Category Archives: Republican Dogma

Lifehouse CHUMS and their alter egocentrics

I gave up trying to fall back asleep at 3 and padded downstairs to read the third chapter of Dark Money. The first two chapters gave me the background of the 800 pound gorillas of the big money movement to turn us back to the Middle Ages. They covered the Kochs and Richard Mellon Scaife. The third covered both the Olin Foundation and Milwaukee’s Bradley Foundation. This book is reminding me of forty years worth of sporadic reports and tying them into a comprehensible bow. I certainly believed there was something behind Hillary Clinton’s “vast right wing conspiracy” and this book lifts the veil. The “conspiracy” is all perfectly legal or at least legalish and court rulings like Citizens’s United have vastly if I dare use that adverb, enhanced the power of the big spenders.

I dimly recalled a news story about about some rich guy, (it was Richard Mellon Scaife) putting up a sign in his neighborhood announcing the loss of his dog and wife and offering a reward for the dog. But now I know more about this bonvivant. His rich and conservative Grandfather, Andrew Mellon, was the Secretary of the Treasury for all three Republican Presidents of the 1920’s. He also was a prolific tax cheat and his grandson took up his motto, “Give tax breaks to large corporations, so that money can trickle down to the general public, in the form of extra jobs.”

This philosophy makes for an interesting contrast to last night’s fundraiser for Life House which takes care of discarded young people. Scaife and his silky ilk generally decry coddling the weak putting a much higher premium on protecting the assets of America’s aristocrats. The hundred’s of million Scaife donated to “charity” largely went to maintain his and other rich folks wealth not to the needy.

Claudia and I sat down with some of the people she has been working with at the CHUM homeless Center. Spending the last few months checking people in has been eye opening for her. Seeing someone released from a hospital near death’s door looking for a place to sleep on the floor has a way of impressing itself on the imagination. A young couple sitting next to us volunteer at Life House as I did three years ago. We were a jolly crowd. Our speaker Famous Dave of Rib fame gave a rousing talk and I learned he was half Choctaw, a much larger percentage of that tribe’s heritage than my grandson has but enough for me to some kinship with the Rib Master.

I suspect the billionaires club would consider the Rib magnate an exception to their rule. Milwaukee’s Bradley Foundation financed the infamous 1994 book the “Bell Curve” which posited that blacks were intellectually inferior to white folk. Indians probably didn’t fare much better in the analysis.

There is no end to the unpleasantness emanating from Milwaukee. Its not just my old nemesis Johnson Controls, its Governor Tommy Thompson’s call to make poor people work for their welfare while Republicans happily outsourced decent factory jobs overseas. (Bill “Triangulation” Clinton latched onto both of these planks for his Presidency.) Its also the Milwaukee County Executive, Scott Walker, union buster extraordinaire and Koch Brother favorite. Its also a dreamscape for Secretary of Education Besty DeVos’s world of public education vouchers. I wonder where Billionaires fit on the Bell curve?

Famous Dave, who is a generous contributor to the needy, showed us pictures of his vast and messy library. He told us he reads for hours every day and gives his faithful reading credit for the half-billion-a-year enterprise he built off of a $10,000 business loan. That’s quite a contrast with our current President who can barely squeak through a teleprompter but then again, Trump inherited his start in life. I’m afraid Trump gives billionaires a bad name but the Koch’s are stoked. It was reported today that they are following up their $800 million investment in the 2016 election with a $300 million push to pass Trump’s tax decreases on the wealthy and ending the estate tax before Trump’s impeachment after which the GOP might be hard pressed to help the filthy rich.

Ignorance is Bliss

From Chapter 14 of Destiny of the Republic: A tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President:

“Not only did many American doctors not believe in germs, they took pride in the particular brand of filth that defined their profession. They spoke fondly of the “good old surgical stink” that pervaded their hospitals and operating rooms, and they resisted making too many concessions even to basic hygiene. Many surgeons walked directly from the street to the operating room without bothering to change their clothes. Those who did shrug on a laboratory coat, however, were an even greater danger to their patients. They looped strands of silk sutures through their button holes for easy access during surgery, and they refused to change or even wash their coats. They believed that the thicker the layers of dried blood and pus, black and crumbling as they bent over their patients, the greater the tribute to their years of experience.”

