|The Morris MN "welcome" sign out by the old Golden Cream|
Saturday, November 17, 2012
morris mn - thoughts while appreciating northern lights
A wonder of our natural world can put our worldly problems into perspective. Its power humbles us. Being alone in the country and seeing the Northern Lights is a release. I was walking along Iowa Avenue which turns into a dirt road as you go north. It goes out toward Wintermute Lake via rolling topography. The road isn't the best. Dirt roads are the stuff of country music songs.
Yankee Ridge Road parallels this road (to the west) and is paved. "Yankee Ridge" is old offhand terminology; use it and you signal you're a native. County Road 5 is the formal reference to Yankee Ridge Road.
When I was a kid we had a contest for naming our road and one of the nominations was "Rebel Ridge" (to correspond to "Yankee" obviously). OK it was a joke entry. The winner was "Northridge Drive." It connects Iowa Avenue and County Road 5. Most of it continues to be unpaved although we have paving in front of where we live. We're old-timers here.
The northern lights are also known as Aurora Borealis. The display I saw was noteworthy, breaking into the next day's news.
As a kid I remember hearing science had no clear explanation of what caused these lights. I also heard it was scientifically impossible for bumblebees to fly. I think science has made inroads since. We have learned that the Aurora Borealis doesn't come from Superman's Fortress of Solitude.
Getting detached from election
The peacefulness of seeing those lights helps me forget (to the extent I'm able) about the election campaign. It might be best for us now if Mitt Romney were to go to someplace like the Fortress of Solitude. Mainly he should just stay quiet if he doesn't have something thoughtful or intelligent to add to our discourse.
I think all along we felt that even though Romney had a total "Richie Rich" background - I called him "Scrooge McDuck" - he must have humanity and depth. Why would he want to run for president? There must be altruistic impulses within him, just bubbling. Maybe they were suppressed. But since the election Romney has given no indications of those better impulses. He has been just as blunt and stupid as when he talked about the "47 per cent."
Now he says that the people who voted for Barack Obama essentially had their votes "bought." I guess he means we expect government to do things for us. The "47 per cent" secret tape should have sunk Romney. There should have been no getting up from the canvas after that. It should have been Johnson-Goldwater redux.
Some suggest Hurricane Sandy made all the difference, reminding us of the extent to which we can rely on government. The GOP is the party that doesn't want us to like government. But Republicans usually have a way of at least massaging that philosophy to get votes. Or they actually break down once in a while and realize the blessing that government can represent. Chris Christie has done this of late. But he's a northeastern U.S. Republican and they're a little more sensible. The northeastern U.S. gives grudging approval to a Republican sometimes, like Scott Brown. And Christie. Their position can be precarious.
Christie did well for himself by "behaving" in the wake of the hurricane. He acted like he had full rapport with President Obama. My hope is that it was sincere. Deep down away from all the media talkers, I think Governor Christie had no problem working closely with the president who is so ridiculously demonized from the political right. Why on earth would anyone have a problem working with Barack Obama? He's a wonderful and loyal family man who has stayed married to the same woman, and with two wonderful daughters and a dog (Portuguese water dog).
As a family man he's far superior to Newt Gingrich.
Was Hurricane Sandy and its lessons the reason Obama won? I certainly hope not. To think Romney could have actually won is profoundly scary. We can't really know what all his convictions are. That's because he was all over the map. I hate to even put forth the hypothetical of Romney winning, but if he had won I think he would have let down many of his most conservative backers. But we don't know. It's amazing so many people filled in the little circle next to his name, having no idea if he'd behave like a Massachusetts Republican or a Republican representing the Confederacy. Romney did carry the old Confederacy.
Maybe some of those states where the secession impulse has been so strong should just be allowed to leave. It has been a pain trying to accommodate them. The Feds had to practically invade the Deep South in the 1960s to get rid of Jim Crow. Today there's still a profoundly regressive streak there. If we were to allow them to secede - Texas included - we would no longer have Democratic presidential candidates having to pretend they like NASCAR.
Good trend in Minnesota voting
In Minnesota the election results were very upbeat. The Democrats (DFL) have been given a mandate and I hope they don't blow it. Democrats can go astray just like Republicans when they get too much power.
Locally we had the race of Scott Dutcher vs. Jay McNamar for House. The race was mighty good for the U.S. Post Office. These pols have apparently lost interest in me since the election. For a long time I'd traipse back from the mailbox examining those beautiful and elaborate color flyers from these guys daily.
Dutcher's campaign was a test of the kind of Republican rhetoric that worked well in the midterms. "I'm a business guy and I know how to create jobs." Silly rabbit, people don't create jobs, consumer demand creates jobs.
