2016 Aug Blog 1: “Those who forget the past”

At noon I got the tiny package containing the chef hat I ordered to play Mike over the just ended weekend. As you can see its just as well I didn’t get it in time. It showed up as I was deadheading petunia’s in my patio. When I saw that it was from China I finally understood how my Amazon order could have been so cheap at $2.14 including, I presume, shipping. Coming from China the USPO had no choice but to send it on. No nasty three dollar addition of US postage.

“Ah,” I told our letter carrier. “That’s how Trump gets his ties from China into the US so cheaply.”

I can’t wait for him to get elected and teach China a lesson.

I came out to get a selfie of me in the hat to talk up my weekend portrayal of a putative “Mike” circa 1920 in the movie shoot I was cast in. Since it’s all about Duluth’s infamous lynching this selfie seemed a good springboard into that well trodden subject in LincolnDemocrat – civil rights and black/white relations.

As I left yesterday’s Business Committee meeting at Historic Old Central I carried out the tripod for our intrepid video recorder. Marcie and I are old friends who see eye to eye on very little other than the reason for the often dire straights faced by ISD 709 going back to our Let Duluth Vote days. As I shoved the case into Marcie’s SUV Alanna Oswald said “See ya later Mike.” Marcie asked what that was about so I explained in brief how I came to be on set shooting a scene about the Duluth Lynching.

Marcie turned her head in exasperation and said “we should let sleeping dogs lie” as this subject will serve no purpose but to rile folks up. It’s time we got over stuff. I was eager to get home from a long meeting so I said that this was a good subject to bring up to discuss at some future occasion.

So, I’ll bring it up here on the blog because I disagree completely. I used to pass out a business card with Santayana’s quote on the back: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Veritas, Racoons and Wimping out

I broke out our camping gear after a 20 year hiatus and prepared to give it one more go with Claudia, my daughter and grandsons. We headed to the headwaters of the Mississippi River for a two night excursion.

Here are the grandsons at the headwaters.

After wading across the Big Muddy we cashed in our chips having suffered a rainy night with marauding gangs of raccoons riffling through our campsite.

The itas in Itasca State Park and the lake its named after comes from the Greek word veritas or truth as in the true source of the Mississippi. That’s the name Henry Schoolcraft gave it when Indian guides or possibly Duluth resident, George Bonga, took him to the lake so he could “discover” it.

We found comfortable beds in a Super 8 in Park Rapids and a wonderful surprise of an Italian restaurant in the same city. Our grandsons ate mussles. Such refined barbarians.

My sister called me a wimp when she found out I’d broken camp early. I sent her this picture to restore my manly self respect.

I know. I know. That happened the day after we got home but my sister doesn’t read this blog.

Email fencing over 2016 politics – Round 4

Once more from my Buddy:

From “Your Buddy”
Sent: Fri, 5 Aug 2016 13:06:06 -0500
Subject: Donald Trump, postmodern candidate – Victor Davis Hanson


I submit this to you for your consideration, although I get the impression that you are not a fan of Victor Davis Hanson.

Your Buddy

From http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0816/hanson080416.php3:
The bible for modern politicians is political correctness. They must defer to every imaginable hyphenated group and “community,” employing euphemisms or self-imposed censorship while sidestepping race, class and gender land mines as much as possible.

Again, not Trump. He says what he pleases. If he blows himself up with a politically incorrect outburst, what is left simply flows back together, as if Trump were some sort of political version of the Terminator.

Trump was supposed to fade last summer. His crudity was said to guarantee that he would lose Republican primaries.

Then, pundits said Trump’s vulgar style of primary campaigning would not translate well to the general election.

Now, even seasoned politicos confess there are no rules that apply to Donald Trump. He just keeps shouting that things are getting worse and no one will admit it.

and I return the volley:

I am not a fan of Davis Hanson although I enjoyed the first half of his history of the wars between Sparta and Athens.

Without reading the full essay I can’t help but agree with this portion. But to my thinking Trump’s candor reflects the paucity of dissent in the Party until he tossed his hat in the ring. My Grandfather used to bemoan the Democrat’s penchant for getting us into foreign wars. I’ve been amused that Trump has been given kudos for that kind of talk. His whole “America First” shtick is torn from the pages of the Republicans of the 1920’s and 30’s.

