Category Archives: Politics

St. Paul Mayoral Endorsements

This year’s St. Paul mayoral race will once again feature ranked voting. There is no primary election–everyone who filed to run for office will be on the November general election ballot. Since there are ten candidates, it’s unlikely that any will get a majority on the first round. To make sure that your vote counts, you are allowed to vote for up to six candidates, and rank those candidates according to your preference.

For the official explanation of ranked voting, see the Ramsey County Elections website.

In the first round of counting, if one candidate gets a majority, then the race is over, and that candidate is the winner. This is the same as any other election. But that’s unlikely to happen. So the race will move to the second round. One candidate will be eliminated, and that candidate’s ballots will be physically removed from the count.

For the second round, the judges will take a look at the second choice of the removed ballots, and those ballots will be awarded to the voter’s second choice candidate.

Ballots are counted again, and another candidate is eliminated. This process continues until some candidate has a majority.

The key rules to remember are:

  1. If you really hate some candidate, then you should not vote for them at all. Even if you vote for them in last place, that is potentially a vote for them.
  2. Your second place vote will be considered only if your first choice has been eliminated from the race. Therefore, you should not vote for the same candidate twice. Your ballot will still be counted in the first round, but you do your candidate absolutely no good by voting more than once.  The election judges will only look at the second choice if your first choice is already eliminated.  And if you’re voting for someone who is already eliminated, the vote won’t count.
  3. Ranked voting gives you the opportunity to vote for someone you don’t think will win, without the proverbial risk of “throwing away your vote.” If your guy loses, then your second choice will still get your vote. And maybe your guy won’t lose.  So there is a strong incentive to vote for the person you really want, even if you don’t believe that they will win.  You’ll still get a chance to vote for your second choice.

Therefore, you are faced with coming up with a list of six candidates that you can live with, and you must rank them in order of preference. Since there are so many names, you might want to make a written list and bring it to the polling place. As long as you take your list home with you when you are done, this is perfectly acceptable.

And here is our list. We endorse the following candidates for mayor in the following order. We list only six, because that’s the maximum number we can vote for. The six on our list are better than the other four, in our opinion.

As explained below, here are our endorsements, in order:

  1. Chris Holbrook
  2. Tim Holden
  3. Trahern Crews
  4. Barnabas Joshua Yshua
  5. Sharon Anderson
  6. Dai Thao

You can find the list of all candidates at the Secretary of State website.

1. Chris Holbrook

Our first choice is state Libertarian party chair Chris Holbrook.  Did you vote for Gary Johnson for president in 2016?  We endorsed him, and I voted for him.  I talked to a lot of people who wanted to vote for him but didn’t, because they didn’t want to “waste their vote” by voting for someone they thought would lose.

I never quite understood this.  I thought the whole point of an election was to decide who was going to win, and you don’t know who wins until after people vote.  So not voting for someone just because they’re going to lose doesn’t make a lot of sense.  If you know to a certainty that your guy is going to lose, then you ought to just stay home.  And if the other guy is going to win anyway, then you also may as well just stay home.  But some people think this way, and that is their right.

But thanks to ranked voting, you no longer have to worry if your guy is going to lose.  If he does lose, then your vote still gets counted, because as soon as your guy is out of the running, then they immediately count your second choice.  And maybe your guy won’t lose!

So if you toyed with the idea of voting for Gary Johnson, here’s your chance.  Johnson even endorsed Holbrook in 2014 when Holbrook ran for governor.  Holbrook isn’t spending any money on the campaign.  He’s not putting up signs.  He’s not knocking on doors.  But it’s about time that we elect a libertarian.

2. Tim Holden

pictureOf the remaining candidates, we believe that Tim Holden best supports our fiscally conservative  and free-market principles.  Over the past decades, politicians have been quick to jump on board with programs that amount to welfare for millionaires.  Whether it’s trains or stadiums, we believe that Holden is the least likely of the remaining candidates to advocate raiding the public treasury to finance some private business venture.

