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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?

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!

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.

Sticks and Stones, Pt. 2 the cute pink hats

“Hair on fire.” That’s the subject of the morning talk show I woke up to. Trump supporters are up in defensive arms because they think Anti-Trump forces’ hair is on fire because of a half a dozen Executive Orders and gag orders issued by our new “not my” President. And of course, the “not my” is a state of mind not law. That too has the Trumpers fuming.

How the “Lock her up” crowd can, in good conscience, complain that their man isn’t being treated fairly is easy to understand. As my seven year old grandson told the congregation during Children’s time yesterday his Mom told him that sometimes life is not fair. Except that, I find it entirely understandable, “fair” if you will. Folks who saw Trump insist that Obama wasn’t born in America are now calling Trump a racist. In physics we’d say that “every action causes an equal and opposite reaction.”

I have gently panned the civility movement in Duluth on numerous occasions in the blog. Not that civility is a bad thing. It helped nurture American democracy. I have never complained about good manners but the civility movement can sometimes be seen to be motivated by the winners who want the losers to shut up. “How dare you complain about our beating you.”

Some of the Pro Red Planners who thought I was a spoil sport when the Red Plan got built were themselves deeply grieved by the US Supreme Court’s reversal of the Florida court decision to hand the state’s electoral votes to Al Gore. A similar cohort of people, which includes me, are not happy about the way Donald Trump won the Presidency. If his campaign wasn’t a “hair on fire” campaign I don’t know what else you’d call it.

Trump’s victory has already moved me to march in two protest marches for the first time in 45 years and I’m considering a third – the Scientist March in Washington DC. I think the least objectionable thing Trump critics could do considering his campaign rhetoric is march peacefully with critical placards. The challenge will be to corral those who want to throw ef bombs or worse.

Speaking of which, the Woman’s marches were pretty well behaved events and the marchers were rightly proud of it. Locally 1,400 adult marchers paraded through the sky-walk with homemade signs. One of them made me wince a bit. It had the familiar diagram of a woman’s reproductive tract with a slogan borrowed from an M.C. Hammer song. One word was altered so that it became one of the objectionable words on the District’s power point slide. That’s not the same as blocking a highway but the word was not calculated to win people over to the cause.

In other cities some luminaries did throw ef bombs. One such was the Madonnald er Madonna. She also was widely accused of saying she wanted to bomb the White House. That’s not quite how she put it but it gives ammunition to the other side.

and a followup to the last post

At the last Minnesota School Board’s conference several of Duluth’s school board members ran into a number of the ex JCI “consultants” who helped force the Red Plan down Duluth’s throats. Some had all left Johnson Controls in disgust.

Meanwhile, Michael David, who led much of the Red Plan has also gone his merry way as well continuing his own personal consulting juggernaut through Minnesota Schools. After he broke from JCI I discovered that he and his partner had donated $10,000 to help pass a referendum in the School District that Keith Dixon moved onto after leaving Duluth. No doubt with all his Red Plan earnings that was a cheap way to repay Dr. Dixon. And who knows. Dixon would have put in a good word for him if Centennial had decided it needed to build more schools.

This City Pages story lists outrageous percentages being paid to sub contractors. Funny thing is that these outrageous percentages for the Prior Lake Project and others pales compared to the highway robbery percentages paid out to JCI in the Red Plan.

God Bless America

I just witnessed the storied peaceful transfer of power in our nation’s capitol. There were several thoughtful speeches and a recitation of the Beatitudes before Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” reprised his victory tour speech “I won. You lost.”

Commentators, somewhat taken aback, didn’t immediately know what to make of it but there is no doubt that his loyalist 30 percent were thrilled by his plain fourth grade speaking. For me, and a lot of other people, our new President’s speech was little like a forest of middle fingers.

God bless America.

The “counter puncher”

More chitter chatter on that “N” word between me and another friend. This one includes a link to a Fred Barne’s rationalization for Trump’s corrosive tweets.

