The Best GOP candidate available in 2012 – Pt 2

My Buddy who so often annoys me with the drivel from the bought-and-paid-for-GOP pundits redeemed himself big time this morning by sending me the explanation for why Mitt Romney was the best candidate the GOP could muster in 2012. The only sane GOP candidate this year Mitt was one of the last remnants of the defunct moderate wing party. To win he had to disguise his moderation to the point of making his mind as opaque as a black hole.

Why is this so? Because the GOP and its pundits have built their outhouses under the outhouse of the real leader of the party one whom they never dare cross or contradict.

This is the email from my Buddy. It was titled “Humor from the Oval Office.” The joke was told by Wyoming’s former GOP Senator Alan Simpson. One of the good Republican’s and sadly retired.

From Bob Woodward’s, The Price of Politics , regarding Obama’s selection of Senator Alan Simpson for the Bowles Simpson commission:

“Rush Limbaugh, he’s just going to say I’m sleeping with the enemy,” Simpson added. “Mr. President,” he continued, “that reminds me of a joke. A guy goes and buys a really expensive car, but takes it back to the dealer and says, “God damn it, I just spent $300,000 on this car and the radio doesn’t even work. And the dealer says, “No, no, you have to understand, you bought such an advanced car that your radio is the newest. Just say what you want to hear and it comes on the radio. You say jazz, and on comes jazz. You say country, and on comes the country station. The guy, once again really proud of his new purchase, drives off the lot and gets cut off by another driver. “Asshole! he yells, and Rush Limbaugh comes on the radio.”

Spoiler Alert – JB Marvin

The City of Duluth’s Building Department has not yet posted my daughter’s home as “uninhabitable” but she and the boys have been staying with us for two nights since I was told the announcement would go up on her front door.

It seems that my haste to have her home re-excavated to discover whether JB Marvin really removed an old “abandoned” sewer line they found six feet under my daughter’s house has cooled the City’s ardor to initiate paperwork. I don’t blame them. If its fixed the City will have to shuffle more paper after my daughter’s sewage flows, once again, unimpeded to Duluth’s waste treatment. On the other hand I was rather hoping to take a photo of the notice. I think more folks should hear the remarkable tale of JB Marvin’s one-hundred-thousand dollar Port-o-potty.

Now that’s what I call home improvement!

Taking a break from JB Marvin

Petroleum’s conception goes back about 1.6 billion years when a cyanobacterium (now confined to volcanic pools and the ocean deeps) was engulfed by an oxygen respiring bacterium becoming a chloroplast that allowed vegetation to lead a revolution of life on the Earth’s surface. At the surface dead plants with that stored solar energy drifted down to the ocean bottoms or piled up in swamps and wetlands and was covered by the sediment from eons of erosion. The ignition of it every drop of it or chunk of it (in the case of coal) releases both that energy and the carbon atoms that locked it up.

Humans, now seven billion strong (only 2,555,982,611 billion at my birth in 1950) have exploited this resource until the liquid portion, petroleum, has become scarce.

Although today’s GOP fundamentalists are committed to teaching that the world is only a few thousand years old even when I was a kid the popular imagination lit up at the prospect of dinosaurs and their ancient lives. So much so that kids like me were led to the belief that our Dad’s were filling up their cars gas tanks with the remains of ancient reptiles.

The one celled precursors to animals, like plants, also engulfed energy producing organisms. They are called mitochondria and they are found in virtually every animal cell. The million things cells do to keep multi-celled animals functioning don’t fit into the accounting of Earth’s seven day creation.

Perhaps it is the GOP’s religious convictions that promote Sarah Palin’s “Drill Baby Drill” politics. But those convictions run up against the limited easily available solar energy locked up in the Earth.

For most of the last century, cheap oil powered global economic growth. But in the last decade, the price of oil has quadrupled, and that shift will permanently shackle the growth potential of the world’s economies.

The countries guzzling the most oil are taking the biggest hits to potential economic growth. That’s sobering news for the U.S., which consumes almost a fifth of the oil used in the world every day. Not long ago, when oil was $20 a barrel, the U.S. was the locomotive of global economic growth; the federal government was running budget surpluses; the jobless rate at the beginning of the last decade was at a 40-year low. Now, growth is stalled, the deficit is more than $1 trillion and almost 13 million Americans are unemployed.

With seven billion humans using more and bigger finely tuned machines to tap the energy from the Earth’s stored carbon reserves and discarding the carbon as CO2 by the billions of tons Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are able to store more solar infrared energy (heat energy) rather than reflecting quite so much back out into space.

