I’m not happy. The Reader cut seven paragraphs from today’s Column

I’m sure its an accident.

Without the reader is tossed into an ocean without a view to the coast. Normally I don’t publish them to this blog. Instead I link to the Reader’s online site. Today I’ve put the whole column together on the blog. You can read it in the post that proceeds this one.

I’ve asked them to print it whole next week. My eight loyal readers don’t have to wait. Just go back to the previous post.

You Have my Sympathy Ilhan (includes the six paragraphs missing from today’s Reader)

You Have My Sympathy Ilhan

Prologue:
Ilhan Omar, Minnesota’s new Islamic Congresswoman, has offered her “unequivocal” apology for twitting the fiercely pro-Israel Political Action Committee AIPAC in a tweet. Some of her fellow Congressmen are not satisfied. Full abasement is called for and perhaps Congressional censure. Nevermind that traditional Republican condemnation of “Hollywood” for unraveling our moral fabric echoes similar calls from earlier politicians that paired amoral Hollywood with the slur “Jew controlled.”

Three years ago, I submitted the following column after accompanying a peace studies class to the Holy land. I suggested that it be the first of several to follow covering my two-week tour of Israel and Palestine. I’d grouse about how the reputedly corrupt Prime Minister Netanyahu insulted President Obama. I’d gasp about the belligerent drunk who hectored my liberal Jewish
guides. I’d describe how I wept at Yad Vashem as an archival movie showed two small shivering brothers sitting on curb in Warsaw, the little one listless and near death; both boys the age and image of my grandsons. The Reader didn’t get back to me back then so I resubmit the column today to register my own impatience with the one-sided debate allowed in today’s America over an issue almost as important as guns, gays and gynecology.

Harry Welty’s Holy Land Haj, Part 1 – Bookends Continue reading

Ilhan Omar, Stauber email, and using french while shoveling snow.

Waking up at 3 this morning wasn’t so bad today because I hit the sack at 10 after an hour of practicing French. After my return from France last October I wanted to keep working on it because nine months of study didn’t come close to giving me the gift of French for our trip through France. I was disappointed but not surprised. I’d listened to a polyglot (multi-lingualist) online and she said it took her about two years of hour-a-day study before she could become a conversationalist in a new language. I had vague but serious plans to spend a couple weeks in France this summer (after that second year of study) in some corner where no one spoke English. Medical issues have derailed those plans. Maybe in 2020. Meantime I keep up my “entraine toi” (practice).

Had I set practice aside I’d have had an hour a day to blog. Goodness knows bloggable features have continued to pour over my head like Niagara. Ironically, I have engaged in some lengthy Facebook debates over the past two weeks. If it was easier to take the debate out of Facebook and post them I’d be strongly tempted to do so. I enjoy the back and fourth. And I’m more persuaded that America has lost the habit of give and take. We all see the splinters in other people’s eyes.

I didn’t rush to the computer to blog this morning. I got up and shoveled out of yesterday’s snowfall. That took an hour and a half. I have to leave in an hour for our church men’s group. I’ll lead the singing today as we hear Duluth’s former Mayor Don Ness talk to us about his new work for the Ordean Foundation. Ah, but since I finished my show shoveling a snow plow has just put a huge pile of snow in front of my driveway. When I stop blogging I’ll go and shovel myself out again.

Yesterday I did turn in a column for the Duluth Reader. Its titled something like My sympathy to Ilhan. Its not really about Congressman Ilhan Omar, however her recent stint as a punching bag prompted me to resubmit a column I offered the Reader three years ago. The Duluth News Tribune joined the dogpile in today’s paper. I wish they were as high and mighty where President Trump is concerned.

I also smiled to myself reading about the St. Louis County Board following the Duluth School Board’s example and forking over money to atone for their foot dragging turning over Pete Stauber’s business email. They were as anticipated innocuous. They were also public property.

Governor Northam and the issue which launched the shoe polish

Jonah Goldberg wrote a hard nosed column in reference to Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam. By hard nosed I mean calling abortion “baby killing” with no distinction between a full term baby and one newly conceived. A new acquaintance of mine who is a Californian in mourning over the loss of the Republican Party in California offered these thoughts to Mr. Goldberg in response. I don’t know if he published her comments or not but she gave me permission to share them. By the way she considers herself “pro-life.”