3. Trahern Crews

Our third choice is Trahern Crews.  We probably differ with him politically on a great many issues, such as his support of the $15 minimum wage.  But it does appear that Crews has a true heart for the poor, rather than just giving the poor lip service, which seems to be the norm these days.  He opposed property tax exemptions for a private stadium, and he’s expressed skepticism toward organized trash collection, saying that he favors the free market.

We have no doubt that he will serve honorably if elected, and his proven reputation as a peacemaker in the community indicates that he will be respectful of opposing viewpoints.

4. Barnabas Joshua Yshua

We still have three slots we need to fill in order to complete our ballot.  We don’t like many of the other candidates, but we conclude that perhaps Barnabas Joshua Yshua will rise to the occasion if St. Paul voters decide that he should be their mayor.  Mr. Yshua is a resident of St. Paul’s Union Gospel Mission.  He’s never held public office.

But he’s never voted in favor of running taxpayer funded trains down the middle of the street.  He’s never voted in favor of using tax dollars to build a stadium for billionaire owners or millionaire players.  And we hope he never will.  He says that he has no political agenda other than helping others.  We have no reason do doubt him, and without hesitation, he is our fourth choice for mayor.

5. Sharon Anderson

Perennial Candidate Sharon Anderson. MSPVotes photo.

We still have two more slots to fill.  The name Sharon Anderson has been on virtually every election ballot in Minnesota since the 1970’s.  One year, she won the primary and became the Republican candidate for attorney general, presumably because her name was the same as a popular television personality.  In press reports, Ms. Anderson’s name is almost always prefaced with the phrase “perennial candidate.”  If you look up “perennial candidate” in the dictionary, you will probably see her picture.  I’ve never voted for her before in my life, despite her name appearing on countless ballots.  But there’s a first time for everything, and this year I’ll vote for her, because she is better than the other five candidates.  She is my fifth choice to serve as mayor of St. Paul.  I have no reason to believe that she will not serve honorably if elected, although I’m sure her tenure in office will be colorful.

6.  Dai Thao

By the time we get to our sixth choice, we have to start dealing with the DFL, and we recognize that the DFL has made a mess of Minnesota politics.  So we need to start thinking about the least worst of the remaining candidates. After giving the matter serious consideration, we conclude that Dai Thao is the least worst, and he is our sixth choice for mayor of St. Paul.  He’s been accused of bribery, but the alleged conduct doesn’t strike us as being much worse than is typical of DFL politicians.  Thao’s problem in that case seems to be that he was a bit indelicate in how he expressed the kind of proposition that many politicians engage in on a regular basis.  At the very least, as a Hmong American, Thao does bring some needed diversity to city hall.  In short, he’s better than the other four candidates.  So through the magic of ranked voting, we have an opportunity to vote against those other four.  Thao is our sixth choice for mayor.

This page was prepared and paid for by Richard P. Clem, and is not approved by any candidate or candidate’s committee.



Justice William O. Douglas, 1947

1947Feb24Life

Shown here 70 years ago at the soda fountain of a drug store near the U.S. Supreme Court is Associate Justice William O. Douglas.

The 17 year old soda jerk serving him is his daughter, Mildred Douglas, and the picture appeared in the February 24, 1947, issue of Life magazine. According to the magazine, she was somewhat abashed by the publicity, and announced that she took the job for the money, earning 65 cents per hour. Her younger brother, Bill, 14, had a paper route.

Douglas was four times married and three times divorced. He divorced Mildred’s mother, also named Mildred, in 1953.  The children were subsequently estranged from their father, and the younger Mildred was later quoted as saying that the Justice “never talked to us like we were people” that “when he got angry at us, which was often over the slightest things, he would simply not speak to us for days on end,” and that she “didn’t like him very much because of the way he treated my mother.”

When the elder Mildred died, the Justice was not immediately informed, since neither sibling felt the desire to inform him.



Pres. Trump’s Mad Scientist Uncle

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Prof. John G. Trump. Wikiepdia photo.

One of our loyal readers posted a link to a conspiracy buff website pointing out a connection between President Donald Trump and, of all people, Nikola Tesla.  Since most internet mentions of Nikola Tesla turn out to be unfounded (or at least unprovable) conspiracy theories, I approached with a bit of skepticism.

