Movie day

Claudia and I took in three movies in a row on Saturday. Every year or two we go crazy at the movies like this. We saw wildly different movies. The Ardman Studios animation “Flushed Away” was first. It was light, witty and entertaining. Next we saw Sweet Land a movie filmed in Minnesota and about Minnesota just after the Great War.

My Mother had an aunt who once taught High School German until the war but who had to switch to Spanish afterwards because German was taken off the curriculm after 1918. It was a sweet movie with very little dialogue from its taciturn Norwegian farmer who marries a German woman who speaks no English. She comes to America on his Norwegian parents’ recommendation. She is not treated well in Minnesota.

The movie was based on the very real anti-German sentiment stirred up by the war. After church I talked to an older couple who we’d seen at the movie the day before. The wife’s Grandmother had been a German bride to a Norwegian famer and the hostilitiy was such that the mother-in-law wouldn’t let her daughter-in-law inside her home.

The third film was Borat. It was crass and funny. If you are over sixty and reading this blog don’t go see it. If you do you will see simulated (I think) public pooping and a couple naked, ethnic men wrestling in the 69 position. While these men are the stars most of the humor is supplied unintentionally by people who were conned into being filmed with the “foreigner” “Borat.”

The plot in a nutshell: Borat is visiting America to film a documentary for his hopelessly backward, goat romancing, people back homen in Kazakhstan. Although only scheduled to shoot his movie in New York City he falls in love with Pamela Anderson after watching Baywatch on his hotel television. He then sets out with his director and his chicken on an unplanned roadtrip to find the woman of his dreams. Much to his credit he only does this after discovering that his unpleasant wife has been raped and or eaten (I can’t remember which) by a wild beast.

Various innocents are now suing the comedian for conning them into signing releases which permit the movie makers to show them in the movie. I don’t blame them.

Viguerie’s Vengeance

Richard Viguerie is the man who developed the voter identification services that helped make the Republican Party the majority party and helped bring about talk radio which put both spine and venom in the GOP. I heard him on NPR today explaining why he expected the Democrats to fail. I can’t find that story on the NPR webpage. However this story from a few days earlier explains why he didn’t at all ming having the GOP take a tumble last Tuesday.

Banana Bread

Yesterday I went to the volunteer appreciation lunch at our Soup Kitchen, the Damiano Center, and won a fruit basket in a drawing. Claudia and I enjoyed a tasty fruit salad last night. This morning the three remaining and over ripe bananas had to be tossed or turned into banana bread so I mashed em up and baked a loaf. The kitchen smells very pleasant.

I’ve been thinking about what to do next. Claudia told me in no uncertain terms that I had to check with her before I rush out on any more jousting matches with windmills. I’ve decided that early morning blogging drains away some of my most alert hours, hours I could use in writing my book. Consequently my blogging may soon become more of an afternoon activity. It will also reveal my careless attitude about editing as my faithful proof reader for the past several months, Mel, has officially resigned. Sadly this may also mean that no one but me will bother to read lincolndemocrat any more.

I’m not alone in the blogging universe. My Google alerts have recently been sending me notices for blogs and I’ve discovered a small galaxy of Minnesota blogs. We’re all casting our light out into the void.

Both Parties tacked to the right

Charles Krauthammer makes an interesting observation about the 2006 elections. Both parties tacked to the right. Republicans shed many of their moderate centrists (thus becoming more conservative) and Democrats elected a great many Congressmen with much more conservative points of view.

 Krauthammer dismisses the election as a minor earthquake. The challenge for Democrats is to hang on to the center ground. If their ultra-liberal wing has its say they could soon be out of power again.

Unions forever

This is pretty astounding news.

For Duluthians depressed at the City Council’s new policy of requiring a living wage for  any business receiving city subsidies its a spash of cold water.

“Minnesotans elected four union members to the state Senate and 32 union members to the state House. Twenty-one are incumbents; 15 are newcomers. An astounding 20 of the 36 union members elected are members of Education Minnesota, the union representing teachers and other educators.”

“Do you want to backtop my driveway”?

I keep bumping into people who tell me that they voted for me. I tell them that they were in pretty exclusive company.

The 5,508 votes I got cost me $1.8 each. It looks like Grams spent about $5 each for his 97,000 votes and Oberstar $7.75 for each of his 180,000 votes. I’m salving my wounds with this remarkable financial success. My sense of humor, which seems to have returned in full now that the election has come and gone, is also a helpful tonic. Now I can return to doing something useful which in my case means resuming the book I was writing until I filed for Congress.

I decided not to harp on the book during the campaign because its old news. It might be a cautionary tale for the resurgent Democrats who have just regained control of Congress because it involves beloved Minnesota Democrats of the past and proves that the scandal plagued Republicans were no aberation. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I met with my principal witness, Donald C. Boyd, today for breakfast. He told me he got a call from an old friend who still close to Jim Oberstar. Don was surprised because he hadn’t heard from this fellow for ten years.

“What do you want?,” Don kept asking him. Eventually the caller asked Don if he would be interested in paving his driveway. Don’s paving days are long past and given this lame excuse Don told him to tell Oberstar that he and Harry (meaing me) were just fine.” Thus ended the conversation.

