Category Archives: Media

Honest Abe vs Dishonest Don

A couple times a year I notice that two cartoons on the Trib’s comics page share a similar theme. Today was such a day. From Non Sequitur:

And from Pearls before Swine:

I don’t enjoy being the optimist preoccupied with the empty half of the glass or (in this case) with the forty percent empty. The 40% is made up of Americans who still think Donald Trump is doing a good job while shrugging off his hourly lies and treating them as some sort of veiled truth. Yes, the 60% full side is the recently elected Democratic House of Representatives, but I also remember that all it took to elect Hitler in 1933 was just short of 40%. That feeble percentage is the kind of number that keeps deep-state Republicans in control after all their messing about with election laws and gerrymandering.

Its often asked what Trump supporters would have done had Obama done the sort of things Trump does daily. Unlike Trump Obama told only one truly epic lie when he insisted that Americans could keep their doctors if the Affordable Health Care Act was enacted. It was worse than just a white lie, but compared to Trump, its notable, even laudable in its singularity.

Abraham Lincoln famously asked Americans to remember their “better angles.” Trump only encourages our better demons.

My old ally turned critic sent me a couple more emails with no text but simply links to commentaries suggesting that black americans were attempting to make white Trump supporters paranoid by making our elections fraudulent. Then he sent me this Wikipedia entry on “Aunt Jemima” to school me on what he thought of Stacey Abrams who is at the forefront of calling out Republican electioneering scams.

I replied to Jim:

I guess you were being ironic calling Abrams a name that suggested she was obsequious when you seem to resent her for being just the opposite of obsequious.

If anything she has the stones you had when you rallied for Bob Short. You’re giving her short shrift….no pun intended.

Trolling the Trolls

After six months of writing columns for the Reader I finally got some reaction in the online comment box. After my Frat Boy column a “Juan Percent” snarked at me. After this week’s column about my Presidential candidacy I got snarked at by a “Fed Troll.”

In both cases I bit like a fish and replied. It was only yesterday that I realized that Juan Percent had replied to me a couple days after I commented on his post. That was a month ago. I’ll give Juan credit. While I am not impressed with anonymous posts to communicate in our Democracy (I can forgive them in nations where state security will hunt down and imprison complainers) Juan offered a serious reply to me. I then attempted to catch his attention to see that I had offered additional thoughts.

At this one of my Reader contacts sent me an email recommending that I not reply to “trolls” like Mr. Percent. I joked back that I was simply trolling the trolls. What I meant was that by replying to them I was paying them in kind. But that was mostly a joke. I believe in conversation as much as I believe in compromise. If Minnesota’s moderate Republicans in the 1970’s had kept going to precinct caucuses and had conversations with pro lifers the party would be a different place today. Instead they avoided precinct caucuses and left them open to one side of an issue they felt uncomfortable discussing every two years.

While I soldiered on as a Republican for another twenty years even I decided it was pointless to be a lone voice arguing the pro-choice point of view. But its not like I’m afraid of facing those who disagree with me. For years I’d be the only Republican to go to Union endorsement interviews knowing I stood a snowball’s chance in the hellish union furnace. At my first such encounter in 1974 I chided the union members for putting all their apples in the basket with the half dozen DFL legislators who showed up to get their automatic endorsement. One of the legislators, Tom Berkleman, even scolded me for chiding the unions. Well, the Unions reliance on Democrats has not turned out so well since my scolding. As for Berklemen? He was arrested for stealing cigars from a smoke shop a few years later.

I’ll share the last couple thoughts that Mr. Percent and I exchanged to show that at least some trolls have given thought to the issues they pan on the Internet. I say that as a hopeless “libtard”: Continue reading

A little apology and a little mystery

Paranoia is rampant and I must confess that sometimes it gets the better of me too – though not usually for long. I speculated that my recent column was not added to the Duluth Reader website when I didn’t find it right away. It showed up as I expected it would. I’m sorry to have had any doubts.

And related to that – On Sunday my letter to the editor criticizing the Trib for three of its Republican endorsements will be in the paper too – as a “paid political” letter to the editor. I must confess I don’t see much difference in what I wrote and a lot of the content of other letters that avoided having to pay. Life has its mysteries.

