Category Archives: History

The Case for Two Centrist Parties

I believe the Trump supporters have been accused of wanting to go back to the days of Ozzie and Harriet, My Three Sons and Leave it to Beaver….if not quite back to the Flintstones. I understand this idea. Those were great days for a white kid like me with a stay-at-home Mom and a father who was an attorney for the State of Kansas. The privation of the Depression was long past, the post war economy was booming, Europe was still on the ropes and black kids should have been grateful that the era of lynching was mostly in abeyance. Golly, my city, Topeka, Kansas, had gone to the Supreme Court to preserve its more gentle segregation and lost. I was part of a bold new experiment to see if kids of different colors could play together happily like slave kids and their master’s kids. At least until such time as the master’s kids had to reluctantly pick up the whip and enforce the South’s “Peculiar Institution.”

And a lot of good things came to pass in the the sixty-two years that experiment in equality began when the black kids from segregated Buchanan School were shepherded into the white kid’s Loman Hill Elementary. But what I find myself nostalgic for is something all the damn college kids in my era wanted swept away. I wanted two centrist political parties. My peers pined to rid themselves of two parties that they called Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Well, they got their wish. The Citizens Councils of the South, the John Birchers, all sorts of cultic religious conservatives and Texas Oil men took over a new Republican Party that fought to keep us in Vietnam and teach rioting blacks a lesson in the rule of law. They all coalesced with big money from the Koch Brothers and purged moderates from the GOP, people like me. The same thing will happen to the Democratic Party if today’s unhappy youth get their way.

Here is the four line conversation I had on Facebook with my ex Bro-in-law who is becoming an ever more resentful Bernie supporter: Continue reading

Imperfect Union

I have been reading this book to Claudia for the past couple weeks. Steve Inskeep is as instructive a historian as he is as an NPR reporter. This book was pitched as something that would help explain what’s going on now in our nation’s politics because……as everyone has heard…..What goes around comes around……or …..the only thing that never changes is change itself.

BTW – John C Frémont was the Republican Party’s first nominee for President in 1856. Abe was still thinking about joining it that year. Bonus for me, Frémont parlez vous-ed Francais. (the “-ed” is mine and a terrible blasphemy. I apologize for it.)

MA2A – Making America 2 Again

As I was putting the final coats of gray, blue and orange on my sculpture a photo journalist from the Strib, Alex Korman, was chatting me up and taking some shots. I was pleased that my work was not tampered with last night. The Rebel Gray isn’t very easy to see and will disappear as the day warms but I’m quite proud of my message and pleased that there were some news folks in town who took notice of it. Alex was awarded the White House’s student photographer of the year award last year and the president himself signed the award winning photo for him. We had a lot to talk about…..meaning I wouldn’t shut up. BTW – you can see the photos for which he was honored here.

In the short time afterward that I scraped some dangerous ice off of my sidewalk a lot of folks stopped to shoot their own pictures. One gracious lady commented that it was a very nice message and not nasty at all. Another lady who thought it was pro – Trump was confused about the meaning of the Civil War soldiers. I explained that the Party of Lincoln is best known for preserving the union. I then said it was ironic that our current Republican president seemed to be working overtime to undo that stellar accomplishment. She grew a little concerned and asked if I was in favor of having Bernie Sanders in the White House. I replied that I liked Bernie but that I’d prefer that he not be our next President. Actually, I’d prefer that he not be the Democratic nominee.

There are waaaay too many oldster voters who never learned that communism and socialism are dramatically different and that America has been a partly socialist nation since Social Security which they all count on and adore and protect fiercely. To my knowledge none of these old socialists are either communists or totalitarians. They just don’t know that they are socialists.

I give it less than a fifty/fifty chance of lasting until tomorrow

I haven’t had the best of luck with snow sculptures that would bug Republicans. My Bill Clinton had his nose punched off back in 1992. It was fixable. Last year my Baby New Year had his head pushed off. That wasn’t worth fixing. Today a good Democrat walked past my house and asked me if I wasn’t worried that someone would vandalize my work. Naw I said. Lots of Americans have died for our country and I didn’t think having a snowman pushed over was that big a deal. Besides the sun will get it soon enough. My backyard thermometer read 48 degrees a few minutes ago.

Lest anyone think my sign makes too big a deal out of Donald Trump’s relish in dividing Americans the NPR story I heard as I picked up my shovels, before ending my day’s labors was about Oregonians who want their part of the state to be joined to Idaho.

Its ironic that the Party of Lincoln, who’s greatest claim to fame is saving the union, is now run by an angry todler upending a century and a half of national unity.

