Category Archives: moderation

Speck # 3 a rumor of a threat against Trump

By now all of Duluth has heard of racist grafitti on our high school walls. Today a rumor got to me that the Ordean East Trophy case had a vague threat against Donald Trump placed on or in it. The rumor says it was there for a full day and that a parent took a picture of it and furthermore that the Duluth police and even the Secret Service came by to inspect it.

The log (or beam) Jesus talks about will tempt many partisans to only see the crimes of “the others” not those of their allies when people overreact to the consequences of this election.

A million dollars worth of damage attended the Anti Trump marches in Oregon. I found Black comedian Dave Chapelle’s comment about this noteworthy – “Amateurs.” If it was my storefront I’d be furious but it was pretty small potatoes however ugly. Four years after the post King assassination riots I took a bus through Baltimore and gawked at blocks worth of blackened storefronts behind metal bars. I know that every crowd attracts troublemakers and that all too often they are not anticipated before the crowd arranges itself. The crowd is both an attraction and a good hiding place for mayhem driven far more by mendacity than fury.

So the issue to consider in the case of the rumor, should it prove to be true will our District Administration be even handed in dealing with it……if it has or will raise its ugly head?

I suppose I could make calls to confirm this but to me the more important point is that we should not take sides. In fact, a threat to the president of the United States is a bigger deal than a racial epitaph.

Remember Johanna’s post-it notes.

Speck #2 Kids

What’s the matter with kids today? That was the question asked in the 50’s musical Bye Bye Birdie. After watching my generation’s reaction to the recent election I’d have to answer – Not much.

Before I left the School Board in 2004 Mary Cameron was clamoring for us to bring back student reps to Board meetings. I must tell you I didn’t discourage Mary but I thought the idea sort of silly. They couldn’t vote. They’d be board stiff. It looked like frosting.

After three years back on the Board I no longer have that opinion. Sure, They can’t vote. Yep, I imagine they are often board. But no. They are not frosting.

I talked briefly to Spencer Frederickson from East high and I was buttering him up by telling him how bright I’d found his predecessors. He said of them that Paul Manning was very political and Jude Goosens very articulate. I added that I saw in Spencer a person with a deep well of caring….or something to that effect. I wasn’t really buttering him up it was the truth.

This conversation took place after our student representative from Denfeld, my seatmate Johanna Unden, was lauded by the Superintendent for the video she shot and posted to Facebook in reaction to the hateful messages scrawled on the walls at Denfeld. The reaction? To have hundreds of students place post-it-notes all over Denfeld’s walls with positive messages written on them. This is how to fight the gremlins escaping from Pandora’s box and much better than pronouncements of “no tolerance” for hate.

Time and time again I’ve seen our students rise to all sorts of occasions. East Robotics students helping Denfeld’s lagging Robotic’s program. Students advocating for more counselors to help depressed kids organizing to make sure minorities were not left out. Working to make new Freshmen student feel welcome in strange new schools. They put the adults on the school board to shame by comparison.

I told Spencer how I remember the old days when Central students shouted unfriendly taunts at East “cake eaters” at Hockey games and how the East students responded with a cheer telling Central kids that their parents worked for the East kid’s parents.

Sorry for the false labeling of this post. There is no speck here. You will find them in the next few posts.

Seeing the Speck in their eyes

Confirmation bias has become a subject of great interest lately especially as it relates to the US Presidential election.

As a cerebral sort myself I want to roll my eyes when someone repeats as gospel something they prefer to believe rather than pick it apart to see if it really adds up. My Buddy would call this being “tribal.”

Jesus is quoted in the Bible on this point with a brilliant observation about people: Mathew 7:5

America won’t heal as long as people with a log in their eyes are only able to see the specks in the eyes of those they disagree with. My Dad, an anti papist if there ever was one, told me that the one thing he particularly admired about Catholicism was the act of confession. That’s not a very popular thing in Today’s America of self absorption. We prefer the ancient Egyptian’s approach to self criticsm. We write “books of the dead” to tell the gods how wonderful we have been so that the gods will let us into Heaven. The Egyptians thought they could sweet talk their gods into ignoring their less than noble qualities.

