Tuesday Graduations and “Me First”

Actually my first graduation of the week was 9AM Monday. It was for my kindergarten grandson. They passed out kleenex to parents coming to the ceremony….

For Tuesday I read to Homecroft classrooms and was back by popular demand.

My favorite story……ought to give it to a fellow school board member for elbowing

Monday’s COW

Its nice to find myself in the lead sentence of a DNT School Board story.

“Board member Harry Welty wanted to know the difference between the contingency fund and the general fund’s reserves, which last summer totaled less than $2 million.”

Contingency Fund vs. Reserve Fund

$1.6 million special ed costs once again misstated.

Mulch

Refinancing our Bonds

OK, OK, OK, I’ll be a week late when I put this post to bed. I’ve just come from my fifth and final school graduation this week and circumstance never gave me the chance to keep up with my posts. I’m going to go to bed in half an hour or sooner and take a moment to read my nightly chapter in the Bible. I’m half way through First Chronicles. I missed my reading last night because I got home late from East’s Graduation. I am just putting together some posts to be written but not tomorrow. I will be painting the walls in our church tomorrow and then heading over to the blood bank in the afternoon to donate another pint of blood. But there’s is stuff to write about and I’m putting place holders in to put pressure on myself to elaborate when I can make the time……

So that’s all for this post tonight.

The squeak of a rusty hinge

Loren Martell’s take on our last School Board meeting. I was pleased with his capture of my extemporizing:

During discussion of the Education Committee Report. Member Welty remarked about a presentation that had been given to the Board about the district’s Families in Transition program: “It was a sobering (revelation) that in all likelihood by the end of this year we will have had 550 students who during some portion of the school year found themselves homeless–perhaps for a night, perhaps for a much, much longer time. Out of a student population of roughly 8000, that equates to not quite one in ten kids…If anyone has doubt about the future needs of ISD 709, they can look at these figures, which I have to say are extraordinary. I would like to compare (these numbers) to the kinds of numbers that existed 20 years ago, when I was first elected to the school board…The thought that almost one in ten children in our school district would find themselves homeless, find themselves being moved around, just lost…This is a huge responsibility for us, and I’m very grateful to our students, especially those at East High School, who’ve been talking about our mental health professionals and looking after (other) students, two of which should have been graduating with East’s graduating class.”

And explaining my reference to the two missing graduates Loren continued:

Following up on what member Welty said, Duluth East Student Representative Spencer Frederickson, choking on a bit of emotion, added, “I remember the day we lost one of our students. I’ve been a proud Greyhound (East’s mascot) my entire high school career, but that day was hard. And it is the responsibility of this school board to take action on these suicides. Having two kids not in the chairs at graduation is unacceptable…”

At the end of the meeting one Board member interrupted a conversation that Mr. Frederickson, Alanna Oswald and I were having and told Spencer with dismissive authority that school’s were not responsible for children’s suicides.

Gorden Parks – a Remembrance

The news is as full of Muhammed Ali’s death today as it was three weeks ago of the drug overdose death of Prince. Today another seminal black American died, Gordon Parks.

My father recommended his 1966 autobiography to me when I was in high school. Civil Rights had been in the air since I started school in Brown vs. Board of Education’s Topeka, Kansas in the fall of 1956. The Court decision preceded my enrollment into first grade by two years and involved the Monroe School that my Grandmother Welty had attended as a child, albeit in a new building that had replaced her fire damaged elementary school. (What I’ve just written seems to be called into question by this official National Historic Site website)

Parks’ book was one of several I read in High School on the issue of race including the novelized treatment of the Nat Turner slave revolt Confessions and Black Like Me about a white journalist who disguised himself as a black man and hitchhiked across the deep south. I really enjoyed A Choice of Weapons.

I immediately identified with Parks. He had been raised in Kansas like me and found himself transplanted to Minnesota, again just like me. He became an acclaimed photographer for Life Magazine and in my college years produced the first blaxploitation film Shaft.

Parks was as proper as Ali was ornery thus the choice of his Book Title. His weapon was the camera recording its truths.