A tale of two Editorial Boards

These days I’m not cranking out five or ten daily posts as I have in the past. I’m being very selective. Even my eight loyal readers eyes must be burning out from gazing at their cell phones this election cycle. But before I attend to this post’s headline I have to follow up the powerful video I posted last night from Fox News’s, Shep Smith, on the real threat of the Migrant caravan, still one thousand miles from the border. Even if it doesn’t crumble under withering 105 degree temperatures it won’t even reach America at its current pace for 44 days – a full month after the election!

As this morning’s NPR interview with an economist makes clear keeping migrants out impoverishes all Americans. Our public schools and colleges don’t spend much time training American students to clean motel rooms, bus tables, or pick vegetables.

Now to this post’s headline.

I was taken aback by the DNT’s Editorial headline this morning – “Yes,” “no,” “no,” on School Questions concerning the School District three part ask for tax revenues. Continue reading

Come on News Tribune. Treat Ellison fairly in your coverage of his campaign.

My better half, once a critic of Keith Ellison, was happy to let me put this lawnsign in our yard today. I’ve spent several days tracking one down putting calls into two City Councilors and waiting for the DFL office to reopen after it closed for a multi-day training session. It was Claudia who alerted me to the latest New York Times story which makes pretty oclear how the revenge of a jilted girlfriend has run Ellison’s campaign nearly off the rails.

His accuser claims to have a video showing Ellison pulling her off a bed which she has not shown to anyone, her lawyer, the former boss of Ellison’s Republican opponent, or an eager news media. But the media has managed to unseal court records of Ellison’s divorce which however, revealed, ironically, that Ellison was a victim of some abuse not the other way around. If you rely on the Duluth News Tribune you have seen innumerable stories suggesting that Ellison had mistreated his divorced wife. They have all been put to rest.

I bristle at an unfair dogpile. I couldn’t sympathize with Kavanaugh because I saw little likelihood that the charges made against him were untrue and besides that, he now has a life-time job. Poor man.

Folks in Duluth know how outraged I was for two years as a poisonous school administration and School Board majority manufactured allegation after allegation against my colleague Art Johnston accusing him of being a dangerous, violent fellow to justify removing him from office and costing him $75,000 in attorney fees to preserve the election that put him on the school board.

I’d really like to see the Duluth News Tribune give Keith Ellison his due and tell its local readers what the New York Times told the world about an honorable Attorney General candidate for Minnesota. While they are at it I’d like them to tell us what his Republican challenger recently said – that he intended to fire every Democrat in the Attorney General’s office. Sounds like Trump’s pledge to eradicate democrats from the Federal judiciary.

For years I have held dear my family’s story of my very Republican Grandfather George Robb’s example which is quite different from Republican Wardlow. When he was appointed Auditor of the State of Kansas in the 1930’s by Governor Alf Landon he had it in his power to do what Wardlow promises. I described it in a portion of a letter I sent toMinnesota’s State Auditor, Rebecca Otto. Here it is:

“…my Grandfather was the State Auditor of Kansas. He never lost an election. A staunch Republican George Robb defied his Governor, Alf Landon, who had appointed him to fill the vacancy of a publicly disgraced Democrat, by refusing to fire all the Democrats in the office. He kept them on because, as he told Landon, they were good people and knew their jobs. My Mother told me this story when I was young …….and lest you think my Grandfather was a fan of Democrats he told me when I was twelve that the worst mistake he made in his life was the one vote he gave a Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, who broke his promise to keep America out of War.”

I’ll be proud to cast my vote for Keith Ellison for Minnesota Attorney General.

An anonymous critic

I discovered a critic at the end of my column on “Frat Boy Justice” in the Reader:

Juan Percent
Thursday Oct. 11, 2018

Welty, You’re a liberal hack. Despite what you read on CNN, there’s no evidence Kavanaugh was ever black out drunk. It might come as a surprise to someone like you who’s apparently replaced his brain cells with bong resin that very few people ever achieve black out drunk. It’s a myth for people who need an excuse for their actions, people like you apparently, but not like Kavanough.

I couldn’t resist sending a reply:

Harry Welty
Friday Oct. 12, 2018

Juan.

I don’t know who you are. Apparently you wish to remain anonymous. I am Harry Welty. I am a liberal in many respects as was my hero Abe Lincoln. I did smoke some weed when I was in college. And yes, I was worried for a while that this might cloud my thinking. Despite that concern, which I’ve since realized was overblown, I do not hide who I am. I live at 2101 E 4th Street in Duluth Minnesota. I have written hundred’s of thousands of words in my blog and tens of thousands for the Reader. I put my name to them. I do not hide behind a pseudonym and send out snarky anonymous one liners at people I disagree with. I am not afraid of my opinions or of making them known to the general public.