To suggest that the Republicans didn’t have their own version of “political correctness” is baloney. I was pushed to the margins because my Rockefeller Republican ways were verboten. Hell, even Barry Goldwater became a joke when he suggested that the GOP ought to live and let live where gay’s were concerned. No dissent has survived the PC onslaught of the GOP take over artists.

I’ve enjoyed watching Trump make a hash of the Party by being the first politically incorrect “Republican” in a generation. That said, I’m not willing to let him make hash of the good old US of A. Victor Davis Hanson is being far too sympathetic with the Devil. He must have listened to Rolling Stones albums too much for his own good when he was a teenager.


Email fencing over 2016 politics – Round 3

And my Buddy again:

From “your Buddy”
Sent: Fri, 5 Aug 2016 12:50:02 -0500
Subject: Re: Althouse: Have you watched last night’s Libertarian town hall?


I wouldn’t bet any money that Hillary will be the next president of the United States. See http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/05/opinion/the-perils-of-writing-off-mr-trump.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=1.

What could happen between now and November? For example, who knows who has copies of Hillary’s e-mails; who knows which of them will be released; and who knows how damaging to her some of the contents might be? If Hillary had nothing to hide, why was she apparently bent on hiding something? You and Warren Buffett might trust her. I don’t.

Was a challenge to Rush Limbaugh and his imitators, the sole responsibility of the Republican Party and its pundits? If there was meritorious challenge to be made, where the f*** was the Democratic Party and its pundits?

I choose to not be a member of any political tribe (cult?). Animal Farm?

If Roger Ailes was a pig with women, I don’t condone that. However, we are fortunate to have had Fox News, as an antidote to the general “liberal” bias of the “mainstream” media.

Your Buddy

and back from me:


I agree. Trump could win. Then again, so could Gary Johnson.

It will be interesting to see how many of Hillary’s secrets get swept into the open or whether she ultimately turns off her current supporters. How ironic that she failed to learn the key lesson of the man she helped investigate out of the White House, Richard Nixon, that its the cover-up that will kill you not the crime. Of course, she didn’t learn that from Bill’s impeachment either.

The leaders of the GOP hid from Rush and his ilk the more the ilk killed off the Weld’s of the Party. Pretty soon no one with any stones was left. Main Street Republicans were content to have their business interests represented even if they held their nose at the social agenda of the leaders of the putsch.

No cause is worth much if it tolerates no internal dissent. The Democrats could only carp about the new GOP from the sidelines which is as far their responsibility over Republicans go and complain they did. Both parties had flourishing dissenters for a hundred years and more until Rush emerged from the mire.

As for FOX news, it could have been a good antidote to the liberal media but its always put its thumb on the scale far more shamelessly than the Networks ever did. Cutting away from Mr. Khan who held the Constitution up to Trump was classic Fox. As for Aisles. I had no idea he was a cad only that he populated the news desk with pretty girls as eye candy. Then again that wasn’t much of a surprise. The Station’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, made Page 3 http://www.page3.com/sol/homepage/page3/ standard fair in the Sun. Fox was just the place to play Hollywood casting director.

Perhaps because you disdained Party politics you did not feel the injury I felt being marginalized by the GOP’s Stepford Wive’s mentality. Say what you will about the Democrats they have always had a rump of rabble-rousers. The biggest group of them defected to the GOP with Strom Thurmond and succeeded over thirty years in crushing social moderates and calling us RINO’s even when, like me, we had been part of the party for generations before the South’s conversion. That’s been a pretty bitter pill to swallow.


Email fencing over 2016 politics – Round 2

And my Buddy back to me:

From: “Your Buddy”
Sent: Fri, 5 Aug 2016 11:36:19 -0500
Subject: Re: Althouse: Have you watched last night’s Libertarian town hall?


I got the same impression. However, I got the impression that Althouse is positive about Johnson at Weld. At http://althouse.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-big-open-loving-william-weld.html, she said:
And I just want to say that Weld is an elegant guy. Weld is great. I’m loving Weld.
I have been depressed by the bullshit from Hillary and The Donald, but that depression was appreciably reduced after I watched the CNN interview of Johnson and Weld. I felt that I could comfortably vote for those guys, and let other persons choose between Hillary and The Donald.

Your Buddy

And my reply:


I will be one of those “other persons” but I don’t blame you for voting for Weld. He’s one of my heroes. I loved it when he went after Teddy for the Senate. Weld scared the hell out of the Mass. Dems when he did.