Just as many politicians ridiculed Darwin in the Era of the Scopes Monkey Trial and today’s Republican party has concluded that 97% of environmental scientists are ignorant to believe that Carbon is causing Global Warming, there was a time when germs did not exist – at least not in America.

In Chapter 14 poor President Garfield’s medical care has just been commandeered by a self confident Doctor who has already stuck his unwashed finger and two long unsanitized probes into the President’s back. In the next fifty pages I will be reading more about how Dr. Bliss turns a wound that left untreated the President would have survived into a pus filled killer of the President.

Ignorance is Bliss takes on new meaning in this book. It killed Garfield in 1880 just as it threatens to kill the earth as we know it today.

Dish washing brings second thoughts on the funny thing

There is one other possibility regarding Trump’s ultimatum to House Republicans that I ruled out a little too quickly. I thought that the Tea Partier’s testosterone wouldn’t let the ersatz Republican President, Donald Trump, steam roll them. As I washed dishes some suds cleared from my head. The tea partiers may cave. Thumbing their nose at Trump may do them more damage than going along with him…..with their voters.

Of course, crippling health care would distress a lot of voters and drive them to the Democrats in 2018. I just hope Ruth Bader Ginsburg can hang in there until 2020.

DFL Monsters?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Trumped

The email that preceded the email in the last post and my reply to it:

My Reply:

[Buddy],

My impression certainly could have been wrong. What I remember with more confidence was that you would not be voting for Hillary. Of course that could mean a write-in or a vote for a third party candidate or not casting a vote at all. But my recollection was that the way you put it meant that if Hillary was the Democrat’s candidate she wouldn’t get your vote and I may have presumed you would cast it for Trump if that was the candidate.

What can I say. Sometimes I’m presumptuous.

Whether you liked what Kennedy et al did re: Vietnam at least they didn’t have contempt for the system. Sure they gamed the system. That’s almost inevitable in politics. Trump is both contemptuous of the system and is gaming it spectacularly.

Today I heard him telling some audience that Hill doesn’t just want gun control she wants to remove the Second Amendment. That’s coming from someone who stands in the past are the spitting image of Hill’s gun control stands.

I don’t mind politicians changing their minds. I don’t like them speaking with forked tongues.

Earth will continue to orbit the sun if he wins. It didn’t stop doing so when that meteor impact killed the dinosaurs. But as a believer in the old notion that the US is a beacon lighting the path for other nations I’m not looking forward to having a man I regard as an arrogant, lying, horse’s-ass sitting in the White House.

If that’s what today’s voters consider speaking “truth-to-power” then shame on both the Republican and Democratic parties for setting such a low bar.

Harry

The email I was responding to:

—————————————–
From: [My Buddy]
To:
Cc:
Sent: Sun, 22 May 2016 17:04:36 -0500
Subject: Re: Andrew Sullivan thinks Donald Trump may defeat Hillary Clinton.

Harry:

I don’t remember telling anyone that I plan to vote for Trump. I have told several persons that I might vote for Trump.

What the hell, Harry. We were in Vietnam with Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. Would Trump be worse?

I agree with Sullivan, that Trump could win.

[Your Buddy]

Crapweasels

More Un-Vetted Refugees Coming to Minnesota?

After ISIS terrorists killed 130 people and injured 352 more in Paris in coordinated attacks just this month, serious questions are being asked about Syrian refugees now being welcomed to the United States. One of the organizers of the Paris attacks entered the European Union under refugee status and another had fought with ISIS in Syria according to The London Telegraph.
President Obama has committed to resettle 10,000 more Syrian refugees in the United States, despite serious concerns about the vetting process of those being relocated.
FBI Director James Comey has said that it’s “impossible to vet every single Syrian Refugee.”
While 27 state governors have so-far voiced objection to resettling un-vetted (or poorly vetted) Syrian refugees in their home states, Governor Mark Dayton calls that “grandstanding” and appears prepared to welcome them to Minnesota with open arms. US Senators from Minnesota, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar agree.
At a recent NAACP event, Governor Dayton said to those attending who questioned bringing more Syrian Refugees to Minnesota at this time, “If you are that intolerant, that much of a racist and a bigot, then find another state, [you] really should go somewhere else.”
And Senator Franken said that we must “do part of our job like the rest of the international community to take in refugees.
Senator Klobuchar said, “I will say these are legally vetted, screened refugees that would come in. And they can actually fill some of the jobs that we have available in states like mine, where we have lower unemployment rates.”

