Category Archives: God’s Own Party

I want to (not) run for Congress again

I have always considered myself the most reasonable person. I am far more inclined to begin most arguments by putting the other fellow’s or gal’s shoes and walking around in them till I get blisters. I have a reputation ( at least I suspect I do ) for being an off-the-wall bull-in-a-china-shop. As for being off-the-wall its true that, unlike most people, I’ve gotten into the habit of challenging the adage: “the nail that stands out will be pounded down.” Politically it caused me to become:

1. a Republican (a Nixon opponent) during the wave of college anti-Nixon marches
2. a apostle of moderate Republican values in the most Democratic legislative District in America
3. a staunch critic of the Republican Party from within and then a challenger to the Party in an “independent” race for Congress in 1992
4. a School Board candidate who lost three elections before finally prevailing on a fourth attempt
5. a ENOUGH FOR NOW!!!…..I just paused to fold the laundry and Claudia showed me Trevor Noah’s latest commentary about America’s Ongoing S***storm.

The point of the list above is simple. Against the odds as a grown up I’ve become the little kid who shouted at the Emperor that he has no clothes on during the parade surrounded by the king’s secret police. I once wrote an ending to that story. But dear Readerss, this is not a kingdom. It is, or at least once was, the most formidable democracy on Earth. And yet the gatekeepers of our Democracy kept their mouths shut as the party I once belonged to (with some attitude I might add), allowed themselves to be pushed silently into a corner. Then they put duct tape over their own mouths.

The great irony is that millions of these gatekeepers who once said they were voting for “the lesser of two evils” in the 2016 election are now preparing to reelect a Congress full of the folks that put them in the corner while handing them duct tape. Well, I may run jackass, impossible campaigns but I will not support candidates who champion a minute by minute liar.

I have tried to fit in with Democrats. I agree with them on much of their social agenda. My chief differences with them are nit picky but serious. For instance, the idea that humans don’t have the ability to extract copper and nickle from fresh water rich northern Minnesota without poisoning our great grandchildren bother’s me. It bothers me more that its an issue that may very well elect Pete Stauber to Congress. It wouldn’t be the first time such a debate killed the prospects for Minnesota Democrats. The last time was called the Minnesota Massacre. I was a Republican then and it was the second or third most gratifying political event of my 67 years on Earth.

I like Pete. In any election prior to 2012 I would have gladly cast a vote for him. But recent years and this year especially, have changed America. Pete Stauber is a Trump supporter because the people who will vote in both the primary and the general elections detest Trump’s well intentioned critics…..like Trevor Noah.

Here’s a thumb nail of the plan percolating in my head.

I will not run for Congress for the third time. At least I won’t file for election. The possibility of my winning is exceptionally remote, Doing it would require me to bend over backwards to complete campaign data releases that I would have to fill out myself. I’ve done it before in 2006 and they make filling out taxes look like child’s play. More importantly I have no interest in serving in today’s ineffectual Congress where every day is consumed with raising money for the next election and there is no time to read books and be reflective. This has turned our Congress into one of the most ignorant collections of leaders imaginable.

I will encourage both Democrats and Republicans to write my name in for both the Democratic and Republican primaries and, despite being in France all September, for the November General election.

In the meantime I will cobble a book together explaining how America became a scorpion intent on stinging itself into paralysis. I have thousands of posts already written about that. I simply need to select the best and tidy them up a bit while putting them into some kind of linear order. I will begin offering the as yet unwritten book for sale. Any money raised will be sent to me and I’ll have to declare it for taxes as income. Therefore I will keep some small portion of the proceeds to pay for what the “earnings” cost me in taxes so as not to lose money in the process. Someday I’d like to earn money on book sales but not this year. I’m well enough fixed that any; book royalties would be more for my vanity than for creature comforts.

The rest of the money I will likely donate to some of the better candidates running to remove the taint of Donald Trump from our government even though he cannot be removed from our history any more than we can expunge 300 years of slavery. When the history of Trump is written I hope my descendants read the books to find out what the hell happened and make sure its not repeated.

I don’t plan to post all that much until I’m back from France in six months. I’m still working hard to learn French and read French history. I’ll just stick the occasional post to keep my eight loyal readers from falling asleep. The rest of my time will be devoted to selecting past posts that explain how America trumped itself.

Stay tuned.

The “wrong side” is winning

Despite the impossibly compelling news items today about our unraveling Presidency I have only one item to mention in the blog today.

It comes from the NPR interview with the author of the soon to be released novel “Varina.” It is about the wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

In real life Varina Davis left the South and took up life in New York City for the years following the war. I can’t vouch for the book but the author mentioned an anecdote that accords with other accounts I’ve heard about the leaders of the Civil War who were more interested in plow shares than swords in its aftermath. These included such luminaries as Robert E. Lee.