The beginning of his autobiography pulled me in immediately. He vividly recalled his Kansas youth and swimming with friends at a local stream in the summer sun……as I recall the scene. He’s perhaps ten. Some police come around and ask him and his friends to help them search for a body up stream. A drowned man is suspected of being under the water and the police don’t want to do the grubby work of finding it but the black kids are handy. Parks and his friends find the body. It was a little traumatizing but that was OK. They were just little colored kids.

What a small world it is. I just looked for that scene with a Google Search. It led me to the name Wing Young Huie a Duluth born, Minnesota photographer who wrote the Introduction to the more recent edition of Park’s Book. I went to a Tweed Museum exhibition a few years ago of Huie’s work. I was particularly keen to visit it because a decade ago my sister asked him to shoot pictures of my Mother a few months before she was placed in a 24 hour memory care residence.

Mr. Huie took quite a lot of pictures and gave them to my sister at no charge. I’ve wanted to write a coffee table book about Mom and her desire to be an artist since Alzheimers stole her away. Here’s the tentative frontpiece I imagined:

The title comes from a college art teacher who discouraged her from attempting abstract art because he didn’t think she had a talent for it.

The larger painting behind her in the photo now hangs in our living room. Here’s a better look:

Muhammed Ali – a Remembrance

To write this post I googled a timeline of Muhammed Ali’s life. For the purpose of this post I’m only interested in my own impressionalbe years from my age 9 until age 23′

I discovered that my Dad was a sport’s enthusiast of the barkalounger type early on. Just before I hit my teenage years I remember my Dad reciting the list of Heavyweight Boxing champions from the great John L. Sullivan to Cassius Clay. The modern era of champions started with Jack Dempsey just before my Dad’s birth and I am sure he was as well aware of Max Baer who was the undisputed champion when he was as I was of Floyd Patterson at the same age. Incidentally, when I was following Patterson’s career I was watching the Beverly Hillbillies staring Max Baer’s son as Jethro Bodine. I’m sure his depiction of a hillbilly transplanted to Hollywood explains why my Mother-in-law began explaining that her North Carolina origins (transplanted to Iowa) made her a “Mountain William.”

Even as Clay shucked off his “slave name” to announce he was a Muslim outraging much of white America I was mesmerized by him and followed his career avidly through the Supreme Court’s decision exhonorating him for his refusal to sign up for the Selective Serice – the draft – while the Vietnam War was raging. Here is a thumbnail of what I was up to through his early professional life.

1960
Clay wins the light-heavyweight gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Rome and returns to his native Louisville, Clay finds he’s not immune to the racism that is so prevalent in the U.S. After being refused service by a waitress at a “whites-only” restaurant, a disgusted Clay throws his gold medal into the Ohio River. He turns professional and wins the first two fights of his career.

I spend the summer arguing with my next door neighbor that year telling her that Republican Richard Nixon will be elected President. To my chagrin JFK is elected.

1964
Despite an unblemished 19–0 record, Clay is a heavy underdog in his championship bout with Sonny Liston. But you wouldn’t know it by listening to him. He brashly and colorfully predicts victory, and teases the champ by calling him, among other things, an “ugly, old bear.” When Liston refuses to leave his corner for the start of the seventh, the fight ends and Clay becomes heavyweight champion of the world. After the fight, Clay announces he has become a Black Muslim and has changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

I was enduring my first year in Minnesota being called a “Reb” because of my accent in the all white North Mankato Junior High. The previous year in Topeka, Kansas, half of my classmates were black. A Mad Magazine I’d been reading at a Boy Scout camp had cartoon of gorillas running over a field of mason jars poking fun at headlines as children saw them about the Vietnam War “Guerillas Advance on Plain of Jars.” Within a year I’d hear my Dad cursing at LBJ for sending more troops to SE Asia.

1967
In April, Ali refuses induction into the U.S. Army due to his religious convictions. He angers many Americans after claiming, “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” He is subsequently stripped of his WBA title and his license to fight. In June, a court finds him guilty of draft evasion, fines him $10,000, and sentences him to five years in prison. He remains free, pending numerous appeals, but is still barred from fighting.

