All posts by harrywelty

Remember the Alamo

I’m getting up at 4AM tomorrow to fly out to San Antonio. The cat will be left in the tender mercies of my son. Don’t feel sorry for the cat!

I’ve tidied up my preparations for the Endowment meeting. Emails have been sent to all the potential recruiters and I put a message on the answering machine letting potential registrants know that I’ll get back Monday to add their names to the list. I even concluded my message with “Adios.” I do that all the time. It has nothing to do with the marches on Immigration or becaue I’m going to the Alamo. I wonder if we’ll see any remnants of the Immigration brouhaha this weekend?

I’m also hauling Claudia up to the Hill Country to see that other war president’s home – the LBJ Ranch. Its nestled in Texas’s best wine region so I’ll do a little sampling while there. I’ll ship a case of the Hill Country’s finest back home. Imagine, Texas with its own wine and cheese set! That should bring tears to the eyes of all the people in the blue states.

Lincoln vs Bush as Commander and Chief

Another top officer, who declined a promotion in Iraq because he could not abide serving under Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is calling for his sacking.

As Rumsfeld serves at the pleasure of the President a quick comparison of war presidents is order.

Lincoln who had even less military experience than Bush studied all the top books on warfare while he was president.

Bush put on a flight suit and co-piloted a plane to a “Mission Accomplished” banner hung up on an aircraft carrier.

Lincoln put up with a great deal of public criticism from his top commanders most notably McClellan. Despite this McClellan was allowed to continue serving until Lincoln was confident could replace him.

Bush and Rumsfeld tolerate no dissent. Any suggestion that a force larger than Rumsfeld’s pet idea of a small super effective force has led to the resignation of one officer after another. 

After four years most of the top union officers, most notably, US Grant, had complete confidence in their President.

Today, retired officers are coming out like crazy to call for Rumsfeld’s departure. Considering Bush’s pathetic dependence on his Secretary of Defense (see Yucks or yuck)hose who remain are probably biting their tongues so that they don’t jeopardize their retirment plans.


Incredible! I just discovered that I don’t have to e-mail my posts. I can do it from our new laptop. I’m such an old fogy! All the under 20 WordPress users are just rolling their eyes. You’ll get yours you little techies! Your children will be able to do something even more remarkable in a couple decades. Maybe download babies instead of bothering with caesarians. 

Becky Lourey vs. Cheney’s Governor

One of my perks as a new Democrat who has yet to be discovered as such by the Republic Party is that I get email from both parties. I’ve gotten my second e-mail from Becky Lourey’s campaign for Governor. I haven’t figured out how to link to an email without posting it as a new page but you can check out her webpage here.

The key paragraph in her email is this:

In order to win against a charming incumbent, Democrats must do more than simply offer a candidate who will match Republicans blow-for-blow. We must offer a leader that not only motivates, inspires and captures the imagination of Minnesota voters but one who is committed to fighting for the values and priorities that support and empower our families and businesses. As a mother of 12, a grandmother, a farmer, a business owner and a champion on the issues of health care, education, the environment, and peace, my vision and leadership will turn this state around. I will restore Minnesota to its place as a great progressive leader once again. My energy, enthusiasm, commitment and unique personal story are the ingredients that give me the edge over Tim Pawlenty–ingredients that will allow me to connect with and earn the support of voters from every city, county, and corner of Minnesota.

Becky does have a varied background and boundless enthusiasm. What she may not have is guile and cunning. Karl Rove has it. Lincoln had it. Even Senator Feingold has it. If you think these terms sound too sneaky then think of this quality as “street smarts.”

Lourey is not naive. Certainly she has more understanding for people who are in pain than any Republicans I know. Nonetheless empathy alone  will not get her elected.

Yucks or yuck with our regular guy in the Oval Office

Putting the President in the lower right corner (see previous entry) pales in comparison to what he himself does to his own reputation. This video helps explain why Karl Rove wouldn’t let him give press conferences for his first term of office. As I watched this I thought about the young service people who’s faces I see at the end of the News Hour and the horror on the streets of Iraq after a suicide bomb goes off.

One of the people commenting on this clip observed that the President pants like a dog. Dogs pant when they get hot.