When you are willing to come out from hiding I’ll will accord your views the respect honest open opinions deserve.

Yours, with grudging respect,

Harry Welty

Here’s a cheap picture to keep you reading to the end of the post.

The DNT editors endorsed the candidate that strikes me as being the toughest challenger to Pete Stauber on the DFL side today. That’s Joe Radinovich. I can’t argue with their reasoning although its likely to make the supporters of the other four DFLer’s apoplectic. Let’s hope they don’t surrender to Pete Stauber in their disgust.

I discovered that an old acquaintance of mine, Tom West, who used to edit the DNT’s former Budgeteer has offered a brief analysis of all the Minnesota Congressional campaigns for the ECM newspapers. (East Central Minnesota papers) Tom called me a “gadfly” and I gratefully agree. Tom once offered me a job writing for the Budgeteer after reading my work in the Duluth Reader. I declined out of loyalty to Duluth’s now twenty year old tabloid.

With two weeks of campaign left before August 14th’s primary I have been shifting away from a campaign intended mostly as a symbolic stab at Donald Trump clones. My original thought that I might catch lightning in a bottle has not panned out and with two weeks left that is an all but impossible hope. Even Donald needed about half a year to dismantle the GOP Presidential contenders he faced. I am not one for irrational optimism. Back in 1982 I was a campaign manager for, Marnie Luce, a pro choice republican candidate running against the very Pro-life, Jim Oberstar, for Congress. I got in dutch with Marnie’s supporters when I told a reporter that I thought Marnie regarded the campaign as a “lark.” Sometimes one doesn’t need to tread all that heavily on the obvious.

I’ve been planting trees at our church and painting the bell tower recently. I have a second coat to apply today. Then I’ve got a weekend trip to Chicago with my family to see the musical Hamilton. My Grandson’s have come close to memorizing the lyrics and that, by itself, is worthy of a post sometime after we return. My oldest readers have noticed that for the last month or two I’ve held back writing about many of my usual subjects to focus on my “campaign” for Congress. That’s been part of my attempt to attract a lightning strike. The Duluth School Board doesn’t fit well into national politics or Donald Trump’s tweets.

But sometimes I have no choice. Today’s DNT put Art Johnston on the front page again. After eight frustrating years of trying to get the School District’s Red Plan addled administration to hand over public information about the Duluth Schools the state agency in charge of public data came down on Art’s side. Superintendent Bill Gronseth has been as stingy with this public data as Donald Trump has been of his tax records. I wonder why?

For the four years I’ve been on the school board and in my subsequent year of retirement I’ve been thinking about writing a book about how America got so dysfunctional these days. Of course, that implies some kind of Trumpian golden age. Well, there has never been such a thing. Donald Trump who dissed the loser John McCain for getting captured by the Vietnamese and who said that his personal Vietnam was avoiding venereal disease in the 1970’s might like to go back to this forgotten episode of America’s Twentieth Century history. Back in these golden days America knew which sex to put behind bars and it wasn’t the one with big hands.

Here you go media – Harry’s headshot

I’ve been remiss in contacting local papers to give them my picture for any stories they might write and publish about my Congressional campaign. In fact, I just finished a 45 minute phone interview with my favorite paper the Timberjay. I was asked to send them a head shot. Actually, I sent this particular shot to the the Duluth News Tribune a week ago because they keep using an older picture from two years ago when I was without a beard. (One of my grandsons asked me to grow it back)

Any of you other news outlets that may be peeking at this blog, feel free to lift this jpeg for use in the next three weeks unless….. Well, if I happen to defeat Pete Stauber in the primary you should feel free to use it right through to the General election in November. Sorry Pete, but my success in the primary would give the media a real human interest story of national interest and not one of yet another Trump lapdog running to inflict trade tariffs on the world’s economy.

A penny for your thoughts

After I put in my hour studying French I am going to heap abuse on the Duluth Trib for this chintzy policy. It’s worse than charging grieving families to publish an obituary.

https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/opinion/4456875-editors-note-reminder-about-paid-political-content

Now the editors at the Trib are mind readers and can tell when readers are being politically craven. They will still print such letters but they will be charging letter writers for it. How noble.