A year later my family will agree to host a foreign exchange student regardless of his origin. He will be a Muslim from Ethiopia and integrate Mankato High School probably for its first time.

1970
Due to a loophole (there was no state boxing commission in Georgia), Ali returns to the ring in Atlanta and knocks out Jerry Quarry in three rounds.

The year before I witnessed a draft card burning in my first month of college. I disapproved. I would also soon attend an Anti-Vietman protest that blocked up the main intersection in downtown Mankato. I later decided that was counter productive.

1971
In March, he fights heavyweight champ Joe Frazier in Madison Square Garden. A left hook by Frazier knocks Ali down in the 15th round. Frazier wins by unanimous decision. Three months later, the Supreme Court rules in his favor, reversing the 1967 draft-evasion conviction.

I will spend the summer of 1971 as an intern in Republican Congressman Ancher Nelson’s Washington D.C. Office. I have to go through metal detectors which have just been installed for the first time because the Weather Underground blew up a bomb in the Capitol Building.

1974
In January, he gains a measure of revenge from Frazier, besting the former champ in 12 rounds. Regains the heavyweight title in the “Rumble in the Jungle” on Oct. 30 in Kinshasa, Zaire after knocking out champion George Foreman in the eighth round. He successfully uses his “rope-a-dope” strategy—Ali allowed Foreman to get him against the ropes and swing away until he tired himself out. Then Ali attacked.

I am married in 1974. Watergate is in the back pages of newspapers. The War in Vietnam is still winding down – disastrously – my college 2-S deferment has kept me out of the war that began when I was in seventh grade. I will begin teaching in the Fall of the year in Proctor, Minnesota. I am still a fan of Ali.

A segue

Its almost time for me to get over my flawed humanity. I pride myself on being tougher on myself than I am on the people who short change me. I’ve left last Wednesday’s post up by itself to assure that as many of my regular readers would find it as possible knowing that if I did a lot of posting over it it would be less likely to be read. I am still extremely angry with myself. I have not yet written an apology to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. I woke up last night brooding about my transgression and deciding that the first thing I would do this morning was write that apology and put in the mail. Until its written I won’t be able to move on but frankly I am not ready to move on. I want to keep reminding myself that I have no claim to self-righteousness.

This brooding is mixed with a lot of other postable thoughts. Art Johnston and I have been researching both the District’s finances and the claim of the letter writing Bruce Johnson that the local Charter school is siphoning $1.6 million of Special Ed money out of ISD 709. As I’ve written that is incorrect but I too oversimplified the truth. That’s a couple of future posts. I’m still recovering from my doofus-like failure to escape the School Board for an uncertain but long desired role as a state legislator. And the news, always the news. I want to write that threatened post about Hilary Clinton and golly, there are a couple news items that take me back to my past. So, I’ll start with those in the next post.

Oh, and as per usual, I just checked my blog stats to see what three days of inactivity did to them. I found that a little over 400 folks dropped by to see my last post. That bit of self flagellation didn’t take more than a couple minutes for anyone to read but somehow 26 visitors found over an hour’s worth of material to wade through in the first three days of June. That’s gratifying. I always encourage my readers to type subjects of interest into my blog’s search engine to see what I might have written about such topics in the past.

Latest Correction and an apology – pending

Received this morning on my School District Account:

Harry-

I wanted to tell you that in your blog post of yesterday, you have identified the wrong Bruce Johnson as the author of the DNT letter to the editor. I happen to know this particular person and spoke to him just yesterday about his letter. He is not an administrative law judge, nor is he married to “Jane.”

Since you can’t possibly know everyone who writes a letter and disagrees with you, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions like this. And, since you don’t allow the individuals who you cite in your blog to respond (or anyone, for that matter, since you have the comments turned off), I thought I would.

Why do you feel that you must attack anyone who disagrees with you by writing a blog post and turning it into a personal attack? Must everyone who has another opinion than yours become your enemy? And must you always jump to conclusions that turn it into a personal fight or conspiracy? In this case, you identified the wrong person entirely.