From:
To: “Harry Welty”
Cc:
Sent: 13-Jan-2017 21:08:37 +0000
Subject: The Counterpuncher – WeeklyStandard.com

http://tws.io/2iqIZzq

Harry: Trump may not be perfect or conventional, but he represents the best chance for the poor rural people in northeastern Minnesota and rural America to get their way of life, homes and jobs back and bring life back to normal. Hill would have continued to f*** us and f*** us hard, so I can’t blame people for having hope now. And Harry, if you want me to quit calling Obama the n***** that he acts like , then you quit lambasting Trump on your website. Fair enough? Jim

Black people are good people. N*****s are not…there is a difference.

In case its not obvious this friend didn’t put in the asterisks. I did.

My Reply:

*******,

Your word usage just barely passes the “academic” test so I’ll bite one last time.

I used to listen to Fred Barnes on the McLaughlin Report. He struck me as a conservative suck up then. I don’t see much different from him here.

Praising the “counter-punching” skills of Trump is at best a thin rationalization. For a man who brags that he is so smart Trump has an amazingly limited set of communication skills. They fit hand in glove with his astonishing ignorance. His school yard taunts are those of a Johnny one note.

I agree with you that a lot of hard luck folks have put a great deal of faith in him. I expect that they will be greatly disappointed because his general philosophy could have sprung from PT Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

For the sake of the folks counting on him I hope you are right and I hope I am wrong but the Bible offers sound advice to counter punchers, to wit: “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” That’s how Trump’s mentor, Roy Cohn, ended up. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/celebrity/blaze-destroyed-trump-testimony-for-roy-cohn-632890

It also says to beat swords into plowshares. That line comes straight from Jesus himself. But Trump is more of a prosperity gospel type – Being a billionaire shows that God favors him.

If President Trump is unashamed to lie then I’m unashamed to tell the truth…..as I see it.

As for your distinction between “n*****s” and “good” black people I shouldn’t need to remind you that some good white people of the South hung the former up on trees right through our school years.

I’ll amend my previous warning on the acceptance of your email. If you put quotation marks around the “N” word I’ll keep reading them no matter how much you hate “bad” black people. Otherwise this is the last reply you will get from me. If that’s too PC for you, tough. My Mom washed my mouth out with soap and the closest I can come to that with your email is to push the delete button.

And, as I keep telling “my Buddy,” you don’t have to keep reading my damn blog. Its likely to drive you insane for the next four years.

Harry

Trump is squandering his honeymoon. One noteworthy poll finds a remarkable plunge in his popularity just before his swearing in.

I’m not sure it helps that his first nominees for appointments are almost unanimously disavowing Trump’s campaign platform planks in their Senate interviews.

MY most enjoyable MSBA convention ends

The image below helps cleanse Lincolndemocrat after the previous post.

I jotted down titles for about ten posts I wanted to write through the School Board conference which ended at noon on Friday. It remains to be seen if I will get around to any of them. I snapped this pic of our key note speaker, retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, Alan Page.

Thirty years ago he also spoke to the MSBA Conference. That was 1987 which was a pivotal year for me. I was sacked from my last teaching job. We moved to our current address. I made my first “public” snow sculpture. I began thinking seriously about running for the school board. I told my Father this in his last few days of life just after telling him I’d lost my third teaching job then “softening” this with the preposterous notion that I was thinking about running for the school board. It was a futile attempt to cheer up a dying man whose oldest son had just been fired for the third time in a short, disastrous teaching career. He told me solemly that he wondered if I had “will to fail” which broke my heart and caused me many years of deep self reflection. Then my Dad died during one of the most beautiful autumns I’ve ever experienced. My Dad used to pile us into the car to visit Hiawatha and Olathe, Kansas, to marvel at the sugar maples turning red.

I used to watch Alan Page with my Dad but only in the playoffs where the “Purple People Eaters” couldn’t quite lift the Vike’s to a Superbowl victory in four attempts. As a college kid I was aware that Alan Page and the other Vikes drank at Mankato’s downtown bars where my future mother-in-law met and dated one of the coach’s who were using the state college’s facilities to train in the pre-season. Page was famous for carrying a huge purse like bag over his shoulders to the bars. Trust me, no one made fun of a people eater wearing a purse. Besides it was the “Age of Aquarius.”

