Category Archives: Welty 4 Congress

Bookin it 5

I was busy with other projects during the day but I managed to crank out another four pages to the first chapter. I’ll skip the recap of my writing regimen today and cut to today’s sample:

He had already had a couple odd experiences in 1977. In January a close associate of Duluth’s food magnate had called him to a meeting at the Buena Vista Motel about possibly investing in the _ _ _ _ _ plants. When he arrived he found the meeting had been set up in a janitor’s closet rather than a conference room or the restaurant.

Note: This excerpt may be significantly altered or omitted when finally published

PS. I put the apostrophe in the wrong place in the category I’ve affixed this to. I think it should be “Rats'” That’s plural possessive isn’t it?

Bookin it (no so) 4

I finally got that good night’s sleep. Cranking out ten pages should have been so easy. I put in my time. six hours this morning and two tonight just before nighty night. I just didn’t spend that time writing so, sorry, no unedited excerpts to share.

The first post you saw in this series that I simply titled “Booking” had a picture of my room as my back faces it while I type. (I haven’t shown you the folders and pictures on my front and side walls. This project is eating me alive) Well, the two by three foot timeline hanging in front of my bookcase just didn’t cut it.

Putting it together is what prompted my latest outburst of writing but it was so inadaquate to the ultimate task that I spent my time today creating a really practical timeline. At least I got a start on it. There are tons of dates and events to pencil in. The new one is just as wide but eleven feet long. Its like a piano roll (for you antiquarians) and I have it looped around a dowel so that I can pull up the dates I need to refer to. I’m a very “spatially” inclined writer. I like to have a strong visual sense of the things I’m trying to understand.

My greatest fear is that having set aside the work I was churning out like gangbusters two days ago might cool me off to the point of inertia. I’m not too worried about this but its happened before over the six years I’ve worked on this project.

If you are dying for intelligent political commentary I’ll one again point you to the Daily Dish. Andrew Sullivan does employ a few unnecessary naughty words but they are a small price to pay for one of the most intelligent filters on the Net. He’s got several hundred thousand regular readers and they are a smart bunch. No one who offers analysis, no matter how dead on it seems, can stand long before someone else chimes in who knows even more. Its no longer Sullivan’s take that draws me to his blog. Its the very smart readers who contribute.

At my best I can write a pretty good blog post but even my best is pretty run of the mill compared to the incisive stuff available on the Daily Dish. Hell. Eighty percent of my non-Red Plan posts are pilfered from or riffs on what I read there.

Oh yeah. I was going to let Claudia decorate that tree today while I wrote but I needed to buy color markers for my timetable so I picked some up while she bought enough ornaments to fill in the tree. It is pretty honking big Kind of like an elephant in the living room. That led to lunch and then I decided to spend a couple hours turning it from a plain Jane to a Christmas tart.

Bookin it 3

Here’s a snippit of today’s writing. Three and a half pages. Once again I awoke at an ungodly hour and couldn’t go back to sleep. The same caveat applies to this as in yesterday’s post on the subject. This may get edited or removed from the final product.

As a chronicle of the writing of the book while its being written I would like to say in today’s post that although my output is modest today I was very pleased. Had my grandson not awoken at 5am and called out for fifteen minutes until I attended to him I could have kept writing for hours. From the moment I began writing I knew exactly how to put my complicated story together. I know its complicated because this evening while recovering from a hectic weekend I spent nearly two hours confusing my better half about a single slice of this story. I told her that writing this would either help me stave off dementia because of its intellectual demands or hasten it.

This was a particularly important chapter – the very first one. I’ve been reluctant to proceed on it for months because it must thread together many other slices of the story without losing the reader. I think I’ve figured out how to do it.

