March, 2012

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#546 – Dick Bernard: BULLIED. Jamie Nabozny and a panel of experts: A unique opportunity to learn about the issue of Bullying. Saturday evening, April 28, in Roseville MN.

Friday, March 30th, 2012

The issue of Bullying has been a very high profile one recently. Here is a unique opportunity to learn more.

Saturday, April 28, 7 p.m. at St. Michael’s Church in Roseville MN (map here), there will be a unique opportunity to hear not only from a nationally known speaker on the issue of bullying, Jamie Nabozny, but to hear a responder panel of people with expertise in various aspects of the issue, comment on their perspectives on the issue.

Parents and students are especially encouraged to attend.

All details are in pdf format here.

Full disclosure: I am a member of the Board of World Citizen, the organization sponsoring the event. Our focus is on more peaceful relationships between people, in schools.

When Jamie Nabozny was recommended as our speaker, I was not aware of who he was. I have come to learn that he has an extraordinary story and he presents it extraordinarily well.

As Jim Smrokovich, Principal at Grand Rapids MN High School, and President of Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals affirmed in a March 6, 2012 e-mail to me and his colleagues (reprinted with permission): “I just had Jamie Nabozny at my school. We showed the video during our advisory period prior to Jamie coming to our school. You could have heard a pin drop while the students watched this tragic story. Jamie then came to our school and it was by far the best presentation that I have ever brought to a student body in the 13 years that I have been a principal. I highly recommend this to our Minnesota schools. We had over 100 students contact Jamie the day after the presentation on Facebook. We now also have a group of teachers meeting to determine ways to keep the message alive.”

Confirmed panelists for April 28 Julie Blaha, President of teacher union Anoka Hennepin Education Minnesota; Scott Dibble – MN State Senator; Heather KilgorePACER/National Bullying Prevention Center; Shiloh O’Rourke – Senior, Bloomington Jefferson High School. World Citizen Board Member Michael Bergman will moderate the Panel. The evening will be rich in content with a great opportunity to both gather information and hear assorted points of view.

All details are at the above referenced pdf. In summary: On April 28th, 2012 at 7 pm, World Citizen and Jamie Nabozny are hosting a presentation, film screening, and conversation with educators and experts at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church at 1660 County Road B West in Roseville (just west of Har Mar Mall). Everyone is welcome to attend. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults. Those who are interested can learn more and RSVP online here, or call 651-695-2587.

(click to enlarge below poster)

#545 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #6. Continuing #4 Voter Suppression Amendment

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

(#4 is here.)

Tuesday I was at the Capitol to deliver personal letters in opposition to Voter Suppression as embodied in HF 2738. Enroute there I stopped at the office of the Secretary of State and picked up a Voter Registration form, which is here: MN Voter Registration001

Print out this form, get to know it, well, and start to exercise it with people you know who tend to be slow to getting around to these kinds of things. This is about as simple a process as there is. But it is a process.

There is no reason for the constitutional amendments to pass, IF people get out to vote and pay reasonably close attention to the implications of the issues. The amendments do not go into effect until after they are adopted. And there is still time to urge your legislators to vote no.

Tuesday I happened to be in the Capitol as an AFSCME rally was concluding. There was a sea of public workers, apparently at a lobby day. As I entered the Capitol the loudest chants I’ve ever heard there were pealing through the Capitol. I thought to myself, this is what we, the people, look like. This was a demonstration worthy of notice.

On the way out, an apparent spokesperson for AFSCME was being interviewed. Congratulations to AFSCME and to her, specifically.

