Category Archives: Harry’s Diary

Blog Metamorphosis

As of today loyal readers, whoever you are, this blog has undergone a change from caterpillar to butterfly or, depending on your point-of-view, vice versa. For the past four months I’ve posted things that interested me but which were heavily drawn from other sources. I will not give up on this entirely but as the last week has demonstrated getting wrapped up a consuming project really distracts a blogger from scanning the internet for newsy items, insightful opinion and my favorite – hoots. I’ve started a mad four-month dash to the November election and I won’t have time to vacuum the news. I’ll still be blogging but lincolndemocrat will turn into more of a campaign diary than a political blog.

As long ago as 1976 when I was a 26-year-old kid running for the state legislature I imagined myself writing a regular column about what I saw daily as a legislator. Although I kept running for office I didn’t finally get elected to anything until 1995 almost twenty years later. By then I realized that no newspaper would print one elected official’s daily observations. But then a wonderful invention became available – the World Wide Web with a whole assortment of new communication tools. Long before blogs people began experimenting with public diaries. When I finally got a dial-up connection and discovered this I was halfway through my school board experience. I realized immediately how I could make that ambition from my youth possible and I began my “school board diary.” I was a faithful diarist for a year but, for a variety of reasons, I quit. Short lived political diaries of one sort or another succeeded the first but they too winked out.

Apparently, I’ve been drifting slowly to a new ambition to replace politics – writing. I’m still drawn to politics but more so as a writer than a practitioner. I want people to have the chance to see the political world from the inside. I’ve gotten 200 pages into Caro’s fabulous 1,000-page book about LBJ’s Senate years. What I wouldn’t give to write something like that. Well, its too late for that. Caro has already devoted thirty years to the LBJ story and he still has one book left to go. Anything I do will be much more modest – like my school board diary.

An elected bodies are more mysterious to people than what happens to their children during junior high. That’s because everyone has been in junior high and can imagine what their children are experiencing. Elected bodies, which seem to pull decisions out of thin air after a series of posturing speech”…well that really is mysterious. Fortunately or unfortunately the speeches are usually so anesthetizing that people stop watching and rely on the next day’s headlines to sort out what happened.

Well, this is just a long-winded way of saying that I’m going to devote the lion’s share of this blog to my Congressional campaign. I’ve been planning to run since before I wrote a snarky column about Jim Oberstar last November. To my surprise that column led me to Don Boyd and Don Boyd led me to a historical research project that I can’t really do justice to as a candidate for public office. In fact, because the project seems to involve the fellow I’m trying to unseat my motives must be questioned. But I can’t help myself. I think I’ve stumbled onto a story about how Minnesota’s politics of the late 1960’s and 1970’s was riddled with corrupt practices. This is history which should be investigated by a writer who is not contaminated with political ambition. For the next few weeks the story has to be put on hold. I have ten days to get 1,000 signatures on a petition to put me on the ballot. I also need to start alerting voters to a very interesting 3-way race for Congress. I intend to win if it is at all possible.

As time permits I will continue writing more about Don Boyd’s ruination at the hands of a political machine whose brightest leaders aspired to great nobility. In Watergate’s dark aftermath this machine successfully covered their own misbehavior when threatened with exposure. They did this by sacrificing an innocent scapegoat to federal prison. This at least is what I am beginning to believe took place. Its a story that should be told by someone else but for now I’m the only story teller that Don Boyd has.

Thirty years ago he was smeared so badly that no one, not his friends and probably not even his family, could imagine that he was completely innocent. It is hard to believe but that is what I’m coming to believe. If this is true then I’m deeply offended by this miscarriage of justice. In an odd way this story is a terrible distraction from my Congressional campaign but at the same time its given me a tremendous motivation. Nothing animates me so as a hunt for the truth.

Harry’s been strangely silent

And there is a good reason. Harry has been madly getting things ready to file for Congress. As if you hadn’t figured that out from all the not so subtle clues I’ve been dropping.

I’ve got my webpage up. I haven’t formally announced yet but I will soon. I still have to choose from the fundraising software available but I’ll probably use a PayPal account.

There’s been a lot in the news I would have commented on had I not been so busy but that’s life.

Oh, the new website is (typos and all): www.welty4congress.org

Storming Washington

I’ve been very busy; too busy to post yesterday. I’ve been puttering around with a campaign website which I’ll soon be uploading. I’ve just ordered the domain name. There aren’t too many candidates named Welty, thank goodness. I just ordered a taxpayer identification number for my committee of one and yesterday put in a rush order for campaign literature. I’ve been sending a flurry of emails back and forth over its layout. Today I need to open a campaign banking account. Filing for office begins the day after July 4th. I will need to get a thousand signatures on a petition of nomination. I did it all by myself in four day in 1992. Once I start campaigning I’ll use this blog as my campaign diary.