I love to tell people that I threw a glass of water on Page. Then I explain:

The first time I ran across Page was at one of the earliest Grandma Marathons while Page was still a Viking. Claudia and were out near the Northshore mostly oblivious of the tiny new Marathon’s progress when we drove past a table on Hwy 61 just out of Duluth. We had already noticed other such tables on London Road loaded with water-filled cups for the Marathoners. No one was manning the table as a couple of runners were jogging up in the distance. For the heck of it we pulled over to hand the cups to the stragglers. One of them was Page who was running against the wishes of the coaches who didn’t want him running off any of his massive tackling poundage. As I lifted a cup to him he said, “throw it on me.” I didn’t argue.

Page read a thoughtful, sober-minded speech about his growing up in the shadow of the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, with no childhood thoughts of a football career. Instead, Page, a 70-year-old like Donald Trump, recalled the impact of Brown vs. Board of Education on him as a black kid. (a frequent subject of this blog) Page told anyone who asked him that he intended to be a lawyer. (He probably has pre-law books in the handbag he took into Mankato’s bars)

During training camps his coaches did their best to “educate” their rookies by requiring them to the NFL playbook together. Justice Page told us that the hardest words in these book were “tackle,” “defense,” and “offense.” He recalled how six of the ten recent college graduates on the team struggled. It left Page to ponder their betrayal by an educational system that insured them a poor future after their star turn in the NFL.

Page also mentioned his thirty year old educational foundation which has spent $13 million to get struggling kids to and through college. In thirty years its helped 6000 kids.

He said he was distressed by America’s turn to Trump and alluded to the Trump Empire’s long legal fight to keep its apartments segregated in the good old days. Page is building bridges while Trump is building walls.

About the “N” word. I mean it!

My reply to a friend who ignored my request not to use of the “N word in the emails sent to me:

***********,

I don’t blame you for being pissed off. I don’t care if you call Obama a s__ of a _______, a b______, a m_____-______, a c____-____ an a_________, the anti-christ or just about anything else. But I made it plain before that I won’t accept that last word used the way you used it. Please don’t do it a third time. If you do I’ll stop reading your emails and I don’t want to do that because you have a lot of useful information I like looking over.

Harry

Robert Rowe Gilruth – Duluth Central Grad 1931

Kevin Costner plays a “composite” of the technicians in charge of America’s Space Race in his portrayal of the mythical “Al Harrison” in the Movie Hidden Figures. The principal he was playing was Duluth’s Robert Gilruth who led the American Space Race the same way that Robert Openheimer supervised the design and building of the Atom Bomb. Gilruth’s work was aided by a great many women just like the British women mathematicians, who broke Nazi Germany’s Enigma Codes during World War II. Gilruth’s “computers” were black women who like Britain’s Bletchley Circle women (in one of the best PBS Mystery series) who got John Glen into orbit and brought him back without burning up on reentry.

From the Duluth News Tribune:

First flight to the moon started here
Duluth News Tribune (MN) – July 19, 2008
Author/Byline: Chuck Frederick Duluth News Tribune

While taking in the spectacle of the Blue Angels and the high-flying thrills and roars of this weekend’s airshow, a group dedicated to preserving and celebrating Duluth’s aviation history wants you to remember a name: Robert Gilruth.

Why Robert Gilruth? Because the 1931 Duluth Central graduate ” the “father of human spaceflight” and the “godfather to the astronauts,” as he came to be known ” led our nation’s race to the moon. And because this weekend marks the 39th anniversary of the first lunar landing under his leadership.

Let me put that another way: The man responsible for Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” on July 20, 1969, grew up in Duluth.

In a frame and stucco corner house in Chester Park, to be precise.