To Jonah Goldberg:

“Sorry, your group has really mischaracterized Northam’s remarks. He is a doctor, who has worked up close and personal with parents who have had to make a terrible decision under the worst of circumstances, like my husband and I. We had a baby at 35 weeks that was born live, but with Trisomy 18. Google it, the prognosis is abysmal. We had no clue. I went into early labor at 33 weeks and was hospitalized. The doctors worked very hard to help me keep the baby, while injecting me with drugs to help the baby’s lungs mature, as well as some drug meant to reverse labor. (Sorry, I don’t remember the name, but it makes you exceedingly sick.) I didn’t realize at the time how hard these drugs are on the mother, and could have killed me, but I had already lost two babies due to miscarriage, so I was totally onboard to save my baby. One of the symptoms, which brought on my early labor, was an excessive build up of amniotic fluid, which I learned later is Nature’s way of dispelling an unhealthy fetus. This was ameliorated by putting a tube into the baby’s womb to drain off excessive amniotic fluid. This happened two times over the course of a couple of weeks. The second time, they sent the fluid out for genetic testing. Daily monitoring of the fetal health was done. Before the results came back, they noted that the baby was going into serious fetal distress, so it was necessary to do an emergency C-section. I was not awake during the process, but my husband had been able to get there on time. To this day, he can’t get rid of the shock of the birth of his first child. She was only about 3+ pounds and shriveled and deformed. The hospital put her on life support. You have no idea how hard it is to see your little, sick baby with all these tubes. Two days later, the results came back from the genetic testing – Trisomy 18, with about the worst prognosis that could be. We had a conversation with my OB-Gyn about what our choices might be. We hated the idea of prolonging a life, that truly was not meant to be, with all the tubes and physical intrusion and pain. BTW, after my two miscarriages, I was prescribed a daily progesterone suppository, which was meant to help sustain my 3rd pregnancy, which I did. I would not recommend it, as I feel it helped sustain an unhealthy pregnancy, which would have turned out as an early miscarriage like my other two.) A panel of ethics doctors considered our case. Considering the dismal prognosis of Trisomy 18, we were given permission to allow our daughter to be taken off life support. Maybe the way I am writing this, with 35 years’ hindsight, I am sounding too logical, but, believe me, it was a huge, emotional crisis at the time. She was taken off life support on her third day. I prayed to God that she wouldn’t suffer for too long. Thankfully, she passed within a couple of hours. The next day my doctor came to check on me. He told me that, believe it or not, we were lucky, that worse things could happen. Not exactly the best thing to tell a grieving mother. However, I am 65 now, with two healthy 30-somethings. As horrible as my experience was, life has also shown me that, yes, there are worse things that can happen.

I am writing all this because I feel the extremes of both sides of the question of abortion are too dug in, and talking past each other. And they are both wrong. It is not always a question of black or white. Governor Northam was speaking exactly about people like me, and how things are supposed to happen under the worst of circumstances. Sometimes there are shades of gray, as I am living proof.”

My friend’s comments remind me of an astonishing collection of first person witness on the subject of difficult pregnancies shared with Andrew Sullivan back in 2009 in his blog.

He set them aside after he ended his blog and they can be read on this site titled: Its so personal

Sword 2 , the Wallace example

The preceding post doesn’t capture part of the conversation I had with my wife as we discussed this news event.

I am a better angel man. Lincoln you know, and a perfectly respectable Democrat is being flayed for a youthful stupidity. He wasn’t accused of attempting to rape anyone after all. But I just heard the Republican Party’s chairman tell NPR that Governor Northam should resign. Every Democrat seems to be jumping on this bandwagon.

Let me offer some perspective.

I mentioned to my wife the incredible generosity that former Alabama Governor, George Wallace received from Black Alabama in his twilight years. And remember, this was Mr. “Segregation now, Segegration tommorrow, Segregation forever!”