The GOP fundamentalists tell us that trumpeting this theory is nothing more than a plot by energy scientists to secure more government grants for their research. The scientists are belatedly doubling down on the theory and gradually converting more of the rare scientific skeptics to their cause.

The same mercenary interests might be imputed to elected GOP fundementalists who rake in lots of political funds from
energy companies.

Money talks and so do GOP converts to global warming skepticism like Mitt Romney.

Maybe today’s Republicans believe that our gas and oil come from dinosaurs like the colt-osaurus that Jesus rode into Jerusalem at Passover. No wonder the children laid palm leaves at his feet as he passed along.

I bet today’s Republicans would like to see Jesus return and transform our rivers into oil. Of course we humans were doing that ourselves until the do-gooder liberals and environmentalists stuck their nose in our business and cleaned up our rivers for fish not humans.

Pt 3 – I cannot recommend JB Marvin

My front steps disobligingly continued to crumble after Mr. Davidson’s departure and I reluctantly patched them back together each time leaving the whole an ugly checkerboard of of different colored mortar. It did not help that the railing was knocked usunder three times over the years by errant vehicals most recently two winters ago. (see picture)

This year it seemed time to invest in my home the neighborhood and the betterment of the City of Duluth. Jeff Marvin was just the man to collect the money for its repair.

Jeff was so eager over the phone. He just had to do the work. It would be a great advertisement as it was on such a visible street and he really wanted to concentrate on repair work in the Eastern part of town so as to avoid driving all over the place. Besides the folks out east had more money and more vanity about the upkeep of their homes. Jeff never really said this quite so baldly but I had little doubt that this fit into his personal business equation.

Besides, I enjoyed Jeff’s whirlwind courtship and seize the day attitude. One of the reviewers on Angie’s list was fairly overcome by Jeff’s exuberance. Only one of the four reviews had anything negative to say about Marvin. He had left a mess on the property after the work was completed. Jeff answered that by saying he always left his work spic and span.

Later after we had contracted him to do the tuckpointing on our house Jeff had a landscaper on the job who would take some of the left over sod from Jeff’s home and fix up ours after it was done. Jeff had to get more sod because his Great Danes had torn up the yard.

But the steps were the appetizer. The house was to become the second course and Jeff had a brother Tracy who had bum knees. Jeff was looking for work that his brother could do since standing up at a wall was tough for him. Jeff’s enthusiasm was contagious. I don’t know how many times he shook my hand but it was almost as if he had read the sociological discovery that customers whose hands are brushed by sales clerks during the exchange of money rated them more highly than their counterparts who did not make skin to skin contact during a sale.

Jeff was exstatic over the location of my steps on one of the busiest streets in Duluth on the edge of the territory where he preferred to work. It didn’t help that his significant other had spoken highly of me. Yes, this is where my susceptibility to vanity comes in. If Jeff didn’t have much of a clue that I was well known for my active opposition to the mega school building program in Duluth called the Red Plan I was happy to tell him how irritated I was with the successful con artistry of Johnson Controls. I told Jeff that everyone in town either loved or hated me and he reported back through the weeks that everyone seemed to have an opinion about me.

He also reported back that, as he had hoped, he was getting lots and lots of inquiries. “I want to put my sign in your yard,” he had told me repeatedly. My yard and His steps would make him a small fortune in referrals and he spent his mornings going out and getting more jobs for later in the season. And boy did he get them. A dozen or more.

At this point I should interject an important point. Today, four months wiser I have no idea how closely anythign Jeff Marvin told me resembled the truth. He may have gotten a great many jobs at my famous snow sculpture house or he may not have. I had no reason to doubt Jeff and his apparent joy at hitting gold. I talked to a number of people some of them strangers who recognized me from my previous public notoriety who often accosted me to ask about my contractor or walked past the steps and later the house and paused to talk to me or Jeff’s workers. One of Jeff’s most hardworking masons landed a couple jobs himself much to Jeff’s amusement because, as he said of the young man, “He doesn’t even know anything about the business.”


Pt 2 I cannot recommend JB Marvin

I have a favorite quote from the New Testament. Every time I start writing a book I tend to quote it at the heading of some chapter and I’ve quoted it at least twice in the blog. The first time back in 2007 in the post: I’m going to hell. It is Mathew Chapter 16 verse 16 when Jesus tells us to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”

In JB Marvin 1 I explained that this contractor was good for my humility. That’s because on the several occassions when I saw Jeff’s forked tongue I decided he was a Damon Runyonesqe character worthy of enjoyment. He was that, however he was far more worthy of the skepticism Jesus advised.