Here’s the sentance about Varina’s post war view of slavery that caught my attention:

“She, in later age, said very clearly: The right side won the war. “

Civil Rights in my lifetime came close to nailing the corpse of racism in a transylvanian coffin. Republicans, beginning in the era of George Wallace, did their best to use racism-lite to win over white southern voters with soft core appeals to their racist heritage until eventually they swamped the Party of Lincoln with the descendants of recalcitrant confederate loving, black vote suppressing, chip-on-the-shoulder types. I lived through a lot of this with Nixon, Reagan and most recently Donald Trump. There hasn’t been much room for Lincoln lovers like me in the Party since its ugly transformation. Lincoln lovers are tolerated if we shut up and sit outside the party’s windows on the ledge while the party defers to Rush Limbaugh and his ilk to prevent us from climbing back in. Our only choices are self defenestration or groveling debasement. Most have chosen the later. What’s their rationale? The think it would be terrible to lose control of America by arguing with Donald Trump’s cheerleaders. They are channeling Bashir – Gas my enemies – el Assad.

Me. Think of me as Wylie Coyote standing just beyond the ledge in mid air prior to a great fall. I’ve been levitating for the past 25 years.

Rank Choice

I listened to an interview on MPR today that raised my hackles. It was not this story from two days ago. Instead it was an interview with Forest Lake Republican, Mark Koran, pushing a law to forbid any ranked choice voting in Minnesota even where the local voters have put it into affect. In other words local control is good but only when Republicans agree with it.

When Koran was interviewed by the Star Tribune he told them that ranked choice confuses people. On his interview today he added more thought but first pointed out that while he lives outside the Twin Cities he’s really not against the big city since he grew up in the Metro area. Yeah sure.

I don’t have much sympathy for ranked choice as evidenced by my previous posts on the subject. But I do have some thoughts about “local control.” However, awkward I find it some voters have put it into effect. The tyrant Koran wishes to take it away from them rather than let them change their own system.

He squawked that some voters felt “disenfranchised” because some of the ballots cast didn’t get people elected. Hell. That’s like my saying I was disenfranchised every time my candidate lost because my vote didn’t count. Its like complaining when your teacher gives you a multiple choice test because you prefer true/false questions.

Koran, as a Republican, has a lot of nerve talking about disenfranchisement because his party has taken the old Dixiecrat talent for preventing black people from voting and found dozens of new methods to discourage people likely to vote Democratic from casting ballots. That has been a common complaint of many of my posts about God’s Own Party over the past decade. Now, suddenly, Koran wants to protect people who didn’t bother to vote in the Ranked Choice referendum or who aren’t smart enough to understand how the damned method works.

I’m particularly bitter about his ignoring the Republican’s old faithful talking point – “local control.” When Duluth voters were deprived of the right to vote on the ruinous Red Plan our then Governor, Tim Pawlenty, explained his reluctance to let Duluth have a referendum on it based on the big shots from Duluth and Johnson Control’s lobbyists guaranteeing him that everybody in Duluth wanted to skip a “wasteful” election. As a result, today Duluth’s Public Schools are in tatters.

Ironically, I see no advantage for Republicans in ending St. Paul’s experiment with Ranked Choice Voting. Republicans have always had a hard time getting elected to the City Council in either of the Twin Cities or, for that matter, in Duluth. Killing Ranked Choice won’t end that. Naw! I think its just the same sort of “nanny state” crap that Republicans complain Democrats are guilty of. Thank you Rep. Koran. Your a good Big Brother.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty

Reading the morning news over two plus hours has burdened me on a day I was hoping to shove away some paperwork to more narowly focus on 1. planning a trip to France. 2. start writing a book (an idea I’ve had for about twenty years now) 3. Studying my French. But first, I took a quick break to buy some coffee and breakfast sandwich from McDonalds where I discovered poor Batman’s head had tumbled into the street. After the news I’m now worried about losing mine.

The morning news from NPR, the New York Times and the Duluth Trib put me in mind of the famous quote headlining this post. Its variously attributed to Thomas Jefferson and a famed abolitionist among others. I agree with Wendell Phillips, the Abolutionists, thesis which reads more fully:

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few. The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day or it is rotten. The living sap of today outgrows the dead rind of yesterday. The hand entrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continued oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.”

So, daily objectives 1, 2, and 3 must be placed on hold until I lecture my poor eight loyal readers about those news stories.

I’ll start local:

Poor old Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle is once again the butt of condemnation for his ham handed reply to a woman who told the council of her miscarriage 30 years ago that she thinks could have been avoided if Duluth required local business to pay their employees during times of illness. Fosle turned a vulnerable disclosure into an inept lecture on personal responsibility. As the only old woman left on a council brimming with colleagues who want to build barricades in the streets of Paris I feel badly for the moderate/conservative position he single-handedly maintains. The question he could have asked was simple in retrospect. Did the speaker really believe it was the responsibility of the store owner who employed her to pay her to stay home for the next 24 weeks of a pregnancy? The answer is pretty obvious – No. Was it fair that she had to work? The answer to that is also – No. Obviously her Doctors at the time who advised against work knew what they were talking about.

I see only one logical solution but its not one that can be implemented locally in isolation. Small business owners should not be put in a position to shut down when confronted with the medical costs of a single employee. The solution is to adopt national health care or what used to be panned as Socialized medicine. Ah, but that would require a national solution which is beyond the reach of local health care advocates.

Once again Councilor Fosle will come under attack by his critics some of whom have not been all that nice as they pursue noble aims. The first salvo came from “Twin Ports Feminist Action Collective.”

This organization attacked me semi-anonymously and never offered a correction or an apology for their dirty work. They weren’t alone. A website ostensibly organized to support western Duluth beat me up too. I recently discovered that one of the Western Duluth Lens’s chief organizers is the fellow who single-handedly convinced our school Administration to fire a black Duluth principal. Good bedfellows on Facebook perhaps?