We left Washington last week just as heavy rainstorms broke out. They flooded the national archives and many other Federal buildings as well as knocking down a 100 year old Elm on the front lawn of the White House. I probably snapped a picture of it when I was there although like everything else on the grounds it was behind bars.

Our friends emailed us about the weather we escaped. I didn’t realize just how serious it was. Amtrak had to be closed down so they couldn’t commute into the Capital. Now if I could just figure out how to storm DC like that.

Blog Spam

Out of bed at 5AM on a Saturday. I thought I might go swimming but with the scent of hot steaming blueberry buckle in the air I decided otherwise. Today it will be calories not laps.

I checked my website statistics. They are holding their own and it looks like Snowbizz will end the month averaging a thousand hits a day. I have found that the blog is being invaded not only by readers but by spam. Somehow the spammers have figured out how to insert links to their pages by replying to blog posts. I’ll have to go back to my old posts and start marking them as closed for discussion. What a pain!

It will be a beautiful day so Claudia may put me to work. It will be recompense for the buckle. That’s OK. I need to fix my compost box. I’ll have to shovel a ton of black gold out of it first and then shovel it back in when I’m finished. That’ll be fun – kind of like deleting spam only back breaking.

Minnesota Secretary of State

After I visited my Mother I headed over to the State Capitol to get information from our Secretary of State about elections. Behind the counter were Ben and Jenny who cheerfully gave me helpful information. I snapped a picture of Jenny as she hauled away several recent years of election results which were on their way to clutter up the files of the State Historical Society. Ben snapped a picture of me in front of an American flag.
Jenny's Files

These are good people. You should file for office and then you could meet them too.

Picking up where I left off

Every time I leave Duluth I have to return and resume. Some projects will have another day’s delay as I’m driving to the Twin Cities today and delivering friends to the Airport where they will fly off to Europe. I’d hoped to take my daughter to lunch but she’ll be working. I will visit my Mother to see how she’s doing. That’s always a tough for me because she barely recognizes me but even so she still has a wry sense of humor hidden in the clutter that is her mind. And she likes to sing:Huts it raw sittin on the rittle raw……… I might remind her of some favorites like “You are my sunshine.”

It should be sunny and warm and I’m going clad in shorts. I’ll stop off at the Sectetary of State’s office while I’m down there. Hope they’ll take me seriously even if I’m not wearing a suit.

Master of the Senate

One thing I like about air travel is that it gives me a good excuse to read. Today, on the way home from DC, I got three more chapters of Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate read. I’ve only got through 130 pages but already i can see why it got the Pulitizer just like the first book in Caro’s series.

I’d highly recommend the very short introduction to anyone who doesn’t know what Jim Crow America was all about. The first three chapters are a wonderful history of the United State’s Senate. Its far better than anything I’ve ever read about the Congress to explain how it works in theory and in practice. I may not get a good chance to continue reading it again until I jet off to our family’s California reunion a month from now.

Hard to believe that such a crude man as Lyndon Johnson would be the person who through force of will and ambition would be the principal architect in helping the nation finally live up to its original ideals.

The Hilton

We’ll be leaving shortly. We stayed at the Hilton on Connecticut where I’ve been told John Hinkley tried to take out Ronald Reagan. I must have walked past the spot a dozen times on my way to the subway although I understand its been landscaped since the assassination attempt. History is everywhere here.

I’ve had crab cakes here four times. Someone else told me they are in season. MMMMM! Wonderful, but don’t eat them with any sauces. They have a terrific, subtle, flavor that should be savored as is.

Halfway through our stay our toilet bowl filled up disconcertingly with hot steaming water. The first time I noticed I thought it was nice of the Hilton to have heated seats. Thanks Paris.

 

Smithsonian

Smithsonian

Another day in DC and I had to visit the Smithsonian again. Today I visted the Museum of Native Americans and spent four hours there. It was more a celebration of their lives than their artifacts but it was wonderful history too. Its scope stretched from Point Barrow, Alaska to the Quechua of the Andes and points south.

Before that I made a quick stop at the FEC, the Federal Election Commission. I wanted to find out a little about the election laws. It was in the same building as the Hard Rock Cafe across from the now closed FBI building.

It was also next to Fords Theater where Abe was murdered. Abe’s dream was to be able to do something as magnificient as the founding Fathers. I think he managed to call them and raised them one.

Tonight we were too pooped to go on the evening tour of Washington monuments so we stayed in our room and watched another Washington monument – the movie Thank you for Smoking. It was a memorial to another local institution, K Street. We are so indebted to Tom Delay.