Wallace didn’t start politics as a racist. He lost his first race for the legislature to a racist and being practical out-racisted all future challengers up until he became Governor. But in his last days he sorrowfully apologized for the part he had played. Black Alabama prayed for him and with him and forgave him. They were better angels.

Claudia has recently read Jon Meacham’s book Soul of America. She loved it. She told me that during his Presidency Lyndon Johnson got Wallace in his office and asked him if, after his death, he would be proud to be remembered for his racist politics and go to his grave with a little plaque saying “he hated” on it. Wallace backed off his persecution of black Alabamans.

I’m not sure Johnson’s words made that much of an impact on Wallace in the short term. Wallace conducted his independent 1968 Presidential campaign with a vengeance. But after a second presidential run and an assassination attempt that left him paralyzed he was a shattered man. His apology gave black Alabamans a chance to be generous.

Today politics is once again a blood sport and I’ve heard a lot of Democrats so wound up over Northam’s shoe polish that there isn’t a shred of mercy left. That troubles me.

Falling on your sword

I’m even more troubled by the Niagara pouring over Virginia’s happless democratic Governor Ralph Northam than I was over Minnesota’s Al Franken. His crime in my opinion is panic and stuttering. They come in the wake of a one – two punch.

First, he spoke like a doctor when pressed on late term abortions. I didn’t follow that disaster which was whipped up by Pro-lifers chuffed at the prospect of overturning Roe v Wade and by New York’s unnecessary law trying to one up all the pro-life legislation profiferating in Pro Life country.

Coincidentally one of my recent Facebook correspondents, who is in anguish over the disappearance of the Republican Party in California, shared her thoughts on this sympathetic to Gov. Northam based on her personal experience. She shared them first with Jonah Goldberg of the Nation and told me I could share them with my audience if I promised not to amend them. (If I do that will come later)

This, however, is not the issue that has people baying for him to resign. What is known is that a picture of a man in blackface and someone in a KKK costume was put in an unofficial “yearbook” for his medical school back in 1984. If, as Northam now says he was not in it its too late. His first comment was to apologize for it. After that who can know what to think of his retraction made worse by the confession that he put some shoe polish on his face while participating in a dance contest in 1984. Here the ironies multiply. He was doing Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, Michael who was infamous for bleaching his skin a lighter color. It was a day and age where the dim movie “soul man” hit the theaters. It was only four years after Reagan’s election when he announced his presidential campaign a few miles from the murder of 3 civil rights workers in the 1960’s almost making it seem like the issue of civil rights was all over.

Its galling to see Republicans calling for the Democratic governor to resign considering Northam’s racist in-sensitivities pale compared to President Trumps. As for the Democrats. There is a stampede to remove him. If he leaves it should be because he has so poorly explained himself and that seems to be what many Virginians are thinking. Some day we may learn who made the yearbook. who the people were in it. And how it fell into the hands of a conservative Internet site. No matter what we learn from this reporting it doesn’t save the Governor from his poorly thought out self defense. Who the heck does he think he is? Donald Trump? Lie man. Lie!!!!!

Blackkklansman

This is a pic I snapped last September in Dijon, France. It shows one of forty or fifty waiter/waitresses in a race around the center of town the chief qualification of the half mile or so race was not to drop anything from your tray. While we were in Dijon we were a block away from a “cinema” that was showing the Spike Lee Movie Blackkklansman. We had some spare time but didn’t know if it would be in English with French subtitles or Dubbed French. We passed on the movie. Tonight after watching Lee’s movie at home we both rather regretted missing it in France.

The movie which takes dramatic liberties about a real story concluded with an unexpected segue from a cross burning in the movie to the White racists marching with torches in Charlottesville, Virginia chanting about Jews not taking over America and fighting with protesters. It cut to Trump saying people on both sides of the fighting were trouble and then showed a car that plowed through people protesting the racists from several angles. It was sobering. We wondered what it would have been like to see how a French audience would have reacted to it.

It reminded me of my experience in Dallas or San Antonio, Texas when my family took one of our summer vacations. Dad took us all to a spaghetti western in a downtown theater. It was full of Mexican-American men, mostly young. They so enjoyed watching the gringos getting shot up during fight scenes that I for one felt ridiculously out of place being a gringo myself. Had we been seen in that France movie house depicting racist 1970’a America no one would have known we were Americans. We probably wouldn’t have said much when leaving the theater.