I’m praying for a good night’s sleep. It would be the first in three days. If I get it there’s no telling how much I’ll get done tomorrow. Ten pages would be a miracle. Claudia says she’ll spend the day decorating the tree I hauled in with the grandson on Saturday. While I told her about the book she kept staring past me at it and whenever I paused she would repeat in something of a daze, “That’s a really big tree.” When I brought it in she told my daughter that she would never again let me go and pick out a tree without her. Come to think of it that may why she had such a hard time following me tonight.

“Whatever happened to the ‘little black book’ that Gordy always waved under people’s noses was anybody’s guess although there was little doubt that somebody knew its fate. Gordy had bragged so often about the damning details it supposedly contained that his insurance policy had probably come to the attention of powerful people who had something to fear from its potentially embarrassing revelations”


Bookin it 2

Anyone who doubts my ability to put words together should remember that over the past five or six years I’ve probably strung 2 million of them together for this blog. I say that because the book I’m working on should be my highest non family priority right now. Sure, I’ve got a long frustrated political ambition and I’m using the writing of the book to drum up interest in both but its still a book that may never see print. The more I blog between now and May the more difficult it will be to meet that deadline.

So, like last night’s final post this one’s also about the book. I’ll continue to use this blog to flog the book and to shame myself to keep writing it and to back off of the blog. To that end I’m going to start enumerating the pages I’ve cranked out daily, I’d like to crank out about 25 (rough draft) pages at a time preferably once every two weeks. I really have no idea how many pages will be in the final book. To get anyone to read it it should be the size of a summer read or about 200 pages. At 25 pages every two weeks it would only take me two months to finish a rough draft. The first problem is that my typed 25 pages probably only equal about 12 paperback book pages. That means I’d need more like four months to come up with the full 200 pages.

A second problem is my suspicion that to fully flesh out the story I’ll need more like 400 pages. That’s not a summer read and it would require closer to 8 months of work, not counting editing.

This is very daunting.

So to encourage myself I’ve decided to make public my progress every day. I know its only my eight loyal readers who will follow this progress but knowing that I’m under someone else’s scrutiny may be what I need to hang in there. So here are today’s output. Continue reading


I’ve spent entirely too much time blog posting this morning. Yesterday when I posted very little I got a good six hours of reading in. When I look at all the records I’ve been pouring through it almost makes me despair of ever finishing let alone before candidate filing. Everything on the floor is for the book including the low shelves to the right – Everything! The timeline hanging against the book shelf in the upper right hand corner is one I finally put together yesterday.

To put my research into context I’ve had to do a lot of reading. These books (I’ve bought every one that I found useful) (Oh, except for five or six Craig Grau loaned to me) lying on their side with yellow slips in them are ready for footnoting.

No Lobbying Pledge

Regarding the previous post here’s a pledge I’d sign, will sign, if I run for Congress.

I pledge that after my retirement from Congress (the legislature) I will not become a paid lobbyist.

If anyone can think of useful ways to tweek this I’ll consider making a change. Now all we have to do is offer this to every Congressional candidate in 2012 and publish the list of those refusing to sign on to the No Lobbying Pledge.

Congressmen and the good life

While Chip Cravaack defends putting the brakes on the Stock Act his GOP neighbor across the bay Sean Duffy is supporting legislation to focus a magnifying glass on all Congress.

My previous post on the subject prompted a reader of mine to send me the link above and a little commentary from the recently published book “Throw Them All Out.”

To begin with, among the multiple stunning revelations from Peter Schweizer’s book, “Throw Them All Out,” was that two past speakers of the House made millions of dollars as a result of information and opportunities afforded by their positions. Democrat Nancy Pelosi and her husband cashed in big time by getting special access to an initial public offering of Visa stock even as the House under her leadership refused to move important credit card industry reforms. Similarly, Republican Dennis Hastert bought a piece of land back home, then used an earmark to channel federal funds to build a highway nearby. Hastert more than doubled his money when he sold the land not long after.