Back to Blogging in DC

Yesterday all my efforts to connect to a wireless network were stymied. I spent the morning trying to find the townhouse where I spent the summer 34 years ago when I interned with Congressman Ancher Nelson.

I got close but since I didn’t have the address I couldn’t be sure exactly where it was. I traveled from the Cannon Office Building past the Library of Congress and headed up Independence. I took a picture of a similar locale. The two gay guys who introduced me to martinis and fresh salted tomatoes are long gone. I wonder if they survived the AIDs epidemic? Its a modest middle class neighborhood now. Near this photograph was a sculptural elephant rather like the Peanuts statues St. Paul has had. This elephant was covered head to toe with political cartoons from Oliphant my favorite cartoonist from the 60’s and 70’s.

I headed back to the House office buildings but stopped at the new Library of Congress annex. Seems to me they had begun excavating it when I was in DC. They had a quiet little shrine inside devoted to our forth President James Madison.

Madison

I walked in the sub basement hallway through all three buildings. In the Longworth building I looked in on the restaurant where I once sat eating a fried clam sandwich next to Congressman Father Drinan who Pope Paul ordered to quit Congress. There’s an Edy’s ice cream shop and I ordered a chocolate shake.

I walked past Oberstar’s office and took a picture. Counting coup.
Oberstar Office

On my way over to Union Station to catch the subway home I walked past a monument to “Mr. Republican” former Senator Robert Taft son of a President. As his bell tower memorial is devoted to his veneration of integrity I wonder what he’d make of his grandson’s scandals in Ohio.

Spent the evening at a party at the Smithsonian where we were blasted out by rock and roll next to the stuffed elephants.

That’s the only kind left in Washington these days.

Woke up – Got out of bed

Lousy night’s sleep. Must be allergic to something in the air. Kept waking me up. At least, thanks to the NPR finder, I can type while listening to Morning Edition.

Its going to be beastly hot and humid today. Claudia will be busy conferencing. I’ll go explore shortly after I turn in my column to the Reader.

I woke up dreaming that I had been elected to Congress and was in the middle of a war between the GOP and Democrats to take control. I was negotiating between the two parties trying to get the winner to agree to set up the House of Representatives that wasn’t a “winner take all, zero sum game” to castrate the other side. Also, I was dickering to make the Congress give up seniority as the key to handing out pork and have it set up an independent agency to rate pork projects based on national need including spending on maintence rather than new building. Finally, I was trying to end No Child Left Behind and the Dept. of Education in exchange for a plan to send federal dollars only to the poorest local school districts in states which permit the greatest financing inequities to exist between rich and poor schools. It was exhilerating. No wonder I woke up.

It’s forecast to be a day with lots of pollution in the air. Breathing alerts are being issued. I can’t wait to inhale some of DC.

DC Diary

After a good night’s sleep I woke up to a new day in DC. Checked my email and my site stats and discovered that folks have indeed found my additions to the Boyd Scandal. I’d just renamed the files and was looking for the hits on the old urls.

I won’t put any additions to the story on the website until I’m back from Washington but I’ve brought my research with me so I’ll keep working on it.

Its obvious that DC is a hopping place these days. Reminds me of David Brinkley’s book about DC in World War II when FDR geared the nation up for war built the Pentagon and the government grew a million fold.  

This city is full of construction both public and private and its livelier than when I was last here a decade or so ago.

WW II Memorial

We walked through the new WWII Memorial. Its very lovely but it will take a while for this to lodge itself in my mental map of the Capitol like the other iconic monuments.

We have a day to explore and no plans. Life is good.

Washington here I am

Just got into my hotel. Checked the blog stats and they are holding steady. So far no one has looked at the latest entry to my Don Boyd story. SoK plenty of time for that.

We’ll be joined in the next ten minutes by some old friends from Duluth who will show us the town. They both are or have been federal employees so they’ll have the inside scoop on everything.

Its hot and humid. Hope I don’t melt.

Washington Here I come

Don’t worry Jim. I’m only coming as a visitor. My wife has a conference and I’m tagging along. I’ll see the sights for four days then return home on Wednesday.

As I said before I’ve been pretty busy organizing the material on the Boyd scandal and haven’t blogged as much as I’d like to. Besides that, I have a column to turn in to the Reader in the next couple days. Fortunately, I can now do that and blog with our new laptop away from home.

Its 10:30 and our flight is scheduled to leave at 6AM so I need some shuteye. Its been a long day. I got up at 3:30 AM to begin writing. At 8:30 I went over to the Damiano Center (soup kitchen) and spent two ours helping to prepare the afternoon meal. I’m tall the tables are low and my back is sore.

