Expect more tough times for Duluth’s School rankings

The School Board committed itself to diverting $5 million a year of classroom money to pay off banks to borrow for the Red Plan. The hope was that voters would increase local levies and make this money up. That didn’t happen. To forestall draconian cuts the School Board began drawing off its ten percent reserve by a few million bucks a year. Soon it will have no more reserve left to staunch the bleeding. Already it has begun borrowing money to (wink wink) make up for delayed payments by the state to ISD 709. The District has wisely decided not to go to the voters this year to ask for more levies.

The good news is that No Child Left Behind has been left behind. The bad news is that the new state rankings are not likely to be much better with continued diminished funding and increases in class size. The first year’s rankings are out and they are not very good.

We have great new swimming pools though.

“Fat-back RINO”

I got a laugh out of this note of commiseration to a Ron Paul supporter who was angry that the Romney forces were trying to permanantly cripple their cause in future GOP national conventions. You’ll find it at the end of this article in the Times Examiner.

PO’d Vet:

Take heart, Brother. Keep the faith. I too am a conservative and I too am a disappointed Vet. But we can’t give up. Liberals have taken 40 years to arrive in their present political position. It will take more than one election for true conservatives and patriots to rid this nation of Marxist Liberals and Fat-back RINO’s.

We all need to keep voting for the most conservative candidates available to us. Mitt Romney was not my choice for the GOP nominee, but he’s all we have this year. He can be controlled and he is exponentially better than the Marxist, Chicago Mobster we have now.

Please vote. Vote for Romney and vote for conservative Congressmen and Senators. Semper paratus, fortis, vigilio et fidelis!

Mike Steele

Bad News for Mitt?

While perusing the PEW website I noticed this story with this graphic about who the middle class blames for a terrible decade.

The middle class votes. The economy will be on its radar in November. They place a higher blame for their current financial woes on the Republican Congress and President Bush than they do President Obama. Was there anything New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told them likely to give their votes for Mitt?

We’ll have to see if the SuperPACs funded by the Koch Brothers and run by Karl Rove can make the case.

Pew

In researching think tanks I noted that the PEW research center wasn’t on one list. I wanted to know if it counted as a partisan tank and opened up their web page where I saw a twelve question test to see whether one was a democrat or a republican. According to the test I was a very liberal Democrat. Ick! It was a very cursory examination but in today’s environment probably correct.

testimg src=”http://www.people-press.org/wp-content/themes/pew-people-press/img/political-party-quiz/overall-party.png” alt=”” />

Tough love at the RNC

The frosting on the cake for Mitt’s night of nomination was the Governor of the Jersie Shore Chris Christie who warned Americans that their leaders were “paralyzed by our desire to be loved.”

I had told Claudia (and have been telling her this for about a year) that Christie was one of the bright hopes of the GOP. She was unimpressed although I thought he gave a good speech. Of course, he barely mentioned Mitt Romney except to say that Mitt would make us face the hard truths as our President. Instead he told us that Americans didn’t need politicians (which apparently meant Democrats) who were unwilling to tell us the truth we needed to hear. The only truth he had in mind was that we were spending too much. Christie didn’t mention that the Republican answer for this is been to borrow money or cut Medicare. That is a hard truth.

Christie didn’t mention that previous Republican heroes, like Ronald Reagan, had raised taxes. Didn’t mention that Republicans have all taken pledges from an idealogue, Grover Norquist, who has grown rich punishing any Republican who dares raise taxes (including Tim Pawlenty). Didn’t mention that 150 largely Republican congressmen believe women who have been raped should bear their children. Didn’t mention that Republicans unable to attract minority votes in sufficient numbers have gone on a tear putting up roadblocks to voting reminiscent of the South’s near prohibition against black voting before the 1970’s. Didn’t mention the GOP’s war on science, global warming, energy saving, gays, Latinos, libertarians, Islam, public schools and paying off the national debt through taxation.