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I can’t head into the Christmas season without thinking about the challenges to peace on Earth. I have avoided pleas to blog about the Duluth Schools in hopes of the dawning of a new Era but my mind is always roving over the news events of the day beyond Duluth’s borders. Sometimes, as with this unwelcome email request for me to donate to a Republican cause it comes right into my computer inbox.

My Buddy recently “twitted” me about politicians (which would also include elected school board members) being “crapweasels.” The comment was pulled from one of the legion of “conservative” pundits, Michelle Malkin, who said 99% of all politicians are “crapweasels.” I replied by asking if a pundit like Michelle, who bent over backward not to offend her readers by avoiding the whole truth, couldn’t be considered a crapweasel too. My Buddy agreed that a pundit, even one coining such an expressive pejorative, could be a crapweasel. I thanked my Buddy for his agreement and said we crapweasels wore Michelle’s designation with pride. (not unlike lawyers who like to tell lawyer jokes) Didja hear the one about why Lawyers never sue sharks? Professional courtesy.

I certainly think the Republicans grubbing for money to protect us from Syrian refugee/jihadists have earned Michelle’s appelation. Why, it was only a few weeks ago that Republican congressman were waving the picture of a drowned child, Aylan Kurdi, in front of television cameras to condemn President Obama. Now they want to turn their backs on the Syrians during the Christmas Season.

I googled for some of the pictures of the crapweasels who recently waved pictures of the drowned Syrian child, Aylan Kurdi, in front of television cameras. I found this short note from the Albany Times Union showing how pols of both parties spoke out of both sides of their crapweasely mouths regarding Syrian refugees.

Here’s a Democratic politician being a crapweasel. I could have posted a picture of a Republican waving little Aylan Kurdi’s picture around but my Buddy might have accused me of being bigoted toward my old political party.

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Give Peace a Chance

I am a cat. If there is a closed door I keep hanging around it waiting for someone to open it. There are so many closed doors.

This post is a flight of fancy before the one I must write today which is coming up next. But, before I could steel myself to write the next one I tarried to listen to NPR’s morning edition. There are three news segments I will mention but I’ll save the one that has pushed me to the blog today for last. First up…..

I listened to Obama’s continuing interview with Steve Inskeep. He gave a subdued argument for the nuclear arms agreement that’s been fashioned with Iran. I’m in the minority that supports it. I tend to discount every criticism of it emanating from Republicans because from the beginning of his Presidency they have howled like wolves that he is the Antichrist. What he’s aiming at is what is so needed; some rapprochement between Sunni (Arab) and Shia (Persian) Islam.

I’ve mentioned a fantastic book that I’m 97% finished reading to Claudia, My Promised Land. (Kindle keeps track of where you are in a book by percents not pages). I selected it to read to Claudia in anticipation of our pilgrimage to Israel while taking a course on peace keeping.

The last chapter is a disappointment. Its far too much like some of my long winded rants in Lincolndemocrat. I did check to see what its’ author, who frets about a nuclear Iran, thought about Obama’s negotiations with Iran. Apparently he’s deeply skeptical of anyone’s being able to wrestle good sense out of the Ayatollahs. I disagree. I think a new generation of young people will change Iran for the better.

The next piece that heartened me was this remarkable story about North (yes I said North) Korean entrepreneurs. The millenial generation may change that Kafkaesque land. An old public service ad formed the basis for my continuing hopefullness:

When I was in grade school I saw this Voice of America Ad over and over on television. I had faith at a tender age that this ads’ contention that leaking western music and news behind the Iron Curtain would lead to the end of the Cold War. And that is almost exactly what happened. I believe that the same thing is now happening in North Korea. BTW I still love this song.

I suppose that this ad helps explain my confidence in free enterprise over the Cold War era closed economies. My Dad was always convinced that communism would fall of its own accord. I think more broadly that given the siren song of freedom most autocracies will fall as new generations tired of the same old – same old strike out to escape the mental fence imposed on them. I’ve always been sorry that the Berlin Wall fell just after my Dad died because his faith predicted it.

And that leads me to the final story about the book written by Elizabeth Alexander in memory of her husband a refugee from Ethopia’s Eritrea. Her husband of 16 years survived the war that my high school roommate Bedru Beshir most likely did not live to see. It was actually part of a succession of wars the first described in the book Surrender or Starve. It led eventually to the liberation of Eritrea from Ethiopia and then to a never ending war between the two nations which still sputters on.

