George S Robb Center for the Study of the Great War

I’ve taken down the flag tonight on the official anniversary of the original Armistice Day. I’ll put it up again for the formal Veteran’s Day Monday off. I received an email from my friend Dr. Timothy Westcott of Park University. He has been a long time liaison with my family concerning Park University’s distinguished alumni, George Robb, my grandfather.

For the past couple of years he has been at work trying to draw attention to minority soldiers who may have been shortchanged in the awarding of medals for the Great War. A lot of Americans don’t realized how many foreigners and minorities fought for the United States in that war.

Dr. Westcott sent me a new piece from Fox News about the efforts of the George S. Robb Center for the Study of the Great War to draw attention to the reintroduction of banned chemical weapons and efforts to prevent their use:

https://www.foxnews.com/science/world-war-i-100-years-on-the-horrific-legacy-of-chemical-weapons-endures

The mega kleptocracy of today’s GOP

TRYING TO LOOK UP SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY ON MY BLOG I stumbled on this scrap of information. It pertains to Govornor Scott who has been complaining that by counting all the votes the Democrats are trying to steal his chance of winning the recent Senate election.

He knows something about theft.

So, today I read the Palm Beach Post’s scathing criticism of Florida Governor Rick Scott’s administration. Scott was a controversial nominee of the party after his company was given the biggest fine by the Federal Government for medicare fraud – $1.7 billion dollars.

Desecrating Consecrated Soil

Our President didn’t want to get his hair wet so he was the only head of state to skip out on visiting one of the American Cemeteries of fallen American troops in France.

I believe he skipped out on the field at Belleau Woods where a lot of Marines died. He left for France after berating three African american reporters and then threatened to withhold federal aid for Californians beset with the most hideous fires yet.

This year I visited the small village where my Grandfather got shot up 100 years to the day he put his life on the line for his country. Afterwards, I visited an American Cemetery not far from Verdun where the battle of the Meuse Argonne was fought. 26,000 Americans died there; more than fell in any other battle in America’s history. The picture above is one I took while I was in France this September.

If you are new to my blog I wrote about it in this post. If you are interested the next two posts following that detail sights I saw on America’s battlefields near Verdun.

I will be putting up our Stars and Stripes tomorrow on the centenary of the Great War’s end – Veteran’s Day. I will honor my Grandfather’s fellow soldiers. I hope it makes up for the repellent human that soils our White House daily.

Pity the down trodden Central Americans who will be facing 5,000 well armed American soldiers in the next few weeks. There won’t be any Pancho Villa’s among them. Like the villagers in the Magnificent Seven they are escaping such people. In today’s America they are not likely to find any Yul Brynners or Steve McQueens. I hope someone warns them not to throw rocks. Our poor troops. President Trump really knows how to humiliate them.

Trolling the Trolls

After six months of writing columns for the Reader I finally got some reaction in the online comment box. After my Frat Boy column a “Juan Percent” snarked at me. After this week’s column about my Presidential candidacy I got snarked at by a “Fed Troll.”

In both cases I bit like a fish and replied. It was only yesterday that I realized that Juan Percent had replied to me a couple days after I commented on his post. That was a month ago. I’ll give Juan credit. While I am not impressed with anonymous posts to communicate in our Democracy (I can forgive them in nations where state security will hunt down and imprison complainers) Juan offered a serious reply to me. I then attempted to catch his attention to see that I had offered additional thoughts.

At this one of my Reader contacts sent me an email recommending that I not reply to “trolls” like Mr. Percent. I joked back that I was simply trolling the trolls. What I meant was that by replying to them I was paying them in kind. But that was mostly a joke. I believe in conversation as much as I believe in compromise. If Minnesota’s moderate Republicans in the 1970’s had kept going to precinct caucuses and had conversations with pro lifers the party would be a different place today. Instead they avoided precinct caucuses and left them open to one side of an issue they felt uncomfortable discussing every two years.