Whether you believe Chris Christie or not you have to admit there was no Reagan-like Morning-in-America speech. I saw Mitt Romney’s tight lipped semi-smile while he listened to his key noter. I wonder if Mitt, the Bain Capital salesmen, sensed that Christie’s pitch might not find him many buyers in November.

Openly gay

Until I read this Star Trib story about the Duluth that is no longer your grandparent’s Duluth (I’m a grandparent!) I had never read that former candidate for the Congressional Seat held by Chip Cravaack was gay. This story mentions it as though everyone knew it. Not me. I only heard it rumored by a local DFL operative who explained to me that because of it this candidate would never get elected.

I feel better that I apparently didn’t out him.

In the near future, in that better world I anticipate our gravitating toward, it should be unnecessary to announce your sexual predilections when you run for office. We’re not there yet. If Obama only had a 5% loss of voters due to his being black if you were to compare that to oppositon based on sexual preference I’d guess that in Northern Minnesota that figure would be closer to 10 to 20%. If I’m right that would be enough to guarantee a loss for any DFL challenger to Chip Cravaack.

Just because life isn’t fair doesn’t excuse a candidate from failing to disclose possible impediments to his getting votes. Who can forget Senator Thomas Eagleton failing to tell George McGovern that he had undergone electroshock before being selected as a VP candidate by McGovern? That may account for the worst drubbing any democrat has endured in a presidential election.

If this candidate was still in the closet so that the Strib couldn’t mention it as though it was no big deal that would be different. But he semi-outed himself. I guess all his buddies and the political insiders knew but not the delegates at the DFL caucuses and conventions. Had they decided to endorse him even though they knew he had to bear the cross of being gay that would have been different, laudable even. Instead he allowed the delegates to remain uninformed with a potential bombshell to be detonated by the GOP after the primary. In a year when all Democrats are aching to take back the Congress he did them a major disservice.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Do you recognize this person?

This story was a bit of a revelation to me. I did recall that the woman above as a much older women, famous for being ugly, got a face lift. Its obvious she didn’t need one when she was younger.

Playboy’s editors thought it would be funny, she said, and what better way to get a laugh than by sending out seductive centerfold photos of a hilariously tacky, impressively unsexy woman? It seemed like a foolproof plan. There was, however, one problem: Diller, who had long obscured her figure with the trademark ill-fitting lame’ dresses she often wore onstage, turned out to have a shapely, sexy physique–and a pretty face, too, under all her clownish makeup. To everyone’s bewilderment (except maybe Phyllis Diller’s), Phyllis Diller was a bombshell.

Silver is tarnished

I just watched Almanac North and have concluded that the Assistant Fire Chief Simonson has a chance.

Travis Silver is a nice tongue tied-young man, probably a Ron Paul devotee, who doesn’t really know why he’s running for the legislature. He’s probably running because someone asked him to file just so the GOP could have a candidate. His chief argument could have been one of mine back in 1976 to wit: that Duluth ought to have a Republican in the legislature and not keep all its eggs in the DFL basket. For crying out loud, Given the opportunity he didn’t even say “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

I can imagine Travis getting barely 20% of the vote all the more for write-in candidates.

I mentioned the likelyhood that City Councilor Fosle and Chief Simonson could split the vote. Fosle didn’t show up on Almanac. He had some previous engagement. If he really wants to win he sure as hell should have skipped the previous engagement. My thought was he’s too chicken to show up or was afraid he couldn’t handle questions from Denny Anderson.

Simonson looked and sounded like a legislator. When the DFL endorses him they will put their shoulder behind his campaign.

I suggested that there was no way to get Kerry Gauthier’s name off the ballot. We’ll see. If the DFL can endorse Simonsen in time they may have an in to get his name on the ballot in the absence of a DFL candidate. The primary was in August which gives them close to a month before the ballots are actually printed up to make their case in court. They may be stuck with a write-in campaign but could probably win it. If they can set a new precedent they have a shoe in.