I remember coming back from Australia about six years ago on a long flight and watching a movie I had skipped in the theaters. It was all about the brash Harvard student, Mark Zukerberg, who created Facebook. Ironically, he fully understands the hurt an unfair attack can cause. In this Guardian story Mark complains that the movie “made up stuff” about him.

Its ironic because what Mark says happened to him has been repeated tens of thousands of times for every one of the hundreds of millions of people who are on Facebook. It made him another mega billionaire and some part of his mega billions has come from the massive spreading of lies his invention has made possible.

Now to those other “eternal vigilance” stories:

From NPR about Lyudmila Savchuck a Russian Journalist who worked undercover to discover how the Russians (financed by a Russian billionaire) trolled Facebook and the Internet to enhance world ignorance.

From the New York Times about Cambridge Analytica hired at the urging of Stephen K. Branson to mine Facebook for data to elect Donald Trump when Ted Cruz fell by the wayside.

The billionaire who financed this plan is an American Robert Mercer.

Upon reading this story I ran to retrieve Jane Mayer’s book Dark Money which I’ve only managed to get half way through and discovered that Mercer only got four brief mentions in the book about the Kochs, DeVos’s and other mega-billionaires trying to reshape America into a version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World for Billionaires.

Mercer’s four mentions? Fighting off Government charges that he failed to pay 6 billion dollars of unpaid taxes. His signing on with the Koch Cabal. Spending a million dollars to prevent a mosque from being built in New York City. Turning “primaries” into a sure fire way to defeat any Republican congressman daring to speak moderately or rationally about issues contrary to the red flag wavers of the party and finally spending 2 million for the toy trains in his house.

I wish Mercer would stick to his toy trains. Mercer’s and Putin’s playing with Democracy obligates me to be vigilant when I getting a little tired of it. Which brings up Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World again. There is an interesting review of his work compared to Orwell’s similarly dystopian novel 1984. Huxley once wrote to Orwell and explained that he thought his (Huxley’s) anti-utopia of growing people in test tubes, which stunted the working class foeteses by giving them less oxygen, was more likely to happen than Orwell’s vision of a jackbooted dystopia. He explained; All you need to do is teach people to love their servitude.

There now – just needs a little proof reading and then I return to my top three goals for the day.

A sick feeling

It is only a sense of deep obligation to keep my eight loyal readers focused on our nation’s future that keeps me away from my French lessons. I’ve spent a couple hours looking at a half dozen stories in the New York Times that reinforce my doubts that the Republicans will get a comeuppance in the 2018 mid terms. What could very likely happen might also take place in Duluth’s Eighth Congressional District. An unknown Democrat could be so beat up by other Democrats that a very attractive Republican, Pete Stauber, could defy expectations and cruise to victory in what is barely a blue district these days.

If a Democrat can’t win here Donald Trump may not only avoid impeachment but he might get reelected; the Republicans could retain control of the majority of the states they already control; and add more legal barricades; which will help them survive through the decade of 2020’s and a growing tide of discontented voters.

One of the ironies here is that while the Republican cause is successfully trumpeting a paranoiac vision of a “liberal” Deep State –
the real Deep State stems not from unions, funny colored people and immigrants but from allies of the Republicans. It is the successful and long running coalition of conservative _illionaires, prosperity Gospel GOPers, and Rush Limbaugh immitators who have made the Republican Party more anti-education, dogmatic, zero sum, and venal. Calling on God and American voters to save fetuses was only one of the early calls to cleanse the GOP of the contamination of moderation. Folks like me were deemed worse killers than Mao, Papa Joe and Adolph combined. Gun rights, right-to-work laws and making rural white and blue color workers jealous of the modest improvement in the lives of minorities were part and parcel of the project.

It is ironic that gay rights and a black President were part of this recent history but in many ways getting over these humps have taken a lot of the steam away from Democrats. Throw in a humming economy which may last through the tax cuts and Trump tariffs untill this year’s November elections and Donald Trump could get past his prostitute and Russian problems. If so, he could have another two years of Republican control of Congress and, who knows, a good shot at reelection. (Hence my sick feeling. I began warning about this a year before he was first elected and the cool heads knew he was just a joke.) I know the bad news for President Trump keeps piling up but don’t forget the old adage: “The only bad news is no news.” And with his tweets there is no chance for the latter.

Here are the stories in the NY Times today that have sobered me up:

Right to Work laws have devastated Unions and Democrats.

About that Blue Wave The early proclamations that Texas’s primary this week was great news for Democrats is bull.

Book Review: How Corporations Won Their Civil Rights.

What if Republicans Win the Mid Terms?

And I also found this story fascinating although not terribly surprising. The Jews who dreamed of Utopia. It reminded me of how Jewish intellectuals have been blamed by both right wingers and left wingers for all the world’s problems. I still don’t like Bibi Netanyahu.

Now I’ll return to my cell phone French Lessons on Duolingo.