I don’t know who the other “Bruce Johnson” is, but you owe both him (and his wife) an apology.

To which I replied:

You are absolutely right. I will correct my error and apologize to the Bruce I misidentified.

Page stats, apologies, and a preview of coming attractions

PAGE STATS

Actors have applause, Comics have laughs, I have page stats.

2016..Unique visitors…# of visits.Pages….Hits…..Bandwidth
Jan 2016……….3,267…6,755…..14,790…18,850…543.92 MB
Feb 2016……….2,659…5,625…..11,663…15,183…406.50 MB
Mar 2016……….2,695…7,122…..30,217…42,254…1.05 GB
Apr 2016……….6,157…14,814….47,829…78,924…2.02 GB
May 2016……….5,620…12,770….35,768…59,368…1.64 GB

These are mine though May 31st – the day which I failed to file for Jen Schultz’s seat in the state legislature. I simply had to turn on the light at 2AM this morning and continue reading Second Kings to take my mind off of the 5,000 word post in which I intended to mercilessly ridicule myself for failing to proceed with. I’d woken up on filing day 85% certain that I would file. However, my best laid (very poorly laid) plans collapsed after I made a phone call to the County Auditor’s Office to check on the fine points of filing.

I don’t think its sour grapes but at this moment a little before noon I’m not at all unhappy with my last minute plans falling through.

However, the stats above are a hint at what I was thinking of. I’ve spent the last quarter century learning to write and my little blog about school board politics in a middling sized city doesn’t quite measure my ambition. I will confess that I am a little worried that its limited readership is a better measure of my literary abilities.

My plans, which kicked in on May 26th with the news that the Duluth Planning Commission was hog tying Edison (It struck me as a dogpile) had very little time to gestate. By Sunday I had plans to rally Independents across Minnesota, if not America, to take back our state legislature, if not the Congress of the United States from two self-righteous parties locked in a death spiral and taking the rest of us down with it. Its been sort of like the Duluth School Board’s of the past writ large.

As in my independent campaigns for Congress in 1992 which netted me 7.99% of the general election vote and my “Unity Party” race for Congress in 2006 I thought a Lincoln Democrat race for the sorry Minnesota House of Representatives might attract widespread enough attention to fund a race that ……well. You get my drift.

APOLOGY

I got an email from a reader who explained that I had misidentified a critic of mine and took me to task for unfairly trashing the wrong people. Guilty as charged. That will be my next post after lunch. I’ll post the email by itself in a few moments before returning to respond to it.

PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTIONS

First of all I’m not sure how many coming attractions I will have. One thing that impressed itself upon me over the last five days of plotting a legislative campaign is how much I would like to expand beyond simply being a dubious local know-it-all. My long time readers know how often I threaten to write a book. Now that I’ll have a quiet summer it would be a shame to stiffle all the pent up fury I rediscovered thinking about running for the Minnesota legislature. Its been an ambition of mine to serve since 1972. I’ve run for it ingloriously at least four times. This one might have been the charm……..had I investigated the rules of filing for a third party candidate a week or two in advance. No way I could gather up 500 signtures on a petition in the five hours available to me before the filing closed yesterday.

So, today I’ve spent three hours catching up on all the News Tribs I’ve only skimmed for a week. Golly, there are a lot of things I’d like to write about based on that little catch up. There was a wonderful article about past Memorial days in Duluth. There was a three-parter on parental harassment of high school coaches……I’m still not fully caught up with my reading.

Now that I’ve written this…….I think I only want to write my correction and apology.

I’m not a fan of spoilers but it will hard for me not to vote Libertarian this year

Hillary Clinton needs my vote. I’m not sure she will get it after the Libertarians added William Weld to their ticket as a VP candidate to go along with New Mexico’s Gary Johnson. Donald Trump is the only thing holding me back at the moment. I’m thinking through a letter (only to be published here) to be sent to her metaphorically that explains what she needs to do to win my vote.