I’m not sure I’m much different. Like most Americans I can clearly see the specks in a lot of other people’s eyes. To help get the recent election results out of my system I need to write about a few of those specks.

I’m not a fan of spoilers but it will hard for me not to vote Libertarian this year

Hillary Clinton needs my vote. I’m not sure she will get it after the Libertarians added William Weld to their ticket as a VP candidate to go along with New Mexico’s Gary Johnson. Donald Trump is the only thing holding me back at the moment. I’m thinking through a letter (only to be published here) to be sent to her metaphorically that explains what she needs to do to win my vote.

I have a lot of other posts in mind as well but its a beautiful Memorial day. I woke up late after two hours of sleeplessness which I put to rest by reading several chapters of First Kings. Boy! Israel wasn’t a great place after David’s reign. Sounds more like Sodom and Gomorrah. God wasn’t happy.

When I woke up I put up our Stars and Stripes. Now I have to mow the lawn. Then I have all day to think about whether I want to run for the legislature this summer. Will I have the time, energy and motivation? I do have some eves and windows to paint. On the other hand, being in a minority on the school board for the last two years of my school board term holds scant allure………especially with helpful critics like Bruce who have logs in their eyes about small potatoes like huge class sizes.

Unto the fifth generation – Not!

My children are as allergic to today’s GOP as though it was a toxic substance. If it had not become the party of God and the vulgarian, double talker, Donald Trump, they might have become fifth generation Republicans.

Using the best examples from my family’s history I’d like to talk about the preceding four generations.

The Grand Old Party began its life a few years before my Great Grandfather entered New York harbor from Ireland in 1860 one month after Lincoln’s election and two months before his inauguration. “What’s the news?” called a passenger on his ship as they passed an outward bound vessel. “South Carolina has seceded from the Union,” was the reply. Thomas Robb was twelve years old. It would be four years of war plus seven years of Reconstruction before he could cast his first vote as a naturalized citizen.

Thomas was the son of a protestant land manager who had threats made against his life by Irish Nationalists. The men who left that threat attached to a prize bull they killed were largely Catholics in Ireland and Democrats in America. It’s not surprising then that Thomas would vote Republican.

If he had any doubts about his party’s virtues one incident sealed his thinking. Continue reading

Rank Vote

I don’t have a category for just “politics” or “elections” so I’ve lumped this post about Ranked Choice Voting under “hope” and “moderation.”

My Buddy has become a fan of Karl Schuettler’s blog “A Patient Cycle” and he sent me this link to Karl’s very sensible appraisal of the debate over ranked choice balloting. This is Karl’s last paragraph but the whole post is well worth a read for those still pondering the question.

From :

The shrill tenor of the debate and dismissal of critics as simpletons or bigots is especially ironic, given the claim that RCV is supposed to reduce negativity in campaigns. Somehow, RCV has become part of a religious cause; one that is incapable of self-reflection and above any criticism, and considers the cause more important than the deliberative democratic process it needs to go through to become reality. If only it were actually a cause worth fighting for.

Purple civility

My recent posts here and here on how bifurcated America has become because of our red and blue politics is, no doubt, a passing phase. We old farts will all die and our children will slap the dust off their dungarees and adopt equally foolish political agendas. I have lived through the bifurcation being a stubborn “liberal” Republican who was pushed to the sidelines and who chose to spend the last twenty years twitting the purges. My first precinct caucus was 1970. In 1992 I ran as an Independent candidate for Congress against both the Democrat Jim Oberstar and the Republican Phil Herwig. The Republicans good naturedly let me back into their caucuses after that and I subsequently ran as a Republican in two legislative campaigns in 2000 and 2002.

In 2004 (or so) I attended my first Democratic precinct caucus. I felt very out of place despite the fact that on issue after issue I agreed with the resolutions being offered up from the folks I was caucusing with.

This change is just what my generation called for back in our youth when we (not me) said of the two parties that they were so similar they were like Alice in Wonderland’s twins Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.