White House correspondents, our new civility police

If you type “civility” into lincolndemocrat’s search function you will discover that I find it a desirable virtue that is too often used as a means of discouraging honest discourse…..like my constant fault finding with Duluth’s ruinous Red Plan. The editors of the Duluth News Tribune have never forgiven me for doing their job.

Over the weekend the Washington press corps has been doing it’s own nose pinching over Michelle Wolf’s wickedly honest, truth telling about our President.

Guess what? Michelle’s old colleagues have nothing nice to say about the press’s craven tsk, tsk, tisking.

Enjoy:

Michelle Wolf’s Old Late-Night Bosses Come to Her Defense https://nyti.ms/2HDsDBH

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.

I subscribe to the Duluth News Tribune but…

I encourage you to help fund John Ramos who (as of this posting)is one hundred dollars short of his goal of $3600 which he is asking for to continue reporting in the Duluth Reader. And furthermore – if he’s already crossed that border I’d suggest you donate anyway.

Lending weight to this plea is this story from Florida of a man who finds himself taking his city to the Supreme Court over their Loren Martell moment.

From my post about the Martell moment:

“Last night the board passed a largely empty but right-minded policy to thwart bullying in the schools. Whoopee! Kids will get to watch a video! Maybe the Board should watch it. Just before that Chair Grover shut of[f] the microphone of a speaker who had not yet used up his allotted three minutes and had Duluth police put him in handcuffs and removed from the School Board meeting…”

Loren wasn’t actually hauled to jail but my long standing beef with the editors of the Trib still stands. They are too cozy with the ruling powers of this city. Heck, their neo-con owners failed to warn against dictator wannabe Donald Trump in their 2016 endorsements. And when it came time to defend a vocal politician’s speech the Trib’s editors could only ask Art Johnston to resign and stop bothering the Board majority when the administration conspired to ruin Art’s reputation with vile accusations. Our defenders of the First Amendment took a siesta.

If I am at war with anything it is milquetoast moderates who believe civility is the equivalent of good government. Hell no. Sometimes you do need to wave the “Don’t tread on me flag.” Sadly that flag has been claimed by waaay too many members of what Teddy Roosevelt called the “lunitic Fringe.”

I don’t agree with Mr. Ramos on everything. He’s reported the greased wheels behind the development of a kayak center in Western Duluth but I’m inclined to agree with the city councilors who made this recent case for funding it.

On the other hand no one but John reported the behind the scenes efforts to assure the plan’s passage. Neither will you find behind the scenes explanations of what’s going on in the Duluth Schools than from Loren Martel, if he chooses to continue reporting in the Reader, or me here on the blog. (by the way the Board’s new legislative platform calls for the demolition of Central High – you read it here first.)

Here is a little more transparency. Bob Boone is not thrilled by Mr. Ramos’s Go fund me site and John is not thrilled by the modest payments that Mr. Boone is able to offer him. Bob worries that his other writers might follow John’s example. I doubt that this will happen but can understand his concern. Even so I plunked a modest $100 into the fund myself. Its a fraction of the modest wages that the Trib pays its reporters who scrupulously refrain from commenting as openly about what they consider to be the ridiculous things elected officials say and do unlike John.

I hope Boone and Ramos set their differences aside. I hope Loren returns to his reporting. I have no say over either situation.

I can however direct you to Art Johnston’s trashing of the local DFL. A friend sent me this link to it in the Zenith News, yet another alternative publication. My friend thought Art sounded bitter. I agree and yet I enjoyed his mostly accurate evaluation of how the DFL runs Duluth.

As for my own writing. I’d love to be compensated. It would give me the illusion of writing something worthwhile but I don’t need it and don’t plan any Go fund me campaigns. If nothing else in the Age of Trump writing helps me keep my sanity.

As for one of the “former” education reporters at the Trib. I notice that once again today she has a piece on the local schools although not the school board. And about arming teachers……I unconditionally agree with the teachers. Donald Trump’s talk of arming them is asinine. Its a complete surrender to panic. American public schools….the next Guantanamo Prison.

Jana’s replacement

Adelle Whitefoot wrote a short story on tomorrow’s School Board meeting which will consider Nora Sandstad’s proposal to direct 80% instead of 50% of Compensatory Education funding to the schools which generate them. Good for Nora.