I have a lot of other posts in mind as well but its a beautiful Memorial day. I woke up late after two hours of sleeplessness which I put to rest by reading several chapters of First Kings. Boy! Israel wasn’t a great place after David’s reign. Sounds more like Sodom and Gomorrah. God wasn’t happy.

When I woke up I put up our Stars and Stripes. Now I have to mow the lawn. Then I have all day to think about whether I want to run for the legislature this summer. Will I have the time, energy and motivation? I do have some eves and windows to paint. On the other hand, being in a minority on the school board for the last two years of my school board term holds scant allure………especially with helpful critics like Bruce who have logs in their eyes about small potatoes like huge class sizes.

A CORRECTION AND AN APOLOGY TO MY READERS

First the apology:

I posted a letter to the editor written by a Bruce Johnson and proceeded to beat up another Bruce Johnson that has been a long time friend of mine. I will apologize to my Mr. Johnson shortly. This email today from an acquaintance of the letter’s real author made it clear I had jumped to a very wrong conclusion.

I have no defense. Before I wrote this original post (since deleted) I looked at the current telephone directory and saw a half a dozen Bruce Johnsons. I saw my Bruce Johnson listed among them. I could have dialed him up and asked simply: “Bruce, did you write that letter in today’s paper?” What a simple solution that would have been. He would have told me “I didn’t write it,” and that would have been the end of it. Instead I stuck with my unverified assumption and launched into a mean-spirited response.

Art Johnston also knew a Bruce Johnson, a different one, and was appalled at the letter. He did check with his Bruce Johnson. Art’s Bruce Johnson did not write it either. I’ve since removed the original post and am preparing to apologize to my Bruce Johnson. Whoever the real Bruce Johnson is these are a few criticisms of your letter.

Reader’s view: Patience needed in waiting for the right Central deal
By Bruce Johnson from Duluth on May 28, 2016 at 11:00 p.m.

I applaud the four Duluth School Board members who voted not to sell Central so it could be used by Edison.

There’s a reason for the district’s noncompete policy. Selling Central would have been a short-term fix but a potentially long-term disaster. The former Central High School is in the center of Duluth with plenty of parking and no access-road problem. The future potential draining of students from the public schools could force the district to close one of its two high schools. If I were School Board members Art Johnston, Alanna Oswald or Harry Welty, I would have been extremely concerned about what this sale could have done to Denfeld High’s future.

The noncompete policy springs from the NSBA (National School Board Association) which has long championed monopoly administration of public schools even as the nation has noted the many children who have been failed by their time in school. Bruce and I are both worried for Denfeld’s sake but ironically our Red Plan imposed on Duluth led to Denfeld’s losses as students have fled to surrounding high schools. Bruce would deny Edison parents from keeping their kids in the Edison system but he would do this while ISD 709 struggles with Red Plan imposed monster classes something Edison has managed to avoid.

Currently, our state representatives are working on making the sale of Central more attractive to commercial interests. Patience is needed.

Five year’s worth of patience has only served to put nearly a million dollars into the maintence of a white elephant sitting on property worth little more than six or seven million dollars. I think our board majority’s “patience” will be rewarded in a few more expensive years with a sale of six or seven million dollars. In the meantime our Administration has offered nothing but more cuts to our staffing. As I argued a sale would have netted us three million dollars a year for four years which we could have used to stave off a continuing exodus of our students. Bruce prefers our crumbling monopoly.

We aren’t on a level playing field. Most Duluth taxpayers don’t know that all special education services Edison provides always have been billed to the Duluth public schools. The district gets some state reimbursement, but last year the Duluth district still paid over 30 percent of these costs, or $1.6 million, money coming directly out of our Duluth classrooms for students we don’t even educate and for whom we get no state aid. As of this year, state legislation requires Edison to pay 10 percent of this unreimbursed expense.

Of all Bruce’s complaints this is the most annoying. I do think that we need to negotiate a more healthy relationship with Edison where Special Ed is concerned. I’m distressed that the Trib didn’t make Bruce research this claim. The Tribs editors have often made me research claims I have put into my letters to the editor. At the very least this special ed claim, trumpeted by ex-Chair Judy Seliga-Punyko, deserves a news story. Here’s my take on Bruce’s claim. $1.6 million of Federal money was transferred by ISD 709 to Edison because it not ISD 709 was educating the special ed students it was used for. Why should ISD 709 get to keep the money meant for Edison’s children when we were not educating them?