When I start Seething I think of filing for public office – and I’m seething

I just dashed off my latest campaign finance report showing that I have $511 in the bank which I could put to use to run for the School Board again in 2019. But on my trip home from delivering it I heard an infuriating story on Minnesota Public Radio. It was about hysterical Republican Facebook Posts from GOP legislators warning that Muslim infiltrators were going to take over this year’s GOP precinct caucuses. OMG!!!!!!!! Isis in the heartland!

The story is not yet up on the MPR website but its been reported on the Minneapolis Strib.

I began the book, Driven Out, about a similar hysteria just before my August trip to China. Its about the Era of the “Yellow Peril” and the Chinese Exclusion Act back in the 19th century. It would have prevented the cousins of today’s Minnesota GOP Chair, Jennifer Carnahan, (a Korean-American) from entering the United States. It was the realization of the Trumpian and now Republican dream to limit immigration to Norwegians. To her credit Chair Carnahan, said of her party: “There is no religious test to participate in the Republican caucus,” and “We welcome those who are in agreement with the values of the Republican Party, those who voted Republican in the last election or plan to vote with the party in November.”

What inflamed the hysteria was a video of a Bangladeshi professor encouraging people to attend Republican caucuses. So did the PTL Club’s Pat Robertson, only when Pat in 1988 he was running for President and told his supporters to hide their religious convictions. Talk about a sneaky take over.

Two GOP legislators warned that this caucus training was was the first step in replacing our Constitution with Sharia Law. I found this ignorance deeply offensive. Not quite twenty years ago I made a very close friend on the Internet who was a native of Bangladesh. Claudia and I met her whole family not long afterward. Shortly after 9-11 hit America she feared the Islamic backlash that began sweeping over America. A vile bumper sticker that was part of the backlash prompted me to make a small modification to the Pledge of Allegiance I recited before our school board meetings.

Its not Muslims that have me worried. For the past ten years I have been uploading frequent posts to my blog under the category “God’s Own Party.” These have detailed the Party’s takeover by folks who believe that America is a Christian Nation rather than a nation that offers all religions equal footing under the Constitution. The category contains nearly 700 posts.

As Duluth’s perennial candidate I’m contemplating driving down to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office this summer to file for state-wide office as a Lincoln Republican. I could use the $511 dollars I’ve set aside for a school board race and jump into the fray to hurl abuse at the traitors to the spirit of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

I could direct salvos against one of Trump’s first milquetoast casualties in the 2016 campaign, Tim Pawlenty, who helped pave the way for Duluth’s disastrous Red Plan or Rebecca Otto, who as State Auditor ignored the petition Duluth voters sent her to audit the Red Plan. She’s angling for the Gubernatorial race but if Chris Coleman or Tim Walz get get the DFL nomination she could retreat back to the Auditor campaign. I’ve already hurled a little abuse at her. She deserved it and I know something about State Auditors.

“How many Trumps does it take to change a light bulb?”

“We’ll never know, because after he screws something he gives it $130,000 not to tell anybody.”

As someone long scornful of Donald Trump I had to laugh at that Colbert joke on last night’s Late Night. On the other hand most of the rest of Stephen’s all too easy shots in the fish barrel were more dispiriting. I once found some refuge in late night comics dishing back to President Trump the same crap he spews out every day. Its getting old now even if it seems ever bit as necessary as it did with his inauguration.

My inclination is to blame this on what the Republican Party has become more than the man who can not grow up to his unexpected responsibilities. Heck, all he wanted from his run for the Presidency was to buy Fox News. Now he has to turn his campaign straw into gold like a Trumpelstiltskin. Republican hatchet-men made their party vulnerable to the hamstring Republicans that, while representing about ten percent of America, have the power to throttle any useful compromises. The call themselves “freedom Republicans.” Their self identification reminds me of the old union complaint about right to work laws being right to starve laws. Its so ironic that the un and underemployed blue collar workers who might once have brandished this accusation at Republicans now vote with the same Republicans that exported their jobs overseas.

I published the full email I received from the fellow who once hailed me as “Handsome Harry.” It seems to be a precursor of the anonymous pro-white flyers being sent to the Iron Range and St. Cloud. My old friend seems to think its OK to distinguish “good” black people from the bad ones by calling the bad ones like our 44th President a “nigger.” I think he’s got his head up his ass. No doubt Donald Trump would have included my old ally among the “good people” protesting at Charleston. I can’t help but think that in 1921 my old friend might have been caught grinning in that old photo of satisfied citizens next to the downtown lamp post where Clayton, Jackson and McGhie were lynched. They hung the alleged rapists of a white girl with all the ceremony that Donald Trump used in full page ads in New York Daily’s calling for the execution of five innocent black kids for a rape they didn’t commit. Talk about generating “fake news.”

My friend keeps sending me links to news reports extolling the virtues of the anarchic Trump Presidency. The six or seven points my old friend makes are echoed in a long series of letters from Trump supporters who were highlighted in the New York Times a couple days ago in letters that saw no need to spew out the “N word” I so loathe. They testfiy to Trump’s “Vision, Chutzpah and Testosterone.”