I express no opinion as to the conspiracy in question (that the Trump family is involved in a long standing conspiracy to suppress certain Tesla inventions).  But I was shocked to learn that there was indeed a connection!  President Trump’s uncle, John G. Trump, was a noted professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT, and appears to have spent his career working on the same kinds of high-voltage mad scientist devices that Tesla was famous for.  At the time of Tesla’s death in 1943, the U.S. Government had to go through all of Tesla’s possessions and papers, in order to see whether there was anything worthwhile to the war effort.  Among those they called in to sift through them was none other than Professor Trump.

After his father’s death, John Trump initially went into the real estate business with his brother, Fred Trump, the father of the future president.  Fixing up old houses wasn’t to his liking, so he instead pursued a degree in electrical engineering. He he received his bachelor’s degree from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1929. He followed up with a master’s degree in Physics from Columbia, and in 1933 he received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT). He was on the MIT faculty from 1936 until his retirement in 1973.

Before the war, much of Prof. Trump’s work focused on hospital X-ray machines. Together with Robert J. Van de Graaff (of Van de Graaff generator fame), he developed one of the first million-volt X-ray generators.

As might be expected of the kind of scientist who played around with a million volts, Professor Trump made the pages of Popular Science on three occasions.

1937AprPSFor example, the April 1937 issue discusses the X-ray machine shown here.  It was designed by Prof. Trump along with Dr. Richard Dresser.  It employs a Van de Graaff generator to produce the required million volts.

And in keeping with his apparent status as a mad scientist, Prof. Trump needed a subject on which he could perform his experiments.  The lucky subject is described in the magazine’s July 1949 issue.  In the photo below, Professor Trump (left, operating the controls) is shown conducting experiments on “Mr. Cruikshank” (shown resting comfortably on the machine), a carefully constructed mannequin.

1949JulPS

Professor Trump preparing to send three million volts through Mr. Cruikshank.

Unlike human subjects, Mr. Cruikshank could have film inserted directly in his body to examine the effects of powerful X-rays. Prof. Trump had tested him with three million volts, and he was on the way to Massachussets General Hospital for comparison with the effects of a more modest 250,000 volt machine.

Finally, the magazine’s May 1947 issue mentions Prof. Trump’s work with the Van de Graaff generator as a possible method to directly and conveniently harvest nuclear energy.

 

 

References

 

 

 



Dutch Reagan, WHO 1936

1936nov14radioguide

Eighty years ago today, the November 14, 1936 issue of Radio Guide carried a profile of the man who would, 44 years later, be elected President of the United States, Dutch Reagan.

As recounted by the magazine, Ronald Reagan walked into WOC radio in Davenport, Iowa, in 1932, looking for a job. The station was at the time synchronized with WHO Des Moines. The program director, Peter MacArthur, asked if he knew anything about football. When Reagan answered in the affirmative, MacArthur told him to stand by a microphone and imagine that he was at a game. The program director listened amazed for fifteen minutes before telling Reagan, “you’re broadcasting the Iowa-Minnesota game!”

When WOC and WHO split in 1932, Reagan went with WHO, where he broadcast the Chicago games by telegraphic report.

The article describes the future president:

He is over six feet tall with the pro- verbial Greek -god physique: broad – shouldered, slim-waisted and a face that would make Venus look twice before running to her man Zeus! And then he can talk, too.  Dutch has a smooth -running “gift o’ gab” which never seems to falter, never is at loss for the right word. In short, he has quick wit and a nimble vocabulary, and large, too.

It noted that during his days at Eureka College, where he lettered in several sports, he never allowed anyone to call him Ronald, even though it was his name.  The magazine also seemed to think that the young announcer had a future:

But there are new things beckoning. One is a career with the networks.
Like any ambitious announcer, Dutch, who never uses quotation marks about his name, has high hopes toward becoming the Husing or the McNamee of the airwaves, 1937 style. Watch him; he’s stream-lined. He might do it.



Editorial Endorsement: Gary Johnson for President

Today, we interrupt our normal programming and announce our endorsement for President of the United States.

