Category Archives: Lincoln

The elephant in the DFL screening room

I had a jolly good time at the screening committee. I knew several of the screeners some of whom may have been surprised to see me turn up. It was that way at my first DFL Precinct caucus which I think was 2006.

At that first caucus I joined about 30 folks in a classroom at Woodland Middle School. Eyebrows were raised there as well as DFLers know their Republicans. It was odd but comforting as well as for the first time in twenty years I actually voted in a majority on a great many issues which had become verboten for Republicans. I attended about four election cycles of DFL caucuses and the 2008 caucus was probably the highlight of my political life with its huge Barack Obama turnout. It was a heady experience being in a majority at the following District convention when Obama won handily.

Readers of my Blog know that while I rant and rave about Republicans I have fond recollections of the party of my youth. I liked Ike, a fellow Kansan. I loved National Parks so, of course, I liked Teddy, and agnostic old Abe is my all time hero. Long after Lincoln Dinners were abandoned by Dixie-saturated Republicans I was charmed to hear a DFL gathering speak of Abraham with something approaching reverence.

But it was Harry Welty, not Abraham Lincoln, who crashed the screening committee. I joked with the folks I knew and with the people I didn’t. I blamed the Republicans for electing Donald Trump. I told them I would be honored to be an endorsed Democrat on the Duluth School Board even while adding I still didn’t think endorsements for non-partisan races was necessarily the best idea.

I told the screeners that I wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but that I didn’t believe in conducting myself by (and here I licked my finger and stuck it up in the air) testing the wind. I told those new to me that I hid nothing and that everything I stood for I had put into this blog.

I also was asked to explain my ambiguous sounding answer to Question #12: Will you abide by the endorsement of the convention and cease your campaign if someone else is endorsed?

My answer: “I will follow the honorable example of DFL Governors Rolvaag, Perpich and Dayton.”

The explanation I gave to the screener was this: All three of these DFL Governors ran for the state’s highest office without the endorsement of the DFL state convention.

Of course, none of these candidates had ever been affiliated with the Republican Party. Elephants are no more useful to the DFL than they are to Ringling Brother’s, Barnum and Bailey Circus these days.

Of course, Ronald Reagan didn’t mind adding lots of jackasses to the GOP when he was President and they proved pretty useful: From Wikipedia: Continue reading

An ounce of prevention

I’m just shy of half way through Destiny of the Republic. Garfield has had one bit of luck before derangement wins the day. His self-appointed tormentor Senator Conkling, a preening bully of a man, has just overplayed his hand right out of the United States Senate. What should be the path to well deserved reform and fame for the President will soon give way to what I found when I moved to North Mankato in 1963. Oblivion.

That fall I began three ignominious years at Garfield Junior High. No one called it that. It was always “North Mankato Junior High” the martyred President having been all but forgotten in the intervening 84 years. Within three months of my enrollment a fourth President would be assassinated.

Destiny has done a wonderful job of describing Garfield’s addled assassin Charles Guiteau. The Congress had made Garfield all the new President all the more vulnerable by cutting the Secret Service’s budget by half shortly before Garfield took office. Their job wasn’t to protect the President anyway back then. They were set up to go after counterfeiters.

Lincoln had been murdered fifteen years before. William McKinley would be murdered twenty years later and Teddy Roosevelt would be saved the same fate when a fat little speech in his breast pocket stopped a bullet not long afterwards. It was a bad run of luck for Republican Presidents.

I mentioned the importance of perspective in the last post. I am annoyed by the vast unexpected sums that are being required to protect our new President and his globe hopping family. There has been a whole raft of news stories on that subject. I have little choice but to support what it takes to keep our President safe. I’m pinning my hopes on impeachment but until then I am relying on Seth Meyers.

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.

Debating red flags

My Debate over the Constitution with my Buddy:

——– Original message ——–
From: “Your Buddy”
Date: 2/10/17 10:02 AM (GMT-06:00)
To: Harry Welty
Subject: Raising my flag to America’s judiciary |


Since you are raising your flag to America’s judiciary — see

also see

Further, you said:
. . . I wonder if his [Trump’s] Supreme Court nominees would agree. After-all, most of them will be fans of “originalism” which exalts our Founder’s 18th century notions of Constitutional interpretation which, among other things . . .

I suspect that Scalia would say that he favored construing the text of the Constitution, instead of trying to otherwise divine what the “notions” of the founders might have been. Isn’t that why we have laws in writing?