Walking to school

Remember how the School District pushed back on the critics of the Red Plan when they denied that their new Western Middle School would reduce the numbers of kids walking to school?

I found this letter in the DNT today interesting.

To the joy of all parents who have young children, school starts in a few weeks. That seemed a good reason to take my weekly look at the new Lincoln Park Middle School.

There are no sidewalks leading to the school. The new road off West Third Street has a sidewalk for only about two blocks. What are kids going to do the rest of the way up the winding hill? Walk in the street?

Another route students probably will try will be Atlantic Avenue. But after the 10-inch rain in June that street washed out in places, and the fix was throwing some blacktop on it.

Wellington Street, which leads to the back of the school, is the worst street in the city of Duluth.

So what are the kids to do in the area between Third Street and Wellington Street? Make their own path through the woods, I guess. In the winter they can use snowshoes.

Wallace Newquist

Duluth

Could Lincoln get elected in Western Duluth

my last post prompted my Buddy to tease me a little. Here is our email exchange:

On Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 10:18 AM, Harry’s Buddy wrote Re: http://lincolndemocrat.com/?p=7269

Harry: If Abraham Lincoln would be elected in West Duluth, would you say that the GOP took West Duluth?

Your Buddy

From: harrywelty@charter.net Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2012 9:04 PM To: His buddy

No fair Buddy, That’s a trick question.

Harry

Date: 8/23/12 9:52:37 PM From: Harry’s Buddy To: harrywelty@charter.net

Harry:

That is not a trick question. As was said in Alice in Wonderland , say what you mean, and mean what you say. Orwell would then approve.

your Buddy

Date: 8/24/12 10:41:55 AM From: harrywelty@charter.net To: Harry’s Buddy

OK Buddy. I’ll take the bait. The answer is that the only way Abe Lincoln could get elected in West Duluth is with Democrat votes.

Harry

Despite the joshing I actually think this is an important subject. I was asked to explain to a history class at Denfeld the differences between the two major US parties back in the 1980’s when I was still a reasonably good Republican. I explained what was still true then that there was a great deal of overlap between the parties. I used a Ven diagram to show how this worked. Imagine two circles overlapping each other. Where the overlap occurred people could either be Republicans or Democrats. Call them centrists or accomodationists or the apathetic or people without conviction or pragmatists whatever they could easily vote for some candidates of either party. On the “wings” where the circles were uncontaminated by being overlapped you had what you might call the true blue, ideological, extremist, rock ribbed or purist Republicans and Democrats who would rarely cross party boundaries.

The challenge for a historically minded analyst is to see how the parties change over time. For instance to take one very telling example there have been just short of 160 years between today and the founding of the Republican Party in 1856. At twenty years each that would be about 8 generations. Back at its founding its most single minded special interest group were the abolitionists among whom the most extreme wanted to give all black people equal rights with white citizens. Over the long history of the Republican party its lip service in behalf of black Americans never really faded from the Republican party until about 1980. The Democratic Party with its heritige in Jefferson and Jackson was actively hostile to this interests of blacks in America until the advent of a strong labor movement coupled with socialism/Marxism. That took root gradually in the late 1800’s un til the years of the Depression and FDR. Both Republicans and Democrats in the early years of the 20th Century wanted votes and at times vied for the votes of labor always mindful of not alienating the larger body of voters who were constantly reminded that labor unions were sympathetic to collectivism and hostile towards private property. Republican Teddy Roosevelt could embrace the Sherman Anti Trust Act to kill huge industrial monopolies. Woodrow Wilson could crush public employee unions in New Jersey as a Governor. The Ven Diagram of this era had a large center section.

Race and the labor movement are just two of dozens of issues that have ping ponged back and forth through the generations between two major parties (and a succession of minor parties) even before the names Democrat and Republican were carved into stone.

I’ve always struggled with the definition of the two parties names. I told the class back in the 1980’s that Republicans were more inclined to support private commercial interests and that Democrats were more inclined to support organized labor. Beyond that I’m not sure what I told them but clearly today the wedge issues that were prying the two parties apart have created a much more formidible abyss between them than my simple 1980’s explanation.