Emperor Xi, Tsar Putin, King Trump and George Washington

Perhas the most unsurprising but appalling news yesterday came from Russia. In one way I miss the Soviet Union. Other than its delusional infatuation with ownershiplessness the idea of Monarchialism didn’t seem to match its communist rhetoric. Of Course Papa Joe had to die in office while his timid heirs kept rescuers at bay until they were sure he was dead. But he wasn’t a king. He was simply a despot who only gave up his scepter when it was pried from his cold dead fingers.

Sorry I got carried away. Yes. The news. The Ruskies have proposed a new law which extends Putin’s rule which he already had extend once. He’s a tsar now. Not long ago “reformist” Xi Jinping was handed a guarantee of never ending Chinese leadership. As for Trump. Here’s his tweet for a forever Presidency.

Trump is besotted/envious of dictators who have no restraints placed on them. How different George Washington was a man who could lay claim to being one of the wealthiest Americans of his day. He would have been closer to Bloomberg than Trump.

Washington was reluctant to become President. Began a precedent that was followed without any laws requiring of stepping down after a second term which continued until FDR ran for a third term as America braced itself for the Second World War.

Not that Donald Trump knows anything about that war. As he flew into Hawaii for a ceremony at Pearl Harbor he apparently asked his astonished chief-of-staff John Kelly what the deal was with the Pearl Harbor stuff. Just the man to lead us into a war if he manages to pull it off with Iran.

BTW – this book review covers the growth of unnamed witness in covering Trump. That makes sense in a day when not a single Republican congressman was left to vote for the impeachment of the President because the GOP has stacked the deck in all of their districts so that any dissent will bring about their defeat by a party they have tailored into group think.

At least Washington knew something about war. No bone spurs, just real ones.

Impeachment, war, cinema and other flotsom

Trump Impeached. After watching part to of Frontlines how we got here, last night I’m OK with that. I was surprised to come to the conclusion that there was no way Donald Trump had what it takes not to be the worst President in our Nation’s history. I came close with this assessment last year at this time. I don’t know if Joe, who comments sympathetically with Trump is right or not. All I can say is once anyone is elevated to the Presidency of the United States they better not succumb to their limitations and Trump has more than any President I’ve read about.

To put things in perspective Trump’s World Wrestling Federation followers

haven’t and won’t come close to repeating the lynching that took place a century ago in Duluth but that is cold comfort. However much they have been neglected by “the establishment” George Washington would have gone back to Mt. Vernon had he seen such behavior. There would have been no Brexit for America in 1776. So, however much we can pat ourselves on the back for the absence of lynchings we should weep that a man with no scruples has caught the wave with four in ten Americans.

I didn’t watch the last debate in Iowa before the Iowa caucuses. Frontline seemed more important . Along those lines a couple headlines this morning caught my attention. One was about how Chief Justice Roberts will keep the Supreme Court’s reputation from being tattered. Another from the partisan Rawstate said that it was a Trump appointed Judge who stymied the Congressional subpoena of Trump’s tax records a source of information that the Congress is constitutionally permitted to see.

A lot of Democrats have been watching in horror for twenty years as Republicans have fiddled with election laws to stay in power as their voters age and slip through their fingers. The refusal to approve Obama’s nominees for court vacancies and their rush to appoint Judges Democrats fear will put the Republican Party ahead of the law is probably a greater menace to Democrats than woman who wear t-shirts giving Trump a thumbs up for a crotch grab. As for pussies. Trump has a whole United State’s Senate full of them more than he has hands for. All of them prefer to be in his stable rather than lose a coveted position in the Federal bordello because soccer hooligans will vote them out of office for acting in behalf of the rule of law or their conscience.

Yesterday we saw 1917. It was a tall tale but, oh it was it gripping.

Forbes has a story I didn’t read saying that STEAM not STEM is what we should be teaching our children. It Includes the Arts as a necessary ingredient to our curriculum. I agree. I’ve been thinking about the World War I themed movies that I have appreciated and how different eras tell the tale cinematically. Sgt York comes to mind first. Included on the list would be Paths of Glory, Joyeux Noël and the marvelous work of Robert Jackson restoring British film to look like it was filmed today and not in the herky jerky mode of a century ago. Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old was breathtaking.

As for politics. I loved Robert Capra’s. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Donald Trump is no Mr. Smith.

I sent in my finished column to the Reader last nigh. I was very pleased with it and it covers another movie favorite. This morning when I reread what I’d sent in I was not happy. I made two mistakes in the last couple paragraphs. I don’t mind them here on the blog but I do work hard to eliminate them on anything that goes to print. Look for it Thursday.