[Your Buddy]

To which I replied:


How is construing different from divining?


My Buddy’s riposte:


Construing or diving what? How are unwritten “notions”, construed or divined? Words, too, can be slippery, but they seem to be more fixed than notions; and we have the words; but where or how do we find and ascertain what the notions were?

Say what you mean, and mean what you say?

Your Buddy

And my reply:


This gets to the old issue of the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law. I think both are important. However, I think Scalia shortchanged the “spirit” of the law. In 1860 Scalia would have had no patience with Lincoln’s contention that the Declaration of Independence suggested that blacks and whites should be regarded as sharing the same rights. In 1954 he would probably have panned the decision of Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education.

I also suspect that from Bush v Gore to Citizen’s United Scalia tried to hide his political leanings behind his worship of “originalism” while suggesting that he was somehow holier than his colleagues who were less reverent towards the Constitution.

[Scalia] was a Roger B. Taney not an Earl Warren.



Mr. Robot and the paranoia that knows even a Lincoln fails the sainthood test

I have to go to church. I’ll finish and proof read this later……probably not till tonight after we watch another episode of Mr. Robot with our daughter and son in law. My hero Lincoln will be making an appearance in a less than saintly light…….doesn’t change my mind about him in the slightest, if you are worried for me.

As I begin this I’m listening to NPR and one of their surprising little stories. It’s about country music singer Dwight Yoakum and his new album “Swimming Pools Movie Stars”. Anyone of my vintage will recognize those lyrics of the Beverly Hillbillies instantly.

The surprise came when he was asked why Prince’s Purple Rain is on it. He explained that while he was recording with his band Prince died and the Minneapolis singer’s signature song was playing along with the news. The band was bummed and went back to their studio and figured out how to play the song in a private evening’s tribute not meant for anything other than a night’s reflection. Later when the producers of the album they’d been working on noticed a tape labeled “Purple Rain” they urged him to put it on the album which was otherwise composed of his “back catalogue”of “older releases.” Yokum decided it would be a fingerprint of the times the album was being put together.
It was a revelation to hear Prince’s masterpiece as country western.

My children are of the Occupy Wall street Era even if they didn’t camp out and protest the system. Therefore it’s a bit of a role reversal that my wife and I found and recommended the latest binge-worthy Television offering to them – Mr. Robot – and not the other way around. It tells a story that fits in with the Bernie Sanders movement with its paranoia about corporate overreach. The hero is both brilliant, modest, schizophrenic and a world explodingly good computer hacker. We watched another episode last night, number three from season 2.

Just before we watched it Claudia called me down as she was cooking our latest Blue Apron meal because she thought I would like the latest “History Detectives” on PBS that had just begun. I surely did. It focused on an event from the Civil War’s aftermat the sinking of the Riverboat Sultana that cost the lives of 2000 unfortunate Federal troops being taken home after their release from the infamous Andersonville Prison.
For the last century and a half there has been a great interest in the mystery of its sinking. You can find it here.

The show made a convincing case that President Lincoln shared much of the blame for this terrible accident even though it took place over a week after his assassination. They made a good case and he bore a lot more responsibility for it than Hillary Clinton did over Benghazi.
The chaos of difficult political times covers a lot of ground and the President had no way of knowing how his actions would permit a political underling to put so many innocent lives at risk.

As is so often the case the twenty-four hours between starting and finishing a post (this one) has washed out much of what I was eager to blather on about so I’ll just cut to the chase.

Lincoln made many of his decision based on political exegincies (nescessities) based on his conviction that he and not George McClellan should remain President to continue the war to preserve the Union. Every war time president has faced similar choices.

My Chum’s chum

It’s been a sobering week in the news. During our church service today our old pastor read St. Francis of Assisi’s famous prayer.

Like many others I watched the Facebook video of the aftermath of four bullets pumped into a St. Paul man because of a frightened Minnesota policeman. I feel as helpless as the little girl in the back seat of that car trying to comfort her Mother. And yet this was not Memphis in 1968. This was not Detroit in 67. It wasn’t even Rodney King. Not even close. Not even in Dallas. Racial progress might be as Malcolm X described it: the slow pulling of a knife out of the back of black America, but it is coming out.

Yesterday I got a call back from the folks putting a teaser together in hopes of getting some interest in Hollywood to produce the screenplay about the infamous 1920 lynching in Duluth. One of its heroes is going to be a cop just as it was in fact. In my audition I read for the part of a cook behind a cafe counter. I’ll go back for another follow up audition. If the movie is ever made I won’t be in it. The teaser will be filmed but anyone producing the film will want real actors if the screenplay is actually optioned. Call this my small answer to bringing about racial concord. I’m not a fan of rose tinted glasses.