There is not a single one of the talking points that aren’t deeply flawed, at least as I see them. I’ve probably found fault with most of the arguments somewhere in my blog at some point over the past two years. Taken together they make clear the guilt the Republican Party should shoulder for where America is right now. The folks who believe this Fox/Limbaugh embellished twaddle are rightfully angry that the nation’s politics are so dysfunctional. They are dysfunctional because the Republican Party hatchet-men began creating a class of No Nothings who could be counted on to primary out all moderate Republicans to extinction. The Republicans who are now called moderates would have been regarded as hardliners when I began easing away from the GOP in the early 1990’s. For ten years before that it was irritating to go to political conventions where the other side regarded a pro-choice guy like me as a baby killer or worse a “Mass Murderer.” Today’s pro-lifers are so committed to a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v Wade that they have no problem with designing an elective system that discourages untrustworthy Americans from voting and gerrymands districts and that denies a legitimately elected President from having the Congress consider his appointments for vacant judgeship’s in Federal Courts.

I suspect like my old ally the self identified “Freedom Republicans” feel they are sticking up for the “little people.” Funny, but that’s just how the supporters of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro view themselves all the while preventing the majority of their country from electing a more representative government. That’s the rot that the Republican Party has wrought.

Fighting my Blog freeze

I began writing the second fuzzy post on Kindergarten but stopped half way through. I’ll finish it and unlike its predecessor I may even proof read it. Why did I stop? Well, as I’ve confessed before my enthusiasm for writing about the Duluth Schools is significantly blunted at the moment what with Christmas, learning French and preparing to write a book and all. And did I mention I put five hours in starting a snow sculpture yesterday. I have even backtracked on a promise to the Business Office to turn in my post election finance report.

But today Jana Hollingsworth managed to put some special ed cost numbers in the Trib that our District has been unable to scrounge up what with its penchant for picking fights with Edison. I’d like to put that in perspective here and now but I won’t. I have to try to finish a snow sculpture before a noonish Christmas Concert for my grandsons. That’s become another priority over my receding compulsion to write about everything ISD 709.

Its kind of too bad that someone like me has been pushed off the 709 School Board. I am a genuine see-both-sides-of-the-story kind of politician. I want what’s best and fair for both our public school systems in Duluth even though I was elected to serve the larger 709 schools. Now the Superintendent has reinforced his anti-Edison majority which will not bode well for passage of future operational levies. (Why should Edison families vote for 709 operational levies when they feel under assault?)

Edison is quite right to claim that its schools are being scapegoated in the current 709 financial shortfall. But 709 has a legitimate beef. Edison spends twice as much on its special ed students as 709 does and then puts 709 in the position of paying for their more generous special ed spending. That creates a bidding war that 709 can never win with parents determined to get the best education for their special needs children.

But for local taxpayers Edison is something of a godsend. Other than the cross subsidy for special ed almost all of Edison’s financing comes from State taxpayers. To keep the numbers grossly simplified lets say each public school child (not counting special ed kids) costs $10,000 a year to teach. To keep things just as simple lets say that Edison has 1,000 students and ISD 709 has 9,000 for a total of 10,000 students. (In reality Edison has more and 709 less) This would mean that Edison gets $10 million for its kids and ISD 709 $90 million or a total of $100 million.

Normally 709 taxpayers would cover about 20% of the costs of local public school kids while the state would cover about 75% of those costs. Twenty percent of 10,000 students would cost local taxpayers $20 million each year or $2 million for every thousand students. Ah, but the state pays the full freight (not counting the cross subsidy) for Edison’s thousand students. Local taxpayers thus get a $2 million savings. Even when you subtract out the cross subsidy local taxpayers are getting a nice subsidy courtesy of state taxpayers.

That doesn’t mean that 709 doesn’t feel the burn as parents pull their children out of 709 school for Edison’s special education which then bills 709 for its more generous spending. Yes, yes, yes. The state law only lets Edison charge 90% of its special ed costs to 709 but considering they are spending double on each special ed student that’s a very modest break.

I’ll keep things grossly oversimplified again. Assuming that 20% of Edison’s students are special ed students (200 kids) and cost double what 709 spends. And assuming that the costs are $20,000 for Edison SPED students and $10,000 for 709 kids. And then, completely forgetting the 10% reimbursement discount. Edison could demand $4 million from 709 or two million more than 709 would pay to educate Edison’s SPED students if they were all in 709 schools.

The actual numbers can be found in today’s Trib story. To me they strongly suggest that some compromise ought to be sought in state statute. They also suggest another reason for the 709 schools to be resistant to the sale of Central to Edison. Edison would be able to charge special ed costs to 709 for 9th through 12th grade students that currently attend 709. That would be a special ed enrollment jump of about 25% for Edison meaning more costs charged to 709.

It took the News Tribune to ferret out this information and so local 709 junkies can be sorry to see Jana Hollingsworth leave the education beat. There is no trust or cooperation between Edison and 709. The bridge I might have formed has been severed by the voters and that is a loss. My daughter was an Edison SPED teacher for the last couple of years until she left for another Independent School District and, through her eyes, I had an inkling of that took place in Edison. At double the spending of 709 they offer wonderful special ed services but even they have their challenges.

I’ll add one other marvelously oversimplified wrinkle to this story. At present Minnesota taxpayers are able to deduct all of their state and local taxes from their federal tax returns. The Congressional Republicans and President Trump are diminishing that deduction with the soon-to-be approved new tax changes. They don’t want the penurious (cheap) super Republican southern states to look so bad by comparison with Blue states in their public ed spending. I called that the “Deep Southification” of America in a recent post. Its better that northerners are penalized for having better schools. My hero, Lincoln, must be rolling in his Springfield grave over that.