There is nothing new in my explanation that the two parties ebb and flow where issues are concerned. I recently learned of an old 1800 chart that attempted to show the changes through the 1800’s of the two parties. Another more recent one was put together for the twentieth century.

Yesterday on the PBS News Hour I watched a sophist from the “conservative” Weekly Standard magazine Jay Cost touting his new book from the Right Wing History revision factory which is currently out selling left oriented histories.

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Spoiled Rotten by Jay Cost with a juvenile title a lot like the hippy dippy books of the 1970’s eg. “Steal this Book” purports to explain how Democrats lost their way. On the News Hour Broadcast Cost explained how the good old Democratic Party of Andrew (ignore the Supreme Court and exile the Cherokees to Oklahoma in the Winter Trail of Tears”) Jackson originally had a small government ethos. That’s true. It was the Whigs turned Republicans like Henry Clay and Abe Lincoln who pushed for high tax, big government “internal improvements.” that the Democrats opposed.

There is a simpler explanation for Mr. Cost’s analysis that Democrats have lost their way. The anti government Democrats became Republicans in the 1980’s after the sting of the Civil War had finally receeded sufficiently into the background and as the Democrat Party increasingly picked up on Civil Rights for minorities. It was a gradual process. 1948 Hubert Humphrey outraged Stom Thurmond by calling for the sunshine of human rights over those of state’s rights and former KKK member Harry Truman let blacks integrate into the military. In 1964 Barry Goldwater refused to vote for the 64 Civil Right’s Law and won 4 Deep South electoral votes. In 1968 Richard Nixon finessed winning over George Wallace American Party votes by calling for “law and order” in the face of inner city riots. 1980 Ronald Reagan launched his winning Presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi infamous for the murders of three civil rights workers fifteen years earlier.

“State’s Rights” Democrats became States Rights Republicans and converted the GOP to the Cause. After Reagan’s election there was a cascade of Southern politicians who made public switches to the Republican Party. Jay Cost is probably not ignorant of this. He just wants to create an alternative reality kind of like Fox News.

I’m more persuaded that the Republican Party has gotten spoiled rotten in recent years because they ruled the universe until Barrack Obama took it away from them. Even here the Republican punditocracy were their own worst enemies.

Rush Limbaugh and countless other GOP leaning pundits were effusive in their praise of Obama when he was fighting tooth and nail against the GOP’s worst nightmare Hilary Clinton. As a result no Republicans were prepared for his success and had to bite their tongues as he did the impossible getting elected President of the United States with an excess of melanin of the epidermis.

For Limbaugh and others they made a strategic political miscalculation. They were confident that a majority of Americans would never vote for a black candidate for president. Their praise of Obama backfired. Studies I have read and believe suggest that in 2008 only about 5% of voters voted against Obama solely based on his race. Had the GOP’s control of the nation not been so cataclysmic prior to Obama it is very likely the Limbaugh strategy would have succeeded. Under rosier conditions more American voters would have let their race prejudices intrude on the voting booth. But with Limbaugh and other’s accolades they set their doubts aside.

It didn’t take long for the GOP to begin taking back their praise of Obama. One Congressman shouted out “you lie” to the President in his speech before Congress. Senator Mitchell explained during the free fall of the American Economy that unelecting Obama was the top priority of the Republican Party. The problem was that making sure America couldn’t get out of the pits meant that the GOP had to further erode their own positive numbers in Congress.
Think of it as another strategic gamble. They are counting on GOP voters to stick with the party and sustain its control of Congress while replacing Obama even if it has to do so with a Mitt in its mouth.

This brings me to mind of that observation of President Washington that his critics would more interested in power than the truth. Today you might say that the GOP is willing to win at any Cost….even Jay Cost’s cynical historical revision.