Lots of tongues have been clicking since recent events. My Buddy sent me a blog post suggesting that Obama failed to heal America’s racial divide. I think his Presidency has actually vastly improved race relations. For one thing large numbers of black Americans are feeling like they are seeing some success in the economy. Many of them don’t give Obama credit for this but he is seen as having been a “credit to the race” to use an old fashioned turn of phrase. I was actually more annoyed with the many comments snearing at Obama that followed this post. Enough so that I sent in my own comment:

A friend sent me this Althouse Post. Its nitpicking of an NY Times writer for failing to knock Obama for bringing racial healing to America thus leaving it to an incompetent Trump and HC to do what he failed to to annoys me because it puts all the blame on Obama for the failure. He should have walked on water because his critics, like Herod in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, all sneered that he was the new Messiah. Well, If the old Messiah, son of God, couldn’t make us play nicely, it seems unfair to demand that the black son of a white Kansas mother put an end to a 300-year history of race problems without any help from the other side of the political aisle.

That other side?

At his first address to Congress he was interrupted with a cry of “liar.” The Senate’s GOP leader said his party’s first job would be to unseat Obama in 2008 after a honeymoon that ended with Obama’s taking the oath of office. To that end the blue states all enacted identification requirements assuring that poor and minority voters would have a harder time casting future ballots. But racial disharmony is all the President’s fault.

My Mother always told me it takes two to have a fight. The readers of this blog remind me of the circle of kids you always find at a fight in a playground and they are pretty much on the same side. They are big on catcalls but not so big on reflection. Althouse, What are you doing to help fix America’s sorry racial history besides tossing out chum?

I sort of thought about going to a worship service at Duluth’s St. Mark’s AME church this afternoon to pray for the fallen. Instead I wrote this post and will now climb my scaffolding to scrape and paint my house. I have rented the scaffolding for another five days. You can only make progress when you have something to stand on. The Republicans used to have Lincoln to stand on. As I wrote when I first started this blog: I took Lincoln with me.

Olive’s Egg

This is Olive’s Egg. It was an impulse buy I couldn’t resist while we were shepherding our grandson’s around St. Paul’s Como Park Zoo.

I didn’t believe the little sign by the two ostrich eggs in the Zoo’s shop that explained that they were eggs laid by the Zoo’s ostrich Olive that had been blown out by zoo staff. They were marked at less than twenty dollars. I picked them up and they were solid like porcelain and remarkably heavy with a tiny hole where the yolk had been sucked out. I bought it as well as a sisal bowl to make sure it didn’t roll off any surface on which I would place it. The price seemed so reasonable for a bit of exotica.

I am not immune to impulse buys but I’m generally reasonably resistant to them. I also bought a 1000 piece puzzle of Tutankhamun’s mask at the Science Museum. (It tied in with our visit to the Mummy exhibit) Buying puzzles on trips has become a habit over the past decade for putting together at Christmas Time. I didn’t find a puzzle in Israel so this will represent my travels this year when we all get together in December. These objects were the culmination of a busy buying week which started last week when we took our grandson’s to the Duluth Depot to see the replica funeral car that carried Abraham Lincoln from Washington DC to his final resting place at Springfield, Illinois. I had meant to write about it last week in one of four posts I never got around to. So far they rest as incomplete stubs a few posts back of this one.

There was a Duluth Public Library book sale across the street and we decided to go over to see if there were any good books to buy and to find something about Abraham to read to our grandsons. While Claudia searched the children’s section for Lincolnalia I perused the history books on sale. I found two paperbacks for a buck apiece and bought them much to the annoyance of one of the folks at the change table who groused that I wasn’t taking nearly enough books away. Both were about the origins of the Civil War. One on the Gold Rush’s role and the other on the conflict on the Kansas/Missouri border. I later bought a third book about the California Earthquake by Simon Winchester to get change for my parking meter.

I don’t consider book buying history books to be an impulse buy. The first book I dived into was the one on California. It had a fascinating first chapter………….more to come. Church now. Completion and editing later.

That first chapter told about the killing of an anti-slavery US Senator by a pro-slavery California Supreme Court Justice in a duel. The author Leonard Richards is a Californian and he’d never heard of this fact as a school kid. He’s a pretty prolific author and even wrote a book I think I was interested to by on the life of former President John Quincy Adams when he was later elected to serve a couple decades in the US House of Representatives. It was nominated for a Pulitzer.