Sadly, the ideologues who took over the GOP and insisted on purity , meaning turning their back on practical, middle-of-the-road governing, turned primaries into purges of moderates even at the cost of electing Democrats in their place. They have made Hillary the next President of the United States. Talk about making your own worst fears come true. Weld was one of their victims. Now they’ve crippled the GOP for a generation. They may become the next Whig Party.

I have no sympathy for the Party. They and their pundits were all afraid to challenge Rush and his imitators. There was no room for dissent and randy Roger Ailes helped make that possible. There is not an Abe Lincoln anywhere in their midst although, to his credit, Mitt Romney has taken a stab at it. Too little. Too late.


Email fencing over 2016 politics – Round 1

In in a healthy email argument with “My Buddy” over the Presidential race. We’ve had a pretty heated series of emails that like this election threatened to lead to civil war but these have been useful.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts on this election that haven’t made it into posts. I think this series of tit for tat goes along way to explaining my thoughts. Here’s my Buddy’s first salvo:

A lot of her readers don’t…..seem to appreciate them.


From: “Your Buddy”

Sent: Fri, 5 Aug 2016 07:32:35 -0500
Subject: Althouse: Have you watched last night’s Libertarian town hall?

If the two major party presidential candidates have got you down, maybe you will appreciate Johnson and Weld.


and my succinct reply:

A lot of her readers don’t…..seem to appreciate them.

A little of the Much More to Come

Here’s some of the “much more to come” suggested at the end of the previous post.

As I type my printer is cranking out 122 pages of a full screen play for a movie tentatively titled “Hatestorm.” I’ve already printed out a sixteen page “treatment” which I gather explains how the script is meant to convey the contents of Michael Fedo’s book about the infamous 1920 lynching of three black circus workers in Duluth, Minnesota in 1920 and translating it into a theatrical script for a movie.

It turns out that this is a not only a much more ambitious project than I had imagined but one with legs I hadn’t anticipated. It will be fascinating to see if it attracts the fifteen million in production costs that have been projected. A lot of that will ride on the success of the “teaser” I will do my bit part for.

I’ll begin reading the script tomorrow as I travel to Itasca State Park for what may be a soggy camping trip with Claudia, my daughter and my grandsons. I will check out my costuming upon my return, largely a white apron and contemplate getting my hair cut to 1920’s fashion with a part down the middle of my skull. Maybe I’ll wear a chef’s hat.

I haven’t yet memorized my fifty or so words but that shouldn’t be too hard. I will do that as I consume the script and imagine how the makers of the movie go about attracting investors. I’d like to help in more ways than as just an actor for four minutes worth of celluloid or whatever its digital equivalent is these days.

As I wrote before I had breakfast in the locale of the shoot. That’s Mike’s Western Cafe on West Superior Street in the West End. Claudia and I had eggs over easy and corn beef hash. Claudia proclaimed it very good. I looked at the cooler and the juice machine and a Minnesota Twins pennant and wondered if there would be any attempt to camouflage the present to evoke the 1920’s. The prime mover behind the project, screenwriter Dale Botten, most assuredly will. He will also pay the actors. That’s something I had imagined would not happen. I’ll get a paycheck!

Well, the script is finished printing. Its time for me to rest up for tomorrow’s travels. There’s a lot on my mind – packing, the Psalms (I’ve finished the first “book” through the 41st Psalm), The attractions of voting for Hillary aside from the execrations of Don Trump, how one of my School Board colleagues may be taking credit for all the good things happening in our District as she travels the state. Yup. Lots on my mind.

I’ll be back to write about some of it in the not too distant future.

My second stint as a wage earning thespian

And the cast – for Hatestorm’s teaser – is set.

I got paid as an extra many years ago in Iron Will and was lost in the movie’s gripping crowd scene at the end. This time I’ll have a speaking role.

Saturday I took Claudia to have breakfast at the location of the shoot next weekend. I’ll be the cook next week. Corn beef hash anyone?

I also spent a couple hours with the screen writer to find out how this production came about. This will be fun. I hope it is a success and I hope its important. You may already have discovered that the link to the cast takes you to Facebook. You may have to be a friend to check us out.

Much More later.

Achievement Gap stubbornly remains despite four-year trend of higher test scores

As the Trib reported yesterday our District has recently made modest gains in student testing achievement vis a vis the state. According to our Dr. Tawnyea Lake “…in the last four years, we’ve increased our reading scores by 7 percentage points and 11 (percentage points) in math, while the state has remained relatively flat….”

