It has become fairly obvious to me that I am unlikely to go to France in October to study French for 45 days come October. That has me doing some serious thinking about running a little more seriously for Congress. If by June the French sponsors call it off I won’t have to campaign while apologizing for being in France during the campaign. It will also mean that for much of the campaign gathering people together will be verboten lest we kill them off with the virus. It will still be the home sheltered corona virus campaign that will bring people to my blog.
Unlike most politicians I think I have some interesting things to say – like the previous posts observations of our slaughter of the Earth’s biomass. Voters will have more time to follow my expansive literature. Of course, the young voters at our local colleges will likely vote at their parent’s homes if they are still sheltering-in-place and that will be a loss. They haven’t developed deep attachments to a political party and I would normally count on to free up their ears and listen to me.
At any rate. I’ve had a good night’s sleep and I’m really in the mood to put my book together today. But first, I wrote the following post which is sort of a short summary of all the things on my mind as a candidate for Congress. I haven’t proof-read it and probably won’t bother too do so. So, please forgive my typos and other tommyrot:
If you look at the previous post with its arresting picture of a praying mantis you will see a little of the best of me. I pay attention. I know how to convey important information in a way that sticks in the mind. I am, in short, a good teacher. And more than that as demonstrated by the wide ranging list of topics on the right hand side of this blog I am interested in everything. I am an eclectic and a generalists. I’ve known that about myself since junior high school. I also know myself. Someone who has had to put up with me far longer than anyone else, my wife Claudia no less, has told me this.
This morning after an incredible and long overdue night where I slept like a log dreaming of the destruction of my first hometown, Topeka Kansas, in a war and woke up to my daughter as a young woman playing with her tarantula (she never had one)I was groggy as heck but hopeful that a good night’s sleep would get me past two days of not writing that book I once again thought was just about to take of on the wings of my fingers. (careful with your mixed metaphors Harry) I realized that a modest recent column, The Gift of Why, was my attempt to demonstrate why I was despite my reputation as a “perennial candidate” and a non conformist, and a guy who fights city hall (which is of course a sign of being addled), I should pursue this golden ring all the more avidly. And ironically it goes along with Donald Trump’s question. “What have you got to lose?” Well, in answer to Donald Trump the correct response is “our democracy.” In my case its well what’s the point of having another week kneed Congressman represent us when he hasn’t got the stones to be honest with us about the fundamental problem with America – Poisonous politics?
Like a lot of old farts I collect favorite aphorisms. One of my earliest came from the Depression Era humorist Will Rogers. He said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” In life its impossible not to meet some pretty awful people but that doesn’t mean you can’t see in them something likable. Take that bastard President of ours. Its hard even for me not to be in awe of someone who has managed to talk himself out of so many self delivered catastrophes. He has done it so often its hard for me not to think his absolutely clueless response to the Corona virus still might not be enough to drive a steak into his black heart. I’m sorry if you are offended by my rather benign take on him but I read too much history not to appreciate how much damage he’s doing. As the Chines aphorism says “Its a curse to live in interesting times” and the smug, pussy grabbing, grifter who got himself elected President is nothing if not interesting. He’s like watching a one thousand alarm fire. You can’t take you eyes off him.
And I’ve always closely watched people who needed watching like my first bully Gary W. I’ve never been afraid of a bully just wary of them. They can be interesting people.
I was struck by two stories about LBJ an infamously successful politician who had qualities that soured milk. I’ve read three of the planned five volume history on Lynden written by author/historian/reporter Robert Caro. I mentioned him in one of my first blog posts.(Its called Ladybird, It had a follow-up Ladybird II)
Lyndon grew up spoiled and ungovernable. But despite his never ending self-aggrandizing ways he got something – Life wasn’t fair and something else. People held high regard for people who knew this and tried to make things better. He wanted to be best, was looked down on by his betters and was keen to out compete them. Early on he took it into his head that he wanted to be the President of the United States. Here’s how I recall the story Caro told about that.
Johnson graduated from what we used to call normal schools that gave high school graduates two more years of schooling so that they could go out and teach at the proliferating rural schools of America as it expanded west. A man of Johnson’s ambition didn’t really want to be a teacher but his first job was in a largely dirt poor school for mexican-american kids. Although only in his early twenties he was remembered by those kids for the remarkable thing he told his class once. That someday he was going to be President of the United States.