History is a labyrinth and when you go down one corridor you pass up entrances to many others and that has consumed much of the past two weeks for me. I’m also dipping further into the Pulizer winner American Lion about Andrew Jackson. In many ways the war against Slavery began in earnest with Jackson, the slave owner, and his outflanking of his Vice President John C. Calhoun the champion of State’s Rights. I blame the latter for the take no prisoner stance of the GOP on that issue – unless. that is, some State veers dangerously towards gun regulation. By the way Lincoln based much of his legal argument against Secession on Andrew Jackson the long time opponent of his hero Henry Clay.

In resuming that book I ran across the name Bancroft and got lost in a Wikipedia search for a couple hours leading to the namesake of the Bancroft Prize. That led me to his book Slave Trading in the Old South and a book “The Beginnings of the Bible Belt Southern Cross” and another about how slavery and modern capitalism were inextricably linked.

I ordered them all. God knows where I’ll find room for them on my bookshelves let alone time to read them all.

The sum of my bookish endeavors has had one salutary result. My Grandson’s know I revere Honest Abe. The little one had his grandmother read two books in a row about him after our visit to the funeral car and the library and he bought me a walking Abe Lincoln Head for Father’s Day. The older one spent hours making me a Perler Bead Lincoln.

As it said on my old Business Card “Those who do not know the past are condemned to repeat it.” I hope I do better by my grandsons than I did by their Uncle who I swear turned up his nose at all the social sciences to teach me a lesson. Learning about the past can be a drag. At lease my son didn’t call for a boycott of the new version of the Television Series “Roots.”

What a Dogg!

Fifth Day of Christmas B

Tonight my daughter invited me to take advantage of her educator’s discount at a Scholastic Books sale.

I was looking for books I might read especially to younger grades but didn’t find quite what I was looking for. Instead I bought three books that appealed to me as an adult and as a historian. As I came home with them I wondered if I could paste them together in a little bedtime history lesson for my older grandson. It was asking something of a seven-year old to listen to history when he was looking forward to the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid but he told me he liked history and gave me permission to be pedantic. Continue reading

5th Day of Christmas

I’m imperfect. That is something we all are encouraged to accept in the message of the man whose birth we celebrate at this time of year. My own ongoing imperfections were outlined in this letter today in the Trib. (So far I’ve only read the headline and the Author’s name. I will have ample time to do read it in the coming day and ample time to reflect on it over the course of the coming year.)

Why have I been too busy to pour over the paper? Well, I’ve been watching Box Car Children this morning with my grandsons one of whom I just delivered to his daycare. Yesterday I played a three-hour marathon of Monopoly with the older boy. I think its been twelve or more years since I last played the game. The Tan Man clobbered me and, like most seven-year olds, derived much satisfaction in his triumph. He was staying with us because he had a fever and couldn’t go to school. We were just pulling grandparent duty and that duty continues today. I hear him and his Grandmother now playing Angry Birds downstairs.

This will be my last mention of politics for the Season and, as it all relates to me, I think I’m safe in doing so without damaging the spirit of good will that these posts are meant to foster. Its a spirit rather well embodied in the paper mache figure (pictured above) that my Mother sculpted twenty years ago.

Last night I received an email subject titled “Control Freakish”.

It read in part:

Hi Harry,

I’m growing concerned at the amount of control you are trying to assert over this whole political pot hole mess.  You really shouldn’t be advocating to people to not speak their minds. To leave meetings to go request people not speak at the board meeting is completely counter productive towards the goal of wanting people to be more involved, and getting people to speak up is a constant battle. Not enough people, including myself, speak out. Now you are running around requesting people not do it? That is not cool….

From afar, I’m seeing you get obsessed and absorbed by a political in the end, as I believe others are only going to see you as a person who is manipulative and scheming.

I responded in part:

If I fail this is what I think I face:

Raising a hundred thousand dollars. Spending all my time with lawyers in court and no time time in schools. A community civil war. Years of delay in fixing the financial drain that the Red Plan has been. Making half of Duluth hate me and the rest of the School Board for the damned good reason that we have placed our vanity above the interests of the children we were elected to serve.

This explains my reluctance to imperil my diminishing hope for peace. And you are wrong. I do have some control over things. My Mom always told me it takes two sides to fight. I’m just not taking any swings right now.