I am a lifelong Republican, and have voted for every Republican nominee since Ronald Reagan in 1980. In some cases, I cast my vote enthusiastically. In other cases, I only reluctantly voted for the nominee. But in each case, I believed that the nominee more or less reflected the principles of the party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. I am also a card-carrying Republican, both as a precinct officer and delegate to the Minnesota state Republican convention (although the party would certainly be within its rights to remove me for publishing this endorsement.)

For the first time in 36 years, I will be voting for someone other than a Republican for the nation’s highest office. This year, I will be voting for the Libertarian nominee, Gary Johnson. It is with a certain amount of sadness, but also with hopefulness, that I publicly endorse him.

Obviously, this amounts to a vote against Trump, and I want to explain why I am voting against him. It is not because I subscribe to the conventional wisdom and believe that Trump is Another Hitler, because I don’t think he is. I might be wrong, but it seems to me equally likely that Hillary Clinton would actually turn out to be the Another Hitler. I don’t think she is either, but it’s just about as likely.

The real reason I’m voting against Donald Trump is because he fails to embody the principles for which the Republican Party has stood for over 150 years. First and foremost, the Republican Party is the party of Liberty–and that includes both personal and civil liberties as well as economic liberty. A free people best govern themselves when personal decisions are left to the individual, with an absolute minimum of government coercion.  That’s what Republicans believe, and it’s what I’ve always believed.

In the economic realm, this means that every person should be able to succeed or fail on his or her own merits. And as a conservative, I believe that the Free Market is in the least worst way of determining who should succeed and who should fail. If there’s no market for my product or service, then the public is best served if I fail and abandon that product or service in favor of another. My resources and my talents are wasted if I devote them to something the public neither wants nor needs. And the best way to deliver that message to me is to have consumers stop patronizing me.

If another casino is what we need, then the free market should bear that out for someone who wants to take the risk to open one.  But the full coercive power of government shouldn’t be called upon to decide that a casino is the highest and best use for private property.

I have no doubt that Donald Trump was a successful businessman. But he did not become a success by means of the free market. For the most part, he became successful because of what are euphemistically called “public-private partnerships,” or what we used to call Mercantilism. (Or what we could call Fascism, as the word was originally defined.)  He was successful because the full coercive power of the state sided with him. Perhaps another real estate developer would have been more successful, but we will never know that. The other real estate investor didn’t get the imprimatur of the regulators.

Hillary Clinton is no better. The only difference is that she sat on the other side of the table in many a “public-private partnership.” Her attitude is best exemplified in a 1993 quote in which she said, “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized entrepreneur in America.” This was in reference to whether health-care mandates would drive small businesses out of business. It didn’t matter to her, because she dismissed those businesses as “undercapitalized.” But they are undercapitalized only because they are not established players in a given industry. I used to believe the Democrats when they said that they cared for the little person in the fight against big business. But I started to notice that the largest established players in any given industry tend to favor greater government regulation. This is because the established players can bear the costs of overregulation, unlike their “undercapitalized” competitors and startups. It’s merely another way in which the government is able to pick winners and losers. The established competitor is favored by regulation, and innovative newcomers are locked out of the market.

There’s only one logical choice for President, and that is someone who exemplifies those principles that the Republican Party once stood for, and that choice is Gary Johnson. He’s a fiscal conservative, but more importantly, be believes in both personal liberty and economic liberty. He was a successful businessman, not because he received a favored position in a “public-private partnership,” but because he provided goods and services that the public wanted.

I don’t agree with Gary Johnson on every issue. Fortunately, however, he is not running to be the absolute dictator; he is merely running for President of the United States. He cannot act unilaterally on most issues. And critically, he seems to understand the Constitutional limitations of his office and would not act unilaterally.

I won’t catalog every issue on which I disagree, but I will mention the most troubling. Gary Johnson is apparently pro-choice. I am pro-life, and I believe that the state has a legitimate duty to protect innocent human life. To the extent that President Johnson acts in accordance with his stated principles, I will oppose him.