Can the GOP take West Duluth? and a reminiscence

I think so if two serious challengers run write-in campaigns in Kerry Gauthier’s district.

I don’t know how many “conservative” votes there are in the old Jaros/Munger house seat. When I ran a campaign in the area back in 1980 I discovered that Richard Nixon only got 23% of the vote in far western Duluth. That was 1972 and the biggest ever blow-out Presidential election in America’s modern history. George McGovern got three times as many votes as Nixon in west Duluth. That’s a tough district for any Republican.

I’d guess that the four decades that have passed have taken a lot of old New Dealers with them. Today a good Republican should get an easy 35% of the vote out west especially in a Presidential election year.

Gauthier’s name will be on the ballot even though he’s decided to “withdraw.” I’d be surprised if he got much less than ten percent of the vote. For argument’s sake lets assume that he gets 7% and the Republican, Mr. Silver, gets 30%. That would leave the two (so far) write-in candidates fighting over 63% of the available vote. It would take a near miracle to get that many voters to cast a write-in but if that happened one of the newcomers would have to clean the other’s clock. Could an assistant fire chief pull such a thing off over a sitting City Councilor? Could the reverse happen?

The Republicans are in deep doo doo (Broadkorb, Sutton, et al) all across Minnesota this year but I’ll bet some Minnesota Koch-brother-type would love to kick in some money to see at least one satisfying and unexpected GOP victory this year.

I’d like to add one more thought.

To my mind no one has been irreparably hurt by this incident except Mr. Gauthier. Thomas Huntley called him a “child molester.” From what I know about this day and age in America and what I know about most boys over the age of 17 I find that description a stretch not withstanding my previous description of the young man as a “boy.”

So let me follow with a personal story.

When I was 20 years old I got a chance to be an intern in Washington DC. I lived in a run-down block about eight blocks from the Capitol Building. Next door was a gentrified house lived in by two gay men, both college professors as I recall. I was living next door in an ancient town house in a room I painted black and white. (The radiator was zebra striped) I’d been in the city for about a month when I decided I needed to cook something and bought a cake mix. When I realized I had nothing to bake it in I got the crazy midwestern idea of asking my neighbors for a baking pan. The first two doors I knocked on got me nowhere but the third door, the next door, brought results.

An effeminate man answered the door and was delighted with my request. He invited me into a house with a lot more class than my grubby black and white. When I returned the pan a few days later he and his partner invited me to have a martini (my first) with them. They took me to a very cool backyard patio/garden showed me a platter of ripe tomato slices collected from a nearby Farmer’s Market and we had a very nice chat.

I asked my housemates if they thought the neighbors might be gay when I got back later that night. To their credits my housemates were indifferent. I got invited over several times afterward and was introduced to a number of men who seemed like sophisticates. One was a British fellow who had been the premier danseur for a Parisian Ballet Company. They were fairly interested in me and my drudge-like work in the bowels of the Congressional Office Buildings. The subject of marijuana came up. I told them I’d read a survey that summer that reported that something like 70% of the staff of the Congress admitted to using grass. Even in the office of my conservative Republican Congressmen the staff was so casual that all of the staff under the age of 30 (including me) confessed to the Administrative Assistant to having used grass. Some of the fellows at the party had usedJus grass, one expressed interest and another was a little shocked by the subject. It was a good chance for me to reciprocate for the martinis I had been served a month earlier and I offered to bring a dime bag over for them to sample. They thought it a capital idea so I did and we toked up.

In some ways the evening ended rather poorly. Marijuana has a tendency to make folks a little paranoid and that was the affect on me this particular night. I was surrounded by five pretty harmless gay men who were obviously interested in me. When I was sober this was not a problem. After the intoxication kicked in, however, one of them, produced a kitten and placed it on the sofa next to me. When the hand petting the kitten went astray and rubbed against my knee I mumbled an excuse and abruptly left the house.