If Minnesotan’s tire of funding the cost of Special Education because they can no longer deduct those costs from their Federal taxes it could be curtains for lots of children. Its too bad that Republicans only care about children when they are in utero instead of after they are born.

The Deep Southification of the Republican Party

As I transition away from the School Board I’m finding that national affairs is taking over the job of waking me from sound sleep in the middle of the night.

I woke from a dream about a perilous journey being carried across the skies in a jerryrigged balloon and began stewing about one aspect of the Republican tax bill – its attack on state and local tax deductions.

The attack is really on blue states with their more generous treatment of the poor. The high taxes required to pay for better schools, Medicaid and environmental care can currently be deducted from Federal taxes. The Republicans, who have been taken over by the ethos of the Dixiecrats, want to put all the states on the same low tax footing of Mississippi and Alabama.

Democrats are counting on such a change causing an electoral rebellion when it comes to pass. I hope they are right but the Republicans are bending over backward to postpone the pain until after the 2018 elections. They are counting on our strengthening economy to lesson the pain even as they grovel at feet of Trump’s base by throwing their belated support behind a likely child molester in the Alabama Senate race.

The real test will be 2020 the year of the next Census and subsequent reapportionment of Congressional Districts. Republicans owned that process in 2010 and their many Republican controlled state governments went on to tear to design voting laws that hearkened back to the good old days of southern white supremacy when it was a rare black person who was permitted to exercise his or her right to vote without being lynched.

If the Republicans get their way child molesters will be able to hide behind the Ten Commandments. That’s a small price to pay for limited government.

The 2017 election’s good news a post mortem and a caution or two

A week ago I wanted to begin a post by writing that my defeat for School Board was a small price to pay for the successes of the Democrats in many regional elections. I attribute my defeat mostly to President Trump and the outrage he has caused and continues to cause as President. I anticipated that I could have a very difficult time with the election after I participated in the woman’s march early in the year simply because I was a man. That proved not to be the case as Josh Gorham won handily enough so it was something else that drove the numbers. (One woman’s organization did pester me)

Angry Democrats just would not give up. Continue reading

The PBS Vietnam Series gets me thinking

I watched all the Stanley Karnow episodes in the 1990’s about Vietnam but I think Kevin Burns will bring a little more nuance at a time when it can be digested by the folks who weren’t born and didn’t live through the war. I agree with Burns that our actions during this war divided America. However, I also believe that the entire Civil Rights Era was an equal partner in this division having predated it by 200 years.

My eight loyal readers know that I put a disproportionate blame on the GOP for all our woes. That war became a sort of substitute for Civil Rights because it simply became impossible to be an avowed racist after Martin Luther King. But being a patriot – that was different. Many folks could use “America First” or “Better Red than Dead” or the “Domino Theory” in place of race baiting to hang their political hats on. Ditto the Pro-life movement. For years northerners thumbed their noses at “racist” southerners, never mind their own urban red lining and segregation, and “saving babies” gave southern Baptist types the same sense of moral superiority to throw back at northern baby killing sophisticates.

Over time the GOP, which had beat the Democrats up over catering to special interests – blacks, latinos, women’s libbers and unions, became their own assortment of special interests, patriots, pro-lifers, pro-NRA, and “small government” (code for don’t make us integrate.)

In time the GOP got so virulent about removing RINO’s like me that they perfected “primarying” by which they defeated “liberal” Republican office holders and purged a formerly pro-civil rights party of moderates. Of course, the Democrats did something similar if less rigorously.

As much as I bemoan the “demagogue” Trump I can see his allure to folks who feel neglected and I can even see that the promise of turning politics on its head might just improve our politics. His base has not yet rebelled when he’s worked out deals with Democrats. In an odd way his manner and his supporter’s devotion are acting as a rebuke to Republican stuffed shirts……the same folks who went along with the purge of liberal Republicans like me because it kept working to keep the Congress in their hands.

All those moderate Republican Presidential candidates Trump whipped for the nomination……they were the same folks who stood by as the Republican Party got more white, more angry and more self righteous. They were also the great exponents of free trade which blue collar converts to Republicanism are so fed up with.

But back to Burns and Vietnam.

I hope his ten part series can put some of the ghosts of that era to rest. My story during that Era can be summed up this way:

My family raised me to revere my Grandfather who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was both for staying out of foreign wars, which he blamed on Democrats, and for supporting our troops no matter how stupid the war was once we were stuck in one.

As a college student in the 1970’s I couldn’t reconcile the contradictions that this dual policy required. I was embarrassed for not being a part of the war as I objected to it. But the WW II generation fixed it so that future wars, like Vietnam, would be fought by poor kids while college students were exempted. Even then I saw that as grossly unfair while I was going to college with a draft number of 41, low enough to insure I’d go into the service if I quit college.

And what a hideous war it was making America complicit in evil doings that turned the stomach and the mind. Thus it always is with war. As Robert E. Lee said: “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.”

If America can survive Donald Trump without succumbing to his call of “America First” maybe he will succeed in answering the hopes of his most ardent supporters to break out of the gridlock that has made our politics so lamentable in recent years. He may do it by killing the “Party of Lincoln.” That is, if the Republicans themselves haven’t already accomplished it.

