A Modern Modest Proposal

Brexit – the United Kingdom’s referendum vote to leave the European Union – has inspired crockpot ideas for a “Calexit” – California going it alone, or various combinations of Blue States leaving the Union. Some Texans believe that state has the right to secede, and should. Some states tried that in 1861. If you took U.S. History in high school, you may remember how that turned out. And there is the State of Jefferson, convinced it will become the 51st state.

Writer Kevin Baker has decided it is time for the Blue States to secede. Not formally, but by letting the conservatives realize their dreams and let their Red-State constituents enjoy all that freedom from taxation and government oppression.

“For more than 80 years now, we—the residents of what some people like to call Blue America, but which I prefer to think of as the United States of We Pay Our Own Damn Way—have shelled out far more in federal tax monies than we took in. We have funded massive infrastructure projects in your rural counties, subsidized your schools and your power plants and your nursing homes, sent you entire industries, and simultaneously absorbed the most destitute, unskilled, and oppressed portions of your populations, white and black alike.

“All of which, it turns out, only left you more bitter, white, and alt-right than ever.

“So here’s my modest proposal: “You go your way, we go ours.

“We give up. You win. From now on, we’ll treat the animating ideal on which the United States was founded—out of many, one—as dead and buried. Federalism, true federalism, which you have vilified for the past century, is officially over, at least in spirit. You want to organize the nation around your cherished principle of states’ rights—the idea that pretty much everything except the U.S. military and paper currency and the national anthem should be decided at the local level? Fine. We won’t formally secede, in the Civil War sense of the word. We’ll still be a part of the United States, at least on paper. But we’ll turn our back on the federal government in every way we can, just like you’ve been urging everyone to do for years, and devote our hard-earned resources to building up our own cities and states. We’ll turn Blue America into a world-class incubator for progressive programs and policies, a laboratory for a guaranteed income and a high-speed public rail system and free public universities. We’ll focus on getting our own house in order, while yours falls into disrepair and ruin.”

Read his entire rant, published in the New Republic.

How’s That Wall Coming?

Our President’s budget proposal designates $2.6 billion to design and begin to build the wall along the Mexican border. Estimates of cost to build the whole thing range as high as $25 billion. So far, no details on Mexico’s paying for it. (The simplest way, based on the history of Trump projects, would be to hire Mexican contractors and then not pay them.) The budget also requests money to hire twenty additional attorneys to pursue condemnation of privately-owned land for the wall. Some landowners in Texas have already received notices.

Congressman Henry Cuellar with constituents

Congressman Henry Cuellar, whose district includes 180 miles of the Texas-Mexico border has been hearing from his constituents, and they are not happy. Ninety percent of the Texas border is in private ownership. One constituent property has been in the family since a Spanish land grant in 1767. “Once the land is destroyed, it will never be the same,” the owner said. “We have oaks and mesquite that have been there for generations, foxes and other animals and an ecosystem that has been untouched.”

At the present, 670 miles are fenced. Only 1,263 to go.

A Meander Through the Neighborhood

The South Waterfront in Portland is a neighborhood in transition. Formerly a heavy industrial area – the attendant pollution has supposedly been cleaned – it now features high-rise condominiums and newly-constructed apartment buildings. Although a couple restaurants have come and gone, in the last few weeks three, count ‘em, three new pizza shops have opened. There is also a gourmet ice cream shop and a place selling four-dollar donuts.

A free-pizza grand opening had people lined up all day
Grilled cheese and hand-dipped corn dogs!








Health care for our four-legged friends
We take good care of our dog






Haven’t yet figured out what to do about dog urine








The neighborhood’s first auto dealer is getting ready to open and sell their electric cars


Zidell is building its last barge. They have concluded developing their waterfront property is more lucrative than building vessels. Food carts are now adjacent to their barge construction.

Zidell’s Emery Apartments – in the shadow of the Ross Island Bridge
Zidell’s last barge
Food carts moving in on barge construction


The neighborhood’s first homesteader

Lenten Travel and Dining Tip

Breitbach’s 2009

Breitbach’s Country Dining claims to be Iowa’s oldest dining establishment, in business since 1852. (Breitbach’s, unlike Breitbart, won’t give you indigestion.) As you travel the Great River Road, you’ll find Breitbach’s in Iowa, high above the Mississippi River, about halfway between Guttenberg and Dubuque.

Breitbach’s until 2007

Jacob Breitbach, who worked for the founding owner, purchased the business in 1862. It has been owned and operated by the family since then. The building itself is relatively new. The original structure burned in 2007. The restaurant has hosted luminaries such as Jesse James, George (Norm from “Cheers”) Wendt, Madonna and Brooke Shields.

Why report on this now? They are featuring a Friday-night seafood buffet during Lent. If you have a desire for deep-fried fresh catfish, here’s your place. They also promise their soup du jour will be meatless until Easter.