“He made a tremendous contribution to our nation, and it’s amazing to think that we here in Duluth nurtured that young man,” said Sandra Ettestad, president of the nonprofit Duluth Aviation Institute. “He changed the world’s vision of the Earth and the possibilities of mankind. [He] achieved his youthful dreams.”

Meaning any of us can, right?

Duluth’s nurturing of Gilruth started in 1923 when he was 9 years old and his family moved here from Hancock, Mich. They had moved there from Nashwauk. His father was a superintendent of schools in both cities. In Duluth, his father landed a job teaching chemistry, physics and math at Morgan Park High School, where he later was principal. His mother taught math and home economics.

Gilruth, the second of two children, grew up at 701 N. 20th Ave. E. surrounded by family. His grandfather, a mining captain, grandmother, aunt and uncle lived two blocks away. He spent boyhood days playing with crystal-set radios and building intricate model airplanes. He and his father were very close.

“I started building model airplanes before the age of balsa wood and piano wire,” he recalled in a 1986 interview with NASA. “When the American Boy magazine came out with those things, that was a revolution, but I learned about that technology from the Duluth News Tribune. [The newspaper] had imported a man from Chicago who was a model airplane builder [and] champion. [He taught] a class of Duluth boys who might want to attend. This is how I got sort of a giant step into that business.”

Gilruth breezed through Duluth’s East Junior High School and Central High School. He earned straight As in aeronautics, chemistry and math at Duluth Junior College, which was on the top floor of Denfeld High School. He graduated in 1933. Three years after that, he added a masters degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Minnesota to his rapidly growing resume.

While at the university, he married Jean Barnhill, a fellow aeronautical engineering student and a pilot who flew cross-country races, who was a friend to Amelia Earhart and who founded a women’s pilots association.

Before he even finished graduate school, Gilruth was recruited to work for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or NACA, the predecessor of NASA. The job took him to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia where he and his wife had a daughter, Barbara. He was a flying quality expert at Langley and in 1945 was placed in charge of developing a guided-missile research station. In 1952, he was named assistant base director.

But he was dreaming bigger. “There are a lot of things you can do with men up in orbit,” he recalled thinking to himself in the interview with NASA.

On Aug. 1, 1958, Gilruth pitched to Congress the idea of creating a manned space program. The politicians were impressed, and Gilruth was pegged to lead the Space Task Group. In short order, NASA was formed and Project Mercury, the nation’s first human spaceflight program, was created. Gilruth handpicked the first astronauts and hired the nation’s brightest engineers. Capsules were designed and rockets tested.

But not quite fast enough. On April 12, 1961, the Soviets beat the U.S. into space. President John F. Kennedy took it as a challenge.

“This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth,” the president announced. “In a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon ” it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.”

Gilruth was chosen to lead the human spaceflight program, known as the Apollo Program. Its goal was landing a man on the moon. And Gilruth promised just that in the fall of 1962 when he returned to Duluth and was welcomed back as a hero. Mayor George D. Johnson proclaimed it Bob Gilruth Day, and the auditorium at Central High School filled to the rafters with Duluthians eager to hear him speak. A giant banner hung from the balcony, declaring Gilruth the “pride of Central.”

Moved by his hometown’s tribute and welcome, Gilruth paused for a long moment. Then, in a soft voice brimming with emotion, he urged young Duluthians to prepare so they, too, could help their nation as it moved into the space age.

“I have received many honors, but I have never felt quite as humble as I do at this moment,” he said. “I feel quite confident that we will make manned landings on the moon within this decade. In fact, I am not only confident of this, I firmly believe we’ll be on the moon in less than 10 years.”

Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon less than seven years later. In Houston, Gilruth cheered with a nation.

“He was not an easy boy to get to know,” the News Tribune wrote of Gilruth, days before his triumphant return in October 1962. (He died Aug. 17, 2000, at age 87.) “He was neither a hellion nor an introvert. He was neither average nor did he display to those of his own age signs of unusual brilliance. … He was a boy of hobbies and strong purpose, yet beset by deep self doubts.”