But I’m also aware that the President of the United States does not perform abortions, nor does he order that they be performed. He has no power to permit or outlaw abortion. Donald Trump claims to be pro-life (although he declared himself to be staunchly pro-choice in the past).  But whether or not the president is pro-life has little effect on whether innocent lives will be slaughtered. The nation’s policy on abortion should be, in my opinion, properly vested in the state legislatures, who have legislated criminal codes since before the beginning of the Republic. The policy is currently vested (improperly, in my opinion), in the judiciary. But it’s not currently vested in the federal executive branch, nor should it be. So in a sense, whether or not Gary Johnson is pro-life is irrelevant. More importantly, as a proponent of limited government, Johnson himself should see it as irrelevant to his office.

Donald Trump’s sole redeeming quality is his apparent willingness to appoint conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. For example, one of the names that is allegedly on his short list is that of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras.  As a committed federalist, Stras, or someone like him, would be an excellent choice for the nation’s high court. Again, Trump’s pledge to nominate someone like Stras is the candidate’s sole redeeming quality.

But frankly, I don’t trust Donald Trump enough to vote for him based upon one single pledge. And given Gary Johnson’s apparent willingness to embrace the U.S. Constitution, I do trust him to appoint constitutionalist judges, even if he has not yet named names.

Roe v. Wade won’t be overruled by the executive branch, no matter how zealously pro-life the president happens to be. And it certainly won’t be overruled just because the candidate says that he’s pro-life, despite a long history of saying that he’s pro-choice. In my opinion, Roe v. Wade is a constitutional aberration that ought to be overruled. I believe that a constitutionalist judge would agree if the issue were squarely presented. And I believe that Gary Johnson is the most likely presidential candidate to appoint constitutionalist judges.

In short, Gary Johnson is not a perfect candidate. But he is the closest to a perfect candidate that I’ve seen in the past 20 years. More than any other candidate in the race, he best exemplifies the values of the Republican Party, whether or not he bears that label.

And no, I don’t believe that I am “wasting” my vote by voting for Gary Johnson. I have never voted for a candidate merely because I though he or she was going to win. In fact, as a Republican in a staunchly Democratic state, I rarely vote for the winning candidate. For example, I don’t believe that I have ever voted for a candidate for the state legislature who actually won. In every single legislative race since 1980, I have voted for the loser every single time.  For 18 straight elections, I have consistently voted for the losing candidate.  I’ve volunteered for losing candidates, knowing full well that they were going to lose.  I’ve even served as the campaign treasurer for a losing candidate, knowing full well that she was going to lose.  But I never considered my vote wasted. The purpose of the whole exercise is to determine who the majority supports.  And for that process to work, the people voting for the minority candidate must see their candidate lose.

This year, it’s quite likelty that I’ll be voting for the losing candidate for President.   But that’s nothing new for me.  Even if I do vote for the loser, I won’t consider my vote wasted.

However, I am not convinced that Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be the next President. I’m not the only person who believes that there should be another choice. I’ve seen as many Gary Johnson signs as I have seen signs for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. I’ve seen more support for Gary Johnson on social media than I’ve seen for either of the other candidates. If all of those people vote for Gary Johnson, then he might win. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy to vote against him merely because he will lose.

It seems unlikely that Gary Johnson will be the winner as of election night. But it seems quite plausible to me that he will carry enough states to deprive either of the other candidates a majority in the Electoral College. If that happens, then our Constitution calls for the President to be selected by the House of Representatives, voting by State. In that case, the House will be called upon to select the President from among the top three in the Electoral College. In that scenario, it seems likely that Johnson would be elected, as the only palatable compromise candidate. No Democrat is going to vote for Donald Trump, and very few Republicans are going to vote for Hillary Clinton. Johnson is probably the only candidate who can win. Or to put it another way, members of the House would be wasting their vote by casting it for either Trump or Clinton.

Currently, Gary Johnson has more endorsements by major newspapers than Donald Trump. Most recently, the Chicago Tribune endorsed Johnson. For whatever its worth, OneTubeRadio.com now joins them in endorsing Gary Johnson for President.

Tomorrow, we return to our normally scheduled programming, consisting of pictures of old radios.

This page was prepared and paid for by Richard P. Clem. This page is not endorsed by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Minnesota attorney Richard P. Clem is solely responsible for the content of this page.