My argument for keeping the two parties the way they were, is the very same one that Mitt’s Dad, George Romney, outlined to Barry “Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is no vice” Goldwater. He pointed to the often dysfunctional politics of the European democracies where Communists and extreme rightist parties fought for control. Romney lost that argument and today the European’s parties are more like America’s old Democrats and Republicans and our parties have taken to extreme rhetoric.

I have had one gadfly critic from the beginning of the blog in 2006, My Buddy. The emails have grown heated between us but they have not stopped except for a few months when I quit replying to his emails because of my irritation. We still come out swinging when we think the other has said something bone headed. Here’s a recent sample of our quibbles as our November 4th election draws near:

I liked McGovern, and I voted for McGovern, but the video clip at

is an example of why my internet home page; and why I visit web pages other than that of The Lincoln Democrat; and why I am disinclined to vote for Obama. If his behavior regarding what recently happened in Benghazi; and if the lame stream media’s coverage of it doesn’t suck; please tell me why.
Your Buddy


The NY Times had a hurricane to cover. Big Surprise no Benghazi coverage.

I suppose you’ve forgotten the democrat’s complaints that the Lame Street Media didn’t cover the bull on WMD’s and other crap justifying Bush’s Iraq invasion. Media blindfolds can work both ways.

The outrage was amped up in the Fox segment. The Judge sounds a lot like the retard bashing Coulter and so did the interviewer. [I confused the male blowhard with the Judge who was the female interviewer] Listen to the interview again. Sounded like a bunch of cackling hysterics. Who can blame them? Looks like Benghazi is going to get the same pass the WMD’s did.

As for the lame street media, I get most of my stuff from the tax payer’s dollars at NPR. This is what they had to say about Benghazi today: But it’s probably not true. It comes from all those bitter enders at the CIA.

I’d like to hear Coulter and crew piss and moan about this while we dig out from the GOP’s global warming and beach front flooding debacles. Obviously, God wants Obama to win. That’s what I’d expect the Pat Robertson’s of the GOP to say.

At least my father-in-law who watches FOX all the time is hard of hearing and isn’t [always] very clear about what is being communicated. He has the good sense to be oblivious of and to


Continue reading

George to Mitt – Don’t do it

George Romney wasn’t writing to his son. He was writing to Barry Goldwater objecting to what would become the South’s take over of the Republican Party.

First, as to your remarks in Jamaica concerning the possible realignment of the Republican and Democratic parties into “conservative” and “liberal” parties. Whatever the circumstances of the statement, you have indicated that you believe that might be “a happy thing.” I disagree.

We need only look at the experience of some ideologically oriented parties in Europe to realize that chaos can result. Dogmatic ideological parties tend to splinter the political and social fabric of a nation, lead to governmental crises and deadlock, and stymie the compromises so often necessary to preserve freedom and achieve progress. A broad based two party structure produces a degree of political stability and viability not otherwise attainable.

Here’s the whole letter. I recommend it to Mitt.
Continue reading

Only the hyperbolic need apply…

…for the Republican Presidential nomination. One man’s theory:

Huntsman’s problem, aside from serving as the administration’s ambassador to China, is that he doesn’t seem to hate Democrats in general and Barack Obama in particular. His rhetoric is of someone who disagrees with the president, but doesn’t doubt his commitment to improving the country. Unfortunately for Huntsman, this runs counter to nearly every bit of conservative rhetoric over the last three years. If the current GOP were a party which didn’t reward personal animus toward the president, then Huntsman would probably be in a much better position.

BTW – This post is personal with me. My Buddy (and I should probably put quotation marks around that) recently sent me another stinging critique which prompted me to break my three-month moratorium on replying to his email.

We had a testy exchange and he said this of me which I’m sure partisans of Dr. Keith Dixon would concur with:

…if you say that Obama can walk on water, and that none of the Republican candidates can walk on water; and even if your hyperbole and bullshit are of lesser magnitude; you might get critical reaction from me. Maybe I should be indifferent about that, too; but maybe I have expected better of you.

