Category Archives: Good Republicans

Justice vs Politics – RE: The possible, imminent political crises

Five years ago I began but quickly shelved an argument with the attorney I was working with who helped Let Duluth Vote challenge the Red Plan in Duluth. I told him that the law was tempered with politics. He strongly denied this, so much so I thought it useless to argue. But its true. Judges bring their political thinking and loyalties into their job just like they bring their other experiences and family connections. Many of them have to run for their offices. As is said of politicians: those who do not get elected cannot legislate, so to with judges; those who can not get elected cannot judge.

It is wishful thinking to expect all or even most judges to be blindly blind to the world around them and simply rule on the basis of sometimes out-dated or ill-worded laws when the public can throw bombs at them for doing so. Judges in India and Pakistan probably get year round police protection when they make unpopular rulings like the recent Indian Court that opened an Indian Temple recently to women of an age to menstruate.

With this prologue let me introduce the first four paragraphs of an Atlantic article on our Supreme Court’s Chief Justice John Roberts. They contain almost exactly my thinking about him. I’ve read no further than this for now but here’s the article in full and here below are those first four paragraphs: (This article appears in the March 2019 issue.)

Two years ago, Chief Justice John Roberts gave the commencement address at the Cardigan Mountain School, in New Hampshire. The ninth-grade graduates of the all-boys school included his son, Jack. Parting with custom, Roberts declined to wish the boys luck. Instead he said that, from time to time, “I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice.” He went on, “I hope you’ll be ignored, so you know the importance of listening to others.” He urged the boys to “understand that your success is not completely deserved, and that the failure of others is not completely deserved, either.” And in the speech’s most topical passage, he reminded them that, while they were good boys, “you are also privileged young men. And if you weren’t privileged when you came here, you’re privileged now because you have been here. My advice is: Don’t act like it.”

As Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s maudlin screams fade with the other dramas of 2018, Roberts’s message reveals a contrast between the two jurists. Whatever their conservative affinities and matching pedigrees, they diverge in temperament. The lingering images from Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing are of an entitled frat boy howling as his inheritance seemed to slip away. By contrast, Roberts takes care to talk the talk of humility, admonishing the next generation of private-school lordlings not to smirk.

The chief justice also carries himself in a manner that reflects his advice. He chooses his words carefully. He speaks in a measured cadence that matches his neatly parted hair and handsome smile. He is deliberate and calm, not just in his public remarks but in his work as a judge—and as a partisan. Roberts declines to raise his voice or lose focus, because he understands politics as a complex game of strategy measured in generations rather than years. He also recognizes, but will never admit, that although politics is not the same thing as law, the two blend together like water and sand. More than 13 years into his tenure as chief justice, Roberts remains a serious man and a person of brilliance who struggles, under increasing criticism from all sides, to balance his loyalty to an institution with his commitment to an ideology.

The first biography of Roberts has arrived, Joan Biskupic’s The Chief. It will not be the last. A well-reported book, it sheds new light but is premature by decades. (Biskupic is a legal analyst for CNN.) As our attention spans dwindle to each frantic day’s headlines, we can forget that the position of chief justice is one of long-term consequence. Only 17 men have filled that role, and they have presided over moments of national crisis, shaping our government’s founding structure (John Marshall), hastening its civil war (Roger Taney), responding to the Great Depression (Charles Evans Hughes), and enabling the civil-rights revolution (Earl Warren).

Roberts seems ever likelier to face an equally daunting test: confronting a president over the value of the law itself. A staunch conservative, he has broken ranks with the right in a major way just once as chief justice, by casting the deciding vote to save the Affordable Care Act in 2012. What will Roberts do if the clerk calls some form of the case Mueller v. Trump, raising a grave matter of first principles, such as presidential indictment and self-pardon? He portrays himself as an institutionalist, but we do not yet know to what extent this is true. He must necessarily prove himself on a case-by-case basis, which injects a note of drama into his movements. Roberts is the most interesting judicial conservative in living memory because he is both ideologically outspoken and willing to break with ideology in a moment of great political consequence. His response to the constitutional crisis that awaits will define not just his legacy, but the Supreme Court’s as well.