Edison’s working within the system. I would, however, support legislation to have Edison pay its own costs. Let it deal with the state and Duluth taxpayers.

School Board members need to look to the long-term success and survival of our quality public schools. That’s their job and why they were elected.

I disagree with member Welty when he states that not selling Central for Edison’s use puts the district at great risk. It’s just the opposite.

And I disagree with Bruce.

A message to be proud of

“The world was forever changed here, but today the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”

My Buddy, not a fan of Obama, also sent me the text of his brief speech at Hiroshima. I believe my Buddy recognizes the eloquence that stands in stark contrast to the hideous message preceding this post that he also sent me.

I’ve only read two books by John Hersey. I enthused about a Bell for Adano which I read for the first time this April here on the blog. The other book I’ve read twice is Hiroshima.

Today NPR had a story about its writing:

“John Hersey didn’t try to second-guess the American decision to drop the atom bomb, a year after it ended the deadliest war in history. Simply and plainly, he described the stories of six people who survived in a city where so many thousands died:”

The Bell for Adano was followed two years later by Mr. Hersey’s Hiroshima. I think the President captures the humanity that both books share in his speech.

PIG’S BLOOD

My Buddy sent me Andrew Sullivan’s long piece in the New York Magazine which mentioned this fascist libel on General Pershing which I found in a British newspaper’s webpage on You Tube.

I grew up with close family friends from the Philippines. I had a Muslim roommate in High School. Having seen this video I can state unequivocally that anyone who sees this and votes for Donald Trump for President of the United States is a traitor to everything the nation’s founders hoped for the United States.

If that means you………YOUR FIRED! Emigrate to Russia where you can have a leader who joins you in your admiration of this pig blood drenched huckster.

I had a few choice thoughts on Trump in a temporary blog I set up in January when this one went Kaflooey including my snow sculpture tribute to Ms. South Carolina.

Everyone is saying the Planning Dept.’s decision to scuttle the DPSA High School has nothing to do with politics.

I find that very hard to believe:

Hamre said that if Edison had pushed forward with those requests, and the city planning commission followed the recommendation of planning staff — which was that they reject the applications — the developer’s only recourse would have been to appeal the decision to the Duluth City Council. If the council chose to uphold rather than overturn the planning commission decision, no further requests from the applicant would be eligible for consideration until a year had passed.

Such an outcome would have forced Edison to push back its plans to open the new school, serving grades 8 through 12, in the fall of 2017.

Snowflake High or not?

I don’t know what this means but I was notified by a veteran City Hall watcher that the various requests for variances and special use permits for a new DPSA high school have been pulled…….at least for the time being. They included Items F through I on the City Planning Committee agenda.

F. PL 16-013 Special Use Permit for a High School in an Residential-Rural 1 (RR-1)
Zone District at 4300 Rice Lake Road by Pacific Education Partners (Duluth Edison
Charter School) and David Chmielewski SR As of 5/23/16, applicant has
withdrawn applications PL 16-013, -014, 015, and 029. Applicant may
submit new applications in the future.
G. PL 16-014 Variance from Maximum Off-Space Parking Requirements Per UDC 50-
24.2 at 4300 Rice Lake Road by Pacific Education Partners (Duluth Edison Charter
School) and David Chmielewski SR
H. PL 16-015 Variance from Front Yard Parking Per UDC 50-24.6 at 4300 Rice Lake
Road by Pacific Education Partners (Duluth Edison Charter School) and David
Chmielewski SR
I. PL 16-029 Variance from Height Limit in Residential-Rural1 (RR-1) Zone at 4300
Rice Lake Road by Pacific Education Partners (Duluth Edison Charter School) and
David Chmielewski SR

Break for books

I’ve had a bit of a respite from School Board work for gardening and books the latter of which keeps my mind busy.