In his first post he quoted my litany of criticisms about the political positions of the GOP field and suggested my description of them was “hyperbolic”

My Buddy sent me this as an example of my hyperbole:

…your hyperbole descends to bullshit. How many Republicans want no taxes, and no limit on Defense Spending, and no foreign policy other than the opposite of whatever Barrack Obama is doing?

Hey, I was clearly exaggerating but not by much if you’ve been watching the GOP Presidential candidates. They are all frozen into place by Grover Norquist’s pledges never to raise taxes. Except for Ron Paul they all seem loathe to consider cuts to our bloated Defense Budget. And as one “for instance” they’ve either beaten Obama up on Libya for being too reluctant to intervene or for having intervened too much.

Huntsman is a very engaging and smart presidential contender but his chief liability was having worked for Obama and his second is, as the commentator suggests, refusing to sound hyperbolic like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or most of the Tea Party. I jumped the GOP ship six years ago when it was merely self righteous and closed minded. I know that’s a bit of hyperbole but I use it as a goad just like I do on Duluth’s Red Plan defenders.

I should point out that my Buddy concludes by saying he expects more from me. That is pretty flattering really so I can never fully discount his criticism. Still, I don’t plan to change my commentary much in the future. I’m more likely to ease up on my posts to dig into the damn book I keep mentioning. I got about six pages of it written last night. Only 300 more to go.

Hank Jr’s Adolph

There have been a dozen and more dictators in my adult life that merited comparrison with Adolph Hitler. Most were pale shadows no matter how many of their own people they killed. Still, I couldn’t fault anyone for invoking Hitler’s name when castigating them. Such a case is Hank Williams Jr. who said Obama is the new Hitler just as lots of peaceniks said the same of George W. Bush.

Most people who get compared with the leader of the Third Reich are suffering from some other person’s gross overreach and historical ignorance. (BTW I’ve felt free in 26 posts to mention Hitler myself. I’m too busy to read them all again to see just how I made use of the tyrant and I might even have compared some of his actions to those of the Duluth School Board. Hopefully I did so with a little more subtley than Hank Williams did.) Hank Jr. sits justifiably in his father’s shadow and never more so than when he compared our current President as Adolph’s successor. He apologized half heartedly by saying his passions got the better of him. No more pigskin for Jr.

Maybe Hank Jr. would be better off to return to the orator’s old standby for the personification of evil pre-World War II. The Pharaoh was also great music material for classic American gospel music and Hank could tap into that.

The Walker Experiment vs. Democracy

Of all the news in the Trib today I think this was the most important to educators. (Once again, its not on the DNT’s website. Maybe they are charged to put AP stories in their own site)

What’s happening in Wisconsin is a grand experiment in control of public sector unions. The law which the 19th century leaning Republicans passed is a “Right to Work” lobbyist’s dream and a pretty wet one at that. In one fell swoop Republicans have eviscerated public employee union’s political power.

Before the law passed, WEAC had about 98,000 members and was one of the most powerful unions in the state, contributing millions to Democratic causes. Lobbying reports show the union spent $2.5 million lobbying lawmakers in 2009 and 2010, more money than any other group.

This summer, the union reported spending $500,000 in support of Democratic candidates in recall elections, and in August announced 42 workers had been laid off as a result of the law. Earlier this month, unions representing about 50,000 public workers opted not to go through with recertification, citing the fees and the lack of bargaining power beyond wages even if the elections succeeded.

My gut instinct tells me that this is overreach Continue reading

Pt.1- Obama is the worst Democrat ever…

…but I will vote for him.

I almost didn’t read this letter to the Editor from Jason Johnson. I’m glad I did. Jason outlines half a dozen examples of moderate Republican actions by his Democratic President all of which he resents. Here’s about half of his accusations:

“His only liberal accomplishments include a stimulus bill loaded with largely non-stimulative tax cuts to appease the right wing. His health-care plan was taken from a Republican governor. He has been a hawk on Afghanistan. He has embraced warrantless wiretapping, secret prisons and illegal rendition. He has essentially condoned torture with his failure to prosecute war crimes of the Bush administration, even going as far as to block attempts at prosecution by other countries. And he is to the right of Bush on deportations.”

