Category Archives: History

A. Ham

2018-08-05_08-32-26

My family posed under the marquee but they weren’t wearing 3D shades so I cropped them out for this post.

Hamilton the musical was worth every penny of this weekend extravagance. The history it is based on, authored by Ron Chernow, has been on my bookshelf waiting for me for about ten years. After I return from France I may tackle it.

My breath is taken away by the audacity of Lin-Manuel Miranda to have envisioned this as a subject for the musical stage.

Moral clarity in the age of “deplorables” running amok

I’ve woken up to a second day’s fallout concerning the latest scandal over Rick Nolan’s coddling of a long-time buddy and butt grabber. Nolan’s gaffe has left a field of victims like that duckboat sinking yesterday in Branson. Both pilots should have seen the storm coming but were too preoccupied to avoid disaster. I’m still ruminating on the news and practicing my french so I’ll tackle it later today for my “eight loyal readers.” Before I return I’ll leave them with proof that I’m no prude. (I kinda doubt that there is such a thing as a prude anymore. I suspect most of them are hypocrites.) Continue reading

Abood today

I got a question from WDIO today on the case which guts public employee unions. I returned one email reaction. Then I returned a second email with additional comments.

Email from WDIO:

Hey, Harry!

Just checking if you want to weigh in with your thoughts on the Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME ruling. I’m trying to get all the CD08 candidates in our story on the Web.

Let me know if you can pass along a statement.

Thanks,

MY FIRST RESPONSE:

This decision threatens to eviscerate public employee unions by treating even legitimate negotiation expenses as speech. It violates fair play and past compromises and demonstrates that the Republican Party has succeeded in making the Supreme Court a partisan branch of the federal government. 

MY SECOND RESPONSE:

BTW my father was the president of the Mankato State college faculty union and taught contract negotiation in their business school. I wrote about it once in the Reader. It has a pretty accurate prediction in it.

http://snowbizz.com/Diogenes/NotEudora06/CollectiveBargain.htm

AND ONE MORE THING I FORGOT TO TELL WDIO:

My Dad was a life long Republican.

At Hibbing last night

My computer just died so I am composing this on my cell phone. I hate doing this.

I attended a fascinating debate in Hibbing last night at which all the congressional candidates sans one appeared. Trump’s toadie.

From what people told me afterward I made an impression…a good one.

Two people caught my attention. One was a former union man who spent 3 years taking his corrupt union to court in a court system weighted heavily Democrat and pro union. We both patted each other on the back for our valiant if fruitless battles.

The other was a Hibbing teacher who had taken my father’s contract law class and who told me my Dad was beloved in the business school. If it wasn’t for my dead computer I would write more. HOWEVER. Check out my next post. It’s about Abood…….

A little of my Dad’s influence bookwise

My Dad, Daniel Marsh Welty, died shortly after we moved to our snow sculptor’s palace thirty-one years ago. He never got a chance to see it although I shot a VHS tape of it to show him where we had moved to. His Vietnam was the Good War and for years after he read the memoirs and histories written by men who had fought in it. I kept a bunch of the paperbacks after his death and today I’ve got them arranged in a modest glass case with other mementos of his life which as you can see includes a sketch my Mother made of him when he was in his late twenties. In life he never looked that fierce.

I plucked one of the books from the shelf a couple days ago to begin reading to Claudia in anticipation of our trip to France and more specifically to the hallowed coast of Normandy. Its Cornelius Ryan’s “The Longest Day.” After beginning its chapter ten in the first section I had to put the book down and shoot a 6 minute video of me reading and commenting on a passage that talked about the modesty of my fellow Kansan Dwight David Eisenhower. The depths that we have sunk to politically with the Trump Presidency led me to shoot another video to share my thoughts with my blogs treasured but tiny audience. I’ll upload it tomorrow.

