Even though my Grandpa Konola’s birthday was December 15, I always remember him around the Winter Solstice. That’s because he was the first person to explain to me how the stars move in the sky, depending on what time of year it is, and how the earth revolves around the sun. I like remembering him when I celebrate the fact that we are rushing headlong into spring.
My grandfather was a very formal man. I don’t ever remember seeing him without a fedora hat, dress shirt, khaki pants, cardigan sweater and bolo tie, unless he was getting ready to go to work. He worked the same job for 50 years—running a hoist at the Homestake Mine in Lead, South Dakota. The chair that he worked from was a lot like the command post occupied by Captain Kirk on the Spaceship Enterprise. The chair was larger than most chairs, sat on a pedestal, and was surrounded by controls.
But Grandpa didn’t spend his whole life in Lead. He was in the Navy, on a submarine in World War I. I was an adult before I gave much thought to that. Submarines were little more than floating tin cans during World War I. What was a man from South Dakota doing in the Navy in the first place, and what was he doing on such a dangerous ship? I never asked him that. But I do know that he was a navigator, which means that I should have listened a lot more closely to his lectures about the stars.
Douglas Bruce, Criminal
The father of the TABOR amendment was convicted yesterday of failing to pay taxes. I spent lots of time blogging about Bruce when he spent 30 days trying to avoid a summons from the court. It is no secret that Bruce hates paying taxes—that’s what his passion for the TABOR amendment was all about. He owns rundown rental properties in Colorado Springs that he doesn’t like spending any money on—whether it is for maintenance or for taxes. Aparently he has equal contempt for our judicial system.
The prosecutor in this case, Assistant Attorney General Robert Shapiro had this to say, “"If he persists in his contempt for the court system, we'll ask for the proper sentence... Mr. Bruce, for personal, selfish and narcissistic reasons, took advantage of our charitable-giving process. He was able to cheat Colorado for the better part of a decade."
Bruce, who could be sentenced to many years in jail, has said that he will appeal his conviction. Evidently he represented himself in the case, and jurors said that he might have been better served if he had sought legal counsel. He didn’t seem to know Colorado’s procedural rules, and frequently irritated the judge with his arguments. Legal mistakes on the part of the prosecutor are legitimate grounds for appeal; I’m not sure that contempt for law is.
Republicans Get Spanked by the Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal, now owned by Rupert Murdoch, wrote an editorial chastising the GOP for their stance on the extension of the payroll tax holiday. I never thought I’d live long enough to see that day. Murdoch also owns Fox News, and is known for his anything goes style of journalism—in fact he’s in a lot of hot water in England over some of the practices at his papers.
The Winter Solstice is bringing a lot of joy to me! I have fond memories of my grandfather. Douglas Bruce is a convicted felon, who can’t vote while he is in jail. The Wall Street Journal thinks the GOP has been taken over by the Ringling Brother’s Circus. Quite a day!
Winter Solstice 2011
Wall Street Journal Editorial
Murdoch's Legal Problems