The Power of Makeup

Never underestimate the power of makeup

A candidate for the Duluth City Council election sent this to me last year and I counseled him not to send it to anyone else lest it offend voters. His e-mail had Hillary Clinton in the lower right corner. I receieved this again yesterday only with President Bush in that corner. When I was going to college the most popular insult among the student politicians for an idiot was “horse’s ass.” So, I thought it was entirely appropriate to put a representative of that class of people in the corner to demonstrate the power of makeup. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Psychoanalyzing Bush

There’s been debate for years over the usefulness of psychoanalyzing Presidents or presidential contenders. Some of our loopier Presidents have turned out pretty well. Reagan seemed to act out some kind of Hollywood B movie script but he turned out pretty well. I can’t even begin to imagine that in this day and age we’d ever let a guy like Lincoln get any where near to the Oval office. But what about George Bush? Andrew Sullivan found an arresting premonition of Bush the son as chip-on-the-shoulder rather than as chip-off-the-old-block.

I think it accords with the primitive cartoon I drew for the Reader Weekly two years ago.


Duluth Schools Endowment Announcement

Posting will be light this week because I have a serious project to pursue. That’s too bad because a great many important news streams are colliding. However, the life of my City, Duluth, can not be put on hold for these events let alone for my pontifications on them.

I’ve just finished my latest column for the Reader Weekly. It announces a meeting to organize a major fund raising effort for the Duluth Schools which will be held in three weeks. Until then that will take the lion’s share of my time. Oh, I also have a short sojourn to San Antonio coming up this weekend. Since I haven’t figured out how to blog by email that space on the calendar will leave the Lincoln Democrats without their self annointed spokesman.

If you love the Duluth Schools take a look at my column. You may be just the sort of person we’re looking for.

Finegold for President

As I was reading Joe Klein’s recent observations on why candidates seem so remote to the public – he blames consultants – it occured to me that Russ Feingold would be a very interesting Presidential candidate. He doesn’t seem like a phony to me.

I saw Finegold’s humerous TV ads when he first got elected to the Senate because I live across the border from Wisconsin and his campaign bought lots of ads in the Duluth media.

He is a stunningly articulate candidate. He also, like Clinton before him, strikes me as being fellow who has powerful analytical skills. Unlike Clinton, however, Feingold doesn’t strike me as so calculating that he feels he has to travel through politics as though it was a minefied. That’s called “straight talk” and I like it.

One such position which has scared his fellow Democratic Senators cowering is his motion to censure the President for pushing domestic spying beyond his war time authority. I think the idea of an impeachment is foolish but I think a strong case can be made of censure which is purely symbolic. As long as Republicans control both houses of Congress it can’t pass but it seems to me to be entirely debatable and possibly justifiable.

I’m sure that his motion will incline lots of Democrats to his candidacy and I’m sure Senator Feingold senses this. If so, then the censure proposal could be calculating. Even so, I can’t help but think it comes from a genuine outrage over principle and I find that very appealing.

If I wanted another too calculating President I could support the other namebrand which has shared the Oval Office since 1988. Gosh, I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Neologism (new word) Hoot

Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions
to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate
meanings for common words.

The winners are:
1. Coffee (n.) the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.) appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.) to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.) to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.) impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.) describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly
answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.) to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.) olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run
over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.) a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.) a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.) the formal, dignified bearing adopted by
13. Pokemon (n) a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.) a person who sprinkles his conversation with
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.) (back by popular demand):
The belief that, when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and
gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.) an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by
Jewish men.

and on a Musical note

My daughter Keely drove up yesterday. She had agreed to sing at our church this morning. Shortly after 9/11 I featured her high school choir on my main webpage for several months. Her choir had visited New York two years earlier. You can see why I put this particular photo on my main page. It also included an mpg of the choir singing Lost in the Night with Keely singing a solo.

She has a terrific soprano voice and as we were doing dishes yesterday evening we sang songs together that I used to sing to her and her brother when I put them to bed. Streets of Laredo, Big Rock Candy Mountain, and my favorite, Waltzing Matilda were just a few.

After we warbled she got very enthused about my taking voice lessons and While I, amused, sat back and watched she search the Internet for voice coaches for me. She’d like to sing a duet with me. That would be neat.

She sang for ten minutes before church started. The congregation was attentive and still. (We are Presbyterians) The choir seemed mesmerized. Everyone joked afterward that I must be bursting my buttons. I just replied that the next time Keely sang I’d be sure to bring a needle and thread.

and now something useful

Since my appointment as a trustee of the Duluth Public School Board Endowment Fund last fall I’ve been slowly working on a plan to raise a serious endowment for the Duluth Schools. The present endowment is a hair over $450,000 and it has generated enough income to finance a dozen or more modest grants for innovative teaching projects every year for the past decade.

On May 2nd we are having a meeting of people who care about the schools to organize a massive fund raising project.

Over the last week we wrote and will be sending out a fund raising letter to our eighty or so past contributors. it also invites them to join us on May 2nd. That’s a very modest number of people but its all who have contributed to our endowment to date. I want a fund of 20 million dollars which should earn about a million dollars annually. That requires raising 40 times as much money as we currently have.