At noon I met with an accountant from Eikill and Schilling who did some of the accounting work for Don Boyd. I’m looking for verification of the results of the auditing that Don Boyd told me he had done after he got out of prison. The list of people I need to call to check out one thing or another is growing.

Tattoos

My acquaintance, Vic sends me odd bits of things in his email and today I got this piece about tattoos from the Opinion Journal. Apparently one-in-three young people have them now. For some odd reason I felt compelled to send a comment back to the Journal for their consideration to wit:

“As a 55 year old man I have no intention of getting a tattoo but both my children sport them. My daughter has a little one on her scalp which reportedly means “hair” in Chinese. Once her hair grew back it became invisible. My son has them all over his torso.I’m actually a little comforted to read that so many people have them now because I don’t wish either of my children, or my tattooed son-in-law, to be penalized for their body art. Still, I’m not a fan.

The symbols and artwork chosen by young people to reflect their personalities may not be very accurate representations of their core being in the distant future. It would be a shame if in twenty years the tattoos became as outdated as the names of long lost sweethearts which were often affixed to the biceps of drunken sailors.”

Hooray, 1000 pageviews

Yesterday I broke 1,000 pageviews. That’s particularly satisfying because I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t been putting much content on the blog. I hope today to be able to put together a convincing explanation about how unjust Don Boyd’s prosecution and incarceration was. He’s told me several times that the IRS agent who investigated him admitted that he wasn’t guilty of anything. I’m inclined to agree. His boss, however, who was found guilty on the same count was later found innocent on a technicality. Justice indeed!

I spent a large share of yesterday organizing and filing Don’s voluminous records so that I can more easily access them as I continue writing the book. It’s occurred to me that to do this justice it may not be practical to count on finishing it by November.

I had lunch with the Publisher of the Reader Weekly yesterday. I warned Bob that I may take on a new project in a few weeks that might conflict pose a conflict of interest. He asked me to postpone my decision for a couple of weeks while he considers whether to let me continue my column, Not Eudora anyway. I’ve written it for four years and while its been a pleasure I might be better off concentrating on the book writing that I’ve flirted with for the last few years. If I quit that could be the end of the column for good but I’ve roughed out one more for next week.

I haven’t posted much for the past couple days. I’ve been doing a fair amount of research but very little writing. I’ve spent several hours at the Duluth Public Library, photocopying old news paper stories and have been slogging through Don Boyd’s book. This afternoon I spent several hours with Don photographing a few items and getting a few of my questions asked. This is beginning to make more sense I really need to put some new tidbit into the webpage.

I told Don that I was trying to get my work done during the day on weekdays so as not to ignore my family. My summer and fall plans will test Claudia enough as it is so I don’t want to make her any more miserable than I have to.

I’m trying to be good. Tonight, for instance, we danced at the Duluth Heights community Club. Our rumba and swing are coming along. After two hours we learned a new swing move. Next week at this time we will be tripping the light fantastic in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian Museum of all places. Claudia has a convention and I’m tagging along. One of the evenings they are having a dance in one of the museums. I’d really like to sing karioke in the dinosaur exhibit but that get me in dutch with Claudia. We were in DC years ago at a karioke bar and I sang a spirited version of “Secret Agent Man.” She said I sang with a Kansas accent!

Summer Reading

Last summer I read two weighty histories of close to a thousand pages each. The first was about Adolph Hitler’a cronies and the second was about Joseph Stalin. This summer I’ve decided to read one of the Robert Caro books on LBJ which also weighs in at about 1,000 pages. I bought it at the LBJ Ranch not remembering that I already had a copy. I took my extra “Master of the Senate” and traded it with with my buddy Frank for his extra copy of “Misquoting Jesus.”

I’ve chosen to read the Caro book is because I want to read up on the politics leading up to the Boyd Scandal. HHH suffered in the Senate in his first few years there. The other reason is the eye opening I got many years ago when I read the first Caro book about LBJ called “Path to Power.” Caro has made wrting about LBJ his life’s work and he plans to eventually finish a tetrology on the subject. I may peek ahead to read passages about HHH but I will finish the entire book. I read the Introduction several months ago and just reread it again yesterday. Its a magnificent beginning. I’ve finished the first Chapter today about the early history of the U.S. Senate. Its wonderful history. Caro wrote glowingly about a book in my own library “The Great Triumverate” by Peterson. Its about Calhoun, Clay and Webster the great Senators from the first half of the 19th Century leading up to the Civil War.

The first chapter ended with the disappointment of Woodrow Wilson in failing to have the Senate ratify the Versailles Treaty ending World War l. I just read another wonderful history about that period, “Paris 1919,” two years ago.