I have church to go to. I’ll edit this later re: George Bush and other stuff

This Harry’s Diary post didn’t start out with a title drawing attention to my dawdling over posts. But its a good reminder to my eight loyal readers that I don’t always consider my posts finished even at first posting……and here’s a pic of the cookies we decorated for shut ins at Glen Avon Presbyterian last night.

I watched the funeral for President George H W Bush this afternoon. Last night I watched, for the first time, the two-hour American Experience program about George Bush. It is at least ten years old. I learned some new things most of which softened me up toward the man I wouldn’t vote for in 1992.

Although I voted for George and Ron in 1984 George lost my support initially when he joined the Reagan campaign as the VP candidate. In 1980 I couldn’t bring myself to vote for a Democrat so I voted for Independent candidate John Anderson.

My principle grievance is simple. As Reagan’s successors turned their back on Reagan’s “big tent,” George Bush could only succeed by being complicit in the new GOP regime’s marginalization of moderates like me and like George Bush had once been. Where has the party of Lincoln gone?

I was reminded of this during my ongoing process of reorganizing my office files today. In a folder labeled “Crazy Republicans” was this newspaper clipping: Reuter’s story. 30 percent of Republicans considered Obama a worse threat than Russia. Holy S’moley!!!!!!!

It has been reported that the Clintons and Trump did not shake hands when Donald made his sulky appearance at George Bush’s funeral. I don’t blame them. He led cheers of “Lock her up.” at his rallies. That’s close to the equivalent of saying “F*** America” considering that over half of the votes went for Hilary Clinton in 2016. Think of that – Trump’s “Republicans” wanted to jail the American that half of America voted for for President. Is it any wonder that Hillary’s supporters are licking their lips at the prospect that the President who led that cheer might himself face a life behind bars? Would Pence pardon him? I wonder. It cost Jerry Ford the Presidency in 1976.

Although winnowing my voluminous files has been my primary activity for the past few weeks I managed to crank out a new column for tomorrow’s Reader. Its called 100 pints of blood. I also applied to renew my substitute teaching license. Returning to the classroom, even as a sub, has intrigued me for the past twenty years. I chatted with 709’s Human Resource Director for a summary of how to go about doing it. It turned out to be pretty simple.

Among the items I reorganized yesterday were the documents from my legal challenge to the District in 2009 “Welty et al” vs. the Duluth School District and Johnson Controls. I rediscovered one of our attorney’s discoveries which greatly amused me.

The current School Board’s attorney, Kevin Rupp, had a hand in that case defending the Board against me and four other plaintiffs. In the Trib he claimed that a school district could not be sued for violating its own policies. Here’s what the plaintiffs attorney, Craig Hunter, discovered:

This only amplifies my frustration at not having been successful in severing our School board’s ties with Rupp’s firm when I served on the School Board. NOTE: Readers of this blog will find ample examples of my jaundiced view of Mr. Rupp’s legacy in this blog.

And while our lawsuit fell apart for reasons pinned to Mr. Hunter he had the District scared witless while single-handedly fighting off dozens of attorneys for three top legal firms. I found Craig a sensible and honorable man. I’d hire him in a flash if I needed legal help again.

41 RIP

I have never shaken the hand of a President of the United States. I did shake the hand of one Vice President. But the less said about that the better. I have, however, shaken the hand of one man who later became President – George Herbert Walker Bush.

Today the late President will get his due in stories all across the world. One reporter who covered him described him as a very nice man. Before he ran for the Presidency, in a bid that pitted him against the more telegenic Ronald Reagan, he had been described as the the best prepared person ever to run for President. Among them were his appointment to head the Republican National Committee during the Nixon Administration and ambassador to China. The latter position was during Nixon’s Trump-like struggle, to achieve something spectacular to help him escape a crisis enveloping his presidency.