I’m planning to get at a minimum 40 people signed up to join us May 2nd. Getting them to the meeting will be my challenge. I’ll keep you up to date. In the meantime it will be the subject of my next column in the Reader. I hope I’m up to it.

McCain and Revelations

This is very interesting video interview of John McCain by Tim Russert who challenges the “maverick” Senator on his recent raprochment with Jerry Falwell. (My blog software doesn’t have spellcheck and I don’t know if raprochment has one or two r’s. Rats! Not long ago I spelled prerogative “perogative.” Phooey! I’m only the pronouncer at our local spelling bees in Duluth. I’m not one of the contestants. I’m not that brave.)

As a “McCainiac” in 2000 (I began a website for his Minnesota campaign) its a little distressing to see him pulling his punches on the folks who treated him in such an unchristian fashion. On the other hand, pragmatic politicians always have to prepared for the awkward political necessity of sleeping with surprising bedfellows now and then. I hope for the Senator’s sake that Falwell doesn’t snore.

DECC Decked?

It’s bad luck to predict misfortune because such predictions can become self fulfilling prophecies. That said, its looking grim for the DECC’s hope of receiving state funding this year.

Things looked good after the Governor taunted Duluth into holding a referendum on funding half of a DECC expansion through local sales taxes. When Duluth took up the challenge and passed a referendum there was real optimism for the project. Unfortunately, the state’s putative half of the financing is not in either the Senate or House bonding proposal.

Although the Tribune recently editorialized that the Governor was our best hope for adding the full 30 million to a final bonding bill that seems unlikely to happen. Our Senator, Tom Bakk, has been crowing about a humungous $118 million in miscellaneous bonding for northland projects in the Senate Bonding Bill. This boasting is a subtle warning to Duluth not to tamper with the current Senate proposal by trying to add the DECC.

In answer to the DFL controlled Senate bill the House bill included $3 not $30 million for the project. If our own DFL Senator has no interest in pushing it who can blame the Republicans who control the House for only offering up 10% of the Governor’s proposal?

As someone who wrote a pro-DECC column I find this disappointing but not very surpising. I don’t see anyone with any political muscle who has anything to gain by pushing the DECC this year. On the other hand the Governor’s intervention and the City’s referendum have brought the DECC to the state’s attention. In a sense its like a plane circling the airport waiting for the legislature to give it clearance to land. Ahead of the DECC are the long debated stadiums for the Twins, Vikings and UM Gopher Football team.   

If these other stadiums are finally approved this year it will be hard to deny Duluth in the years to come.

Right versus the Truth

Moments after posting the previous entry I realized the difference between the two. If you were hiding a Jewish family in your attic, during World War II, and you told the Gestapo you weren’t hiding anybody you would be lying and doing right simultaneously. When I was growing up Biblical literalists had a hard time accepting this. To them the world was black and white. They wouldn’t countenance the heretical notion that you could take any liberties with God’s Ten Commandments, not even the one about never bearing false witness.When even more shocking questions were posed under the guise of “situational ethic” the literalists went into a state of apoplexy. It was bad enough to hear people trying to justify a lie but what about putting yourself in the place of a Jewish family hiding in the attic with a crying infant while the Gestapo was searching for Jews downstairs? Being found would mean certain death for everyone and the baby’s cries would definitely alert the Gestapo. The only way to save the family required smothering the baby. What to do? When I was a kid the literalists wouldn’t touch a question like this with a ten foot pole. Better the unexamined life.

So what do Bush loving, Biblical literalists make of this Administration’s “disingenuities?” I’d say that those of them who have stuck with Bush have crossed the treacherous black and white boundary of the Ten Commandments. In doing so they have followed in the footsteps of the pointy-headed thinkers from my youth who debated what that Jewish family should do. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

This is a post I attempted to send yesterday as it the next. When the battery died on the flight to texas so did the post.I’ve emailed principals, trustees, school board members and PTA leaders. Now while I’m in San Antonio I’ll wait for replies and hopefully some reservation requests. One principal emailed back promising to make substitute teachers available for any of his teachers who want to attend. Cool.

I gave Michele Wallerstein, our President, an option to suggest changes but got nervous and sent my column in to the editor/publisher before she replied. Being a diplomat she changed my dyspeptic references to “greedy” legislators covering their “fiscal mismanagement.” It did her no good as I had already sent it in. I told her our legislators were all Democrats and unlikely to take offense since they’d just blame Republics who controlled 2/3rds of the state government.