I felt a little bad about my hasty departure the next morning. Even so we stayed on cordial terms although I only stopped by their house once more to say goodbye prior to flying back to a new school year at Mankato State. Both the partners mentioned that they would be in Europe the following summer and invited me to be their house sitter. I rather liked the idea.

My father did not. I’d told him the men were gay and it was likely their friends would drop by. My Dad was alarmed enough about the offer that I sent my old neighbors my regrets. They were honest regrets.

The point of this is that even though I wasn’t at all interested in sex with men had I been this would have been a comfortable a place to do some exploring. The primere dansur told us a very funny story about his youth in the Paris Ballet. He told us that all the ballerinas tried to have sex with him because, in the trade, it was considered good luck to sleep with a virgin. All the gay men at the party in D.C. thought this was very funny. Of course, as they all appreciated, the primere’s good luck was wasted on him as he was really not into ballerinas. On the other hand, had it been me in Paris I suspect I might have acted with a little more enthusiasm had a ballerina placed a kitten on the couch next to me.

Kerry Gauthier is close to my age and I know that he lived through a couple cruel decades as a young man where shame and humiliation were about the best he could expect in the way of public support. He says he’s suffered from addictive behavior for the past thirty years which may be evidence of that cruelty. I’m pleased that we seem to be heading to a new more enlightened age. I wish Mr. Gauthier well and I wish the same for the young fellow who answered his ad. They both deserved better than a public rest stop.

“working like bees to distill their poison”

That’s how President George Washington described Thomas Jefferson’s allies when they pushed him to declare War on England. I found the quote in Chapter two of Michael Beschloss’s recent book Presidential Courage. Here’s a middling review.

I knew the general outlines of this piece of Washington history but it was good to read again. It helps explain why Abe Lincoln thought so highly of the founding fathers that he wished he could become one of them. Abe succeeded beyond his wildest dreams and joined their august circle. I just finished Team of Rivals by Goodwin. Great Book.

Like Lincoln Washington was besieged by detractors in the press. (The Aurora was Jefferson’s own personal Fox News.

I liked Washington’s comment to a friend that his critics were fighting for “victory more than truth.” Sounds like the Koch Brothers.

The only way a Republican can argue for a tax increase…

…is to spend the money preparing to fight Obama’s United Nation’s mercenaries when they come to take over America.

Here’s what you just heard in case you thought someone had slipped you some LSD. By the way. The guy is a Texas judge.

[Obama] is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the UN. Okay, what’s going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking worst case scenario here. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. We’re not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations. We’re talking Lexington-Concord take up arms and get rid of the guy.
Now what’s going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in U.N. troops” with the little blue beanies. I don’t want ’em in Lubbock County. Okay. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say “you’re not coming in here”. “And the sheriff, I’ve already asked him, I said “you gonna back me” he said, “yeah, I’ll back you.”

I’m impressed. This may be the only way for a Republican to slip a tax past Grover Norquist.

The Republican Party and God’s abortions

Apparently the GOP’s US Senate candidate for Missouri, Congressman Todd Akin, has explained that women’s bodies somehow expel pregnancies caused by real honest to john rapes. This must mean that God is the GOP’s abortionist.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in a clip posted to YouTube by the Democratic super PAC American Bridge. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Far be it from me to say that Mr. Akin is a dimwit although since he now claims to have misspoken I can’t help but wonder if he is a liar.

“In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year,”

It is Congressman Akin’s fellow Republicans in Congress who lead me to his question honesty since they are working very hard to clarify what constitutes a legitimate rape..

This has left me to wonder what a legitimate rape is and whether an incident I recall from my college days would pass Republican muster.

I had an athletic acquaintance who was six-foot-eight. He came back from a date late one night and, pleased with himself, told a few of us about the girl he had taken for a drive along the dark country roads of Blue Earth County. He stopped the car beside a farm field and told his date to submit to him or find her own way home in the dark on foot. She submitted for the ride back into town.

I wonder if God was called on to perform an abortion later that night or if God decided that the girl didn’t put up enough of a fight.