The thing about the story that caught my ear was Alexander’s description of her husband who had endured years of hell. He was light hearted, cheerful and optimistic. We were told before Bedru arrived at our home in 1968 that Ethiopians were taciturn severe and no nonsense. In some respects this was true of Bedru but I have to wonder now if that wasn’t more a result of growing up in a repressive society which would exact terrible penalties on those who would not conform to its strictures. I suspect Bedru died in prison.

When he arrived I took what I knew of Ethiopia and projected it onto him enthusing about his Emperor, Haile Selasie. Bedru reacted to my enthusiasm rather awkwardly. I’d learned that the Emperor was regarded as a hero by the West for his brave, futile defense of Ethiopia in the 1930’s when Hitler’s ally Mussolini invaded it. Little did I know that Selassie’s regime got hold of Italy’s old province Eritrea after World War II and ruled it as gently as Mussolini had ruled them. Eritrea was largely Muslim while Ethiopia was largely Coptic Christian. Bedru was a Muslim. His treatment upon his return has always been a powerful lesson to me about how the world should not work.

When Bedru came to the US he was proud to show us pictures of Eritrea’s great city Asmara. Ms. Alexander’s husband was a resident of Asmara.

Bedru could speak five languages Trigianian, His native language with something like a 275 letter alphabet, Amharic, Arabic, English and Italian. Its a pity that so many nations waste talented people just to hang on to power.

Fan mail from some Flounder

This was just the front of the envelope.

I haven’t opened it yet but I suspect there will be no return address. Well, anonymous says we are in a fascist state. He’s just lucky the Post Office’s letter carriers didn’t turn him in to Obama’s Gestapo.

Ah, an enclosure has a quote from George Orwell:

“The further a society drifts from the Truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”

Well the anonymous letter writer certainly hates Obama. Hmmmmm!

He/she sent me three pages of “Obamascare” tax hikes that a John Kartch posted on the Internet.

Because God will soon destroy the world…

…we will keep voting for Republicans who will do nothing to stop him.

That’s my shorthand take of the unsurprising poll of Americans by Newsweek that says 40 percent of us think the world will soon come to an end. And many of these people would vote against any do-gooder environmentalist to tried to stop the oceans from rising to cover the billions of us who live on the coast.

These Christians are a menace to the world. Their God is a menace to the world. Their savior is the lone horseman of the apocalypse.

I find it hard to disagree with this appraisal:

According to a Newsweek poll, 40 percent of people in the United States believe the world will end with a battle between Jesus Christ and the Antichrist. And overwhelmingly, those people also believe that natural disasters and violence are signs of the approach of the glorious battle, so much so that 22 percent of Americans believe the world will end in their lifetime. This would logically mean that concern for the world of their great-great-grandchildren makes no sense at all and should be dismissed from their minds. In fact, a recent study found that belief in the “second coming” reduces support for strong governmental action on climate change by 20 percent.

Apart from the corruption of money, whenever you have 40 percent of Americans believing something stupid, combined with the forces of gerrymandering in the House, disproportionate representation of small states in the Senate, the Senate filibuster, the winner-take-all two-party system that shuts many voices out of the media, out of debates, and off of ballots, and a communications system that mainstreams Republican beliefs, it’s almost guaranteed that the 40-percent view will control the government.

On the other hand I just did a search for the poll to link to and discovered its

over a decade old and was done just before the year 2000 when all sorts of minneniallists thought the Y2K virus or a rapture was imminent.

Still, the GOP’s leaders don’t have the ca-hones to call their rapture prone to account for their fatalism and fanaticism. Not if it would cost them votes. Perhaps that will change as young evangelical voters fall away from their blisteringly self righteous, anti-intellectual, and anti-gay churches.

North Dakota’s blankety blank Republicans

North Dakota’s GOP has taken the lead on fighting abortion having made it illegal from six weeks after conception.

That’s one part of their recent legislative action.

The law that really cranked my chain was the one the forbade the abortion of any fetus because of a disability. Its supposed to be a high minded Godly law, proof that the GOP cares about children. Tosh. The GOP doesn’t give a shit about children or their parents. The story I was sent about the state of Minnesota doing its best not to fund special education proves my point.