While I soldiered on as a Republican for another twenty years even I decided it was pointless to be a lone voice arguing the pro-choice point of view. But its not like I’m afraid of facing those who disagree with me. For years I’d be the only Republican to go to Union endorsement interviews knowing I stood a snowball’s chance in the hellish union furnace. At my first such encounter in 1974 I chided the union members for putting all their apples in the basket with the half dozen DFL legislators who showed up to get their automatic endorsement. One of the legislators, Tom Berkleman, even scolded me for chiding the unions. Well, the Unions reliance on Democrats has not turned out so well since my scolding. As for Berklemen? He was arrested for stealing cigars from a smoke shop a few years later.

I’ll share the last couple thoughts that Mr. Percent and I exchanged to show that at least some trolls have given thought to the issues they pan on the Internet. I say that as a hopeless “libtard”: Continue reading

The Holidays with Eugène Delacroix

My eight loyal readers know that in the Holiday season of the late fall I put jigsaw puzzles together. When I go on trips I look for interesting puzzles to bring back to remember our travels. In the case of China last year I never found one in China so I ordered one through Amazon instead.

The first puzzle I started this year was purchased in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Because I’ve started getting puzzles from family for Christmas I’ll probably get three or four done by New Years. I prefer them to new neck ties.

Delacroix was a historical painter and a major obsession of his was to glorify the Republic of France. Here’s a picture I took of this famous painting while I was at the Louvre:

And here’s another of the entire setting for the painting. The Louvre is palatial because it was the residence, castle, for the King of France before an even grander palace was constructed at Versailles.

There was a long passage in the The Greater Journey about Samuel FB Morse who along with other great American painters traveled to France in the early decades of the 1800’s to learn how to paint from the French masters. We in America know him better for developing an idea he picked up in France – his invention of a working telegraph. That made him a millionaire or its 18th century equivalent but his original desire was to become a great “history” painter.

Before photography such painters were the great teachers of history to the common folk.

An uncomman man has just aquired such a painting for the White House. It is even more preposterous than the idea of a lady liberty urging the revolutionaries on and a little more mundane…..like those paintings of dogs playing poker. What do you think of it?

You could buy a print for $75.00. As for me I prefer the one the artist painted with Barack Obama.

No Irish need apply

Now that my three years of watching Donald Trump swallow the Republican Party whole has finally given way to a ray of hope in a Democratic controlled House of Representatives I can’t promise to blog with the enthusiasm I have shown up to know. If I am true to myself I will direct my fingers to typing up one of the dozens of books my decade old blog has regularly threatened that I will churn out.

Today for the third or fourth time in the last few years I’ve begun a history of my Grandfather George Robb (No stranger to this blog.) This attempt’s tentative title is How to be an American.

While looking for confirmation of some general historical facts I ran across this History Channel article about Irish Catholics in the United States. Reading it I couldn’t help but wince at the naked opportunistic, nativism of our jackass President. Every slander he slung at the pathetic people stumbling along a thousand miles south of our border was once thrown at Irish Catholics escaping Ireland in 1847 for America in some 5,000 “coffin ships.”

20,000 Irish Catholics died on their month-long voyage that year. Although of greater magnitude that’s not unlike the thousands of Mexican and Central Americans who have died crossing our desert border in recent years to enrich our economy if, however, illegally.

I did take some solace in looking at the election returns. The word was that the Iron Range was going to go for Pete Stauber big time. It didn’t happen. Democrat Radinovich got almost 20,000 more votes from St.Louis County than Pete Stauber. Leading up the election I couldn’t help but reflect on the disdain that the Trumpians of an earlier era directed at the Serbian and Croation miners who made the Iron Range hum and Minnesota prosperous. The thought that their grandchildren would hand Trump another vote in Congress turned my stomach.

All the Catholic Republicans ought to read this passage below from that article before they reaffirm their support for Donald Trump in 2020. There was good reason why the Kennedy Klan were Democrats.

A flotilla of 5,000 boats transported the pitiable castaways from the wasteland. Most of the refugees boarded minimally converted cargo ships—some had been used in the past to transport slaves from Africa—and the hungry, sick passengers, many of whom spent their last pennies for transit, were treated little better than freight on a 3,000-mile journey that lasted at least four weeks.