Women’s Vitiamins

The good life has hit a pot hole which I am not inclined to BS about at the moment. There will be time for that later but know I woke up today momentarily inclined to once again ratchet up my game. If all goes well I will be facing two or three months of stay at home 24 hour fussing. Please God let all go well and forgive me my agnosticism if that’s an impediment and By God! if it is that’s both our problem.

Anywhoo.

I decided it was time start in on my office reorganization. I was thinking of all the things I wanted to write……largely books instead of blog posts……and how I really needed to make my stuff accessible and get it off my floor. Clutter keeps me out of the office. I’ve become allergic to it in my dotage as it only adds to my confusion.

But, as you can clearly read, I’ve stopped to pontificate on the blog so here’s what I have to get off my chest to proceed to the organizing. Write a letter to a friend, get blogging out of my system for the rest of the day and clean up my room. Before that began I crawled out of my bed at 4. Spent an hour denying my morning cat food until I had folded the sheets from last night’s laundry, put the clean dishes away, pulled my Duluth Trib out of the back door and quickly peruse it and take my woman’s vitamin. First digression.

I got my dalmatian done on Thursday – my 101st blood donation. (See 100 pints.) For years I was given a pass after a pin prick to my middle fingers to test my hemoglobin. Had I not had sufficient iron in my blood I would not have been permitted to donate that day. A year ago they raised the requirement from a 12 something, which I always had managed, to a 13 something. Suddenly I was barely making it. One month I didn’t make it but a nurse suggested I squeeze my fingers to get fresher more ironic blood to my finger tips. That worked. But the next time I came in I wasn’t given the option. I had to turn around and go home. I made it up later after eating hamburgers…..not that this is what helped.

My wife suggested vitamins and went out to buy some for me. The only bottles that had iron in them were women’s viatimins…….for that time of the month. Well a blood donation comes every other month for me but those viatimins have done the job. Last month I was at 14 something and on Thursday I was at 15 something.

So, I looked at the Newspaper, briefly I think I mentioned and putting my new my improved work ethic at risk I decided to look at the funnies in the back. Well, I’m glad I did. I’m always pleased when I see two unrelated commics coincidentally cover the same idea on the same day. I clipped these two out and taped them to my wall. Fortuitously, they both reinforced my newly found dedication. I taped them to my office door.

Its been two hours since I woke up and I haven’t yet attacked the floor. I did however get this written do the chores previously mentioned and am trying to bat some neglected work out of the way…..by doing it. Just before I began this I decided to act on the threat of losing my longest functioning formerly free photo sharing ap Flickr. For a month they had been sending me a warning that I was way over the 1000 picture limit. Unless I finally joined as a dues payer they would start deleting my uploaded photos. Gosh, I started relying on Flicker in 2006 when I first started the blog. I lost forty or fifty pictures of Denmark when my computer crashed years ago but I had uploaded a dozen of them to Flickr. I then used Flickr to post them on my blog for some color. They are still there. But. My pictures on these old posts will disappear if Flickr deletes them……so with that gun to my head I’ve started paying up.

Well, that gets blogging out of my system for the day. On to that letter and on to my clean up.

Nixonites

The Reader didn’t print the Title I’d planned on but a caption I’d suggested for the following picture. I wanted it titled “Debating Society.” I wasn’t very clear when I rushed the column to them late Tuesday night!

Below is the first paragraph. Here it is in the Online Reader.

“For several days I’ve had heated discussions on Facebook over THE issue of the day (many days) President Trump. Passersby at my house know that I hold our President in low regard. And yet in discussing him pro and con I’ve tried to be lawyerly. An old college chum echoed Trump’s call to stop MS 13, drugs, rapists and sex traffickers at the border. A Bernie Sanders supporting shirttail relative lambasted Hillary Clinton for sabotaging Bernie Sanders in her campaign for the Democratic nomination. I begged to disagree with both. Searching for middle ground is an old habit of mine. . .”