God damn me. God damn every one of us.

Had I been a little more reflective I would have concluded: “God save me. God save every one of us.”

My Mother, whose own father was the elected State Auditor of Kansas for 24 unblemished years, often told me that she wished I would not go into politics. Its really her own fault that I did. When I told her in Junior High, at the time I was reading JFK’s “Profiles in Courage,” that I was ugly she turned my adolescent insecurity on its head. She didn’t argue and tell me that I was pretty . Instead she told me that Abraham Lincoln was a terribly homely man. That idea came as a shock to me. I’d looked at his pictures in those years following the Civil War’s Centennial hundreds of time. I especially remember pouring over all his photo portraits in a Life magazine article in 1961 or 62. All I had ever seen in his photographs was nobility, sagacity, resolve and in a few of them a small hint of mischief. My Mother helped me see Lincoln the way people of his time saw him in the gruesome cartoons they drew of him. Because of my Mother my new attitude was “By God, if I’m ugly why should I let that bother me?”

Appearances are often deceiving. In this Season might all ask ourselves why we still worship a pathetic man who was executed in the most humiliating way his own followers could possibly imagine. And yet, despite that degradation, even Kings like Good King Wenceslas would come to emulate and worship the Carpenter.

Putting ISD 709 out of my head…

…yeah, Sure.

I said in a recent post that I planned to spend a couple days in Florida not thinking about the District. Well that worked for the first day until I got a phone call from a concerned teacher followed by an ally. Thinking about the District took up my mind for the rest of that day and moments from that point on no matter what else I was doing, attending church, dining out, deep sea fishing even. Except when I was reading.

I finished the Pulitzer winner The Bully Pulpit on the flight out and began an engrossing book Lincoln’s Boys. Tonight a day after returning to Duluth I’m sixty-one pages away from finishing that one. That’s far enough along that I added it to my reading list page for 2014. I’ll finish it tomorrow.

I’ve had another mentally taxing day. I went out for coffee with one of my fellow Board members and we spent four hours talking. I only have one more Board member left to meet with one on one and she has agreed to do the same. As I try to sort out what to do to set the Duluth School District on the right course I’m keen to compare how other good politicians got things done. Bully Pulpit gave me two examples in William Howard Taft and Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln offers me another. I’m going with Lincoln.

Zeitz’s book is yet another superlative book on Lincoln and especially the initial writers of his many early biographies. I’ve been devouring it. There is much I’d like to write about it but my brain was doing well to put this brief posting out. Maybe I’ll add a bit more tomorrow although that day will be busy too.

Oh yeah, Despite dismal postings My April visitors managed to top my much busier March Blog. I almost feel guilty for my silence.

Lincoln’s Boys

This interview on MPR piqued my interest in yet another book on Abe Lincoln.

I didn’t hear it all but I heard enough and was impressed yet again how a subject so close to my heart can still contain great surprises.

The gist of the interview was that after his death Lincoln was still considered a bit of a hayseed/buffoon even if a saintly one. The immediate historians of the Civil War gave all the credit for the Union victory to the likes Sec of State Seward or the War Secretary Stanton or General Grant.

I knew two things about Lincoln’s reputation after the war. In the North he was wedded with George Washington for having saved the United States of America. You can find him pictured in subsequent paintings looking down from heaven alongside Washington. The other view was less charitable. Many in the South looked upon him as a despoiler for letting Sherman march to the sea and leveling the south in a 300 mile wide swath to win his victory.

Missourian Harry Truman acknowledged that his Grandmother hated Lincoln seventy-five years later. To this day the Republican Party has become so entwined with the South that Lincoln has almost ceased to be mentioned in GOP circles. That’s quite a fall since the GOP was once regarded as “the Party of Lincoln.”

I’m preparing to get back into the last 400 pages of Bully Pulpit and there are other books circling my calendar waiting for me to pick them up including Herndon’s Lincoln but Abe’s Boys sounds fascinating.

The author Joshua Zeitz maintains that Lincoln’s two secretaries were furious that Abraham was given short shrift by contemporary historians and wanted, after a wretched thirty years of maligning, to correct the histories and give the Union Victory its true champion, Abe Lincoln. Upon reflection I can believe this but I had not known how debased Abe’s currency was in the aftermath of the war.

Which more contemporary Presidents might enjoy a similar historical resurgence in posthumous popularity? I don’t know. I’m just glad Abe finally got his due. Maybe he’ll even be rehabilitated in the Grand Old Party someday.