I just can’t help myself

This was intended as a “confidential” email but I am quite content to let the general public see it:

To me from Chuck Frederick, Editorial Page Editor of the Duluth News Tribune:

Hey Harry. I was told you posted on your blog that you were against political parties endorsing in nonpartisan races like those for School Board. Yet you were begrudgingly planning to seek the DFL endorsement this Saturday. First, why do you feel that parties should stay out of nonpartisan races? And if you feel they should why are you pursuing the party nod this Saturday? I’d appreciate your comments. Please feel free to reply. I’d appreciate it. And don’t worry, not planning on being critical of you in an editorial if we choose to do one.

thanks,
Chuck

And my reply:

To: Chuck Frederick
Subject: RE: party endorsement comment

Hi Chuck,

At the DFL screening I told them I wasn’t a fan of partisan endorsements for a non-partisan race. That’s true enough.

But I can’t deny the practical side. This is a traditional tool of Democrats to recruit candidates who can then have a jumping off pad for higher office. The Republicans who sniff at this in Duluth can be sure that Republicans do the same thing in Republican areas. Look at the damned races for judges.

I said I begrudgingly did something but that was at our special school board meeting. That was about spending money on fixing up Rockridge or spending general fund money on bonds. About the DFL I am being pragmatic.

I have a couple overlapping motives. The first I tell you in confidence. I don’t want a couple of my DFL board adversaries to get the 60 percent votes for endorsement that will assure them tons of Party help in the late fall. 2nd, I would like an easy election for a change. I have never had any good endorsements other than the Trib’s in 1999 and 2013.

Finally, I have had it up to here with no nothings. I have never reviled democrats. I like the idea of wrapping a perfectly respectable party around myself at this time of foolish, ignorant, hyper-partisanship. I detest Trump and blame the GOP for his destructive success. I want the Democrats to bring the blue collar voters back for a healthier nation.

And there is something else I would rather do this summer than knock on doors. I want to begin writing a book about my Grandfather. He was a rock-ribbed, Kansas Republican who wasn’t paranoid about Democrats. An easy campaign will give me freedom to pursue this.

Harry

For the record I don’t think publishing this before Saturday will make it any easier for me to win the nomination but I don’t care. If I have to campaign like hell I’ll do it. We have some extremely myopic school board members and we need some fresh blood. I don’t think mine is past the sell by date.

The elephant in the DFL screening room

I had a jolly good time at the screening committee. I knew several of the screeners some of whom may have been surprised to see me turn up. It was that way at my first DFL Precinct caucus which I think was 2006.

At that first caucus I joined about 30 folks in a classroom at Woodland Middle School. Eyebrows were raised there as well as DFLers know their Republicans. It was odd but comforting as well as for the first time in twenty years I actually voted in a majority on a great many issues which had become verboten for Republicans. I attended about four election cycles of DFL caucuses and the 2008 caucus was probably the highlight of my political life with its huge Barack Obama turnout. It was a heady experience being in a majority at the following District convention when Obama won handily.

Readers of my Blog know that while I rant and rave about Republicans I have fond recollections of the party of my youth. I liked Ike, a fellow Kansan. I loved National Parks so, of course, I liked Teddy, and agnostic old Abe is my all time hero. Long after Lincoln Dinners were abandoned by Dixie-saturated Republicans I was charmed to hear a DFL gathering speak of Abraham with something approaching reverence.

But it was Harry Welty, not Abraham Lincoln, who crashed the screening committee. I joked with the folks I knew and with the people I didn’t. I blamed the Republicans for electing Donald Trump. I told them I would be honored to be an endorsed Democrat on the Duluth School Board even while adding I still didn’t think endorsements for non-partisan races was necessarily the best idea.

I told the screeners that I wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but that I didn’t believe in conducting myself by (and here I licked my finger and stuck it up in the air) testing the wind. I told those new to me that I hid nothing and that everything I stood for I had put into this blog.

I also was asked to explain my ambiguous sounding answer to Question #12: Will you abide by the endorsement of the convention and cease your campaign if someone else is endorsed?

My answer: “I will follow the honorable example of DFL Governors Rolvaag, Perpich and Dayton.”

The explanation I gave to the screener was this: All three of these DFL Governors ran for the state’s highest office without the endorsement of the DFL state convention.

Of course, none of these candidates had ever been affiliated with the Republican Party. Elephants are no more useful to the DFL than they are to Ringling Brother’s, Barnum and Bailey Circus these days.

Of course, Ronald Reagan didn’t mind adding lots of jackasses to the GOP when he was President and they proved pretty useful: From Wikipedia: Continue reading

92 pages into Dark Money and a change of scenery

I am reading Jane Mayer’s book Dark Money. It is an intensely serious exploration of the unscrupulous but entirely legal attempt to subvert any trace of socialism that has accumulated in the United States over the last century. To call the billionaires who are bringing this about anarchists comes close to their objective – the rule of wealth.