At the Minnesota Capitol rotunda March 27, 2012

Back to the proposed Voter Suppression Amendment to the MN Constitution:

Here is a response concerning #4:

Spencer Jay Reppe: The most misleading promotion of the amendment always speaks to the showing of a photo ID. Though this poses problems for a great many registered voters, the real travesty of this amendment is the clause “substantially equivalent eligibility verification”. This simple clause places 500,000-600,000 Election Day Registrations into jeopardy, which I feel is the real target of the amendment. They will have to go into a pool of “Provisional Ballots” that will need to be verified over a period of weeks or months after the election. Municipalities are not staffed to handle such a wall of paper and have neither the resources nor the budget to manage the task. Furthermore, it places the election judges, who for the most part are volunteer citizens who simply want to help in the election process, into being “polling policemen”. It is a role many will not want to take on. This amendment will not expand voting rights to one single voter, but rather, it will take voting rights away for thousands of registered voters, as well as thousands of same-day registrants. The selling of this amendment is dishonest, a sham and needs to be challenged to the nth degree. [Spencer indicates that Lori Sturdevant’s column in the Sunday Minneapolis Star Tribune is especially good on this issue. It is here.]

Dick: Again, no proposed amendments to the Constitution will pass if people get out to vote, and say they don’t want the amendments to go into effect. But the need is to get out and vote in November.

In order to give some personal context to the potential effect of this amendment, I decided to review my own election history, going back 50 years. This is a useful exercise for anyone who thinks that amendments like this make no difference to them, personally:

The issue in this bill is much more disenfranchisement on Election Day, than on Voter ID. The intent is to decrease turnout of people like us by making voting less convenient. The issue is not crooks – never has been. It is voter suppression.

I’ve been eligible to vote for over 50 years – I turned 21 in 1961, so I wasn’t eligible to vote in 1960. Since then I’ve been an almost ‘religious’ voter. I very rarely miss an election, even a mid-term one.

A few days ago I decided to relive those 25 biennial election days, just to get an idea of elections I participated in, or might have missed. It’s an exercise you might do for yourself. You might find that the odds favor your missing an election even if you intended to participate.

My first election I was in the Army, and most likely didn’t even think of voting for anybody. I was in Colorado and I was a resident of North Dakota. The Cuban Missile Crisis had happened a couple of weeks prior, and we were otherwise occupied….

In those 25 election years, I did a little chart:

1. I lived in ten different towns over those years

2. I lived in three states

3. At the time of four of those elections, I’d lived in the town for three months or less.

4. In five of the elections I was a relatively new resident, one to two years.

We’ve lived here in Woodbury since 2000, the longest I’ve lived in a single place in my entire life. I would guess that our cohort is similarly well-settled, which makes it less likely that we concern ourselves with the issues affecting college kids, the poor, etc.

We’re the folks who’ll have to step up to the plate in educating others about this issue.

I challenge you to make your own voting history chart. I’ll bet you find it interesting.

#544 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #5. Health Insurance responsibility for all?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

UPDATE March 29, 2012: If you are interested in the ‘national health care’ issue, “My favorite blogger” (see below) has perhaps 10,000 words of summary about the three day circus surrounding the Supreme Court earlier this week (A normal newspaper column is perhaps 600-700 words. My comments below are about 500 words). I’d appreciate your reading my comments, and if you read nothing else, note the first and last full paragraphs of the final (March 28) post of Just Above Sunset. Here are the links: March 26, March 27, March 28. These will take awhile, but are worth the time, and Just Above Sunset is worth subscribing to (it is free, one per day).

My 500 words: If you looked at the subject line and have read this far, you’re interested in and literate on the debate which has culminated in oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court this week.

My favorite blogger, Just Above Sunset, summarizes at considerable length the views on issues of the day, and his morning post late yesterday, “The Supreme Court Disaster”, as the day before and (probably) tomorrow, will cover all manner of definitive speculation about everything related to the case. Everything said by anyone may be meaningful, or, as easily, meaningless. We don’t know.

But the issue is of huge importance, regardless of the ultimate ruling, and I decided to weigh in with the following comment on this piece of text nearing the end of the March 27 Just Above Sunset post: “But Paul Waldman points out something far more absurd, that Americans want something for nothing.”