Making a killing from public service is far from limited to Pelosi and Hastert, and often it’s perfectly legal because Congress exempts itself from many of the laws the rest of us have to observe, including those against insider trading. Lawmakers frequently say that they make a financial sacrifice to serve in Congress, but somehow they manage to leave Washington with a great deal more money than they had when they arrived. As former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wrote Friday in the Wall Street Journal, “the corruption isn’t confined to one political party or just a few bad apples. It’s an endemic problem encompassing leadership on both sides of the aisle. It’s an entire system of public servants feathering their own nests.”

At its worst Congress is like a bunch of referees who get paid by team managers to call fouls on the other team and who are rewarded by the winning team. Jimmy Oberstar retired a mult-millionaire although it was because he married the rich widow of a lobbyist for the air industry he regulated.

You have only to look at the tens of millions Newt Gingrich earned even after he retired from Congress to see how good connections can pay off.

I’ve been pretty indifferent to calls over the years to limit Congressional terms. I’ve ignored pledges to vote against tax increases in three campaigns from Grover Norquist. There is however one pledge I’d love to see every candidate for Congress sign – a pledge not to lobby after retiring.

I’m still thinking about my “fantasy campaign”

I mention this because I finally gave a first proof reading to the post where I announced I might run for Congress. I’m in no hurry to make a final decision because I detest our eternal campaigns and as my post explains, I’ve got better things to do for the next six months.

I’ve almost cranked out 25 pages (unedited) of my book since I first wrote the post. I plan on reposting the original “maybe” announcement about every 25 additional pages I write. Keeping my maybe campaign in the public eye, or at least the sixteen eyes of my eight regular readers, will give me some incentive not to fall behind in my writing.

I don’t think I will always post the whole thing. Maybe I’ll just link to the post like I did in this post’s first sentence. I’ll probably repost the original in its entirety every so often like once a month.

My fantasy campaign for Congress in 2112 – or maybe not – or maybe

Yeah, this year’s Duluth school board elections is one of those flukes. You regular readers know what I mean. Me – not being a candidate. Oh I toyed with the idea but when a candidate emerged in Judy Seliga’s 3rd District my conscience was eased and I played with my Grandchildren instead of campaigning for office. If you had a Tan Man and a Jakie to give you a hug like their lives depended upon it you would have no doubt that I made the right decision.

I haven’t mentioned this almost limbic-like thought to my wife – and poop on any of you readers who dares tell her I’ve broached the subject to the eight of you who read this blog – but I’ve been thinking about running for Congress again. No kidding.

It might work like this.

Rationale and How To:

1. Everybody hates Congress. Latest polling down to 9% approval.
2. No one trusts anyone who belongs to a major political party theoretically giving an “independent” a good chance.
3. Chip Cravaack is toast and should be if for no other reason than he wallows at Grover Norquist’s feet. His moving to New Hampshire is just frosting on the cake.
4. The main reason Democrats kept getting elected has been because voters in Minnesota’s Eighth District go for the candidate (so far always a guy) who can guarantee the greatest federal pork but in this day and age of precious little pork they will look for some other reason.
5. The DFL party candidates so far all look like an early version of today’s GOP presidential candidates. (See the link on previous post)
6. Few candidates could make a better claim for being an independent than me having run for Congress twice – 1992 and 2006 as an Independent. (I was even independent of Minnesota’s Independence Party)
7. Granted I only got 7% and 2% respectively of the overall vote in those years but I was grossly out spent and viewed as a flake largely for not belonging to either party and for many previous campaigns.
8. That wouldn’t likely change except that this year I’d run as a Democrat in the primary. (Possible situation – see point 5)
9. I’d run as though I was unlikely to win and consequently speak candidly which I think would put me in far better stead this year than ever before.
frankly, my non partisan credentials have been premature up until now.
10. In a day when people are tired of politics as usual I’d offer them not only what they wanted but what they needed.
11. Voters don’t need a nice guy Republican afraid of Norquist, Dobson, Limbaugh and Fox News. They don’t need another James, Business as usual, spend like a drunken sailor, Oberstar.
12. What voters need is someone to help lead a short term fix for what really ails American politics – blind gridlock.
13.To that end I’d pledge to serve for only two terms tops. First by running as a Democrat (in 2112) for the first two year term. After that I’d quit the Democratic Party (where I’ve been caucusing for six years) and run as a Republican (in 2114) for a final two-year term.
14. As a Congressman I’d ignore partisan politics. I can make the case that I love and hate both parties because its true. I would only promise to have my staff make a top priority of constituent services while I cajolled and goaded my fellow Congressman to follow my example of encouraging comity between the two party’s – not only for the sake of the nation but for the sake of the world. they say that guilt is the gift that keeps on giving and God knows most of our Congressmen are guilty of sin of wanting to get reelected more than fixing the nation. We’ve got big problems. We’re indenturing our grandchildren financially, We’re risking an irreversable Global Warming, We’re ignoring a world wide financial collapse……and this is just for starters. Who gives a damn what Congressional Committee you become a slave to with this all going on in the background. Hell, that’s what it is to Congress – background events which take hind tit behind organizing a year-round reelection campaign and sucking up to folks whose chief interest is turning politics into a blood sport.