Happy sesquicentennial birthday to the Gettysburg Address

Four score (4 x 20) and seven years ago I was a quarter century from being born (87 – 62).

So I can’t very well let this day slip away without some comment on this blog. I began the Gary Will’s book about the Address a few years ago but quit a few chapters in. I got the point though. Lincoln really did give the US a new birth of freedom by seriously applying the Jeffersonian declaration of man’s equality to the nation he was busy sewing back together. To me its a large tragedy that the Grand Old Party has turned its back on Old Abe.

I enjoyed this short interview with the Columbia University historian Eric Foner and the reading of the Address by a rotation of NPR voices that followed.

I also heartily recommend the movie “Twelve Years a Slave.” Claudia and I drove to the Twin Cities after the election to catch our breath and see the movie before it got to Duluth. It makes clear the helplessness of identifiably black Americans in the pre civil war South.

Honest Abe 3

This is why the old School Board will live in infamy until today’s Duluthians go to their graves. I wasn’t the only one clipping stories and evidence out of the paper and elsewhere:

My ally replied to my second post with a third email titled: “Nancy N’s prediction” My ally had found one of the confident predictions of then School Board member Nancy Nilsen. Its pretty damning coming from a self-described financial expert.

Found in a quote about how the RP would be an economy stimulus for Duluth too!!!

“I also know that when the LRFP is done and paid for, we will have over $5 million a year to put in programs instead of overhead. After having to cut the budget year after year, I know what great things we could do for our children with that $5 million. ”

When will they ever admit they were WRONG.

Honest Abe 2

Following my last post my old ally asks new questions:

I wonder if based on what Reinert said in the DNT if 709 might not do better in the future. Won’t the kindergarten that is offered now be covered by the State?

Here in Duluth, ISD 709 will see an increase in per-pupil base funding. The Legislature increased the basic formula allowance by 1.5 percent in 2014 and by 5.2 percent in 2015. The 2015 figure includes funding for all-day kindergarten. All-day kindergarten won’t be offered until the fall of 2014, but when it is, it will become available statewide at all public schools. The state does not mandate student enrollment, so parents will still have the right to choose what is best for their children.

My Reply:

Maybe and its a big maybe. I do not expect the state to bail out the Duluth schools if and when they collapse. The state did bend over backwards to save Duluth’s teacher pensioners but that was a one year quirk from over zealous, newbie, DFL legislators sweeping Tea party Republicans out of the legislature.

The all day K is a real boon. Dixon’s Board foolishly took a half million out of the rest of operations for it to go toe to toe with Edison even though there was no public clamor for it. Now that money can come from the state not local taxpayers.

This year’s 1.5 per cent jump ain’t much but next year’s 5 plus is. However, I think it would only be a wash if the levy fails.

The District needs a big operational cash transfusion to compete. Then it needs a school board with a stiff spine to hire more teachers rather than give any new money to fewer teachers rendered useless because of huge class sizes.

That’s my feel of things without the benefit of hard numbers to go on. I’m pretty confident in my over all appraisal but I could simply be deluded as the Red Planners.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

An old friend and ally challenges my claims

In an email titled “Honest Abe” a good friend asks me a fair question.

I know you are citing 50 students in a classroom. And that may be the case for some, but how many classes really are that crowded?

I would hate the voting public to be guilted to yes vote the levy based on fear. Just too similar to Dixon & Co. using the DNT to report that there were dilapidated, unsafe schools and we ended up with the Red Plan.

My Reply:

Re: Honest Abe,

Its an obvious exaggeration. I’ve been waiting to see if someone from the district would call me out on it. The classrooms are occasionally in their 40s. A choir member in my church has 39 algebra kids and a woman who called said there were 40 kids in a grandson’s class. The number 40 has shown up repeatedly in letters to the editor.

I’ve had in mind the potential for class sizes when I talk about 50 kids. They may not be 50 now but what happens when the reserve runs out, which it will, and the existing levy fails. Then we move a lot closer to that number. The district is in a death spiral. Add a new high school for Edison and its curtains.

As long as I’m speaking theoretically I can live with my dire predictions. I made them four years ago and so far I haven’t been that far off.

Abe said the nation couldn’t stand half free and half slave. He could have been wrong and was until LBJ passed all those civil rights bills in the 1960’s. It took 100 years for his profecy to come true. Mine won’t take that long if voters are so mad that they turn their half billion dollar schools into abandoned and derelict buildings. I want them to be rational when they vote, not just punitive.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

My weekend Questionnaire

On Friday or Saturday I got a curious request from an unidentified person. It asked me to answer an attached questionairre and return it.

