Category Archives: History

Age 59

I’ve always planned to live to age 100. If I manage it that leaves 40% of my life yet to look forward to. When I was young I was very aware of the youth of famous individuals who accomplished remarkable things at a tender age.

Today on MPR I heard a wonderful broadcast about a giant, albeit one that young people may not have heard of, George Marshall. Until he was 59 his life was largely of no consequence beyond his own immediate circle. After that he became a giant in war and peace.

Since I’m 59 too I found this news particularly gratifying.

And one more thing. George Marshall became a figure beloved in Congress because he was scrupulously non partisan, so much so that he never voted. When asked by partisans what his political leanings were he told them that his Mother was a Republican, his Father was a Democrat and he was an Episcopalian.

If anyone is going to solve Minnesota’s budget problems they’d better be an Episcopalian.

Viguerie’s Vengeance

Richard Viguerie is the man who developed the voter identification services that helped make the Republican Party the majority party and helped bring about talk radio which put both spine and venom in the GOP. I heard him on NPR today explaining why he expected the Democrats to fail. I can’t find that story on the NPR webpage. However this story from a few days earlier explains why he didn’t at all ming having the GOP take a tumble last Tuesday.

Flags of our Fathers.

My campaigning is almost at an end. I could have put up lawnsigns today but I’m content to let my handful of remaining ads do the heavy lifting.

Since my wife went off with a number of church women to a retreat today I took the afternoon to watch Clint Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers. Claudia isn’t interested in gore and this movie has that in spades but like Tom Hank’s Private Ryan it was shown in the service of honesty not exploitation. Apparently Eastwood plans on filiming another movie about the fighting on Iwo Jima from the Japanese point of view. I’ll be sure to watch that movie too.

I knew the story well enough that I wasn’t confused by the cuts back and forth in time. As I left Jim and Carol, also from our church told me that her family had known one of the flag raisers, a fellow who still lives in the Twin Cities. Like me they stayed through the movie credits which showed original war photos from the island. Jim told me that the theater should let every native American into the movie free. I understood what he meant. Adam Beach performance as Ira Hayes a Pima Indian was wrenching.

Is the new left like the old new right?

I’m still catching up with all the newspapers I missed while overseas. One very interesting New York Times article that I’ve just read by Sam Tanenhaus, suggests that today’s blogging lefties are the equivelent of Bill Buckley and the conservatives that swept aside moderate Republicans while championing Goldwater and Reagan. I’m not sure what to make of Tanenhaus’s claim that today’s lefties are less extreme but they may indeed be a harbinger of things to come.

The GOP and making good money

An article today caught my eye and on a topic I’ve been licking my lips to expound on. The GOP and its new ethos that confuses the making of money with the strengthening of the economy.

It seems that the US military which pays starvation wages to its enlisted personnel wants to crack down on Payday loan establishments that prey on servicemen. In the story today one soldier took a $255 dollar advance on a $300 guaranteed pay check. This used to be called usury and most states used to have laws against it. That fee is comparable to a 459% interest rate. Compare that with the going rate for a home mortgage loan and you can see how soldiers are being taken.

But the military sees its servicemen being bled dry by these Republican sanctioned outfits. The military wants to protect its troops from these predators but everyone should be protected from them. The growth of the once non existent car “title loans” is the same thing. Poor people hand over their car titles for emergency money and lose their only means of transportation for loans that are in the neighborhood of 100 % or more.

Rather than protect the vulnerable poor (even servicemen) Republicans insist that the poor are entitled to ruin themselves and have only themselves to blame. Too many of these modern Era Republicans never saw anything wrong with any way to make a buck (other than selling drugs).

Just look at gambling. Once strongly anti-gaming the Republican Party now pushes gaming everywhere despite it socially destructive consequences. The Republicans, hate to tax wealthy people even when the wealth is acquired more through legislation than enterprise. But with reduced tax revenues, socially destructive gambling has become an acceptable new source for revenue. Except for Indian gaming……That’s why Republicans in state’s like Minnesota have tried to break into the Indian gaming industry and why they rail against Indian sovereignty. Why are we letting all these poor Indians keep all this money? It would be better if we just let them sell cigarettes and set up title loans on the Rez.

TR a disaster?

This lively and severe critique of Teddy Roosevelt by one of the CATO institutes conservatives is very interesting. I always had reservations about Roosevelt’s comicly pro anglo-saxon rantings. His gallop to war against the Spanish and later against the Filipinos was not particularly commendable. And there’s no doubt that some of his anti free market legislation did have unanticipated results. But for my money the creation of the Federal Income tax was not a tragedy. Its hard to imagine how we could have bested the Nazi’s without it.

Cuba libre

Castro may be dead or dying and the Cubans of Miami have been out banging pots and pans to celebrate.

Castro represents a long standing bone headedness in America’s foreign policy. I wasn’t yet ten years old when Fidel marched into America’s worst fears. I’ve watched ten US Presidents try to make life hard for him. They’ve only succeeded in making life hard for Cubans while making Fidel more popular at home.

The latest of our Presidents St. George the Lesser is only the latest to fall into the trap of mining votes from Cuban ex pats by putting the screws to Fidel. Maybe one of our presidents will finally outlast Castro. If so, it would put a merciful end to our futile attempt to force feed goodness to the Cubans.  

Bush and company have only succeeded in making our best confection, “democracy,” taste like castor oil to the people he wants to rescue.

Gerald Heaney Retires

Gerald Heaney was interviewed by MPR’s Stephanie Hemphill for Voices of Minnesota. Heaney has an laudatory past but he’s also a key figure in the story I’m writing about the destruction of Don Boyd.

When I first moved to Duluth 33 years ago Republicans in particulary spoke of him in hushed tones. He was their nemesis and they regarded him as the power behind the area’s political scene. Its not surprising that he figures into the Boyd scandal when his old friend Senator Hubert Humphrey was in a position to be badly embarrassed.

Blog Metamorphosis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Master of the Senate

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

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

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