In other words, he was a typical Duluth kid. Who achieved greatness. Meaning any of us can, right? Chuck Frederick is the News Tribune’s deputy editorial page editor. He can be reached at 723-5316 or cfrederick@duluth news.com.

Melania

A family member recently Facebooked a Fake news story about the 700 Club’s smarmy Pat Robertson. In it Pat was accused of disparaging a sleveless dress worn by Michelle Obama while heaping praise on a semi nude pic of Melania Trump. Didn’t happen!

I thought I might have referred to a similar story in a previous blog post although it might have been a reply to an email. There was a story about Trump’s wife starting her career in America as an escort. If I mentioned it on my blog a cursory search doesn’t seem to have revealed the allegation.

Melania was born in the old Yugoslavia of my youth. After I moved to Northeastern Minnesota I became aware of the various slavic peoples of that nation who settled in the Iron Mining regions. When, after Rudy Perpich’s term as Governor, Yugoslavia broke up the first area to secede was Slovenia the most prosperous part of the nation. The Range had is share of Slovenes.

I regard our new first Lady as an interesting, if nontraditional, addition to the roll-call of First Ladies. She came here to take advantage of the beauty industry and she married a rich man I’ve never respected. The latter point is irrelevant to this discussion although not to my blogging in general.

Because my Father inculcated a love of Geography in me early on I was aware of “Trieste” the major city of Slovenia which has been contested between the Italians and Slavs for a very long time. Before I set out for Duluth forty years ago one of my Mother’s best friends and a business partners was a woman whose Mother was an Italian woman born in the City. In fact, Daria’s Mother never learned English and spoke Italian in her inner city Italian neighborhood for the rest of her life.

Daria was not a supermodel and she wasn’t “Slovenian.” She was a wonderful person and, like Melania, I would never blame her for anything her husband might have done.

But Melania is on a ride she never planned for. After reading the Snope’s correction I got curious about the much talked about photo shoot in GQ. I wondered if the January 2000 Issue with Melania on the cover had raised in value since November. I checked Ebay out. No Kidding! I’ll bet they only get more expensive as the Trump year’s continue.

666 goes to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Jared Kushner, Prez Elect Trump’s son-in-law and chief campaign advisor, is trying to unload a beast at 666 5th Avenue on a huge Chinese conglomerate. The NY Time’s story of the deal is extensive as it covers the many opaque connections and entanglements between the titans. I, for one, have no idea what to make of Trump’s financial interests which seem at cross purposes with his rhetoric hinting at a Depression inducing Chinese/American trade war. I suspect the poobahs of the Chinese Communist Party are similarly confused.

It wasn’t long ago that New Jersy’s Governor was pushed off Trump Tower by Jared who objected because Christie had put old man Kushner in jail.

The young Kushner is good at giving pushes. His efforts to suppress Clinton voter’s during the Trump campaign was perfectly, if unintentionally, choreographed with the Russian crusade to suppress Clinton voters. Together they gave Hillary the old heave ho.

At least we won’t have to worry about corruption at the Clinton Foundation now. That may help my Buddy sleep better since he sent me link to the speculation that Hillary might try to give Mayor De Blasio a run for his money this year. The thought of her residing in Gracie Mansion mere blocks from Melania over in Trump Tower is almost as nightmarish a scenario as I can imagine……. just short of Donald Trump’s taking a power nap in the Lincoln Bedroom.

The Big Short

I put this movie in my memory bank over the last year when some economic analyst on NPR gave it a big thumbs up. Last night I saw that it was available on Netflix and Claudia and I watched it. It was Economics made fun and every bit as disgusting as a Zombie Apocalypse movie.

The Housing meltdown roughly coincided with the start up of the Red Plan and its purveyors shared many similarities to the get off scott-free, big money folks who pushed replacing almost all our facilities at a single stroke. They got rich and left the District to draw down its reserves, cut teachers, and compound it all by sucking millions of dollars annually out of our local tax levies in the General Fund to pay off Red Plan borrowing. Their supporters herd-like thinking reminded me of the people in the Big Short who stood back in disbelief as investment bankers cost six million Americans to lose their homes.