Despite this our infamous “achievement gap” between races which seems to have landed us in court is just as stubborn as ever.

Loren’s latest rap

In his latest column, this one defending Edison from its many recent critics Loren Martell makes this observation: “If you hang around the school district for a while, you quickly learn Duluth is run by a tightly-knit little power clique.”

I am a little sensitive to this myself. One fellow came to a school board meeting during the talk about selling Central High and pointedly said he’d heard some Board members actually had family working at Edison. Then he went on to suggest that such Board members recuse themselves from voting on the sale. Of course, he meant me and, of course, since I have no financial interest in Edison I had no obligation to follow his request.

As Loren notes there are almost as many similar ties on the other side of the Board opposing the sale. Loren mentions that the PTSA chair spoke vehemently against the sale. He failed to note that this PTSA Chair has also been a chair of the Duluth League of Women’s Voters which includes school board member (and ex PTSA chair) Rosie Loeffler-Kemp who has diligently networked throughout the tightly knit little power cliques like the DFL the DFT and AFSCME.

Psalm 10 and Octopus Ink

In the six months since I’ve returned from Jerusalem I’ve managed to get over half way from Genesis to the last of the minor prophets – Malachi. (Those are generally all the books in both the Protestant’s Old Testament and the Hebrew Bible) Last night after the end of the Democrat’s Presidential nominating convention I read Psalm 10: As with Job before it I couldn’t help relate many of the lines to current events, to wit:

Vs. 2: In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor- (Donald Trump ripping off legions of small contractors, college students, renters, investors)

Vs. 3: For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart, those greedy for gain….:(Ditto Trump)

Vs. 5: Their ways prosper at all times: your judgments are on high, out of their sight, as for their foes, they scoff (tweet) at them.

Vs. 7: …..under their tongues are mischief and iniquity.

Vs. 8: …Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless:

The Republican evangelicals really have nominated a fifth grader’s, middle finger of a candidate. I’d say fourth grade as that is one estimate of Donald Trump’s vocabulary usage but my older grandson is going into fourth grade and I just can’t stand the idea of my grandson being in the same class with Donald Trump.

Even my first grade grandson has a superior vocabulary to the Trumpster. Yesterday after our trip to the Duluth Aquarium we were talking about Octopus ink and he said it was an “obstacle illusion.” That’s also a good description of the Big Apple, rip off artist. The fifth grader in me can’t help but think of that stock fifth grade retort, “I know you are but what am I?”, when I hear him call Clinton “Crooked Hillary.”

It turns out that about two-thirds of Americans who call themselves “evangelicals” never or rarely go to church. Consequently, they have nominated a candidate who is disinterested in religion and contemptuous of today’s thin Republican dogma. Now they are faced with a candidate, like her or not, who was locked out of her house by her Mother to face down the neighborhood’s bullies. Too bad the Republicans didn’t have any candidates with Mother’s like Hillary Clinton had.

Pholcus Phalangiodies

Also known, apparently, as the “celler spider.

I am reasonably sure I’ve got this spider correctly identified because it has two attributes I witnessed myself this summer one of which I found so interesting that I came in from painting our garage soffits to tell Claudia about.

As I was standing on my ladder under the garage peak brushing away dust and spider webs before painting I saw two of these spiders on a web an inch away from each other. I tried not to disturb them because I didn’t plan to paint just where they were but as I brushed I contacted one of the webs. One of the spiders began spinning like a gyroscope. I wondered if it thought the other spider might attack it. It dropped from the web and descended to the ground. A few moments later I snapped another web string and the other spider became a whirling dervish too. I didn’t think about these critters until yesterday.

I generally immediately remove insects from my basement with the exception of spiders. I figure they help me thin out the bug population down there although it is thin enough that I suspect starvation is always just around the corner for them. The other day I found a celler spider resting in the web of a tiny short legged spider that took up residence in a corner of our bathroom.

I had been feeding the tiny spider. For the past three years tiny moths have begun appearing one or two a day for a month or so. I’m not sure what their larva live on, perhaps some towels where we keep our linens. At any rate I’ve been smushing them to keep them from breeding. But I decided to try to catch them when the spiderling appeared. They are tiny themselves at a quarter of an inch long. They have a habit of disappearing when I grab them with my thumb and pointing finger. Still I’ve managed to get half a dozen of them into the web without alarming the tiny spider.