George Bush got an early start on a political career by being THE youngest combat pilot of World War II. It actually began even earlier than that. His father, Prescott Bush, was a US Senator representing Connecticut. As such he was part of an all but extinct founding branch of the Republican Party – Northeasterners. In their heyday they championed Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller and a socially liberal point of view.

I trace the current crumbling of the GOP to George Bush and others who rather than stick up for their ideals put tape on their mouths as Ronald Reagan invited white southern politicians in to the Party of Lincoln after the Democratic Party’s championing of Civil Rights made them feel unwelcome in that party.

The evolution of the Party in my lifetime has led to the release of a new toxicity represented by the email I received which I put in my previous post with its casual use of the most forbidden word of my childhood, the “N” word.

George Bush was not temperamentally part of that transformation other than his deplorable Willie Horton ad. In fact, by temperament Bush was almost the antithesis of an egotistical politician. His mother taught him not to talk about himself. Christopher Buckley, the son of the conservative icon William Buckley, a speechwriter for Bush and clever novelist tells the charming story of being invited to Bush’s home while the President’s mother was present. When her son began telling some very interesting stories of his many remarkable experiences the mother interrupted him to scold that he was talking too much about himself.

Considering the occupant of today’s White House that anecdote, all by itself, suffices to show how far today’s America has driven off the rails.

But in 1980 I wanted a champion for common sense and moderate Republican values. At first I was a big supporter of George HW Bush. My first visit to the Kitchi Gammi Club was to meet with a group of Bush supporters for his Presidential campaign. That gathering place more than anything demonstrates just how out of touch my kind of Republicans of that era were.

When Reagan blew past Bush I set my sights on the Independent candidacy of the Illinois Republican Congressman John Anderson. But before Bush signed on to be Ronald Reagan’s Vice President and I wrote him off I drove to Minneapolis to get a look at Bush up close. I am no longer sure where I saw him but I think it was the U of M’s Northrup Hall. Claudia and I went over and I shook his hand.

From Lincoln to the Anti-Christ

Getting ready for Winter. Studying French. Contemplating a new school board race. A War in Opera. Bringing Lincoln back to the Republican Party. Science.

Its a little hard to take time to write my own book with so many fires burning inside my head. Yesterday I texted back and forth with a former fan who has been turning out to be one of Trump’s fans. Its hard not to be snarky in such texts and I’ve thought of copying and reproducing them in the blog but there is only so much time for me the blogger and my eight loyal readers. This fellow’s thoughts remind me of the new neighbor kid I met in 1963 when I moved to the all white North Mankato. He was fascinated to learn that I had gone to school with Negroes. He tried out a great new joke on me:

“Did you hear about the little Negro kid who was excited for Halloween? He was going to strip naked with a stick up his butt and go as a fudgescicle.”

It sounds like a Donald Trump joke.

And as of this writing I’m still not sure that the 2018 election joke won’t be on us “Never-Trumpers.” If it is then my work will be set for the remainder of my life. On the eve of becoming 68 that should give me 20 years to help turn America back around towards civic decency.

In looking forward I will continue to look to the past:

When I was about 15 my Mother was going back to college. She was busy earning the college Degree her father despaired of her ever finishing when she married two years into her first college experience and plunged into the baby boom years. This is a pen and ink she did of my gangling body at rest in my Grandfather’s “Lincoln Rocker.”

So, from the earliest age I was taught to revere the best President in our Nation’s history and then live to experience what I hope will come to seen as our nation’s closest brush with despotism.

We haven’t yet lived to see this become history but we will just as a once living secular saint was martyred to become a great historical argument.

I found this short extract on Lincoln’s biographers just now by the author of one of my two or three favorite books about Lincoln by Joshua Zeitz.

I’ve pulled it out of my Lincoln bookshelf along with my other favorites for this picture:

lunch….will finish later.