Herded like livestock in dark, cramped quarters, the Irish passengers lacked sufficient food and clean water. They choked on fetid air. They were showered by excrement and vomit. Each adult was apportioned just 18 inches of bed space—children half that. Disease and death clung to the rancid vessels like barnacles, and nearly a quarter of the 85,000 passengers who sailed to North America aboard the aptly nicknamed “coffin ships” in 1847 never reached their destinations. Their bodies were wrapped in cloths, weighed down with stones and tossed overboard to sleep forever on the bed of the ocean floor.

Glad that’s over with…..OMG, there’s another election coming!!!!!

I’m too fatigued from worry to think much about the 2020 election but I’m sure it will be another doozy. I simply feel relief. A Reagan Era Republican and columnist Max Boot said it was a “rebuke” but not the “repudiation” he had hoped for. I am disappointed but not dissatisfied. I have one ultimate objective. I want the restoration of the Party of Lincoln. I don’t see how that can happen anytime soon if ever.

Under the best circumstances it will take a decade for voters to forget what Donald Trump said and did to shore up his base. As Republicans voters age and die and Democrats undo state-by-state the election law mischief of the last ten years they will deserve the Congressional level ignominy that they endured in the post world War II years. I was going to add “but didn’t deserve” but then I remembered Joe McCarthy, the Red Scare and the HUAC Investigations. But that all happened before I hit First grade. After that “Cloth coat” Republicans suffered a couple decades out of power. (It was forty-six years in the House of Representatives! From 1948 to 1994)

Here are a few of my takeaways: Continue reading

My next two years

At choir on Sunday a friend mentioned that he’d read my letter to the editor. I told him that the really effective letter in the “Paid Political Letters” page was from Dan Russell. He agreed. At the end of our rehearsal a dear friend who had also read both letters made a bee line for me and said that the only thing my friend found objectionable about our letters was the implication that anyone who voted for Pete should not judge him guilty by his association with Donald Trump. I agreed but added that other nations had suffered when popular tyrants went unchallenged. Because I was a little taken aback I did not add that in today’s GOP no one dares stand up to the party’s first and only tyrant since its founding in 1856.

Pete Stauber is as both Dan Russell and I point out in our letters a good man. He is simply not a courageous politician at a time when the nation and his party need such people.

Here’s Mr. Russell’s letter which, because the DNT charged him to submit it, is also treated as “advertising” and thus, like mine it is not available online for readers.

I would have voted for you Pete Stauber
Dan Russell
Duluth

I would have voted for you Pete Stauber…
I appreciate your reputation as a Duluth Police Officer and I am thankful for your wife’s military service. I am also the father of a special needs child. I can feel you compassion. I would have voted for yo Pete Stauber…
But then you shared the stage…
With a man YOU would Not want as a neighbor, a son-in-law and certainly not as a patrol partner. A man who said the solution to last week’s tragedy in Pittsburgh was “they should have armed guards” At a Baby Naming Ceremony? I know you believe America is better than that.
And yet you stood next to him at the DECC and accepted an endorsement you should have refused and didn’t need.
I would have voted for you Pete Stauber…

The logo at the top of this post, which I’m still fussing with, gives some sense of how I expect to spend much of my time through the last two years of what I hope and pray will lead to the conclusion of the Donald Trump reign. I don’t want President Trump impeached even if solid grounds for such an action exist (and I suspect they do.) I wan’t to help defeat him at the polls and bury his administration’s stench. I just hope the Republicans are unable to steal America’s votes two years from now as they have been working overtime to do in this election. “Sic semper tyrannis.” (By ballot not bullet!)

Dear Republican Party. Look who thought being liberal was virtuous.

At tonight’s touching remembrance for the recent victims of White nationalism which was held at Duluth’s Temple Israel our pastor gave a compelling description of Pittsburg’s Squirrel Hill where she grew up.

Then the Rabbi said he wanted to read the wonderful and thoughtful words of our President sent to the Jewish community. The words were those of the first President, George Washington, sent to the Jews of Rhode Island in 1790:

Gentlemen:

While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

From Lincoln to the Anti-Christ

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

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

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

It sounds like a Donald Trump joke.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lunch….will finish later.

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

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

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

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

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

and presumably God is not a Republican!