Willy Makeit and the Kunst Brothers

After a day spent far away from Donald Trump’s ego boosting rally at the arena (that one insider gives me credit for talking Duluth into voting for) I woke thinking about something unifying and faithful to the Minnesota I moved to in the Era of Hubert Humphrey. You might have heard of him. In 1948 he helped drive the Dixiecrats out of the Democratic Party at his party’s national convention. He had the temerity to cry out for an end to “state’s rights” and new future of Civil Rights:

“To those who say — My friends, to those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years late. To those who say — To those who say that this civil-rights program is an infringement on states’ rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic party to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”

I woke trying to recall the names of the young Minnesota brothers who walked around the world not long after I moved to Minnesota. Thank goodness for Wikipedia. Their entry is short.

They were the Kunst Brothers. I don’t know when I’ve seen a remembrance of them in a newspaper – maybe not for thirty years. However, when David and his brother John set out from tiny Caledonia, Minnesota in Minnesota’s southwestern corner of Minnesota (see map above) in 1970 with a mule they called “Willie Makeit” in the middle of the Vietnam War to walk around the world they caught a lot of attention. That only doubled when they got halfway around Earth to Afghanistan and John was murdered by mountain bandits. After four months recovering from the gunshot to his chest Dave continued his trek with a third brother Pete from the spot in Afghanistan where they were ambushed. John ended his trip solo in October 1974 a few weeks after I’d married and moved to Duluth, after Richard Nixon’s helicopter flight out of the Presidency and half a year before the end of America’s debacle in Vietnam.

Remembering this small shard of history when a couple young American’s went out in search of the world rather than trek to an Arena in Duluth to hear a man preen before an audience of folks who follow him like pimple faced kids at a professional wrestling match was a reminder that greatness is not measured in mouth. It is measured in deed.

To Conquer Hell

I discovered another book of mine pertinent to my upcoming visit to France. Its To Conquer Hell by Edward G. Lengel. The author is a cousin of that battle’s most famous soldier Alvin York a war hero that has not escaped mention in my blog.

The book came out in 2008 but I’m not sure when I acquired it. Quite possibly I bought it after seeing that it mentioned my Grandfather but I’ve not read it yet.

Yesterday I found my Grandfather’s chapter. I discovered it after checking the index for the New York unit he was attached to – the 369th infantry, made up of African Americans. To my surprise there was scant mention of the composition of the unit; just a short description of my Grandfather’s heroism. That seemed a huge over-sight.

Its only been recently that I’ve come to appreciate the battle’s name “Meuse Argonne.” It was the last battle on the Western Front and brought an end to the war. It was THE American battle with Sgt. York its most storied veteran. It began on September 26, 1918, and we plan to arrive at the battleground exactly one hundred years to the day afterwards. We will stay until Sept. 29th the day my Grandfather, shot to hell, was ordered back to the aid station to get himself patched up.

The Meuse-Argonne is said to have been the bloodiest battle in American History. Even so, it pales compared to some of the horrendous slaughters earlier in the war inflicted by and on French, German and English forces.

Violence on MLK Boulevard

Today I will crank out my next Not Eurdora column. I have so many topics to choose from. I’ve gotten in the habit of jotting them down in a “notebook” in my cell phone and was going through the notes early this morning. One thing led to another and I began going through my old emails to purge them. Some, like my jotted down notes are meant for later reference and possible mention in the blog. One of them was linked to this excellent five-minute explanation of the segregated housing patterns in the US. Thank God for National Public Radio.

BTW. As a kid in 1950’s Topeka, Kansas, I walked to school past a neighborhood that had a high concentration of African-Americans and that was quite likely red lined. And when my wife’s family moved from Des Moines, Iowa, in the mid sixties a realtor brought a black family to look at their home causing panic in the neighborhood. It may simply have been a ruse to threaten home prices and get the neighborhood to pony up to buy the house and prevent a black family from moving in.