I’m about to watch the PBS program on Joe McCarthy

Today is not the first crisis of the Republican Party.

As always the American Experience did justice to a slice of Americana. 70 years on its treatment of McCarthy was even handed and swept a few myths away. There is no doubt that Joe was a bully and that he used worrisome news headlines to stoke paranoia and promote himself. At his zenith few would cross him. One who did, Senator Margret Chase Smith, is remembered as a hero. There are not so many today. Most are closer to today’s Lindsey Graham

A couple things stood out for me. First was the behind the scenes work of Eisenhower to expose McCarthy for the man he was. The other was a loyal following of Republicans, about half of that Era’s Republican Senators who voted against his censure and who also attended his funeral in Appleton Wisconsin in 1957.

I tried looking up the names of those who flew out to Wisconsin but only found this story of Bobby Kennedy’s cautious attendance. I was well aware of the irony of Bobby’s work for the Senator. The AE piece made no mention of it but his face did show up on one of the historical stills of the McCarthy hearings.

I did find the votes here. Goldwater voted against censure and so did Everett Dirksen. Ironically all the Southern Democrats voted to censure McCarthy except JFK who cast no vote no doubt to make sure he didn’t muddy the waters for his later ambitions.

It occurred to me that this episode might be a helpful precedent in GOP history to explain the Trump era. I’ll be pondering that possibility over the next few months.

Meet the new member of the “no evil” clan

If you couldn’t tell it by looking at my friend here, he’s pinching his nose tight. He’s not alone on my front yard. His older siblings are each keeping evil at bay in their own ways. Ostriches are far more efficient. They accomplish all this unwelcome stimulation by sticking their heads in the sand. This is the new Trumplican Party.

It is impeachment season but the Democrats are permitted to act on their consciences when it comes time to vote. This wasn’t good enough for one New Jersey Democrat. Representative Van Drew is switching parties even though Nancy Pelosi isn’t enforcing a pro-impeachment vote. The Congressman may not end up benefiting from his party switching. First off six of his staff members quit. Next, the GOP has made it known that they may not want him as their Congressman. Several Republicans have been circling his district planning to run against him.

As for the GOP side of the House there was not so much as a lone wolf baying at the President’s duplicitous ways. That’s a far cry from the ferocity with which Republicans took after Bill Clinton who posed no threat to our nation’s security….just to pretty young women with crushes on Bubba.

There has never been a time in our nation’s history until now that one President held the genitals of every member of his party in Congress in his hands or rather in the hands of the voters trained by the Republican party to rid themselves of independent thinkers in primaries. Today’s march-in-step Republican philosophy comes straight from the mouth of Donald Trump. It is the “group think” that Orwell wrote about although there seems to be little thinking involved just vigorous head bobbing.

Now its all fingers in ears, eyes closed and shouts of “LA LA LA LA LA LA LA I can’t hear you!” And, as you can plainly see from the convention being held in my front yard, even the stink of the Grand Old Party’s corpse has been banished.


A month before my Dad died in 1987 the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant suffered a nuclear explosion that killed between 4,000 and 90,000 people immediately and prematurely. After our mini adventure Claudia suggested we watch the fifth and final episode of the recent series on the accident. It was pretty compelling.

The main character is the scientist who bucked the Soviet security state’s insistence that he deny the government’s role in the tragedy.

Among his last words before committing suicide were these that I find striking with our prevaricating President still in office:

“Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth.”

The official death toll according to the Soviets who trained Vladimir Putin how to run a country has remained unchanged since 1987. It is 31.

The most frightening Halloween in U.S. History and me

Today, Halloween, the Congress began its fourth serious attempt to impeach and possibly remove a President of the United States.

I will not pledge to avoid running against Pete Stauber in 2020 even if I am on the Duluth School Board. I can not do it because today the Democrats in the House of Representatives did the right thing and something which one of Pete Stauber’s Republican colleagues predicted could lead to a second American Civil War.

I wish I could glibly say it will not come to that. Four years ago everyone but me, it seems, laughed when Donald Trump threw himself into the Republican Primary. They laughed at him like earlier generations laughed at Adolph Hitler.

Republicans and Newspapers knew him for what he was: a fraud, a clown, a blowhard, a cheat, a bully and an ignorant narcissist. The Duluth News Tribune is owned by a small time conservative media group that didn’t want to alienate their many rural readers. As a result the Trib failed to endorse the stable and competent Hillary Clinton over the candidate described too kindly two sentences ago. Their subscriptions and revenue were too important to sacrifice for the future of America. Today, damn near every Republican politician is following the fine example of the Duluth News Tribune’s editors.