So true, so very, very true. We Americans generally have one priority: ME, NOW. Makes no difference our ideology: ME, NOW. We’re used to demanding our way, or no way. I’M RIGHT. YOU’RE WRONG.

My wife and I are senior citizens, with accumulating seniority on Medicare. We both have pensions and we’re on Social Security. We live modestly, but don’t have to live frugally. We’re in reasonably good health. We’re the very fortunate ones in this society.

Today (March 28) we visited the tax man. We itemize: in the medical box is $12,705.66 in premiums and out of pocket expenses for a great assortment of insurances and expenses which we feel are necessary, including Long Term Care. Even Medicare has a premium, automatically deducted from our Social Security. It isn’t “free”….

We have no complaints.

I frequently think back to another day, back in 1963, when I got out of the Army and began teaching school. My new wife had also just begun teaching. We were just beginning our life together. She was pregnant with our first child.

I was back home for less than a month when she began to feel sick. She went to the doctor, and had to quit teaching. It was a steady downhill slide from there. She died of kidney disease two years later, only 22.

We had no hospital insurance. Group insurance was unusual in 1963.

Individual insurance was available. Like today’s kids, we couldn’t imagine ever needing insurance at our young age. By the time we did, it was too late. (Most likely, then as now, my wife would have been un-insurable due to her pre-existing conditions we didn’t realize existed.)

We were saved by public charity (several public and religious hospitals), and later I was saved from bankruptcy by public welfare, and embraced by a caring community.

The hell we went through long ago – our son just turned 48 – created my attitude forever. A caring society matters far more than the “free” individual.

But concepts like insurance for all are abstract concepts for our “me, now” generation. We are an immensely wealthy society (even with the laments about unemployment), and we have difficulty imagining that the others, and the future, matters.

Those wishing for the defeat of “Obamacare” might be careful what they wish for.

(I prefer it be called more accurately “Obamacares”.)

Dick and Barbara Bernard March 1965.  Barbara died four months later.  We were sponsors at a Baptism of our friends first child.

Photo is of Dick and Barbara Bernard in early March, 1965. Barbara died four months later. She was very ill. We were sponsors at a Baptism of our friends first child.

For access to other Election 2012 posts, simply enter the words election 2012 in the search box and dates/titles of other items will appear.

#543 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #4. “The Vote is the most powerful instrument; the most powerful nonviolent tool in a democratic society.” Cong. John Lewis

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Sunday night, March 25, we tuned in on the new PBS series entitled “Finding Your Roots”, where historian Henry Louis Gates explores roots with prominent citizens. We watched the episode featuring political leaders Newark NJ Mayor Cory Booker and GA Cong. John Lewis, and at approximately the 42 minute mark of the program, Lewis made the quote which is the subject line of this post. (You can watch the program on-line. It’s about 50 minutes.)

In its complete context, the John Lewis segment in particular is truly extraordinary. We tend to take rights, like the right to vote, for granted, until we lose them.

Just days earlier, (March 20 and 23) an initiative I would call the “Kiffmeyer Suppression of Voters Rights Amendment” passed both houses of the Minnesota Legislature, strictly on party line votes. Once the versions are reconciled, and a final version passed, we voters will have to deal with a proposed constitutional amendment in November. It bypasses the Governor, who likely would have vetoed similar legislation since there was no bi-partisan agreement). The seemingly innocuous amendment has huge negative implications for possibly hundreds of thousands of totally legal voters, who have voted for years in past Minnesota elections.

The actual legislation is really very simple to read. Click here, then simply type in HF 2738 in the box, mark “both” and enter. All information is readily available. What’s lost in the few words is the negative implications for future voters if the initiative passes in November.

Rep Mary Kiffmeyer, carrying the Bill, is a state legislator and former MN secretary of state, but more importantly she is representing powerful outside special interests that have an interest in diminishing the rights of certain legal voters.