HOW ABOUT THAT!!!! Former Senator David Durenberger is on MPR talking about his book about Minnesota’s history of Progressive Republicanism. Here’s the link to the interview. His book is one my companion at my recent three and a half hour lunch sent me an email about. A jackass Republican leader called Durenberger a “quisling” a few years ago for putting his own values (and mine) over those of the new Jesse Helm’s inspired Republican Party that Donald Trump has taken hold of and further corrupted.

Ah, but back to my stream of thought. Here’s my Lincoln Library.

I began this post with a list of things going on in my head. I ain’t going to get there now. Evangelical Christians are championing the Anti-Christ and I’ve got twenty years to point that out.

Anyone wishing to restore the Lincoln legacy is encouraged to read a couple books about Lincoln whose quotes are legend including this favorite:

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side,” said the President, “my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

and presumably God is not a Republican!

“Now I know where [Karin Housely] gets [her] bad habits.”

US Senate candidate, Karen Housley, who the Duluth News Tribune endorsed “for a “bit of balance” has a bad habit. She compares black women to chimpanzees.

Maybe Karin was the co-star in the movie. If so, she’s aged well except for the Alzheimer’s and racism.

And to think I starred with Chuck Frederick in the movie preview for the story about the Duluth lynchings.

Oh, and I just learned that the Duluth School District has blocked my blog from its students. Maybe they should do the same for the Duluth News Tribune. There’s all sorts of stuff on their editorial page our children should probably not be reading.

The America that Bret Kavanaugh helped make..


…elected Donald Trump.
………

At the moment it is 4:30 am in France. I am only miles away from where another man – who was helping to make the America that really is great – fought and was awarded the nation’s highest military honor. My eight loyal readers know him as my grandfather – George Robb.

Whether I fall asleep again or not tomorrow – today- I will walk over some of the ground he trod as his friends and fellow soldiers were being blown to dust and blood all around him. And I can’t sleep because I woke up thinking about that smarmy little skunk Bret (pay no attention to that frat rat rapist in the closet) Kavanaugh is invading my pilgrimage to remind me what’s at stake back in the land my Grandfather helped make!

Well, I have a lot to say on that account but having mostly bit my tongue about Trump World to write about my pilgrimage I had to go find a quiet place in my latest hotel room to get that off my chest. I am going to try to get a little more shut eye before walking the path of heroes who’s blood once soaked into this land.

The Reader

At the insistence of the Duluth Reader’s publisher I quit submitting my by weekly column when I filed for the Eighth District Congressional Seat. Heaven’s forbid that my dotty columns might pose a journalistically unfair threat to Donald Trump’s local pet Pete Stauber. The Reader, unlike Fox News, really tries to be “fair and balanced.” I was originally tendered my Not Eudora spot to be a “conservative” voice against the many liberal voices happily volunteering to keep the Northland informed. At the time these liberal voices considered the Trib to be rabidly conservative. (I have to pause briefly to laugh a little)

Actually writing even one column once every two weeks is more work than I could easily handle while occasionally poking Pete Stauber in the ribs, studying French, escorting family on trips and planning for next weeks departure for France. Now the later looms. My wife and I will board the plane one week from today.

I had originally thought I would submit a weekly column about France while I was away. I didn’t know if the Reader would want them or not. I’ve just decided to submit two columns on my travels instead – one every other week. I will likely blog daily about my travels for my eight loyal readers. To do so I will need to take my computer because posting from my cell phone, while possible, is a pain…….and I don’t mean a loaf of french bread.

The logo above is a computer graphic I used 18 years ago as a newbie Internet enthusiast to help get people to the caucuses to choose delegates for John McCain in his first run for the Republican nomination. The creeps, trolls and assassins who made Donald Trump an accidental Republican President were already at work back then slandering McCain. When he was slandered out of the running I only had a few pathetic Republican breaths left in me. I ran for the legislature as a republican in 2002 but I was not like the usual Republican suspects today.