Evidently Annie Harala had already answered it and her reply was sent to “reply all” so that I and the other candidates all got her message as well as the unknown sender.

I replied with a request that the sender idenity herself and explain what was attached so that I could be sure it wasn’t a trojan horse or a virus.

A little later on I got a sheepish reply from the sender a person I’ve known for thirty years. By this time Henry Banks had also sent in a reply demanding identification. Knowing the person I promised to answer the mysterious questionairre once I got home and before tomorrow’s primary election.

It was a little different:

So that all my readers can see what I answered I enclose it here along with my replies:

Dear Candidate:

Please respond before election –
Thank you in advance for your prompt response


What is your purpose (in life)? To preserve the world and possibly pass it on to future generations better than it was handed to me. This is a pretty tall order.

What is your Mission Statement (for your life). Ditto

What are your Goals (for your life). To live a long fulfilling life, stay interested and pass on my enthusiasm for life to friends and family.

Who do you most admire/emulate, your hero/heroine and state why? There are many worthy candidates but the one that has the most allure for me is Abraham Lincoln.

What resources do you rely on to educate yourself on current issues? Good Histories, honest reporters, Seekers of truth.

Knowing the sender I suspect that a hoped for answer was a five letter word taken from the ancient Greek meaning “book.” That would have been a good answer but it wouldn’t have been mine. I’m an agnostic. That’s ancient Greek for “without wisdom.”

Six Paragraphs

My return to the Reader Weekly, Duluth’s largest tabloid, was a little awkward. Although its publisher had kind words for me as he introduced five new columnists – “Harry is a terrific writer” – its hard not to wonder if that isn’t a promotion of the Reader rather than its returned writer.

My column was submitted and as far as I could tell languished unacknowledged for two weeks before publication. I got home late this afternoon and found that it was indeed in this week’s Reader if not in the Reader’s new website. A picture I’d submitted was not included. My dozen paragraphs were pared down to half that. To the extent that the breaks helped refocus my narative the elimination of them seemed to make it a little breathless. I suspect I’m in part to blame for the mis-communication about what I wanted published. I was on vacation and gloriously distracted until the last two days when I called and found out that another column was wanted forthwith. Yesterday I spent four hours in the car heading home and racing through North Dakota’s stretch of I-94 busily editing a rough draft down from 1100 words to 650 or so. when it shows up a week from now it will be titled “…illions.”

I’m exhausted from a long day and have valiently but incompetantly attempted to stick it into my old website. I’m too tired to correct the mistakes tonight. I need sleep. but for those of you who can’t wait here it is as I would have preferred it to have appeared in print. Tomorrow and henceforth I’ll put it in the proper place and this link will take you to the parent webpage.

Welcome to my new Japanese and Turkish readers

My traditionally local (Duluth area) readership has been disappointed (or pleased) by my recent dearth of posts over the past couple of months. I don’t know if they have given up on me or not as they have in other times of my silence. That’s because their absence has been covered up with new readers who have visited despite my recent quiescence.

In recent years I’ve averaged roughly a thousand different readers each month. For reasons I can’t explain that has jumped dramatically since my fingers fell silent in April. Since that time Lincolndemocrat has gotten on average 5000 visitors a month.

I noticed that starting some months ago I began getting larger page views from overseas. The data for the first half of June 2013 shows that my Japanese and Turkish readers are in hot pursuit of the US readers. The list below from my stats page lists the top seven nations peaking in on Duluth, Minnesota’s Lincolndemocrat:

…………….Pages, hits, bandwidth

US us 2,591 3,514 59.52 MB
Japan jp 1,721 1,721 10.47 MB
Turkey tr 1,266 1,266 4.72 MB
Mexico mx 993 993 3.11 MB
Ukraine ua 885 885 4.51 MB
Peru pe 623 623 1.95 MB
China cn 586 595 22.18 MB

Why should people from these nations flock to my webpage which spends so much time badmouthing the local school board and a Fortune 500 firm from Milwaukee, Wisconsin? I suspect it is because of my use of our nation’s most beloved (except by today’s Republicans) President’s name. If so, Thank Abe! What a great name it is. No doubt Spielberg’s recent movie has encouraged Google inquiries far beyond our nation’s borders.

