Category Archives: Harry’s Diary

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.


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.


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.

Prairie Home Companion

Claudia took the day off so we decided to go to a movie. Its not raining but with a breeze off Lake Superior its darned cool.

It was between two cartoons, Over the Hedges and Cars and Garrison Keillor’s movie. Our Minnesota roots won out. Having been to four of his shows we just had to see how would shoot the film in the Old Fitzgerald Theater. It was very much in the spirit of GK’s radio show and the Robert Altman movies I’ve seen. It got a positive 77% rating on my favorite movie rating website Rotten Tomatos, a tad higher than that of either animated movie.

Seven hours of staining my fence

I had to put off researching my Boyd book today because part of my agreement with my wife is to make sure I don’t muck up family life this summer. That’s my part of the bargain. What I get out of it I’ll announce in a couple weeks.

Today was brilliant and sunny and my fence and arbor needed a fresh coat of stain. Seven hours of staining left me feeling very grubby. It was good to swim my mile afterward except that my staining arm just sort of hung limp at my side for 32 laps.

Well Hello there!

Hello to all you new readers. I’ve been checking my blog’s statistics and more of you are stopping by. I’ve been hoping to reach a 1,000 “pageviews” a day and I came close yesterday. There were 937. As I understand it the stat is the number of pages on the blog that someone has looked at. I’ve probably got 70 or so pages by now but I suspect most folks are just checking out the main page. Of course, for all I know its just ten people returning every twenty minutes to check on updates but surely people have better things to do with their time.

The statistics for my original website are holding steady too. Snowbizz had over 1,200 pageviews yesterday. Not a record but so far I’m averaging over 1,000 a day for the month.

Its just a beautiful day outside. I’ll keep my windows open but that’s as close as I’ll get to enjoying the weather. I’ve got a ton of stuff to read through for the Boyd story. Pretty soon I’ll have to start organizing all the papers related to it that are scattered throughout my office.

I don’t know how many posts I’ll have today. Nothing has caught my attention in the news but that could change. Even if the news doesn’t offer anything of interest I suspect I’ll find some other interesting “tidbit” to add to the Boyd Scandal. Stay tuned.

I could almost see becoming a historian

Other than my mile swim I devoted my entire day to reading though old books and newspaper clippings. Seeing them all together through the lens of Don Boyd is almost enough to turn me into a cynic.

I read through a little of Governor Elmer L. Anderson’s autobiography. Elmer was a venerable old Republican and by today’s standards a liberal. He wrote about his smearing by Hubert Humphrey in the phony I35 scandal. It cost him relection to the Governor’s office by about 90 votes in 1966. He saw HHH as a weak man who was too intent on becoming President for his own good. It reminded me of a short column I ran accross a few years ago that quoted Fannie Lou Hamer to the same affect.

Rereading an old Minnesota political history by G. Theodore Mitau, who took Humphrey’s place at Macalester College, I rediscovered a scandal that was first bubbling over when I first moved to Minnesota. Because it threatened my father’s pension plan and involved the Minnesota State Insurance Commissioner I remember it well. My Dad used to investigate insurance companies for the Kansas State Insurance Commissioner and he ended up with a very low opinion of Minnesota’s insurance regulation. Jack Abramoff doesn’t have anything on yesterday’s DFL.


I just read about Unity 08 in Newsweek. The upshot:

“The Unity08 plan is for an online third-party convention in mid-2008, following the early primaries. Any registered voter could be a delegate; their identities would be confirmed by cross-referencing with voter registration rolls…”

Wow! Using the Internet in much the same fashion as Howard Dean did a third party could barge its way into the 08 Presidential election. As Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter says 40% of all Americans self identify as Independents these days. That leaves 30% each for the polarized, self righteous, Democrats and Republicans.  Could such a plurality bring America together again? Check it out: Unity 08.

Filling up the empty nest

After four years on his own our son is moving back for the summer. The nexus of his lease ending and making plans for next fall put him on a collision course with bumming with friends, moving home, or living on the streets. I’m glad to say his old room beckoned and he moved his stuff back during our gardening mania. It’s the temporary end to our empty nesting.