This was an unplanned excursion into modern American politics because I have been busying myself reading up on the politics of my Grandfather’s youth and young adulthood. Karl Rove’s book about the McKinley/Bryan election was in the batters box. I’m sure I find it even more interesting after finishing Dark Money. One selling point for the Rove book is that the 1896 election is something of a model for 2016’s carnival. Like our most recent election 1896 was the first mega bucks presidential race. It pitted a free silver radical, Bryan, against Millionaires who thought he would bleed them dry with cheap money. This was Mark Twain’s “Gilded Age” when the gulf between rich and poor was vast as it has once again become. Since 1970 a collection of billionaires who have put their financial muscle behind a genetic re-engineering the Republican Party away from John Maynard Keynes and allied it with the ghosts of our unsavory past.

I checked the index of Dark Money to see how often Karl Rove was mentioned in it – 9 times and then took a second look at Rove’s dust jacket. It wasn’t only conservative pundits that praised his book. So did Jon Meacham author of a biography of Andrew Jackson and Doris Kearns Goodwin who has written some of my favorite books about Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and FDR. The Billionaires would love to erase all memory of the latter two presidents.

The Koch Brothers (2 of the 4) put almost a billion dollars into the 2016 election and tag teamed with Vladimir Putin to change our political landscape. Mayer says of them that they want to roll back not only Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society but FDR’s New Deal and even Teddy Roosevelt’s “Square Deal.” It was teddy who called the rich of his Era the “malefactors of wealth.” Mark Hanna, the Charles Koch of his Era and the man who elected McKinley, grimly said of Teddy after he succeeded the assassinated McKinley “Now that damned cowboy is in the White House”. Hanna’s modern day successors feel the same about the “trust buster.”

When Glenn Beck made his first appearance in the book (8 mentions) I was reminded of hearing Beck express great reservations years ago about Teddy for steering America wrong. Who the heck today doesn’t like TR? Well the Billionaires don’t and it seems Beck was one of the regulars at the secret gatherings at the Koch home. No doubt he drank deeply of the Koch’s antediluvian thinking.

BTW. Beck has been on something of a repentance tour. I was astonished to see him on Samantha Bee and even more surprised last Sunday to catch him in his confessions on Public Radio’s On Being.

I’ve run as a Republican several times although the last time in 2002 I had to beat the endorsed candidate in a primary. I think so. I can’t quite remember. Its a long time ago. Starting in 2006 I went to my first DFL precinct caucus and felt like a fish out of water although it was more tepid than the GOP waters I had been roiling in previously. That’s when I named the blog.

I was also delighted to hear Abraham Lincoln lauded at a DFL gathering. The GOP has been embarrassed by him ever since Ronald Reagan was elected President. And one of my one of my favorite political memories was attending the 2008 Seventh District convention and seeing so many other Obama supporters. I haven’t attended a DFL precinct caucus for a couple of elections. Its tough on my gills so, at best I’m a compromised Democrat but I am about to attend this weekend’s screening committee to ask Duluth DFLer’s to endorse me for the School Board race. I’ve left a message asking where and when to appear to have my credentials validated.

…………………………WeltyforSchoolBoard.com

Dish washing brings second thoughts on the funny thing

There is one other possibility regarding Trump’s ultimatum to House Republicans that I ruled out a little too quickly. I thought that the Tea Partier’s testosterone wouldn’t let the ersatz Republican President, Donald Trump, steam roll them. As I washed dishes some suds cleared from my head. The tea partiers may cave. Thumbing their nose at Trump may do them more damage than going along with him…..with their voters.

Of course, crippling health care would distress a lot of voters and drive them to the Democrats in 2018. I just hope Ruth Bader Ginsburg can hang in there until 2020.

The funniest damned thing I’ve heard in a long time

Just a quick post before I head down and wash dishes.

I was driving home from Denfeld and the “speech concert” ten minutes ago when I heard that Donald Trump issued an ultimatum to Republicans. Either they pass the health care plan that he was sure he had gotten the Freedom Caucus to go along with or he was done messing with health care and would let Obamacare live on.

I guffawed for thirty seconds. It was so brilliant that if any President who spoke out of one side of his/her mouth had said it I probably wouldn’t have been surprised. For eight years the Republicans made this their number one cause and then proceeded to sit on their skanky thumbs rather than come up with an alternative.

Coming up with an alternative was never in the program and not possible. One faction never progressed beyond the 1960’s distaste for “socialized medicine” and would have been happy to board a time machine heading back in time. Another faction simply wanted to strip poor people of health care that cost rich taxpayers too much money. The third faction was the cowering moderates who have given up challenging the new Republican orthodoxies lest they be primaried out of their seats for being RINO’s. The first two groups were essentially living in a magical world. Donald Trump was the fourth faction. Fox News had convinced his voters that Obamacare was making their lives miserable and they elected Trump to make it better. The last couple of months have convinced his voters that the Republicans were only going to make life worse for them. Donald Trump’s big “nevermind” only serves to assure his voters that he’s not going to let the Republicans screw them over.

What Trump has done is point an accusing finger at Congressional Republicans for being dunces. Democrats can breath a sigh of relief and turn to the other reprehensible plans that Trump has pushed like his wall, immigration and Putin-gate.

Trump is the winner on this but so is Obama and so is the Democratic Party – unless the GOP gets its act together and hammers out a sensible alternative. I’d place my bets against that. I don’t think the crazies in the GOP from the Koch Brothers to the Tea Partiers can find common ground. I have to give Presidential Donald Trump a big thumb’s up for this. Don’t worry. The memory of this is sure to fade pretty quickly.