I’ve mentioned this before but that meltdown was part of the reason I had a heckuva time fighting the Red Plan. My family got caught up in the housing mania and a massive loan was taken out on my Mother’s house even though it was only a decade away from being paid off in full with very modest house payments. I’ve recently patched up my differences with the family members who lost that house and left me to spend months and months trying to get City Bank and Wells Fargo to let us short sell the house at a loss (for the banks) who eagerly permitted the misguided loan to go through. Our “short sale” took my brother and me months of calling the banks daily to find a human behind a phone. It was all I could do to find time for two simultaneous battles. When the sale neared completion and I finally pulled out of the Red Plan fight I took a vacation with Claudia. I faxed the last papers to the bank while traveling through, Lincoln, Nebraska, on our way to the Colorado Plateau. I was desperate to get out of town. I was so worn out that I got violently ill at the Grand Canyon. One morning Claudia heard an elk bugling outside our cabin and she thought it was me in my deaths throes. That’s what you get for burning your candle at two ends.

This post needs a good editing but that can wait. Claudia and I are going out to see Hidden Figures. That should be a good film too.

Editing is now complete…….

Hidden Figures is great.

Manchurian Candidate

My daughter Facebooked me to tell me that she (young as she is) knows what the Manchurian Candidate is. For those who haven’t heard of it it was a movie based on a book. The plot was about how communists North Koreans had brainwashed an American POW to assasinate an American politician. Its appearance in theaters ironically and infamously coincided with the assassination of JFK.

I haven’t seen the recent remake. Sinatra’s version was good enough for me.

Coincidentally, PBS aired a two-hour American Experience tonight on the fighting at Korea’s Chosin Reservoir and the perilous, frozen escape of American soldiers surrounded by tens of thousands of Chinese troops. Some of the first American POWs came from that fighting.

My Uncle, Frank, was in a MASH unit during the war. I know virtually nothing about his actions but I know he helped a Korean from his camp immigrate to the US after the war. I wrote about Frank once for the Reader in an anecdote about Grandfather. Its one of my favorite family stories.

Frank must be about 88 now. I had originally intended to travel on to Colorado after visiting Topeka, Kansas, next week and ask him about my Dad’s side of the family in much the same way that I’m researching my Mother’s side now. I decided against it because he lives at 8,000 feet and winter is coming. I’ll come back for the next school board meeting instead. Maybe I’ll try Colorado next spring.

After watching the program I ordered the third book in a trilogy. I collected the first two of the books better than a decade ago but never read them. Maybe its about time I do. Its about the “Forgotten War.”

After my post on the Manchurian Candidate I got an email from my Buddy and we proceeded to have a testy exchange. My characterization of FBI Director James Comey as worse than a “communist dupe” struck my Buddy as “unhinged.” Nevermind that Presidential candidate Trump – the butt of my exageration, has said far worse about a great many other people on television over and over for the last year. Nevermind that he leads his audiences in inflamatory chants of “lock her up. lock her up.” No, its me that’s unhinged.

I could have confessed to being a tad excessive to my Buddy but I didn’t feel like it. He had just sent me a story about how the lastest polls show Trump up over Clinton by a point and I’d just been stewing about Comey and the part he may have played in this last rough week for my preferred candidate Clinton. I thought he was trying to goad me so I let myself be goaded. It never pays off.

As a bit of a concession I sent him a commentary that was anything but unhinged in finding fault with Comey. My Buddy made no reference to it when he sent me another snappish email.

What is indisputable is that Vladimir Putin would love to see American politics lose its lustre for the rest of the world even if it means that an unpredictable narcisist takes the reigns of power perhaps as disasterously as when Trump plunged his Atlantic City Casinos into bankruptcy. Putin would have the office once presided over by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, the Roosevelts and Ronald Reagan handed to a man who flushed Reagan’s “eleventh commandment” down the commode. In other words, Putin wants a lying, uninformed, lucky, idiot billionaire to be America’s next president. My Buddy reminds me incessantly that standard issue Presidents, like he’s sure Hillary will be, got us into the Vietnam War. How could Trump be any worse? he asks. I only write back to him out of sheer cussedness.