I had already had a long history with my front steps. From the day we moved in, 25 years ago last May they have been crumbling away. I was worried about them in the early years especially in Winter when folks would climb the stairs to take close up pictures of the snow sculptures I would build in my front yard. It was bad enough that Jim Heffernan, the Trib’s editorialist once told me a small child had been killed a block from my house when she climbed a large UMD snow sculpture that had been built for a winter carnival. It fell on her. I had no desire to get sued by a gawker because he slipped on an icy broken brick.

So, when an itinerant with broken teeth knocked on my front door in 1998 and told me my chimney could use some tuckpointing I asked instead if he could fix my steps. After some of my own previous shortlived repairs they were looking seedy and in disorder again. He said he could.

There is a very long story about this spring summer fall. I seem to have summarized it in this post from earlier this year when JB Marvin took up where the old fly-by-nighter left off. In fact I see that my first mention of JB here in the blog. Readers take note. JB Marvin sounded pretty good in Angie’s List back then which my May 9th post notes. Even today there is a Better Business Bureau website that gives Jeff’s company an A-. Of course you can find his picture on some “mugshot” websites as well.

Had I known about Jeff Marvin’s criminal past I might not have been put off. I believe in second chances and the story of my first encounter with a brick mason was a case in point. I asked Mr. Davidson a lot of questions and over time he explained how he had previously skipped out of town when he got in over his head leaving unhappy homeowners in the lurch. For the next two years I took him under my wing, helped him complete some of his backlog by joining him in tuckpointing other homes and even advanced him some money to refund one unhappy customer.

He invited me to the party for his new born baby the year after I tuck pointed my own home under his direction. Yes, the stairway was just a first step. He blew out of town a few months after his girlfriend and the mother of his baby told me she was no longer sleeping with him to which I nodded sympathetically and then got the hell away from her. I did not mourn when they left town.

Pt. 1 I can not recommend JB Marvin…

…although in my case it has been good for and justified my humility.

JB Marvin is Jeffrey Marvin. He inveigled himself into my good graces four months ago when I was trying to decide if I wanted to spend a lot more money to rebuild the brick staircase leading from my front sidewalk to my home up a 12 foot high hill to my portico. (That’s a front porch with columns on either side)

One contractor didn’t want to hassle with bricks – too much work. For about seven grand he would have poured in concrete steps. The second contractor to return my calls was Jeff. Jeff really, really wanted to fix my steps. Even though it would cost twice as much I decided that I wanted Jeff to fix them as well.

Fourteen years before these same steps led me into a summer of unnecessary grief. They were about to do so again as a reminder, perhaps, that to er is human and that I am no exception.

Borgia anyone?

Perhaps my buddy thought me a tad pedantic. Here’s his nomination for some really fine symphonic work. It comes courtesy of one of the annoying “conservative” blogs he keeps directing me to – Smalldeadanimals. Its the best post he’s ever sent me from it.

Copeland and Lincoln – my favorites

Last evening I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful opening concert for the new season of the Duluth Superior Symphony. We took our good friends and, because of the additional seats required got to sit four or five rows closer to the orchestra.

I was particularly eager to hear the middle offering by Aaron Copeland “Lincoln Portrait” – “>Here a truncated version read by (I think) Gregory Peck. (This is not my first reference to this performance)

It was last performed by the Symphony at a 4th of July Concert outdoors and I joked with my friend Frank that I was intensely jealous at that occasion to hear my two time opponent Congressman James Oberstar do the naration honors. I was almost more irked that he did them quite well.

Over the years I’ve read more books on Lincoln than any other historical individual. Copeland is my favorite composer and I’m sure the Portrait is a large part of the reason for my appreciation. It is however, his Fanfare for the Common Man that is my favorite piece, Its so niave, hopeful, fresh and American. It can’t quite stand by itself but is included in many if not most of the Copeland albums and compilations and when it is included it is the exclamation point.

The orchestra did a creditable job and the narrator, Mr. Fogle, was excellent, understated and grave. Sadly a low static feedback on his mike continued on through the narration. The performance brought a pretty quick standing ovation as did the finale in the second half Tchaikovsky’s 5th symphony.

