Oh, me of little faith!

The snow hit bigtime shortly after my whiney post about being shortchanged again. My 61 year old back is suffering after three hours of moving snow as I described in this interview a couple weeks ago.

Lots more snow is falling and I’ll resume the shoveling after lunch and a little rest for my back.

Ain’t bookin this

I didn’t pay much attention to the inadvertent jail death of the Duluth man who was found guilty of having sex with underage Grand Marais girls and then shot up the Cook County Court House. It was a big story but for me it was just another headline. Then today I heard this fuller account of a long standing culture of older men hitting up young girls in the County.

It made me stand back on my heels a bit.

One of the stories I don’t plan to write about for my book involves a prominent Minnesota Law enforcement officer. That is the only clue I will offer as the story I was told was based on rumors. If they are true this man, when he was in his twenties and/or thirties, chased young girls from the Grand Portage Indian Reservation. The Rez is also, of course, part of Cook, County. This Minneapolitan would have been introduced to the culture, as were some mentioned in the MPR story, by locals who knew all the good fishing hot spots.

Will Teacher Tenure changes in Minnesota spark a Walker-like reaction?

This story’s headline in the Strib had me wondering.

I don’t think so. It only effects one, albeit the largest, public employee union. It is good to the younger half of that union. It also gives financially hard pressed school districts the chance to shed their most expensive senior teachers. Also, it comes after decades of public criticism pointed at teacher tenure.

In the case of Duluth this could be something of a godsend. A district desperate to bring down class size and with no prospects for any new money could shed senior teachers at will no matter how experienced or talented. The DFT under Frank Wanner has sucked up so much of the fiscal oxygen that the District has little choice but go draconian on the senior teachers it can ill afford.

I have mixed feelings about tenure. Its supposed to put some spine in teachers to do the right thing but I’ve seen little actual exercise of it in terms of Duluth teachers speaking truth to power in the face of the Red Plan and or Keith Dixon. That inclines me to think it would be no great loss should Mark Dayton sign the bill. I note that a number of DFL Senators voted to scrap tenure protection.

I haven’t followed this closely enough to know what’s likely to happen. I’m frankly fascinated. This may be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

What might have been…

…for the GOP. It is what I hoped for but I swam against a red tide of George Wallace resentment allied with Moral Majoritarian self righteousness. Once Reagan, who benefited greatly from both traditions was gone there was nothing to stop them from closing up the Gipper’s big tent.

From a very informative and surprising review of a book on the GOP’s ancient history.

[Kentucky Senator Thruston] Morton, while he was chair of the RNC in 1965, hoped that in the South there would be “a sound foundation for Republicanism not based on racism,” that could capture at least 20 percent of the black vote. (While we think of moderate Republicanism as a Northeastern tradition, the first Republican inroads in the South and border states were made by moderates such as Morton and his fellow Kentuckian, Vietnam War opponent John Sherman Cooper.) Had the party pursued a path “not based on racism,” one can vaguely envision a coalition of African-Americans and “New South” whites, together with urban reformers such as Lindsay and Specter, and the traditional Republican base among upscale voters in the suburbs and towns of the Northeast and Midwest, along with California, Oregon, and Washington. If the Democrats were left with the unreconstructed Southern whites and the urban ethnic machines, then in the great ideological sorting that inevitably took place the Republican Party might have become the more socially liberal one—a coalition of upscale whites and minorities. That is, it would look something like the eventual Obama coalition.

Meanwhile Michigan Dems are on the verge of helping…

…Rush, Ailes and Rove finish of the last remant of moderation in a wolf’s clothing that the GOP had.

Democrats will help win Michigan for the man who would install the Pope and Focus on the Family as America’s chief executives.

PPP has Santorum in the lead:

Much has been made of Democratic efforts to turn out the vote for Santorum and we see evidence that’s actually happening. Romney leads with actual Republican voters, 43-38. But Santorum’s up 47-10 with Democratic voters, and even though they’re only 8% of the likely electorate that’s enough to put him over the top. The big question now is whether those folks will actually bother to show up and vote tomorrow.

Let me tell you about Zeke

After I’d survived a year of being the only outsider in North Mankato’s insular (if not inbred) Garfield Junior high a kid with bright red hair that looked like this fellow,

from the classic children’s storybook, Moptop, transferred into our school. Damned if I can recall his real name. The kids just called him Zeke.

He was tall and thin and pale and he had the most vividly red hair. I don’t know if he ever would have stood a chance. I had to fight my way to some sort of uneasy detente the year before. My classmates were a year older and had more testosterone coursing through their brains. Zeke was needled mercilessly. I remember the day we had to run in circles around the gym. I was asthmatic and had already had one bout of dying after a track team run. But if I was a lousy marathoner Zeke was a paralytic. On this particular day he ran around the gym a couple times, turned blue and began heaving very hard to take in oxygen. As he sat wheezing on the sidelines others glared at him contemptuously.

If Zeke had ever had the social skills to fit in he’d lost them by junior high. I recall him endlessly drawing spaceships during study hall and other sci fi stuff. I recall, because I could not be mean to him, thinking that he was a very sorry case. I can only hope that today he is laughing at all his old tormentors as a higher up in Industrial Light and Magic.

I doubt that he has been so fortunate. He left our school after a couple months and we asked no questions. A few months later it came to light in some vague news stories in the Mankato Free Press that the kids in the even tougher Lincoln Jr High, (when you’re a kid all other junior highs are more dangerous than your own) had set up a protection racket and were demanding that a new kid in their school hand over his lunch money or they’d beat the crap out of him. Word of mouth had it that it was Zeke.