Hemingway said that courage is “grace under pressure.” Perhaps mine failed me. Ironically, Comey’s dubious last-minute, non revelation has been defended by none other than President Obama. I doubt that my Buddy will give him credit for being more rational than me even though Obama is busting a gut to get Hillary Clinton elected. My Buddy twitted me a few years back about how Obama was treated as the “Messiah” by his early adoring fans and how he let them down by not providing them utopia. I keep reminding by Buddy that from a minute Obama was elected Republicans made it clear their only real priority was to make sure he was a one-term president. They didn’t dare let America be run well for the next four years if they hoped to depose him. The result eight years later a is Donald Trump now the titular head of the Party of Lincoln. And who can forget his constant threats and taunts to his fellow Republicans. That’s what six years of Republican gridlock got America. If Trump is not a Manchurian candidate I don’t know what the hell he is.

By the way, an hour ago I had to run to Wallgreens and get a fresh 9 cell to stop a fire alarm from shreeking at me every twenty seconds. My Manchurian Candidate sign was still standing. I give it fifty/fifty odds of making it through the night.

1860 redux?

I just watched the final 2016 presidential debate. It’s worth noting that the last time a nation didn’t except the results of a presidential election we had a civil war.

That was because of the threat of ending slavery vs. disavowing the preamble to the Declaration of lndependence.

In 2016 not accepting the results of the election would be the result of a narcisist being unhappy about admitting that he was a loser.

Our “current state of affairs”

In the light of this recent offer to take empty buildings off our hands the Central sale has been reanimateded – zombie like. A new round of email is filling our email boxes. Here’s another one:

By delaying the sale of Central for the purpose of eliminating competition, you are not serving your electorate. We, the taxpayers, paid for that building (as well as others) and your responsibility is to sell it for any reasonable offer.

Eliminating competition breeds complacency. If you were to put as much effort into enhancing the educational experience of the kids as you have eliminating competition, you would drastically curb the exodus of students to area schools. Our family is one that open enrolled into another district. On my daughter’s high school hockey team (Proctor/Hermantown Mirage) there were eight families originally from Duluth- 40% of the team! That’s alarming. When including brothers and sisters, you’ve got 15 kids that left 709 for your “competition”. Don’t think it’s just for sports either- it was more about your current state of affairs. When you spend millions of dollars (without a referendum) to close the schools, then sit on this vacated prime property while the structure rots, you have lost site of your purpose. You have no legitimate excuse- stop the foolishness.

How my day started

At 7:09 Claudia came downstairs and asked me if I didn’t have a men’s group meeting I was supposed to be at. One quick expletive and I shoved the particularly informative DNT aside and hurried off to my meeting where I was suppose to introduce, Pat Collins, of the Minnesota Land Trust in the next five minutes. Trouble was, I was in such a hurry I didn’t have time to check my notes and I’d forgotten his name. I had to sit down next to him without recalling what it was.

IN THE SHADOW OF YOUR WINGS

In the co-ink-ee-dink department. After devouring a couple chapters of my biography of Wendell Willkie I picked up the Bible so as to stick to my regimen (attempted) of reading it daily. At the 63rd Psalm I read the lines above in the title and thought to myself. That’s the lyric of the duet I’ll be singing with my daughter at church tomorrow. Sure enough the sheey music lists that Psalm as the source. Not surprisingly the song’s lyric leaves out some of the colder portions of the Psalm attributed to King David. For instance this isn’t in it:

But those who seek to destroy my life
. shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
. they shall be a portion for jackals.

I probably mentioned in an earlier post that the duet was a casualty of last weekends movie shoot. Well, it got switched with some other musical performers in the congregation. My daughter and I will be practicing our vocals with the Choir director at church this afternoon.