On my trip to St. Louis and back last weekend I took in the first half of an audio book about Andrew Jackson by Jon Meacham. Claudia found it on the Duluth library and downloaded it to my cell phone but I bought a copy of it a few years back and its been one of a dozen I’ve meant to read. I’ll start working on the second half shortly. I’m still slogging through the Old Testament a chapter or two just before bedtime. Last night I discovered the particulars of Solomon’s source of wisdom in First Kings. I did not know that the two mothers who brought the baby to him that he threatened to divide in two were prostitutes. That part wasn’t in my Sunday School book. His decision brought him renown in Jerusalem but he also saw to it that he executed a fellow who he’d pardoned earlier when the pardonee violated an order by Solomon not to enter into the Kidron Valley. I was just there a few months ago to visit the Garden of Gethsemane. Fortunately, I wasn’t a Palestinian when I crossed into it.

At this rate it will take me till December to get to or near to Malachi. But I finished my fourth book of the year (not counting kids books) Empires of the Sea by Roger Crowley. I have dutifully added it to my reading list on my old Snowbizz.com site. If I finished the Meacham book I’d have a book for each month of the year so far.

I’d started reading it out loud to Claudia much as I had The Wreck of the Medusa a few months back but like the Medusa it wasn’t quite sprightly enough for reading aloud. But the subject was interesting and once I began reading it on my own it went fast. It intrigued me how much the terrorism of ISIS today harked back to the example of both Christian Europe and Islamic Turkey in the 1500’s. Heads, and just about every other body part, rolled then as they do today…….That goes ditto for King David. Jackson just shot the folks who insulted his wife or marched them off to Oklahoma in the Winter if they took up too much space where the White Race wanted to settle.

The book is bookended by Suleiman the Magnificent’s conquest of the Isle of Rhodes and his son Selim’s defeat in the sea battle of Lepanto The Britannica puts battle deaths at about 16,000, Crowley says 40,000. Whatever it was it was hellish. Imbetween there was a battle for the small Island of Malta later famed for Dashiell Hammett’s Falcon. BTW Suleiman is the Arabic for Solomon. Its likely that his troops split a few babies in two. This fifty year period saw the end of the much feared swallowing up of Christian Europe by the dreaded Turks. There was no love lost between the Catholics and the Protestants at this stage of the Reformation but even most Protestant nations cheered the defeat of the Turks at Lepanto.

My [Buddy] just won’t cut me any slack

From: “Your Buddy”
To:
Cc:
Sent: Mon, 23 May 2016 10:23:49 -0500
Subject: Re: Andrew Sullivan thinks Donald Trump may defeat Hillary Clinton.

Jeez, Harry:

“what Kennedy et al did re: Vietnam at least they didn’t have contempt for the system.” That isn’t even a half-assed attempted rationalization. The lives of more than 50,000 American military persons squandered in Vietnam, but the honchos “didn’t have contempt for the system”? Fuck the system. The venture was a disaster.

[Your Buddy

My Buddy thinks I’m prissy about language because I usually xxx out Fxxx or turn it into an “ef” or “effing.” I began cleaning up my act in fifth grade after I copied my Dad and spewed out lots of &#%@xx#()xx$%&. He told me no one would pay attention to me if I always cut loose and then added that swearing was a good way to get people’s attention if it was doled out in miserly portions. I think my Buddy’s “fuck” up there meets that test. Please excuse me if it exceeds your tolerance.

Here’s my reply to him:

[Buddy],

I think you have a point and a pretty good one. Lots of wars are started by folks who are simply following the conventional path which leads them to go to war. Barbara Tuchman made that point about World War 1 in her book Guns of August that JFK was reading at the outset of the Cuban Missile Crises. And yet despite bringing that powder keg to a sane solution he kept sending advisers to Vietnam. We had to stop the dominoes you know.

We will never know what Kennedy would have done. We only know that Johnson let himself be drawn down the primrose path to disaster for the 57,000 troops who died. My Grandfather felt the same way about Woodrow Wilson.