“Creditable” sounds like a dismissal and that’s not a fair characterization. The performance brought a tear to my increasingly weepy eyes and you can’t ask for more than that in any performance. I missed some of the energy of a season opening performance when the musicians should have been keyed up and their music crackling with passion.

Markand Thakar has built a truly phenomenal orchestra in little, lowly, provincial Duluth. We’ve had season tickets off and one since before we had children thirty years ago (if I recall correctly) Markand has been here for a third of that time and a decade is a very long time for a conductor to wield the baton at any particular orchestra before moving on. I think the orchestra has grown a little blase about him and it seems borne out in performances with are close to flawless but often wanting in intensity.

I was on the School Board when Markand came to town and at one supper we ate together he lobbied me for more money for the school music program. I was but one member of the Board and the political realities prevented me from doing anything except for putting my heart into the passage of excess levy referendums. Otherwise I was a tightwad with existing cash and resisted large pay increases for the teachers which would have necessitated cutting back the faculty and the course offerings.

Little did I know that those would be the good days for music in the public schools. We had a fabulous music program. I swear when my kids were at East High a School general music program seemed to include half the students on the stage. The Christmas/Winter performance at the DECC auditorium was like a small town festival. True, the music rooms were hideously small, unacoustic, and damaged the hearing of the teachers. That’s no longer the case but I’ll bet the number of children taking music instruction is a much smaller percentage now than in the pre Red Plan days. I’d love to have a school board member make an inquiry into this subject but I wouldn’t expect them too. The results could be too dispiriting.

I do not think that this will be true of the new Symphony season. Last year the Orchestra did crackle repeatedly under the batons of all of the candidates to succeed Maestro Thakar. I was especially knocked over by the first performance of the first candidate. That candidate will soon take up the baton as our new maestro. I hope he keeps the marvelous orchestra that Thakar built on the tips of their toes.

The GOP’s version of American history all ready to go into one of those Texas history books

From a very long list of quotes in the New Yorker.

Here’s the first historical reference in chronological order:

1500s: The American Revolutionary War begins: “The reason we fought the revolution in the sixteenth century was to get away from that kind of onerous crown.” Rick Perry

and here’s the last:

2011: President George W. Bush kills Osama bin Laden: “Thanks to George Bush. Because if Obama had his way we wouldn’t have gotten bin Laden, you know that.” Sean Hannity

Read more

Too good to be true

The Red Planner’s broken promise has never been explained so convincingly as in this letter in today’s crowded DNT letters section. I’ll never let my grandchildren into the ISD 709 schools until the community fixes what Dr. Dixon and his dupes broke.

Hanging would be too good and fast an end for the people who so badly compromised the Duluth Public Schools system. They just can’t wait to spend another quarter of a million dollars on the Duluth hockey program in the guise of more play space for the well-heeled Congdon Neighborhood school.

Poor Congdon. They have their own elementary school endowment and they can buy full page ads in the Duluth News Tribune to describe their plight. What a wonderful advertisement it was to the voters the district will soon beg to pass another additional operational levy. More proof that spending for our classrooms comes in a distant second to the need for more and better facilities where Ann Wasson and Judy Seliga-Punyko are concerned.

How appropriate it was to publish this on World Alzheimer’s Day.

In a letter I sent to the Duluth school district and School Board, I described a video clip from TV that aired around 2005, during the Red Plan/Blue Plan debates. I’m in the video, full-frame, heartily defending the Red Plan at a district-sponsored community meeting. With the significant annual savings promised by the district to come out of the plan’s implementation, the Red Plan seemed like a fairly good deal.

Fast forward seven years: This fall my son is in the eighth grade at the newly renovated Ordean-East Middle School — and we are supposed to finally be reaping the benefits of this $300 million endeavor.

Imagine my wife’s and my dismay when we learned there are 47, yes, 47! students in my son’s science class. There are similar numbers in his physical education and German classes. To say we are disappointed would not be nearly strong enough.

We grew up in Russia, a country obviously not as rich as the U.S. However, none of our classes were that large. We wonder whether the district misled us with its descriptions of Red Plan savings. Or perhaps priorities in using these savings were so radically different from those dictated by common sense?

Having taught for more than 20 years, I feel very strongly nothing is more important for the success of a student than the personal attention of a dedicated teacher, which is directly linked to the class size. From a response I received, I know at least one School Board member, Art Johnston, shares my conviction. I received no response from other School Board members yet.

I would like to know whether the district and the rest of the School Board agree with me about class sizes. If so, when will they put the money where the real needs are?

Michael A. Waxman