But yesterday after catching a moth I discovered a celler spider in the web instead of its owner/builder. I wondered if it had eaten its original occupant but tried to drop the moth into the web anyway. The moth missed the webbing so when I attempted to retrieve it I once again struck a string of web and that celler spider zipped out of the web so fast my head spun around. At that point I began looking nearby and found the spiderling safely secured between a door jamb and a wall. I gave it the moth instead.

This year neither of my grandsons have shown much interest in bugs. I recently found last year’s tattered butterfly net in my daughter’s raspberry patch…..where I also discovered one of the proliferating population of chipmunks nibbling her raspberries atop a four foot cane. “Tech” is now a greater attraction for them.

That’s OK with me. I’m more interested in politics and history. But I always find it interesting to set my passions aside to watch the life around me and sometimes even weigh in give one side a little push even if it has eight eyes and more than enough legs to stand on.

Republicans for Putin

I had heard the last of Robert Reich’s seven points but not the first six. The sixth is interesting because the GOP platform means nothing to Trump. After the conventioneers wrote in a plank wishing gay familial rights they cheered him when he wished them away in his windy convention speech. He was so surprised he thanked them. Their plank was one he had intended to ignore anyway and it turned out not to mean that much to the conventioneers either. However, Trump did weigh in on the platform to back away from defending the Ukraine against Russian military operations. I find it surreal that the GOP – the party of Joe McCarthy – is letting down its guard against a guy straight out of the Manchurian Candidate.

Here are the last two of Reich’s list of Russian/Trump entanglements:

6. The Trump Camp was totally indifferent to the Republican Party platform, with one exception: They changed the party platform to eliminate assistance to Ukraine against Russian military operations in eastern Ukraine. Not incidentally, this is the single most important issue to Putin.
7. Trump is also suggesting the US and thus NATO might not come to the defense of NATO member states in the Baltics in the case of a Russian invasion — another important issue to Putin.

I presume that the Clintonistas know all this and are sure it will turn voters away from Trump even while Putin (may have)
sicced Russia’s cyber security onto the Democratic Party to reveal the unsurprising information that its insiders were greasing the wheels for Hillary to thwart Bernie. Good thing this may have been Putin’s work. If an American President had authorized such an operation he/she might have been impeached and removed. Its much safer to get the intel from a source like the KGB or whatever Russia now calls it.

Here is the rest of Reich’s list not that it will dissuade Republicans tribally inclined to vote for their party’s candidate even if he has little but contempt for the religious convictions so many of them place above loyalty to nation.

Martell on Martin-Romme

Loren Martell also appreciated the Zenith City Weekly’s column and said so in his spot on the Duluth Reader. Its a nice complement to Jennifer Martin-Romme’s story: Loren begins:

One lesson I’ve learned from my experiences in this town is the importance of having an alternative media, locally owned and free from outside, corporate bosses. I assume Art Johnston understands (and appreciates) just how much the alternative media of Duluth, especially the Reader, saved his reputation. As far as the mainstream media was concerned, Mr. Johnston was a reprobate who had committed dastardly deeds. In their eyes, he was already tried and convicted and suitable as a cellmate for former head shop owner, Jim Carlson.

Survivor’s guilt


We took some refrigerator items from a friend whose electicity is still out and made space in ours until they get their juice back. We’ve also gotten our AC up and running. The pile of fallen limbs after the blow was small potatoes compared to the damage many suffered night before last.

The old salt revealed – what was behind that beard of mine?

I’ve got ten minutes to blog before I head off to tonight’s school board meeting. I have shed my beard much to the amazement of my grandsons one of whom has never seen me shorn. Here’s my current face:

Oops I haven’t uploaded it to Flikr yet. You will have to wait.

OK I’ve had a storm to pick up after, visiting grandsons and a power outage as well as a Republican convention to sit through slack jawed. Now I have that pic. I’m preparing for a theatrical role so Its a little animated:

And that raised eye of mine reminded me of a picture I took from my sundeck a couple days before. Talk about an evil eye:


Of more consequence I forgot that Jennifer Martin-Romme editor of the Zenith Weekly would quote me at my most revealing when she called to ask me about our budget. The result is my being quoted talking about “shit creek” and “mealy mouthed crap.” Oh well, Its one of the most enlightening discussions about our fiscal woes and the Red Plan’s impact any Duluth School Board nerd could hope to read. You may have to wait to see what lay under my salt and pepper beard but this column is salty enough to compensate.

Here it is in all my glory.

The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."