The electorate showed a weariness with Republican rhetoric in the 2012 election. The Republicans are going to have to learn to offer a little more, to at least talk like they have more fundamental human compassion. Romney's post-election comments have been the complete opposite. He really is "Scrooge McDuck." His own party has begun turning on him. And to think the GOP gave him such an important mantle of leadership in the first place. But we never really expected Herman Cain, did we? Or Michele Bachmann?
At the state level we could breathe a sigh of relief over the "no" judgment on those two amendments. Can the Republicans finally say they've gotten the message? Can they finally realize they need to appeal to the electorate and not to talk radio hosts or Fox News? We can be heartened to an extent. But Romney got way too many votes. He clearly belonged in Goldwater territory.
Let's be honest: many of the skeptics about Barack Obama continue to be influenced by his racial makeup. He's black, right? Actually he's half-white if you insist on using such crude terminology. But his background was not Anglo-centered and that's an issue for some people.
I think President Obama is about the most compassionate person you can find. It might take a full eight years before we all appreciate that. He has had to try to lift us out of the very deep hole left us by George W. Bush. Heavy-lifting indeed.
Oh my, the Morris Human Rights Commission kerfuffle
The "marriage amendment" lost in Minnesota. "Losing" is the favorable outcome here. We aren't closing the door on the possible expansion of human rights. In Morris we have had the rather ridiculous controversy involving the Morris Human Rights commission. This is a controversy that wouldn't even exist if there were no Morris newspaper. The newspaper greased the skids, started or facilitated a fight and then crawled out from under the pile.
We are left with punches being thrown in the letters to the editor section. Let me be emphatic about one thing: the letters to the editor section is for losers. Nothing is ever decided there. It's a place for people with an ax to grind.
I feel sorry for Jeff Miller. Jeff is a pretty affable and lively guy who happened to be with the "vote yes" crowd. But he never intended to be perceived publicly as a zealous crusader. An argument he wrote ended up under the heading of the Morris Human Rights Commission as if it might reflect Commission sentiment.
If the HRC stands for anything, it stands for inclusiveness and the breaking down of barriers. So Miller's little thought piece ended up not going over very well. Apparently Mr. Miller wrote the item as sort of an internal assignment with the HRC, to encourage the exchange of ideas. He expected that if anything got published, there would be a "for/against" juxtaposition. There's a rather involved story but the end result is that Miller's thoughts were presented bare and unrebutted. It must have looked ridiculous.
Miller's opinion by itself should be respected. But it shouldn't be propped up under the imprimatur of the HRC. So Miller found himself in a spot of trouble through no fault of his own. Here's another argument for letting such debates flower and be resolved in our new information ecosystem of online, rather than in dinosaur newspapers.
Unfortunately a messy controversy developed on the pages of our newspaper, a newspaper whose official stand was that we should vote for Romney. Loser.
It's possible Miller's future in local politics could be impacted, although word of mouth could take over to provide the needed clarity. He has real enthusiasm for local government and for resolving local issues. He says he never submitted his thought piece directly to the Morris Sun Tribune. Since it was handled by other parties and presented in a format he would not have approved of, and contrary to his interests as a local politician, I'm not sure he wouldn't have legal recourse. I hope he explores this.
The controversy apparently spanned several issues of the newspaper which comes out weekly. I don't buy the paper. When I left employment at the paper I tried signing up for a subscription but they said "no, we'll just send it to you." A couple years later I got cut off. Then they started sending me the Ad-Viser as if I would actually want that. Seeing the Ad-viser in our mailbox was more annoying than seeing a hundred McNamar-Dutcher flyers there. I was able to get it canceled, thank the Lord.
Today I do all I can to promote a local online ecosystem of news, information and advertising. Such a system is in fact growing, albeit not as fast as I'd like.
Historical marker: Twinkie departs
These are historic times and the media have to play their proper role. We had the momentous re-election of Barack Obama. And even more important, the announcement that the Hostess Twinkie or the Ding Dong (or as Carol Burnett called it in a skit, the "Dong Ding") was done. We have seen Kodak film disappear. Soon all camera film may be gone. And now we're bereft of an American icon like the Twinkie.
Was it an urban legend that some Hostess Twinkies were found in an old WWII hideout or bunker and they were still edible? Boomers will remember that story. Whatever, we have learned to adjust to change, so we can find plenty of other junk food to jam into our system. When I was a kid there were no unlimited refills of soft drinks at McDonald's. Today we can fill ourselves with all the sugary water we want, although the New York City mayor is beginning some pushback on this. If any of this distresses you, just look into the northern lights sometime.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org