I emailed a comment to Adelle on the story. “Good work.”

As for Jana, Rick Lubbers informed us that she and another reporter were going to become part of an investigative reportorial team. Good luck to them both and Dig, Dig, Dig.

Anticlimactic Moody Mulch meeting and a jab back at the editors of the Trib

I am beginning my posts today with a throw away post about yesterday’s Business Committee meeting. I post it because I’ve tried to provide my ISD 709 wonks with ongoing information about the concerns of the District and mulch and District finances have both been part of that. But for me the first half of this post is strictly a chore. In eight weeks I’ll be free from an almost oppressive sense of obligation to keep readers informed.

So, here’s today’s News Trib story from soon to depart education reporter Jana Hollingsworth. (She won’t be allowed to report on ISD 709 while her Aunt sits on the Board) The headline, which Jana and her predecessors have always stressed are not the reporter’s to write, trumpets reduced costs for the mulch. In short, a simplified plan made for a $60,000 reduction in the million dollar project. This made it a little easier to swallow a $12,000 “change order “addition for the company overseeing the mulch replacement as they designed the simpler plan. Only Art Johnston objected and his qualms may be justified, however, for me this is not a battle I choose to continue.

The bigger deal was having our bond adviser explain to us how the Moody’s Investment Service downgrade of our financial status affected our borrowing for what is now to be called the Rockridge Academy. Steven Pumper said two things I found difficult to square. In response to my questioning about whether it was ultimately the state or the District taxpayers that were on the hook for bonds (or COP) repayments he explained that it fell on the state’s shoulders. He added that this meant that there was really no reason for our bonds to be downgraded forcing us to pay higher interest rates. However, he explained, Moody’s was simply giving bond buyers information that managed to raise our interest rates based on (and here I’ll insert my own words) the dimwittedness of ISD 709’s financing which has left us with virtually no reserve cushion. That last sentence almost deserves an exclamation point.

What makes this post worthwhile to me is a chance to point fingers back at the editors of the News Tribune who gratuitously gave Art Johnston and me a swift kick in the posterior the day after the election results were announced saying of us:

“Also Tuesday, voters picked a positive fresh start for the Duluth School Board, rejecting doomsday-trumpeting incumbents in favor of elected leaders who said they wouldn’t ignore the district’s very real challenges, including financial ones, but committed to working together toward solutions. It’s on the new board now to do just that. They can be held accountable, even if the task is thankless and won’t be easy.”

I consider myself an optimist not a doomsdayer. But optimism must be earned by realistically evaluating current situations. Our financially crippled Duluth Schools will continue to give lots of kids an education which will launch them into successful lives. But there will be fewer successful launches while the District lacks the adult contact time that many of our students need. That’s not a catastrophic tire blow out but it is a slow leak. Rather, I’ve always considered myself a “Cassandra.” She was an ancient Greek prophetess who predicted the future but was cursed by Apollo who made sure that no one would ever believe her prophecies.

FINGER POINT —> the Editors of the Trib who failed to heed my warnings are also flattering me by imitation by explaining opiningthat Duluth may not get permission from St. Paul to implement the sales taxes for street repair despite a whopping 76% yes vote in the recent election. As in my case I think the Editors are simply being prudent not doomsayers when they point out this glaring fact:

“It’s a good question, especially on the heels of a 31 percent water rate increase in Duluth, a 9 percent electric rate increase, revaluations of properties that are driving up property taxes by as much as 30 percent, and the coming unknown costs from Superior Street’s reconstruction and the Steam Plant’s conversion.

Like Duluth’s residents, businesses can only be asked to give so much. While fixing potholed streets is a basic city service and something voters Tuesday clearly declared as a do-it-now priority, workplace benefits are appropriately left to employer-employee negotiations. Government intervention here is government overreach. Calling on elected leaders to pick up the slack where union negotiators fail is inappropriate.”

A few weeks back I wrote a very modest column which I meant to keep the eyes of our next school board faced on the realities they will deal with so as not to find themselves mired in impossible promises to make the Duluth Schools the best schools in the nation. In that column I noted that twenty years ago local taxpayers put $14 million into our classrooms. Today we only put $2.5 million into them. That burden no longer rests on my shoulders and I’ll confess this is the first time in ten years that I’ve felt free from the responsibility of fixing things since I first predicted the District’s unhappy future.