To say I was disappointed that the Trib did not endorse me for the School Board is terribly off the mark. Rather, I am honored to be just one more obvious choice for an endorsement snubbed because of the editors small mindedness. Look at the final ad I placed in the Trib’s competition the Duluth Reader. Its written as though some neutral source was evaluating me but the fact is I wrote it (as my disclaimer puts it) “by his own darned self.”

I know my strengths. I am a seeker of new information. I value honesty as others value courage and believe that honesty requires courage. I hold self righteousness in low regard. I hold arrogance in even lower regard. I value humility but I know it doesn’t require me to deny my rather high opinion of myself. To prove my point I can point to the acknowledged two best presidents in US history. Both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were brilliant. And yet, both of these men were graced with great humility so unlike the fetid stench given off by our current President.

I feel uniquely prepared to bring any Trumplican ????? to his or her senses. That would be Pete Stauber in Minnestota’s Eighth Congressional District seat. So, if I am elected to the Duluth School Board I still might try to hobble Pete in 2020.

Feel free to report this to the Duluth News Tribune. I’m sure if the Trib gets this information out by this weekend it might undermine my chances of getting elected to the Duluth School Board. If I am not on the School Board I’ll have more time to figure out how to keep the Constitution safe from Pete Stauber’s spinelessness. I’ll also have more time to practice my French. “Liberté, Equality, Fraternity”

From Russia with Love # 2

For one brief moment the United States led the Soviet Union to the doorstep of Democracy then Putin and his version of vulture capitalists suffocated Russian Democracy like a baby in a bath tub. Russian Foreign Minister from that hopeful moment shakes his head in disbelief at what is happening in America today and what it may portend for Democracy. He urges President Trump’s impeachment and removal to remove the stain from our nation. I heartily agree with him.

The America I Knew as Russia’s Foreign Minister Is Gone

Alex Jone’s disciple

Someone on Facebook noted that Jim Fetzer (formerly of Duluth) just got whacked with a $450,000 defamation judgement. I replied that Fetzer didn’t care if he was wrong when he wrote a book denying the Sandy Hook massacre took place. Then I thought I’d better add a little more and wrote:

To be clearer. Fetzer isn’t interested in the Truth. Like Trump he offends people’s intelligence like a naughty kindergartner. He deserves to get whacked for it. He’s been this way for years. (Then I added a link to my old commentary on the rascal)


Fetzer shills for the gullible people of the day. Twenty years ago it was old hippies who thought JFK had been assassinated by the CIA. Today its Tea Party paranoids who really believe the “Deep State.” (meaning liberals) are ruining everything.

The picture in the Trib shows him sitting behind tall stacks of books which is meant to suggest research. Bwa, hahahahahaha

Confirmation of my comments about desegregation…

…in the column found in the previous post.

When I get my News Tribune delivered to my door I check several things that I can’t easily find when I’m traveling and look online for the DNT. They include Dear Abby and the Bygone’s section. I was intrigued that yesterday’s bygones coincidentally confirmed my history of Duluth’s Schools integration with a summary of a forty year old Trib Story:

As always, this is a snippet. There is much more to the story than this.

As President Trump hints that civil war is imminent to save his sorry arse…

… its worth paying attention to the man who put an end to the last one, General and President Ulysses S. Grant:

“If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon’s but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition and ignorance on the other.”

The dilemma of a writer, The advantage of a blogger

The editors of the Duluth News Trib gave school board candidates a heads-up two weeks ago that we could send them a 500 word column for their paper for this year’s school board campaign. I sat on it for a while then woke up one night and cranked out a piece with lots of suggestions for the District. Last night I woke up with a rather different approach to a column and pounded a different one into my cell with my index finger. This morning I went over it a couple times not remembering that once formerly 700-word-columns had shrunk down by 200 words in these leaner and meaner days of journalism.

But I had written a 640 word essay. I had to cut 140 words from it. Such is the life of a writer. Well, before I trim my column down to size I’m going to share the original with my eight loyal readers. In a week or two you will be able to see whether I was able to preserve the sentiments in my column before I began whittling away at it.

This is a writer’s dilemma but its not one for a blogger. There is one risk. The Trib often warns people who submit something to them that they will not publish anything that was submitted to a rival publication. (That wasn’t expressed in my email invite however) I think they would be hard pressed to call my blog a rival publication. Its strictly not for profit and besides that, by the time I trim one fourth of this verbiage away the Trib will be hard pressed to claim that I made the original column public before they got hold of it. Stay tuned and see how well my message translates to newsprint after its blovia-ectomy.

Looking Back to Move Duluth’s Schools Forward Continue reading