Its not the new readership that may prompt me to break my recent silence. It turns out my fingers like to pull words out of my brain and spread them on the Internet. My last major silence took place two years ago over the month my wife and I visited Australia. That was a time I resumed reading after the Red Plan Calamity had hung me out to dry. The trip to Australia prompted a major spurt of reading most of it Antipodes related. I’ve recently had another spurt of reading which can be confirmed by checking out my “my reading list” page on my old website. I’ve read books (cover to cover) at a rate of one a month so far this year.

I’m currently juggling books on Lincoln on Twain and the Greatest Migration in American History; that of black Americans fleeing the inhumanity of the South after World War 1.

My most recent post mentioned Life on the Mississippi, the book that made America take Mark Twain’s humor seriously. I cheated by putting it on the reading list. I was only half done but had no doubts that I would conclude it. It was written a few years before the Supreme Court confirmed in Plessy v Fergusson that the South had free reign to pass Jim Crow laws. The consequence was the migration which is described in The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. I read almost fifty pages of Warmth to Claudia today. I ordered it from Amazon last December.

I’m looking through two other books only one of which I’m certain I will finish. Both were purchased at my recent, and second, stop at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois. In two days I’m half way through Lines of Contention, Political Cartoons of the Civil War. It will be a nice addition to my book on the cartoons of the years of Harry Truman. The other is the latest printing of Herndon’s Lincoln. William Herndon was Lincoln’s law partner and he decided to defy Victorian convention and write about his longtime friend warts and all. I devoured thirty pages of Introduction by his latest editors and nibbled into the first chapter. I was afraid the writing would be stilted but it is amazingly direct and fresh. I still don’t think I’ll get it read now but I can see why it is the book all Lincoln Historians rely on to know the real Lincoln.

I should also mention the other book I devoured very speedily. Polk, The Man who Transformed the Presidency and America by Walter R. Borneman was a fast read. I bought it and a dozen other books a year ago after consulting internet lists of good reads. Polk pretty much finished off America’s borders adding almost 40% to its landmass by fudging a war with Mexico that Abe Lincoln took the lead in attacking in his one stint as a Congressman. It cost Lincoln his popularity back home because Illinois was in a very expansionist frame of mind at the time.

All this reading has put me in a mood to do some writing. It may not all show up here in the blog. I was recently asked to resume my column in the local tabloid. I’d cranked out a hundred columns over a four-year period before I hung it up. At the end of June I’ll submit another and offer them up every other week. The publisher wants me to limit myself to 650 words which is a couple hundred fewer than I generally wrote before. He’s not confident in his reader’s attention spans (or maybe my captivating writing).

And let me be honest. The last time any nation other than the US ranked high on LincolnDem’s list it had to do with some sort of spam operation.

Mitch McConnell’s sense of history

In the NY Times story about Rosa Park’s statue being placed into Statuary Hall there was passing mention of what Republican Senator Mitch McConnell had to say about Rosa:

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said that Mrs. Parks’s decision to get arrested rather than to give up her seat helped unite the country.

“For some, Rosa Parks served as an inspiration to stand up against injustice,” he said. “For others, she was a spur to reflection and self-examination, and the reconciliation of cherished ideals of freedom, democracy and constitutional rights with the reality of life as others lived it.”

Helped unite the Country?

Well, if it had I would have expected the Senator to say something other than that the GOP’s top priority at the beginning of the First Obama Administration was to see that it was a one term Presidency. Now that’s a call to unity.

I realize that GOP congressman might have a better chance to show their decency if they hadn’t let the dogs of demagoguery out in the Tea Party. But the GOP, the Party of Lincoln gambled everything on a “southern strategy in 1964 and 1968. The Dixiecrats became Republicans and purged the folks who’d invited them to the party in the first place calling them RINO’s.

For all I know Mitch was being very brave to say nice awkward things about Rosa Parks what with all the folks in his party who are convinced that Obama is a communist. That was very much the message in the 1960’s from stellar folks like J Edgar Hoover. The NAACP was a commie front and you know what that made Rosa Parks. A dupe.

Mitch represents a Party that has taken that attitude to heart. Abraham Lincoln! Who’s that?

I suppose I ought to give Alabama more credit. Their legislature authorized Park’s inclusion in the pantheon of great Americans and that meant its Jefferson Davis inspired Republican Party approved it. That required some of the self reflection McConnell talked about. I’d be less caustic if I thought she wasn’t just being used to hide behind like Herman Cain.

Here are some of today’s Republicans in more candid moments.