I have roughed out a few words on the column I’ll be sending into the Reader later tonight. Polishing them up and last minute organizing for my trip are on today’s docket. Finishing a book on America’s involvement in World War 1 will take up the following days.

Gotta get started.

My Kind of Loser

John McCain is on his death bed. The news has it that he is no longer accepting treatment for his cancer and that his family is gathering together. Although he was not a perfect vessel for my moderate version of Republicanism he was the last Republican I could enthusiastically throw my heart to. In 2000 as the caucuses for the Presidential election grew close I became one of his early organizers from my home and started a webpage to encourage his supporters to go to the caucuses. I just found it in the Wayback Machine a service devoted to keeping old websites from evaporating into the void.

https://web.archive.org/web/20010127085800/http://snowbizz.com:80/CaucusMcCain/CaucusMccain.htm

I’ve been casting about for a subject to write about in my return to Not Eudora. Thinking about our current draft dodger President who called Senator McCain a “loser” while on his merry way to sullying our nation’s Oval Office I know just what to write. My next column will be about my kind of loser.

Jennifer’s third Question, re: affiliation

Also, what’s up with your party affiliation? You were a Republican. Then, the party abandoned you, so then you’re a Democrat. But now you’re running as a Republican. ARE you a Republican again now? Why should I, Jane Q. Voter, vote for you when your party affiliation is prone to such cussedly diametrical opposites? I’m a Democrat/Republican—c’mon, I want to vote for someone I know is on the team for real!

Jennifer,

I am an American first and foremost. That is my primary affiliation. And I’ve always cast my vote with America not a mere political party in mind. That has meant my votes for candidates from both parties as well as a few independent candidates. And Remember that George Washington, a model of humility, fidelity and honesty as well as the first President of our nation, was worried for good reason about political parties. He called them “factions”. He imagined that like in France during the Revolution such factions could cause much mischief and he was right. They damn near tore the nation apart leading up to the Civil War. They seem to be trying to replicate that experiment now.

I’m sure you have read many of my posts on Good Republicans or God’s Own Party or the Bush Leagues Those are nothing if not a lament for a very different Republican Party. I’ve been struggling for a quarter century trying to reconcile a great party’s history with what it has become.

As I have written before. I like Democrats. I tried being one for five or six years. I’d simply prefer liking them as my fellow Americans rather than as a cheap imitation of the good things that Democrats stand for.

Email – wishes I was a Republican

This is a message I just got from an old high school classmate whose family bought my family’s old Mankato, Minnesota Home:

I wrote about this a long time ago here.

06/12/18 11:07 AM
Dear Harry, I read your article about Trump the racist in the Duluth Reader. You are spot on about that guy–what a disgrace. The Free Press had an article today about him coming to Duluth, all he will do is talk about himself. It also mentioned that you are running for Congress. Good luck! (I still think you should run as a Democrat.) Be sure to come to our 50th reunion! Details will come later. Your old house is doing just fine. Harley and I ramble around in it but it does fill up with grandchildren and other visitors now and then. *****

This was my reply:

Hi *****,

That’s a great house to fill with grandchildren. We’ve got two. I’m sure I’ll try to make it to number 50.

I left the GOP a little before Obama. I enjoyed being a Democrat that year and miss him as our president. As for my running as a Democrat. Gee. I can’t forget what Will Rogers said. “I don’t belong to any organized party…….I’m a Democrat.” I fear they are about to reelect Trump and that thought gives me the heebie jeebies.

In the 50 years since I got to good old Mankato High the two parties political handlers winnowed and cleansed them of dissenters and orignial thinkers year by year until they became like the Skeksies and the Mystics in that movie by Henson “The Dark Crystal.”

We won’t be whole again as a nation until some liberal thinkers are Republicans and some conservative thinkers are Democrats or some other two party system develops that don’t act like opposites. We need the Dark Crystals missing shard to be replaced.

I can’t predict the future but I can take the party my family was long affiliated with and try to inject some humility, common sense and decency into it.

Harry