Click Here For Today’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon



Endorsements: Craig Foss for Minnesota Supreme Court, Ryan for Congress, in the August 9 Primary

I’m sure most OneTubeRadio.com readers have been eagerly waiting for my endorsement for the contested Minnesota Supreme Court seat, so here it is.

There are three candidates running in the primary election. Voters are asked to vote for one candidate. One will be eliminated from the race, and the remaining two candidates will appear on the November ballot. This is the only statewide primary election.

The incumbent is Justice Natalie Hudson, who was appointed to the bench in 2015 by Governor Dayton. Prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court, she served from 2002-2015 on the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and before that as an Asistant Attorney General. She began her legal career in 1982 as a staff attorney for Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services. I will probably be voting for Justice Hudson in the November general election. You can read her response to questions by the Minnesota State Bar Association at this link.

Justice Hudson faces two challengers, Craig Foss and Michelle MacDonald.

Mr. Foss unashamedly states that he wants to become an appellate judge because “the demand for legally blind attorneys is not high. So I decided to see if I could get elected to a job.” He is a duly licensed attorney in the State of Minnesota, and has been since 1995.  He therefore meets the minimum legal and constitutional requirements for the position he seeks.

Ms. MacDonald is also a duly licensed attorney and has been since 1987.  Therefore, she also meets the minimum legal and constitutional requirements to appear on the ballot.  Ms. MacDonald also ran for Supreme Court in 2014 and sought, and obtained, the Republican endorsement. I was present at the 2014 state Republican convention when she was nominated, without discussion, after the now dissolved judicial elections committee recommended her nomination. (For the record, I did not vote for her during the otherwise unanimous voice vote.) Unfortunately, the committee recommended her without disclosing that she was then facing criminal charges. She was ultimately found guilty of some (but not all) of those charges. When her criminal charges came to light, the party backpedaled its support and refused to offer her a spot at the Minnesota State Fair. Ms. MacDonald showed up anyway and created a scene.

In 2016, she once again sought the Republican endorsement. This time, with her record known to all of the convention delegates, the party wisely decided not to endorse. In fact, it went a step further and disbanded the judicial nomination committee.  I voted with the majority on both of those votes.

For these reasons, I recommend voting against Ms. MacDonald in the upcoming primary. It is very likely that Justice Hudson, because of her incumbent status, will be one of the two top votegetters in the August 9 primary. Therefore, to ensure that Ms. MacDonald does not appear on the November ballot, I will be voting for Craig Foss. There will be two candidates in the November general election. In my opinion, Ms. MacDonald does not have the required judicial temperament to serve on the state’s high court. On the other hand, I have no reason to believe that Mr. Foss would not serve fairly and impartially. Indeed, his disability would probably bring an unrepresented point of view to the high court. I doubt if I’ll vote for him in November, but if he’s elected, I have every reason to believe that he will take his position seriously and will serve with distinction. He would not be an embarrassment to the state or to the legal profession.

Therefore, I endorse Craig Foss for Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court in the August 9 primary election.

I also endorse Greg Ryan in the Republican primary for U.S. Congress in the 4th District (St. Paul area).

Attorney Richard P. Clem is solely responsible for the content of this page. This page is prepared and paid for by Richard P. Clem, and is not paid for by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Flag Day 1916

The flag of the United States was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777, and Flag Day had been celebrated in many places on June 14. But it was a hundred years ago today when it began as a national observance in a big way. In preparation for leading the United States into the European war, President Wilson officially proclaimed June 14, 1916 as Flag Day. The event was marked by a massive parade led by the President, shown here. Billed as a “Preparedness Parade,” Wilson, wearing a straw hat, led the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, where he sat in review. According to the Washington Times, “with shoulders thrown back and head erect, President Wilson, carrying a large silken flag, marched on foot today at the head of Washington’s Preparedness Parade.”

At the White House, a reviewing stand, decked in patriotic colors, had been set up, and the President and his party reviewed the parade as the 60,000 participants passed.

The two in the picture in top hats were the President’s Secret Service detail.

Not surprisingly, Amateur Radio Operators were among those taking part in the Preparedness Parade.  As shown here in the order of the parade from the previous day’s Washington Herald, they marched just ahead of the Banks and Trust Companies.