I was an 18 year old senior in High School when Martin Luther King was murdered and only senility or death will make me forget its aftermath. Have things improved. Sure they have. But this video also touches on policing and I had a recent experience with non color blind policing in the West End where my wife and I first moved when we came to Duluth. Coincidentally, our starter home, purchased in the same West-End neighborhood in 1978, had been owned by a black family before we moved in.

300 years and counting

Longer than England and France were united African Americans have worn dark skins which make their lighter shaded neighbors fret. American Catholics suffered for about a hundred years of abuse but unless they genuflected in public or were from Mexico they looked like other European settlers to America. Irish-Americans also had their “no Irish need apply” signs but that was mostly about Catholicism. The telegenic John Kennedy put most of that paranoia to rest. What his charm couldn’t smooth over the Republican Party’s appeal to the Catholic clergy and the South’s adoption of an issue where they could reciprocate Northern scorn – abortion – built a bridge between the once uneasy allies of the FDR coalition Catholics and Southern Baptists.

But blacks were still black and kept at the margins despite the election of Barack Obama after a disastrous Bush Presidency. This remarkable achievement convinced most white Americans that black grievance was at and end and I can not deny the progress. On the other hand I never once sat my white son down to tell him obey all police to avoid being shot. Three stories related to this crossed my path this weekend.

The first of the three stories appealed to my love of geography. It concerns a map that Abraham Lincoln poured over during the Civil War and which helped him devise a successful stratagem to woo some southern states away from the rebellious confederacy. The original story is in Slate here:

The second story came from the PBS program History Detectives. It was a follow up on a previous story that suggested some black slaves fought for the Confederacy. In the case first examined a few years ago the answer to one such example turns out to be no. The fellow below was from Mississippi which had a law preventing slaves from fighting for the state. In this case the black slave was more of a valet to his master.

The third story involved the gifted Nora Neale Hurston one of the famous writers of the Harlem Renaissance in the Jazz age. I’ve had her book “Their Eyes were watching God” for a couple years. I handed it to Claudia who told me it was a very good book but for the time being, like so many other of my books, its circling the airport awaiting for clearance to land.

The New York Times story was about the publication of her work Barracoon. Her subject was the fellow below, Cudjo Lewis. She interviewed Mr. Lewis about 1930 when she learned he was was a slave brought over on the last ship, a Barracoon I presume, to bring slaves to America. (I presume the operative word here is “legally.”)

Hurston wrote some of her stories of African-Americans speaking in their southern patois much as Mark Twain famously did. The publishing houses demanded that Hurston alter the pidgeon English dialect that she faithfully transcribed and she refused feeling that it denied Mr. Lewis his true voice. Today that slight has been rectified and the book will soon be on the shelves of America’s bookstores.

And finally a forth related item that I was reminded of in the Times story. Cudjo Lewis told author Hurston how strange it was to be placed with long time slaves who he could not understand and who no doubt regarded him with some perplexity. This reminded me of a movie I thoroughly enjoyed long ago. The movie Skin Game came out in 1971 when I was a sophomore in college. It starred my parents favorite actor James Garner and Lewis Gosset Jr.. Ed Asner plays a cruel slave catcher.

Its set in the pre-civil war south. Its about two friends who defraud southern slave owners by selling them Louis Gossett Jr. over and over. Each time Gossett is rescued by his seller Garner and then they skip off to grift new victims. As you can imagine its a dangerous game and in the climax the tables are turned on the con men. Gossett finds himself housed in a barn with three or four African warriors, who like Cudjo Lewis were straight off the slave ship. I suspect this movie still stands the test of time although I noticed it was not listed as one of the best movies about slavery on at least three Internet lists I found. Here’s the IMBD list. I think this is an oversight.

BTW – James Garner was one of the Hollywood actors who championed Civil Rights. My parents loved him for his TV western Maverick.

Whatever happened…..My latest Not Eudora Column

Whatever Happened to the Magnificent Seven

Thanks to the Reader for the nice graphic.

It begins:

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

You can read it all here.