Golly – Point 45 was a long one.

15. The harder campaign might be the second one as a Republican in 2114. There will be a reapportioned district next year but I haven’t seen any proposed maps that would greatly affect the outcome.

16. I’ve just proposed something novel – pledging in advance to run for one party then switch afterward. Plenty of politicans have held their fingers up to the wind to decide when to change parties but none have ever announced they would do what I’m contemplating. It would be a pax on both parties not a pox on them and we could use a little serious pax.
17. I’m just quirky enough to pull off a campaign in which America, not just Northeastern Minnesota, takes notice. For one thing I’m as closed to politically fearless as any other candidates I’ve seen. I’m not sure if that is because as a junior high student I took JFK’s book Profiles in Courage too seriously or if it was because my parents beat it into my head that my grandfather was a superhero for having won a Congressional Medal of Honor and encouraging me to climb up on the pedestal he stood upon. If I did get national attention I might just pull in the kind of money that actually gets a no-name Congressional candidate elected in a volatile election year.
18. This pre-maybe announcement would be the start but I wouldn’t really start campaigning for months. Maybe not until May or June of next year when the filings take place. Heck I’ve got a lot of Grandchild hugging to do between now and then.
19. Finally, unless I amend or add to this post I’d raise money and interest in the same way I attempted to do in 1992. I’d write a book and sell it to raise money for my campaign. That time I began writing the book first. It was a children’s adventure story. It turned out not to be very good but I mostly began writing it to teach myself how to write. I sold several hundred of the books and used the proceeds to campaign. Hey, a couple thousand dollars got me 7% of the vote. This year, as long time readers know, I’m writing another book. This one is about politics. That’s a much more sensible topic for a political candidate. I’m also a much more practiced writer than I was twenty years ago.

Now here’s what to expect. Continue reading

Bookin it 1

I took two books with me to San Antone. The first was Pox Americana by Elizabeth A Fenn. Its a very interesting investigation of a smallpox epidemic that circulated all over North America during the Revolutionary War. I skipped over some of the middle chapters. They were a little too thorough in describing the various routes by which different groups of infected soldiers took the disease to uninfected regions. Consequently, I won’t add the book to my list of completely read books. I did finish most of the later chapters however.

I was particularly interested in the ebb and flow of the plains Indian tribes and the impact Smallpox had on them. I was also interested to learn about the brutality of the Russian fur traders. The native Americans along the coast suffered tremendously from the pox.

I also began Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman on the flight back. The first two chapters were well written. I had recently read a fairly dismissive critique of Ehrman.  The critique found little fault with the first four chapters of his book but battered him on the rest of the book. I’ll reserve my judgement.