North Dakota Women carrying disabled babies must now give birth to them but can expect no help from taxpayers to help them raise or educate their disabled children. That’s the GOP today. Its a party of no-nothings, hypocrites and assholes. They’ll spend tax money like Indiana to give well-heeled parents a way to avoid public schools that are stuck teaching the disabled children that Republicans are unwilling to levy taxes to educate. Or like in Nebraska they will refuse to fund neo-natal care if there is the smallest chance some wet back from Mexico might have her fetus examined at public expense.

Don’t worry I haven’t offended by Buddy. He told me he stopped reading my blog because I was so unfair to Republicans.

If I do go to the next GOP precinct caucuses I’ll have a couple questions.

BTW. If I do run for the School Board I hope someone throws my line about no-nothings, hypocrites and assholes at me. Its just the kind of thing I would expect from an asshole.

Oh, and how can I resist mentioning the efforts of the GOP to protect children from their Gay parents. The GOP may no longer want to be tagged with that public stand but there is little doubt the protesters against gay marriage out in front of the Supreme Court today are all Republicans, Senator Portman be damned.

Indiana School Vouchers

I don’t know if this USA Today story on voucher payments in Indiana has all the details in the story I first read but one thing about it makes me cringe. It plays into the hands of the worst elements of the Republican Party which took over Indiana in a landslide two years ago. Every blue or purple state where they got such a Tea Party landslide has been using that muscle to enforce all the GOP Dogmas in the book.

I’ve had a lot to say about vouchers on Lincoln Democrat over the years. I’m for them when public schools are cesspools. I’m not interested in them when a state has allowed its funding mechanism to shortchange poor neighborhoods. Sadly my search function no longer seems to go back far enough to find any of my old posts on the subject.

The Dixiecrat GOP has brought among its many perverted legacies like voter suppression, and allowing the poor to be strip mined by usurious pay day loans. Now its added to this the abandonment of public schools with lots of poor and black students.

While it is as yet unclear to me whether this will happen in Indiana I suspect it will happen. In Minnesota it would be like giving money to the many well to do folks who send their children to Breck, Blake or Marshall School.

Its intended as one more nail in the coffin of unions, in this case teacher’s unions. My posts have been none too charitible where the Duluth teacher’s Union leadership is concerned. In my case its not a zero sum game of union destruction. Its contempt for the union leaders acting in concert with previous administrations to stifle dissent.

Local Control

Every third person in Mississippi is obese. Drinking super-sized sodas with 51 sugar cubes worth of sweetness in them is one reason why. But the GOP controlled legislature wants to protect their diabetes prone voters from having any local community deny them the right to chug those sodas down like the “nanny state” Mayor of New York attempted to do.

A Judge recently overturned New York’s right to impose its anti super size rule because it unfairly imposes the limit on only some soda vendors. Even so the Mayor and the city council were exercising another notion that has been popular with Republicans – “local control.” I had to agree with the Mississippi City Councilor who resents the state legislature clipping his municipality’s wings.

Local control has been a big deal in discussions of Education. Nationally Republicans moaned about how Federal Education rules kept tying the hands of local school boards. GOP Governor Tim Pawlenty used “local control” as his ultimate justificatioin for letting the Duluth School District push through its Red Plan without a routine referendum. I always thought that that was a shoddy excuse for letting the community decide the fate of the Red Plan. The School Board of 2006 that gave us the Red Plan never campaigned to institute the near half billion dollar monstrosity whose costs have continued to creep up over the last six years.

I don’t demand pure consistency from politicians. I’m not always consistent myself. Times change and flexibility has its virtues. Still, when its just an empty slogan its not much to hang one’s hat on.

Giving a frack

I tend to be supporting of fracking for natural gas. That I may make a little money from it doesn’t particularly sway me. My Mother’s family has owned a few thousand percent interest in a half a dozen Texas oil/gas wells. Last year her earnings were less than $2,000 although back in the day they were substantial enough to give her grandmother a comfortable retirement. Not bad for an investment that was meant to earn money from rice farming.

I presume that if there is not fracking now there will soon be on our family’s mineral rights land.

On the one hand I think its just fine if Minnesota and Wisconsin allow for the mining of the particular sand that frackers need to inject into the Earth. Natural Gas is far less polluting than the Coal from West Virginia.

And yet on the other hand I know that the deep water reserves under the west and midwest are being sucked out from under the continent at unsustainable levels for agriculture. Now according to this Sully post the farmers of the great plains are finding they can’t compete will frackers.