Bread and Circuses

A lot is on my mind again. When I don’t post stuff it builds up like bran in a constipated elephant. This and the also empty post that precedes it both represent much that I want to write about. It almost goes without saying that it will be just like everything else that I’ve already written about and/or will ever write about and, in fact, everything that every other writer writes about.

But first, I should put the beginnings of a column together for my every other week contribution to the Duluth Reader. That too will be more of the same. Maybe I’ll write about my attempt to learn French in nine months or about my memorizing the order of service of our 45 Presidents or some of the interesting history books piling up on my shelves unread….. Gotta make a decision soon.

Rome’s “Bread and Circuses” were meant to keep its citizens from rioting much as the faltering Soviet Union’s drowning citizens in cheap vodka was used to keep them compliant. Keeping me from rioting is greatly aided by pointing me to a computer to pound out another column or post. That’s one way of keeping me out of gun shops for a quick non-solution.

A sick feeling

It is only a sense of deep obligation to keep my eight loyal readers focused on our nation’s future that keeps me away from my French lessons. I’ve spent a couple hours looking at a half dozen stories in the New York Times that reinforce my doubts that the Republicans will get a comeuppance in the 2018 mid terms. What could very likely happen might also take place in Duluth’s Eighth Congressional District. An unknown Democrat could be so beat up by other Democrats that a very attractive Republican, Pete Stauber, could defy expectations and cruise to victory in what is barely a blue district these days.

If a Democrat can’t win here Donald Trump may not only avoid impeachment but he might get reelected; the Republicans could retain control of the majority of the states they already control; and add more legal barricades; which will help them survive through the decade of 2020’s and a growing tide of discontented voters.

One of the ironies here is that while the Republican cause is successfully trumpeting a paranoiac vision of a “liberal” Deep State –
the real Deep State stems not from unions, funny colored people and immigrants but from allies of the Republicans. It is the successful and long running coalition of conservative _illionaires, prosperity Gospel GOPers, and Rush Limbaugh immitators who have made the Republican Party more anti-education, dogmatic, zero sum, and venal. Calling on God and American voters to save fetuses was only one of the early calls to cleanse the GOP of the contamination of moderation. Folks like me were deemed worse killers than Mao, Papa Joe and Adolph combined. Gun rights, right-to-work laws and making rural white and blue color workers jealous of the modest improvement in the lives of minorities were part and parcel of the project.

It is ironic that gay rights and a black President were part of this recent history but in many ways getting over these humps have taken a lot of the steam away from Democrats. Throw in a humming economy which may last through the tax cuts and Trump tariffs untill this year’s November elections and Donald Trump could get past his prostitute and Russian problems. If so, he could have another two years of Republican control of Congress and, who knows, a good shot at reelection. (Hence my sick feeling. I began warning about this a year before he was first elected and the cool heads knew he was just a joke.) I know the bad news for President Trump keeps piling up but don’t forget the old adage: “The only bad news is no news.” And with his tweets there is no chance for the latter.

Here are the stories in the NY Times today that have sobered me up:

Right to Work laws have devastated Unions and Democrats.

About that Blue Wave The early proclamations that Texas’s primary this week was great news for Democrats is bull.

Book Review: How Corporations Won Their Civil Rights.

What if Republicans Win the Mid Terms?

And I also found this story fascinating although not terribly surprising. The Jews who dreamed of Utopia. It reminded me of how Jewish intellectuals have been blamed by both right wingers and left wingers for all the world’s problems. I still don’t like Bibi Netanyahu.

Now I’ll return to my cell phone French Lessons on Duolingo.

Trip down Market Street

A couple days before the San Francisco Earthquate the Mile’s brothers put a movie camera on a trolley (infamous for their third rails) and shot a nine minute movie of a leisurely non-stop trip down Market street. Four days later all of the city would be lying in heaps of rubble with 200,000 homeless. You can see the video here and marvel at the orderly chaos of horses, cars, wagons, bicyclists and pedestrians meandering in and out of each other’s ways in the day’s before there were any proscriptions against jay walking.

https://www.livescience.com/61945-san-francisco-earthquake-footage-flea-market.html?utm_source=notification

It reminds me of the short video I took of city traffic from high above the streets of Shanghai last summer.