1914ParadeOrder

Click Here For Today’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon



 

NPOTA: North Country Scenic Trail, Jay Cooke State Park, MN

JayCookeToday, I did a National Parks On the Air (NPOTA) activation of the North Country National Scenic Trail, a hiking trail that extends from eastern New York to North Dakota.  My operating location was in Jay Cooke State Park, Minnesota, about 25 miles south of Duluth.  My operating location is shown here.  The radio itself, my  Yaesu FT-817, is barely visible propped up by the bright blue canvas bag, in front of the dark blue bag.  The 12 volt battery is on top of the bright red bag, and my lunch is inside the dark red bag.  The cable going up to my antenna is visible, but the antenna, a 20 meter dipole tied to trees with string, while in the frame, is not visible.

During NPOTA, amateur radio operators set up portable stations at National Park units and make contact with other amateurs at home.  The event has been very popular, and there have been hundreds of thousands of contacts made from the parks.  Since the event includes all units of the National Park Service, the North Country Trail qualifies as a “National Park,” allowing me to operate from one of the Minnesota state parks crossed by the trail.

During today’s activation, I managed only four contacts, the furthest being Mississippi.  According to the Reverse Beacon Network, my signal was getting out.  Unfortunately, many chasers don’t bother looking for stations.  They wait until they’re spotted on the internet, and then work them.  So making that first contact can be a challenge.  Since I was only there for a brief stop over lunch, I didn’t bother persisting to make six more contacts.  But I’ll be operating from this spot again on June 5 as part of the Light Up The Trail event being done in conjunction with NPOTA.  During that event, stations will be set up at various locations along the North Country Trail.  I decided to do a trial run today, since I’m in Duluth to present a Continuing Legal Education program on Friday morning, and then serving as a delegate to the Minnesota Republican State Convention on Friday and Saturday.

The swing bridge at Jay Cooke State Park was washed away.

2012 flooding of bridge. USGS photo.

Swinging Bridge prior to 2012 flood. Wikipedia photo.

Jay Cooke State Park was originally created in 1915 by a donation of land from the St. Louis Power Company. It remained undeveloped until the 1930’s, when the Civilian Conservation Corps built many of the park’s structures, including the iconic Swinging Bridge over the St. Louis River. The bridge was destroyed by flooding in 2012 but subsequently rebuilt according to the original plans. As you can see from the picture at the top of the page, my operating location was near the bridge and near the River Inn visitor center in the picture shown below, also constructed by the CCC.  The North Country Trail passes over the Swinging Bridge, putting my operating location well within the 50 yards from the trail required by the NPOTA rules.

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River Inn Visitor Center, Jay Cooke State Park. Wikipedia photo.

This stretch of the St. Louis River consists of a long rapids impossible to traverse by canoe. Therefore, both Native Americans and Europeans portaged around the rapids, and this portage remained in use until the 1870’s.

Starting in the 17th century, the portage was used heavily by fur traders, since it formed part of the route from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River basin.  The voyageurs had to traverse the 6.5 mile portage through the area, carrying two or three packs weighing about 90 pounds each.  It took three to five days to cross the portage, and the voyageurs doing so would be covered with mud and insect bites.  My activation today was not quite so strenuous.  It required me to carry my complete station, including battery, radio, and antennas, weighing a total of about 10 pounds, a total of about 100 yards from the parking lot to the picnic area.  And even though I got mostly skunked, I bet the voyageurs who traversed the area a few centuries ago would never dream that it would someday be possible to toss a wire into a tree and talk halfway across the continent with a piece of equipment that would have made only a small dent in their 90 pound packs.

Click Here For Today’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon



 

POTUS to Military: Read The Bible

FDRBible

Imagine the outrage that would ensue if the President of the United States penned the following words, knowing that they would be distributed to most members of the Armed Forces:

To the Armed Forces:

As Commander-in-Chief, I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul.

But on this day 75 years ago, the Commander in Chief did exactly that.  This personal message by FDR was included in a pocket Gideon Bible (New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs) distributed to military members.  And apparently no outrage ensued.