Oh and I’m almost obligated to mention here that there is one more nail in the coffin of Climate deniers. But if you are one of the eternally undead or a Republican never mind. Its only science.

Ditto Sully – on the waste of taxpayer’s money in Iraq…

…under GOP management.

Other contracts went to cronies: the top contracting officer in Hilla awarded $8.6 million to a contractor, Philip Bloom, in exchange for “bribes and kickbacks, expensive vehicles, business-class airline tickets, computers, jewelry, and other items.” Still others got needless cash infusions: one unspecified school requested $10,000 for refurbishments and got $70,000. Government contracting databases didn’t even have “an information management system that keeps track of everything built,”

Faithless Christians dismantling public education

Two nights ago I half watched a PBS documentary on the Texas School Board which has out sized power in determining what gets put in the nation’s text books. I was busy whittling down what had been a twenty-inch thick stack of untended Duluth News Tribunes dating back to 2010 to clip and file stories mostly related to the Duluth Schools. The central character in “Revisionaries” was the Board’s chairman, a nice fellow and practicing dentist, Don McLeroy.

For ten years Don has been inserting creationism into science textbooks and taking Thomas Jefferson out of History books. Because Texas orders books statewide for all their public schools unlike most states which allow their school districts to purchase textbooks most textbook publishers base their books on the Texas School Board mandates and have done so for several decades. That might help explain why among the western educated nations the US had one of the smallest number of folks who accepted evolution, 28% of the population.

A few years ago when I was running against Roger Reinert for the State Senate I campaigned in part on my proposal to forbid any Minnesota School District from buying books that had been designed to accommodate the Texas standards. Roger, I support the Red Plan, Reinert won that DFL primary.

Enough digression.

McLeroy struck me as a naif. He and his Board majority require the teaching of creationism the latest alternative to evolution saying that science hasn’t decided between the two “theories.”

The thing that no one else comments on is that this silliness not only turns biology on its head but all other sciences. For his part Dr. McLeroy was shown explaining to some grade schoolers how Noah’s ark was plenty big enough to hold two of every animal in the world. McLeroy believes that the universe is only 6,000 years old. He laughs off dinosaurs living tens of millions of years ago.

But If McLeroy is right then the light from distant stars has only been traveling for 6,000 years. Those who keep up with NASA may know that the medium sized galaxy we live in is 120,000 light years across. It takes a photon of light that many years to traverse the distance of the Milky Way if the physicists are right about this. In a 6000 year old universe we could only see stars about 1/20th of the way across the galaxy. All the others would be as good as invisible to us as well as the galaxies beyond our own. The astronomers have been telling us that their new telescopes have given them a peek at regions of our universe where light we now see began its travel toward us almost 13 billion years ago. Don’s creationism can not accept this.

Since light, a major preoccupation of physics, travels at roughly 186,000 miles per second, Don McLeroy’s universe and the universe of astronomy and physics are irreconcilable. I hate to think how much money we’ve wasted NASA.

Likewise, geology is being taught all wrong. The non-Biblical Earth is 4 billion years old having formed slowly by matter’s coalescence in a ring around what was to become our sun. At first the Earthly blob was mostly cool but it warmed up through friction as it was bombarded by comets and asteroids turning molten. Huge reservoirs of radioactive metals at its core kept it warm until a thin crust cooled. So, say the scientists but all of this geology, astronomy and physics get’s tossed out on its head in Don McLeroy’s 6,000 year old world.

I think there is a larger irony for McLeroy than using his position on a state school board to moot and undermine all this science. I think a larger irony involves his misunderstanding of his own religion, Christianity.

Don made it clear that he does not just have faith in his positions. He knows that his religion is fact. The creation of the universe that he feels is backed up by the Bible is a concrete truth. McLeroy is not an arrogant man. He’s more of a Sancho Panza following his Quixotic scientific belief. There is, however, no humility in this knowledge. The ark could hold all ten or twenty million animals that could have been collected by Noah. The world is 6,000 years old.

But it is not certainty that the New Testament offers. Jesus offers his follower’s faith. It is enough to believe through faith that Jesus was sired by God of a virgin. It is enough to believe that he was crucified, dead and buried and that he rose again from the dead and ascended to heaven to sit on the right hand of God. The reward for for people who have faith in the message found in the New Testament is eternal life. God bestows his grace on people of faith. This is not good enough for McLeroy who apparently survived his public school years without drinking too heavily of science. No, Mr. McLeroy has to place his science lite creationism along side evolution as a co-equal. Nothing can be left behind to undermine faith.