I asked him to leave his bed alone until he moves back on the first of June. For the past week it’s been the place where I’ve been sorting documents relating to the Boyd Scandal. I’ve got to move it somewhere else but since my daughter’s bed is full of the stuff related to the Duluth Schools Endowment I’ve got nowhere to put the Scandal stuff. God forbid that I would put it in files. However tidy that would be it would threaten to put it out of my mind.

Except for the bed my son’s room is packed with four years of stuff. I won’t be able to help my son move it out of his room until I clean up the attic today. I can’t get into the attic until I move the mattress and bed spring that he brought back away from the door to the attic. And the attic is so cluttered from a winter of haphazard storing that it has to be cleaned up first. Then there’s cleaning the garage and the basement workroom…. There’s just no end of chores standing in my way of getting this Boyd book written.

At least the garden is finished and after last nights thunderstorms we should have four or five days of glorious weather. I just hope I’m not tempted to go agate hunting.

Memorial Day

A little before 6AM I got up and raised the flag over our front yard. It was foggy and the harbor fog horn was blowing. Most Memorial Days past we’ve been out of town so our flag has had to wait for Flag Day or July Fourth to be unfurled. Its supposed to be sunny through the morning and then we’ll get a good chance at thunderstorms.

The paper has Memorial Day stories about the Purple Heart medal and the Langhorst family who lost a son in Iraq. I learned one thing new from the paper. My Grandfather got his purple heart in 1932, years after he was wounded in WWI. The US gave thousands of the medals to World War One’s wounded retroactively when it decided to reintroduce the medal that George Washington designed for the first American War.

The Trib also has pictures of the 96 Minnesotans who have died in Iraq. The proper etiquette for flags on Memorial Day is to begin the day by raising them only to half staff. This is meant as a tribute to the people who have sacrificed, for the nation.

There were other troubling stories in the paper. One covered the Marine unit that apparently killed two dozen Iraqies indescrimately after a marine had been killed in an attack. Another was about how Iraqies have been so numbed by their travails that they seem indifferent to the massacre. Finally there was the story about the tribal chief who stuck his neck out to help Americans fight terrorists and was just gunned down for his troubles. Its a good thing our President has finally shown some humility. I hope he didn’t get a scolding for it from the Vice President.

All I’ll have to dodge today is dust and pine needles. Four days of gardening has slowly transformed the yard for the summer. We have eight tomato plants two eggplants, peppers and rhubarb and what seems like thousands of flowers. I hope its a sunny summer.

My bet with Will

I had lunch with my old buddy Jerry and Will Munger Jr. today. We got talking about the race for Congress in the 8th District and I said that Oberstar was lucky that Grams picked such a crumby year for Republicans to run against him. When he asked me how much Oberstar would win by I predicted that it would be less than 60%.

Will asked how come. I said that Grams would campaign hard name recognition and money and that Oberstar was a poor campaigner. I said that prognosticators who kept pointing out that Oberstar hadn’t gotten less than 65% of the vote since his 59% showing in 1992 didn’t appreciate how weak his opponants had been since 1992. Off hand I can’t remember a single one of his more recent challengers.

Will bet me a dinner that Grams wouldn’t get more than 40% of the vote. I told him that I’d be willing to bet that Oberstar wouldn’t get 60%. I pointed out that the difference was that I expected there could be an independent candidate in which case neither Grams or Oberstar would make that percentage. Will said he’d probably lose the bet. I hope so. I’d like a free meal.

As for 1992. I remember that election very well. I was an independent candidate running aginst both the Republican, Phil Herwig, and Oberstar. I got 7 percent of the vote and a fellow named Floyd Henspetter got 3%. I stopped running when the local Ross Perot people got mad at me. I’d listed my party as the “Perot Choice” party. I hadn’t asked anybody’s permission so that riled them up. this year I figure an independent candidate could do even better. Its likely to be an anti-incumbent election.