The solution is to adopt national health care or what used to be panned as Socialized medicine. Ah, but that would require a national solution which is beyond the reach of local health care advocates.

Once again Councilor Fosle will come under attack by his critics some of whom have not been all that nice as they pursue noble aims. The first salvo came from “Twin Ports Feminist Action Collective.”

This organization attacked me semi-anonymously and never offered a correction or an apology for their dirty work. They weren’t alone. A website ostensibly organized to support western Duluth beat me up too. I recently discovered that one of the Western Duluth Lens’s chief organizers is the fellow who single-handedly convinced our school Administration to fire a black Duluth principal. Good bedfellows on Facebook perhaps?

I remember coming back from Australia about six years ago on a long flight and watching a movie I had skipped in the theaters. It was all about the brash Harvard student, Mark Zukerberg, who created Facebook. Ironically, he fully understands the hurt an unfair attack can cause. In this Guardian story Mark complains that the movie “made up stuff” about him.

Its ironic because what Mark says happened to him has been repeated tens of thousands of times for every one of the hundreds of millions of people who are on Facebook. It made him another mega billionaire and some part of his mega billions has come from the massive spreading of lies his invention has made possible.

Now to those other “eternal vigilance” stories:

From NPR about Lyudmila Savchuck a Russian Journalist who worked undercover to discover how the Russians (financed by a Russian billionaire) trolled Facebook and the Internet to enhance world ignorance.

From the New York Times about Cambridge Analytica hired at the urging of Stephen K. Branson to mine Facebook for data to elect Donald Trump when Ted Cruz fell by the wayside.

The billionaire who financed this plan is an American Robert Mercer.

Upon reading this story I ran to retrieve Jane Mayer’s book Dark Money which I’ve only managed to get half way through and discovered that Mercer only got four brief mentions in the book about the Kochs, DeVos’s and other mega-billionaires trying to reshape America into a version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World for Billionaires.

Mercer’s four mentions? Fighting off Government charges that he failed to pay 6 billion dollars of unpaid taxes. His signing on with the Koch Cabal. Spending a million dollars to prevent a mosque from being built in New York City. Turning “primaries” into a sure fire way to defeat any Republican congressman daring to speak moderately or rationally about issues contrary to the red flag wavers of the party and finally spending 2 million for the toy trains in his house.

I wish Mercer would stick to his toy trains. Mercer’s and Putin’s playing with Democracy obligates me to be vigilant when I getting a little tired of it. Which brings up Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World again. There is an interesting review of his work compared to Orwell’s similarly dystopian novel 1984. Huxley once wrote to Orwell and explained that he thought his (Huxley’s) anti-utopia of growing people in test tubes, which stunted the working class foeteses by giving them less oxygen, was more likely to happen than Orwell’s vision of a jackbooted dystopia. He explained; All you need to do is teach people to love their servitude.

There now – just needs a little proof reading and then I return to my top three goals for the day.

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."