In addition to Jason’s continuing list I could add a couple dozen others including his much maligned Obamacare, which was designed by moderate Republicans like our own former Senator Dave Durenberger and his Administration’s rapid approval, ala ” Drill baby Drill,” of deep water Gulf Oil Wells up until one of Exxon’s wells went haywire.

Obama will need more JJ’s who hold their nose and vote for him. They would like to think that if Obama had taken the liberal cudjal and fought the Republicans their cause would have prevailed. I think they are wrong in that and that Obama and his advisers know this.

For me the biggest frustration is that Obama has been rational so far and his very intellectual honesty and reasonableness are proving less effective than the Republican Party’s crass politicization of a national, even a world crisis. I’d like to think that reason can trump polemics and gratuitous self dealing. (And “No” Buddy. I don’t think for a minute that Democrats as a group are immune from the same faults)

The next post will pretty well point out the dilemma that “Liberals” face.

Would this be acceptable in the US?

Would it be anti-semitic of me to deplore the slow abandonment of democratic principles by Israel’s Jewish population?

“…according to a 2010 survey by the Israel Democracy Institute, 86 percent of the Jewish public believe that decisions critical to the state should be taken only by a Jewish majority;”


“…and 55 percent say that greater resources should be allocated to Jewish communities than to Arab ones.”

Cheap money makes us stupid

Eleven PM, Saturday. I should be going to bed. Feeling hot and sweaty. Just clicked a link to a blog post Vic sent me. This one is by the Atlantic’s Meg McCardle.

Meg predicts that we are in for a series of new financial shocks this time in the commercial real estate world. A quarter trillion of possible defaults could take place each year for the next couple of years. It may not be the end of the world but its not got to be good.

This passage comes near the end of her post:

The best explanation for the calamity that has overtaken us may simply be that cheap money makes us all stupid. The massive inflows of international capital, which Ben Bernanke has called the “global savings glut,” poured into our loan markets, driving interest rates lower and, since most real estate is purchased with borrowed funds, pushing up the price of property in both the commercial and residential sectors. Rising prices, in turn, disguised any potential problems with the borrowers, because if they ran into cash-flow problems, they could always refinance, or sell. Everyone was getting bad signals from the market, and outlandish purchases looked almost rational.

That answer isn’t quite satisfying, especially in the face of another financial meltdown. We don’t want ambiguity and complex systems; we want heroes, villains, and a happy ending. But by now we should all know that real-estate markets are rarely the stuff of fairy tales.

Read the whole thing but if you are not an economist or a commercial landlord you may have a hard time following it.

So having read it I’m all hot and sweaty. Why? Well, I wanted to be something of a political sage, like Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mocking Bird. I might be trapped in insane times but I’d personally stand up to the foolishness and do what was right. Well, I’ve not been very successful at that.

This notion of easy “cheap” money is much on my mind. Early on in my fight against the denial of a referendum on the Red Plan I ran across a UM Law Professor who was telling me about a book he’d been reading. The upshot was that bankers loved to have government borrow money because government in the US never goes bankrupt. All the state constitutions with the exception of one require that state’s never go into default. In Minnesota’s case ( and probably most other state’s cases) subdivisions like Cities that get into financial trouble can tell banks and bond companies to have the state pay up should they go into default.

Under these circumstances what banker wouldn’t lend government more than it could easily handle? And so Duluth’s school board got the biggest single school construction project in state history. It won’t save money on energy. It will cost double what the District told voters. The banks will be paid back by the taxpayers because that’s how it works. Easy money and everybody who is part of the project can hide behind school children and say Its for our city’s future.

I’ve been fighting two battles over the past three years having to do with the foolishness easy money provokes. The Red Plan is the first and its taken up three quarters of my energy. The other has been very personal and I’ve only alluded to it occasionally in the most veiled way. Continue reading