Joseph Stalin might have appreciated Mr. McLeroy’s concern. His purges stunted of a generation of horticulturalists and evolutionists who he replaced with Lamarkian “scientists” like Trofim Lysenko whose theories, Stalin was persuaded, fit better with dialectical materialism.

Of the twelve disciples I most identify with Thomas and his famous doubt. He refused to believe the litany of the Apostle’s creed until he was able to place his hands in the wounds of the crucifiction. Jesus then chided him for his flimsy faith thereby honoring the unquestioning faith of the other eleven.

McLeroy doesn’t really have to worry about the teaching of the birth of Jesus in American textbooks. Tens of millions of children in Sunday School classes have accepted this rather than quarrel with their elders or church. But evolution is different. Many mainline churches grew to accept evolution without considering it a threat to their overall faith. This is not true of McLeroy. He is a fundementalist and he can’t have public schools undermine the faith of students who might begin to doubt a seven day creation. Creationism has to be put in textbooks as a legitimate theory much like Lysenko’s theories had to be put in Joseph Stalin’s textbooks. Doubt must be stamped out. Faith can not be trusted. Or perhaps, like me, Don McLeroy would have been a Thomas but unlike me he finds this thought troubling. He can not trust children who are taught mainstream science to ignore it. He must insert nonsense into America’s textbooks because he can not trust mere faith to uphold the Godly world he wishes to enforce. To me this is a demonstration of Dr. MeLeroy’s faithlessness not his faith. I do not see how God can grant grace to a man of so little faith.

Perhaps, it is even a rejection of the Constitution’s expectation that the state will not promote religion.

Increasingly Dr. McLeroy’s Creation science is Republican science. It may, however, not remain Texas science forever. Dr. McLean was defeated in his run for reelection to the State education Board by about 450 votes. Still, the standards he and his fellow Board members approved for Texas, (and consequently America) will be in force until 2020 or another seven years.

The chickens are coming home to roost…

…and leave a lot of droppings in the GOP’s coup.

I find it ironic that the GOP which in the Reagan years once vilified (correctly) the Democrats for being a bunch of special interests is now suffering the same fate having become a party of its own special interests. This point was brought home by two stories in the press today on how the public has retreated from two central guideposts of the GOP cannon.

From the DNT’s first Page – “Support for legal abortion continunes to grow”:

As if to further bolster the argument that liberalism is having a resurgence in the United States, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that, for the first time ever, a majority of Americans – 54 percent – now believe abortion should be legal all or most of the time. Even more broadly, a full 70 percent believe that Roe v. Wade – the controversial decision that, 40 years ago, guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion, at least in the first trimester of pregnancy – should not be overturned.

Darned DNT doesn’t have their story on its site. I got this from the Christian Science Monitor (A paper that my Dad subscribed to for years) The DNT’s story mentions that ten years ago rather than 54% it was only 44 percent of the public that believed abortion should be legal. More critically the number of Republicans who feel intensely about this issue is shrinking.

The other poll issue was on page three and was about making it easier for illegal immigrants to enter the US. Once again the DNT’s story is only in newsprint. This comes from ABC:

“More than 6 in 10 Americans now favor allowing illegal immigrants to eventually become U.S. citizens, a major increase in support driven by a turnaround in Republicans’ opinions after the 2012 elections.(the story goes on to say that two years ago instead of 60% support it was only 47% support.

Two more GOP special interests that have taken a big hit are the NRA’s no compromise Second Amendment enthusiasts and the religious lobby that wants to keep gays closeted or make them normal. Expect the GOP’s Global warming and science deniers to fall from grace next.

I’ve waited for this all to happen since 1992 when I made my first break with the GOP and ran a quixotic independent campaign for Congress. I returned to the fold afterwords for about ten years but was kept on the margin by the new leaders of the party that were happy to go to conventions and explain that folks like me were the worst butchers in the history of the world. I guess they were accommodationists because after publicly announcing that I was worse than Papa Stalin, Adolph Hitler and Mao combined they were always very nice to me.