The other thing Caro said of him was that Johnson sought out power and learned to wield it. This is true but along with this was something our current President lacks. Johnson, like my mother only for far more calculating reasons, studied the people he had to work with. He did this to beat them at the chess-like game of life. He catered to them when they could help him. He coached them to help him. When he had what he needed he manipulated them to get them to give him what he wanted. Those Mexican kids he taught. He actually understood them and the rotten hand they’d been given. When he finally got to where he had the power Caro said he sought out and cultivated the self-aggrandizing Johnson really did remarkable things as a legislator to make up for the short change they’d been handed in life. He did it even more so for all of America’s African American population. He got them the vote in the South. And to do it he broke the Democratic party in two driving white southern politicians into the once hated Party of Lincoln. BTW – I HOPE TO EXPAND ON THAT IN THE BOOK I AM WRITING TO DRAW INTEREST INTO MY IMPROBABLE CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN.
I never hated Gary W. I don’t hate Donald Trump. And that guy, Gentlemen Jim, who has been pestering me by emailing me and calling Barack Obama a N*****? Well, he’s an interesting character too. I don’t hate him no matter how much he annoys me. It was like that for years on this blog with another old coot I called “my buddy.” We argued like hell through our emails almost to the point of intellectual divorce. The link in the previous sentence took me to 229 mentions of “my buddy” in the blog. Vic Ulmer died a couple years ago and ended my long running fencing match and I don’t have to keep his name secret any more.
As for Gentleman Jim, you will find ten posts about him if you check his traditional salutation to me “Handsome Harry.”
Before he crossed me off his list of saints he told me enough about himself so that I fully understand why I’ve made it to his “Shit list.” It all goes back to the most exciting time I ever had as a Republican the 1978 election. That year, called the “Minnesota Massacre” Republicans upset two Democratic US Senators and a Democratic Governor. That was just before Republicans began a thorough cleansing to get rid of lincoln-like Republican moderates such as myself.
In Gentleman Jim’s case he was madder than hell at Democrats and did his best to upend the the Twin Cities busy bodies who put their love of the Boundary Waters over their sympathy with residents of the Boundary Waters. Jim pushed hard to elect a Trump-like big business millionaire and Minnesota Twin’s owner Robert Short Short defeated the endorsed Democratic candidate for the US Senate in the primary which led to the first of several stampedes by liberal democrats to vote for Republican moderates in the General election.
In 2006 I spent months working in the Minnesota History Museum researching a scandal that took place that year which helped explain the route Democrats endured that year. It came to naught and I’ve always been sorry I didn’t finish it.
So, I have a book in me about that election. I’ll also mention one more anecdote from that campaign. I mentioned how Donald Trump is “smug” a little earlier in this post. That is a quality I detest. So, in 1978 I was running for the second time against Mike Jaros for the legislature. (This is apparently my fiftieth mention of my one time adversary and eventual buddy in a post) The issue of dispossessing owners of Boundary water’s lands from their homes and making the new park off limits to their snowmobiles and motor boats raised scalding criticism for Democrats that year. As a kid still a year away from turning thirty I was troubled by the entire issue of eminent domain. Today I can think turning those lands into a park was a good thing but that didn’t mean it wasn’t wrenching for those being removed from land their families had owned and treasured for two and three generations. At a candidates forum in of all places Bayshore Nursing Home, where I would place my own mother thirty years later, I was invited to tell an elderly population I could barely identify with why I should be elected to the legislature. I must have spent some time sympathizing with the folks up in Northern Minnesota who were being kicked out of the wilderness. I remember two young woman who stood to the side of the audience looking knowing and smug as they listened to me. They walked over to me and handed me an ambiguous political button with a monkey on it and said it was perfect for me. No explanation just a couple of smug smiles.
Gentleman Jim looks at the people who threaten his life up north as smug, smart-ass, clueless, know-it-alls. I can appreciate that even if my skin crawls every time he calls Obama a “N*****” because when I see his hero, Donald Trump, I see the same thing.