So, the question I should ask myself is will Donald Trump spare us another Vietnam? His ego gives me no comfort on that point even if Hillary has copied the Neo Cons to triangulate her way to the center.

Obama has done a pretty good job of trying to extricate us from the Bush Wars and he gets no credit for it. In fact, it may be true that Syria and Iraq and the US might all have been better off if Obama had been a little less passive.

I don’t have any love for Hillary and her pandering to the conventional so that she could keep her options open for future political advancement. On the other hand I am in awe of her success. Of course, that success is due in large part to the Republican Party and its self fulfilling prophecy that she could become President. Had they ignored her she would have likely faded into obscurity.

To me the most remarkable irony was the Limbaugh gambit in 2008 of telling the nation to vote for Barack Obama. [NOTE: in my email I originally told my Buddy that Rush was calling Obama a “fantastic candidate:” Not quite] Limbaugh was parroted by all sorts of Limbaugh wannabes. At the time I saw their endorsement as a crass way to saddle Democrats with a black candidate who according to convention would get slaughtered in the Presidential Race. Too bad for the Limbaughites that Bush had soured the public on his wars and was blamed with the mortgage mess and that the public actually took to heart all the supportive words for Obama from the Republican pundits. Combined with the desire of American voters to get over the Civil Rights Era in a single election America found itself with President Obama.

The GOP’s next job was to backpedal and discover that Obama was the most “ultra” liberal President of all time (not if you ask my son who thinks he’s a neocon) and a Muslim and a terrorist sympathizer and a desecrator of the Constitution and generally the most incompetent President of all time. Hell from the moment he took office he was to blame for the damned oil leak in the Gulf, his State of the Union speech was interrupted by a Republican Congressman shouting that he was a liar and Mitch McConnell telling America from Day one that the Republican’s first job was to see that Obama wasn’t reelected. I meet otherwise perfectly rational people who believe all this garbage.

And now I’m supposed to fall in line with these nimrods behind Donald Trump? Hell Putin supports him too. What a class act cheering section.

No, I’ll stick with a conventional candidate and hope that the Norwegians don’t saddle her with one of their damned Nobel Peace Prizes so that she feels the need to kick sand over it like a cat hiding its doodie in a litter box.

Harry

Trumped

The email that preceded the email in the last post and my reply to it:

My Reply:

[Buddy],

My impression certainly could have been wrong. What I remember with more confidence was that you would not be voting for Hillary. Of course that could mean a write-in or a vote for a third party candidate or not casting a vote at all. But my recollection was that the way you put it meant that if Hillary was the Democrat’s candidate she wouldn’t get your vote and I may have presumed you would cast it for Trump if that was the candidate.

What can I say. Sometimes I’m presumptuous.

Whether you liked what Kennedy et al did re: Vietnam at least they didn’t have contempt for the system. Sure they gamed the system. That’s almost inevitable in politics. Trump is both contemptuous of the system and is gaming it spectacularly.

Today I heard him telling some audience that Hill doesn’t just want gun control she wants to remove the Second Amendment. That’s coming from someone who stands in the past are the spitting image of Hill’s gun control stands.

I don’t mind politicians changing their minds. I don’t like them speaking with forked tongues.

Earth will continue to orbit the sun if he wins. It didn’t stop doing so when that meteor impact killed the dinosaurs. But as a believer in the old notion that the US is a beacon lighting the path for other nations I’m not looking forward to having a man I regard as an arrogant, lying, horse’s-ass sitting in the White House.

If that’s what today’s voters consider speaking “truth-to-power” then shame on both the Republican and Democratic parties for setting such a low bar.

Harry

The email I was responding to:

—————————————–
From: [My Buddy]
To:
Cc:
Sent: Sun, 22 May 2016 17:04:36 -0500
Subject: Re: Andrew Sullivan thinks Donald Trump may defeat Hillary Clinton.

Harry:

I don’t remember telling anyone that I plan to vote for Trump. I have told several persons that I might vote for Trump.

What the hell, Harry. We were in Vietnam with Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. Would Trump be worse?

I agree with Sullivan, that Trump could win.

[Your Buddy]

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."