As my buddy (who seems to have given up emailing me) often says I’ve got my undies in a bunch over Republicans when Democrats can be expected to overreach with their rhetoric. It makes me think that before I die I should start attending GOP caucuses again (since my political future went over the cliff twenty ago) on the off chance that I can bring a little Lincoln pragmatism back to the party.

I have some personal theories about both parties and their excesses during my lifetime. I think that the GOP was overrun by College Republicans who all majored in business and decided that ethical considerations were a waste of time when short term tactics like stomping out independent thinking would lead to better election results and paychecks. In this regard they were as amoral as the mortgage industry’s specialists who approved unjustified home loans or Vatican priests who preferred to cover up and pay off the victims of clergy sexual abuse.

The book I hope to write someday will chronicle a different age when a similar sort ran the DFL in Northern Minnesota – political hacks with their hands out for government dollars.

Thus it was and ever shall be. Don’t believe me? Watch Spielberg’s Lincoln and enjoy the comic performance of James Spader as the 13th Amendment’s amoral, arm-twisting lobbyist.

I’m ready for a new set of racketeers to take over America. I just hope we get a long interim where idealists reign before they succumb to the pleasures of power.

Purple civility

My recent posts here and here on how bifurcated America has become because of our red and blue politics is, no doubt, a passing phase. We old farts will all die and our children will slap the dust off their dungarees and adopt equally foolish political agendas. I have lived through the bifurcation being a stubborn “liberal” Republican who was pushed to the sidelines and who chose to spend the last twenty years twitting the purges. My first precinct caucus was 1970. In 1992 I ran as an Independent candidate for Congress against both the Democrat Jim Oberstar and the Republican Phil Herwig. The Republicans good naturedly let me back into their caucuses after that and I subsequently ran as a Republican in two legislative campaigns in 2000 and 2002.

In 2004 (or so) I attended my first Democratic precinct caucus. I felt very out of place despite the fact that on issue after issue I agreed with the resolutions being offered up from the folks I was caucusing with.

This change is just what my generation called for back in our youth when we (not me) said of the two parties that they were so similar they were like Alice in Wonderland’s twins Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.

My argument for keeping the two parties the way they were, is the very same one that Mitt’s Dad, George Romney, outlined to Barry “Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is no vice” Goldwater. He pointed to the often dysfunctional politics of the European democracies where Communists and extreme rightist parties fought for control. Romney lost that argument and today the European’s parties are more like America’s old Democrats and Republicans and our parties have taken to extreme rhetoric.

I have had one gadfly critic from the beginning of the blog in 2006, My Buddy. The emails have grown heated between us but they have not stopped except for a few months when I quit replying to his emails because of my irritation. We still come out swinging when we think the other has said something bone headed. Here’s a recent sample of our quibbles as our November 4th election draws near:

Harry:
I liked McGovern, and I voted for McGovern, but the video clip at http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/archives/021801.html

is an example of why http://www.foxnews.com/is my internet home page; and why I visit web pages other than that of The Lincoln Democrat; and why I am disinclined to vote for Obama. If his behavior regarding what recently happened in Benghazi; and if the lame stream media’s coverage of it doesn’t suck; please tell me why.
Your Buddy

Buddy,

The NY Times had a hurricane to cover. Big Surprise no Benghazi coverage.

I suppose you’ve forgotten the democrat’s complaints that the Lame Street Media didn’t cover the bull on WMD’s and other crap justifying Bush’s Iraq invasion. Media blindfolds can work both ways.

The outrage was amped up in the Fox segment. The Judge sounds a lot like the retard bashing Coulter and so did the interviewer. [I confused the male blowhard with the Judge who was the female interviewer] Listen to the interview again. Sounded like a bunch of cackling hysterics. Who can blame them? Looks like Benghazi is going to get the same pass the WMD’s did.

As for the lame street media, I get most of my stuff from the tax payer’s dollars at NPR. This is what they had to say about Benghazi today: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=164156200 But it’s probably not true. It comes from all those bitter enders at the CIA.

I’d like to hear Coulter and crew piss and moan about this while we dig out from the GOP’s global warming and beach front flooding debacles. Obviously, God wants Obama to win. That’s what I’d expect the Pat Robertson’s of the GOP to say.

At least my father-in-law who watches FOX all the time is hard of hearing and isn’t [always] very clear about what is being communicated. He has the good sense to be oblivious of and to Lincolndemocrat.com.

Harry

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