Half read books

I have finished reading two books so far this year but have been unable to upload them to my lifetime reading list for technical reasons I do not yet understand.

They are:

2018
The Last of the Doughboys Richard Rubin

Fierce Patriot (Wm Tecumseh Sherman) Robert L. O’Connell

Finding out how to fix this will require time – time I’m reluctant to spend. I’ve got a bunch of things to accomplish – since my return from Florida. I’ve got to shovel more snow. Begin a snow sculpture. Find out why, now that we have snow, Lowell Elementary is not clamoring to have me come and fulfill my commitment to sculpt them something. Make up the hour and a half of French language self-study that I’ve ignored while on vacation with my grandsons. Write another column for the Reader. And read more books.

I have not neglected the news over the vacation. I managed to find a couple hours each day to keep up with what’s going on in the world. Donald Trump’s election seems to have assured dictators everywhere that the cat’s away thus making it possible for the mice to play. The latest is the President of China who is bulldozing through a law that will allow him to become China’s lifetime leader (AKA Emperor).

I am grateful to have so many well reported stories in the New York Times to read although they have the tendency to make the world sound alarming. At least that grim view is thoughful – I got a small dose of the Republican Party’s news organ Fox News while in Florida. That is such thin gruel that I regard every minute spent watching it as a waste of, or more likely an annihilation of, brain cells.

I am about halfway though a highly regarded history of Western Europe written in the 1960’s called the Age of Revolution by an historian, Eric Hobsbawm

NOTE I just read what is found on that link and the link in it on Hobsbawm himself. Very interesting. Although a communist he is regarded even by conservatives as having been the penultimate synthesizer of the 19th century’s history. He evidently read all the books in his bibliography which no doubt took a significant portion of his life to complete. He still had another 40 plus years of life to look forward to afterwards.

I’ve currently detoured from my Grandfather’s life to find out more about France which I intend to visit this year. That visit became all the more likely because while returning home from Florida we were persuaded to purchase an American Airlines membership including a credit card that will get us to and from Paris for a couple hundred bucks. I searched out a good book on the first half of 19th century France because of David McCullough’s book The Greater Journey about the many Americans who made a pilgrimage to that nation. I haven’t finished that book either.

This line of reading puts me in touch with my Grandfather. Troops like him said: “Lafayette, We are here.” upon reaching French shores. Americans had an almost reverential attitude for France since its King financed the Revolutionary War insuring our victory and his own abdication execution after impoverishing France.

This post was going to continue on with a litany of other books I’ve recently gotten halfway through like Dark Money, Founding Rivals and American Lion. Not finishing them is a sorry reflection on my need to sleep.

I have another book that my reading has prompted me to dig out. Alexis de Tocqueville’s, Democracy in America. This was one of a dozen books Congressman Newt Gingrich sent off to Russia by the bucket full to teach them about Democracy after the fall of the Soviet Union. That was before Newt fell under the spell of America’s wannabe dictator Donald Trump. I won’t hold that against De Tocqueville.

BTW – a month ago I finally memorized all the Presidents of the United States in order and now repeat them in my head at night to help me fall asleep. Just now I repeated them to myself in reverse from 45, Donald Trump, to number 1, George Washington. What a fall from grace.

CENSORING MARK TWAIN AND HARPER LEE? Coda

One of Duluth’s teachers who was brought up short by our Administration’s decision to pull Harper Lee and Twain out of the curriculum makes this argument quoted in today’s DNT editorial:

“There is no substitute. There is no novel that accomplishes what ‘Mockingbird’ does, and why anyone would deny (it) to students in a time when intolerance, violence, ignorance, and self-righteousness are rampant, I cannot possibly understand.”

I DISAGREE! Continue reading