Justice vs Politics – RE: The possible, imminent political crises

Five years ago I began but quickly shelved an argument with the attorney I was working with who helped Let Duluth Vote challenge the Red Plan in Duluth. I told him that the law was tempered with politics. He strongly denied this, so much so I thought it useless to argue. But its true. Judges bring their political thinking and loyalties into their job just like they bring their other experiences and family connections. Many of them have to run for their offices. As is said of politicians: those who do not get elected cannot legislate, so to with judges; those who can not get elected cannot judge.

It is wishful thinking to expect all or even most judges to be blindly blind to the world around them and simply rule on the basis of sometimes out-dated or ill-worded laws when the public can throw bombs at them for doing so. Judges in India and Pakistan probably get year round police protection when they make unpopular rulings like the recent Indian Court that opened an Indian Temple recently to women of an age to menstruate.

With this prologue let me introduce the first four paragraphs of an Atlantic article on our Supreme Court’s Chief Justice John Roberts. They contain almost exactly my thinking about him. I’ve read no further than this for now but here’s the article in full and here below are those first four paragraphs: (This article appears in the March 2019 issue.)

Two years ago, Chief Justice John Roberts gave the commencement address at the Cardigan Mountain School, in New Hampshire. The ninth-grade graduates of the all-boys school included his son, Jack. Parting with custom, Roberts declined to wish the boys luck. Instead he said that, from time to time, “I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice.” He went on, “I hope you’ll be ignored, so you know the importance of listening to others.” He urged the boys to “understand that your success is not completely deserved, and that the failure of others is not completely deserved, either.” And in the speech’s most topical passage, he reminded them that, while they were good boys, “you are also privileged young men. And if you weren’t privileged when you came here, you’re privileged now because you have been here. My advice is: Don’t act like it.”

As Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s maudlin screams fade with the other dramas of 2018, Roberts’s message reveals a contrast between the two jurists. Whatever their conservative affinities and matching pedigrees, they diverge in temperament. The lingering images from Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing are of an entitled frat boy howling as his inheritance seemed to slip away. By contrast, Roberts takes care to talk the talk of humility, admonishing the next generation of private-school lordlings not to smirk.

The chief justice also carries himself in a manner that reflects his advice. He chooses his words carefully. He speaks in a measured cadence that matches his neatly parted hair and handsome smile. He is deliberate and calm, not just in his public remarks but in his work as a judge—and as a partisan. Roberts declines to raise his voice or lose focus, because he understands politics as a complex game of strategy measured in generations rather than years. He also recognizes, but will never admit, that although politics is not the same thing as law, the two blend together like water and sand. More than 13 years into his tenure as chief justice, Roberts remains a serious man and a person of brilliance who struggles, under increasing criticism from all sides, to balance his loyalty to an institution with his commitment to an ideology.

The first biography of Roberts has arrived, Joan Biskupic’s The Chief. It will not be the last. A well-reported book, it sheds new light but is premature by decades. (Biskupic is a legal analyst for CNN.) As our attention spans dwindle to each frantic day’s headlines, we can forget that the position of chief justice is one of long-term consequence. Only 17 men have filled that role, and they have presided over moments of national crisis, shaping our government’s founding structure (John Marshall), hastening its civil war (Roger Taney), responding to the Great Depression (Charles Evans Hughes), and enabling the civil-rights revolution (Earl Warren).

Roberts seems ever likelier to face an equally daunting test: confronting a president over the value of the law itself. A staunch conservative, he has broken ranks with the right in a major way just once as chief justice, by casting the deciding vote to save the Affordable Care Act in 2012. What will Roberts do if the clerk calls some form of the case Mueller v. Trump, raising a grave matter of first principles, such as presidential indictment and self-pardon? He portrays himself as an institutionalist, but we do not yet know to what extent this is true. He must necessarily prove himself on a case-by-case basis, which injects a note of drama into his movements. Roberts is the most interesting judicial conservative in living memory because he is both ideologically outspoken and willing to break with ideology in a moment of great political consequence. His response to the constitutional crisis that awaits will define not just his legacy, but the Supreme Court’s as well.