If the Duluth school district hadn’t put all its treasure and the community’s trust into the God Damned Red Plan they might be able to focus on bullying. Cripes two weeks ago the News reported that there were three racially tinged fights at the brand spanking new East High School:

BTW. Hollywood’s rating system will guarantee that your kids don’t see this movie. Apparently the truth it shows will leave scars far deeper than junior high school students can.

The big snow storm – I got zip

A week ago early forecasts suggested we might get up to eight inches of snow. That was music to my ears since this would be the first year in a quarter century that I didn’t make a snow sculpture. Later forecasts were for 4 to 6 inches. In fact areas a little to our north got up to 11 inches over the weekend. Only five miles away they got five inches. Our home, however, is on the crest of the hill overlooking Lake Superior. We got a little over two inches at our house. I need four or five more. Maybe we will get it with a new storm about to blow over us tomorrow and Wednesday but so far it sounds like it will skirt to the South.

Even the snow we got was mixed with North Dakota. I’m pretty fussy about my snow. I work hard to avoid soil contaminated with carbon from car exhausts. It melts a lot faster than purer snow as the contaminants soak up sunshine and convert it to snow melting infrared radiation. Closer to the solstice with the sun hanging low and the days short that’s not that big a deal. As we approach March it guarantees a short lived sculpture. I have often made them later in the year only to have people ask me why I didn’t make one because they only drive past my home once a week, often three or four days after some creation has melted away.

If I get some snow yet I’ll put something together long enough to take a picture of it and post it on the Internet along with my others.

I do have one snow sculpting date on my calendar. Stowe Elementary in Gary is having a “Leap Day” carnival and I was asked to help kids make snow sculptures. I’ve done this a half a dozen times elsewhere in the past. When after several weeks of brown lawns I suggested we might need to do something else I was told that Tom Kasper, now of the Duluth School Board, had found a way to guarantee snow. Thanks Tom. I think he may have used his influence in the City to get man made snow from the Spirit Valley Ski Hill to Stowe. With the recent accumulation and some snow plows that may no longer be necessary. I expect we will be just fine Wednesday. Unless a snow day is called.

(BTW – Tom is one of the new school board members I can’t fault for the Duluth Schools current situation. He didn’t realize when he got elected that the Red Plan was about to become a black hole.)

In the meantime we should have white. I made a crude little “How to” for the kids in advance of their adventure in the Winter Arts.

Word Search of the Day

Well, I obviously can’t run for Congress since I was so busy being a grandparent to a sick grandchild over the last week that I simply didn’t find the ten minutes necessary to post my daily word search yesterday.

That responsibility has spread to today as the second grandson seems to have caught was his little brother had last week. I picked him up this morning so we could take care of him rather than risk spreading a virus to his school mates. That leads me to today’s word search overreach.

Bookin it 17

Other than making a stab at writing again today my output was pretty disappointing.

On the plus side I’ve completed enough organizational work to put an end to the random, nonconsecutive stabs at writing. I think I’m now prepared to write starting at chapter one and proceeding 2,3,4,5 for the rest of the book.

I also rediscovered in my old notes some long forgotten details that gave me a much more satisfying first chapter. Part of the reason for my small output today was some new reading I had to undertake today as I made a fresh start. Part of it was an unexpected visit from Grandsons. Here is a small sample of today’s work with the usual caveat:

One thing was clear and had been clear for several years, the dumping would have to be transferred to an on land site. Part of the dispute had to do with just where this would be permitted. The environmentalists wanted it done as far inland from the lake as possible…

It happened in Minnesota first

Democrats are contemplating voting en masse for the weaker candidate, Rick Santorum, in Michigan’s “open” Republican primary election.

Minnesota Republicans did much the same thing to Hubert Humphrey in 1956 in the newly established Minnesota open Presidential primary. HHH was angling to become Aldali Stephenson’s VP and was heading up his Minnesota campaign. A victory for Humphrey’s Adali delegates would have given him a seat at the convention and made the popular Humphrey the odds on favorite to be the vice presidential nominee. Because no one expected Adali to beat the popular Eisenhower the then youthful Hubert felt a vice presidential nomination would make him the odds on favorite to be the Democratic nominatee for the open Presidential seat in 1960.

I’ve got a lovely insider story I’d like to include in my book about how the Republicans helped thwart Adali’s Minnesota campaign and embarrassed Humphrey in the bargain. It helped close up the 1960 window of opportunity for the ambitious Humphrey.

Mitt Romney no longer looks that formidable. A loss in his “home” state of Michigan on Tuesday would only add to his and the Republican Party’s woes.

Hubert Humphrey saw to it that the DFL killed Minnesota’s open presidential primary after 1956 and its never been held since.

Word Search of the Day


Ralph Doty has another column in the Budgeteer today. Its a book review about the little known President James Garfield.

When I moved to Minnesota in 1963 and started school I went to the officially named Garfield Junior High more commonly called North Mankato Junior High. That the official name was generally unused seems a bit unfair to the memory of its martyred namesake. Garfield, who was an intriguing Republican and a promising President, was assassinated a year into his first administration. According to Doty we get the useful phrase “ignorance is bliss” from the Garfield assassination. Its worth reading Doty’s review if only to learn how the phrase came about.

Sadly the DNT doesn’t include Doty’s review on its website. This is the book. It turns out Doty (or the book) wrongly attributes the origin of the quote the medical care of Garfield’s physician, Dr. Bliss, who infected the President to death. The line actually comes from a well known Thomas Gray poem. (It is followed, ironically I presume, by the line “Tis folly to be wise.”)

Two months after starting at a school memorializing one martyred President my favorite teacher, Mrs. Jones, left our English class mysteriously for about fifteen minutes. When she returned she solemnly informed us that our President, John F. Kennedy, had been shot.