Battle of Fort Rivière, 1915

Battle of Fort Rivière. USMC image.

Battle of Fort Rivière. USMC image.

A hundred years ago today, November 17, 1915, the United States fought the Battle of Fort Rivière.  Chances are, most Americans have never heard of this battle, even though it resulted in three Medals of Honor being awarded to U.S. marines or sailors.

Among the Medal of Honor recipients was then-Major, later General Smedley Darlington Butler, who led the U.S. forces in the battle, which was part of the U.S. occupation of Haiti, which had begun on July 28, 1915.  The occupation had been motivated by two factors.  Those factors overlap a great deal, and historians have debated the relative importance of each.  First of all, there was a need to protect U.S. commercial interests in Haiti.  The country had potential with agriculture, minerals, and ports.  American interests were hampered by, among other things, the fact that foreigners were not allowed to own property.

The other concern was German influence in the Western Hemisphere, and the United States viewed Germany as having too much influence in Haiti.  While the German population was quite small, it did have a very great commercial influence, since a very large portion of the commercial activity was controlled by German families with strong ties to the old country.  Also, the Germans were more willing to marry in to prominent Mulatto families, thus skirting the property ownership laws.

President Wilson sent in the marines in July, and the largest battle took place on November 17 as U.S. sailors and marines stormed an old French fort where the peasant rebels were holed up.  The battle against the poorly equipped rebels was over quickly.  Over 50 rebels were killed.  The only U.S. casualty was a marine who had two teeth knocked out by a rock thrown at him by one of the rebels.  While a few later skirmishes took place, this was the decisive battle.

Under the occupation, Haiti adopted a new constitution written by then-Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt.  It gave U.S. officials more or less absolute veto power over acts of the Haitian government, and also guaranteed foreigners the right to own property.

The occupation did have the result of modernizing Haiti.  For example, Port-au-Prince became the first location in the Caribbean to have an automated dial telephone system.  Also, Haiti had radio broadcasting as early as 1926, as reported in the February 26, 1927, issue of Radio World.

General Smedley Butler

An adult male looking to the right in a military uniform; military ribbons are visible.

General Smedley Butler. Wikipedia photo.

As a result of the battle, Butler received the first of his two Medals of Honor, and he went on to become, at the time, the nation’s most decorated military hero, and made a name for himself two other times off the battlefield.

The first was in in 1934 when he testified before the House Special Committee on Un-American Activities, revealing what came to be known as the “Business Plot.”

He testified that he had been called upon by business leaders to lead a march of veterans on Washington, at which point he would stage a coup against President Roosevelt. Roosevelt would be kept on as a puppet figure, with Butler wielding most of the power. Butler had been a key figure in earlier marches by veterans, was respected as a military leader, and the conspirators, most of whose names were never publicly revealed, planned to use Butler as their puppet, so he testified.

The Committee, and the American press, generally dismissed Butler’s testimony as an implausible conspiracy theory.  The phrase “tinfoil hat” hadn’t yet been coined, but if it had, it probably would have been applied to Butler.  Compounding the problem was that Butler seemingly hadn’t named any names, although this wasn’t entirely true.  He had named names, but since most of his allegations amounted to hearsay, the Committee had refused to make them public.

The most plausible explanation, it seems to me, is that there was indeed a conspiracy to overthrow the government, and that Butler was approached to lead it. It doesn’t appear that he had any motive to fabricate the story. However, it also seems likely to me that the conspiracy wasn’t as large as he was led to believe by those who approached him.

In 1935, based upon his experiences as a career military officer, Butler published “War is a Racket,” a widely-distributed pamphlet in which he argues that war is, indeed, a racket, which he summarized as follows:

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

Butler’s recommendation was to make war unprofitable by conscripting soldiers only after conscripting capital.  Of course, the naysayers would say that this runs roughshod over private property which, of course, it does.  But conscription of soldiers also runs roughshod over their own personal liberties, so the idea doesn’t strike me as too farfetched.  Butler also recommended that the declaration of war be done not by congress, but by a referendum of those subject to service, and also a restriction of the military to self-defense only.

The book is available online at numerous places, including archive.org.

 

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