Three months ago I would regularly talk politics with a person intimately acquainted with the workings of the Oberstar DFL of decades past. We often swam in adjoining lanes of the Miller Dawn Fitness Center Pool. Our conversations continued until I asked her about the UGLRC and she told me that her friend, a former secretary at the Commission, had one refused to hand a paper bag filled with cash in it over to a mayoral candidate. Shortly afterwards when I began writing about the old scandal on the Web she stopped coming to the fitness center pool.

What should I make of a call out-of-the-blue or a regular swimmer’s sudden loss of interest in exercise? I don’t know. I’m like a cat that can see shadows underneath a locked door. They make me want to slide my paw under it to bat at them. 

A couple observations the day after the election

I just listened to the President say he took “a thumpin.” It had to be a painful press conference.

The announcement of Rumsfeld’s departure was released shortly before the press conference. The immediacy of the announcement was like an admission of failure. One commentator suggested that it was an attempt by the President to foist the blame on Rumsfeld.

I was extremely happy in 1994 when the Republicans finally took back the House for the first time since 1946. At that time I felt like one of the Republicans who had been given the cold shoulder for 48 years by the American public.

Last night I was just as happy as 1994 when the Democrats took the House back. This time I felt like it was my reward for having had the Republicans give me the cold shoulder for the last twelve years.

The modest results for the Independence party this year reinforce my sense that the vast bureaucracy, wealth and connections of the two major parties make the creation of a third major political party extremely unlikely. New parties can momentarily appeal to long ignored people thus bringing them to the attention of a major party which may have to change to get them and their votes back. While an important corrective this power is not a very satisfying consequence for someone wishing to be a part of a permanant political organization.

I’m going to coffee

My friend, John, from Ely just called. He was down in Duluth last night and went to both the Republican and Democratic election eve parties. He said the GOP bash at the Radisson was like going to a wedding party where the groom had failed to show up.

On the news last night Rod Grams was insisting that when the western and southern counties results came in things would change. They did a bit. He ended up with close to 34% overall but in Duluth only had 23%. I wonder if this will make him reconsider his promise to run in two years.

I was happy with almost everything that happened across the nation last night. Andrew Sullivan was calling this election more of an intervention and that’s what it turned out to be. I’ll have some observations about my miniscule results shortly but its off to talk politics first.

What to expect today

It was a seasonable 46 degrees when Claudia and I headed out to vote at 7:30 AM. I was the 24th voter at our precinct and the polling place was teeming with voters. It should be a good turn out. Frank sent me yesterday’s forecast by the Cook Report which downplayed the recent reports that the Republicans are “coming home” and tightening the race:

“All Monday there was considerable talk that the national picture had
suddenly changed and that there was a significant tightening in the
election. This was based in part on two national polls that showed the
generic congressional ballot test having tightened to four (Pew) and six
(ABC/Wash Post) points.

Seven national polls have been conducted since Wednesday, November 1.
They give Democrats an average lead of 11.6 percentage points, larger
than any party has had going into an Election Day in memory. Even if you
knock five points off of it, it’s 6.6 percentage points, bigger than the
advantage that Republicans had going into 1994.

Furthermore, there is no evidence of a trend in the generic ballot test.
In chronological order of interviewing (using the midpoint of field
dates), the margins were: 15 points (Time 11/1-3), 6 points (ABC/Wash
Post), 4 points (Pew), 7 points (Gallup), 16 points (Newsweek), 20
points (CNN) and 13 points (Fox).”

I’ll be watching the new and improved paperless ballot voting machines. Already there are reports of some serious snafus with them in several states. Something like 36% of all ballots cast this year will not have paper backup.

It won’t be pretty if the US has another election debacle like those of 2000 and 2004.

Jim’s funeral service

Over the weekend I was shocked to learn that one of my fellow Mankato High graduates from our class of 1969 had died in his sleep. Jim was double nickles (55) just like me. In fact, I have three months on him.

A few of us from Mankato have found our way to Duluth over the years and Jim and his wife Lynn and LeAnn B. and I all came from the same graduating class.

I’d called Jim last Spring to see if he’d be interested in helping me with the Duluth Schools Endowment since he’d taught in the Duluth Schools until his recent retirement. Jim expressed interest but was tied up. It was the last time we spoke together.

Dave, a close friend of Jim’s, came up to sing during the visitiation. Dave was on the swim team with me at Mankato. He spoke poignantly during the service about Jim’s life which, it turns out, had come to grief over the bottle. Everyone who spoke at the service was frank about Jim’s alcoholism.

I wasn’t close to Jim but I remember him as a very nice guy and I was not the only person to recall this. He was also a gifted athlete who earned more athletic letters than almost anyone else in Mankato’s history. I earned two for swimming but Jim must have had nine or more..

I peeled the magnetic Welty signs off of my prius before going to the funeral but the subject of my campaign came up anyway during the visitation. Several people wished me well tomorrow including Jim’s adoptive father, Mr. Siebrass, who taught Science at Mankato High. He now lives a little west of Duluth in Alborn township.

Sometimes it takes something like a funeral to remind you of what’s really important in life.

Fantasy Congress

Not content with Fantasy Football someone has created a website for “Fantasy Congress.” Its a game in which players choose a variety of senators and representatives and accumulate pointes (as near as I can tell) when they successfully advance legislation through Congress.

Of course, simply putting one’s name on a bill as an author or co-author not the only way an influential Congressmen can advance legislation.