I’ve been interested in an old e-mail (August, 2010) which is a fundraising letter in which Mary Kiffmeyer is given prominent billing as “Former Secretary of State”…”who serves on our [organizations] Board”. (See end of this post for more on this.)

The same letter notes the names of seven apparently highly prominent founding contributors: Stanley Hubbard, George Anderson, Rudy Boschwitz, Martin Kellogg, John Kinkead, Dale Zoerb and David Frauenshuh). Their organization proposes to “require PHOTO ID in St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth”. Its real dream seems to be to dominate Minnesota Government for the long term by making it more difficult for ordinary citizens to vote.

There is time between now and November to become very aware of the implications of this proposed constitutional amendment, if in fact it passes and goes on the ballot.

Real people – you and I – are the only antidote to this ill-considered attempt to gain a permanent political advantage in our state.

We need to know the facts, and let others know.

Do take time to watch the program mentioned in the first paragraph. You can watch on-line. Cong. Lewis walked the walk with Dr. Martin Luther King and others in the 1950s and 1960s to restore the right to vote gained after the Civil War, then soon thereafter wrested away for nearly the next 100 years. He and his colleagues paid the price for all of us.

END NOTE:

The letter referred to above is accessible at the end of this paragraph. I have redacted only specific contact information – if someone is interested they can search this out themselves. The fundraising memo is full of difficult to impossible to verify innuendo (“numerous states” et al) and targeting (“St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth”). I am most interested in the “140 of 480″ referenced. At the groups website there are 107 candidates listed who signed the pledge. Many of these were elected. Here’s the letter: Voter 18 Aug 2010003 Most likely Rep Kiffmeyer is a silent partner in this group at this point in time, but definitely connected.

(This is #4 in a series of posts relating to the 2012 election. For access to the others, previous and future, simply enter the words Election 2012 in the search box. The dates and topic of each post will come up.)

#542 – Dick Bernard: Sunday noon Mass at St. Boniface, Minnepolis. Messe en Francais

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

We went to a most uplifting Catholic Mass today.

Noon Mass at St. Boniface Sunday March 25, 2012

If one went by this photo from the choir loft at the beautiful Church of St. Boniface on Sunday, the Church was nearly empty. It is, after all a large church. (click to enlarge the photos)

But if you could add sound, and be sitting up somewhere closer to the front, your ‘picture’ of this place would be much different.

St. Boniface was very much alive on Sunday noon, as I am sure it is alive every Sunday noon, for the weekly Mass in the French language.

By my count, there were 62 of us in the Congregation, all but five of us Africans whose native land is one or another of the west African countries whose formal language is French. Fr. Jules Omalanga, a most engaging Pastor, is a native of Kinshasa Congo,and Pastor of the Church, and every week at noon has a liturgy for a lively community of Francophones.

Doubtless, a person wandering in off the street would probably be a bit confused to see African people speaking French in this church! It reminded me of a similar experience in 1971 when we took a weekend trip from Oregon to Vancouver British Columbia and stopped for Mass at the first Catholic Church we saw. The church was full of Vietnamese, all speaking French…. Another learning.

(I am French-Canadian through my father, but I was never exposed to the French language as a child, and never was in a place where I could take French in school years. So while I can ‘get the drift’, my participation is more or less following along with the rest of the group. I know when the pastor makes a good humored comment by the laughter, and follow along…. Of course, my computer does not speak French either, so I cannot put that peculiar little squiggle under the “c” in “Francais”, but that is only a small indignity to the language.)

To the right in the photo was a lively and good choir of parishioners. These were adults, men and women, not afraid to sing!

The Choir

St. Boniface is a very old parish, dating back to 1858, the year Minnesota became a state. Its history is here.

Like all parishes of any denomination, the years for ethnic parishes have passed on, and diminishing population have led to many church closings. St. Boniface retains some real and readily apparent vibrancy. It is a beautiful structure, and its weekly African visitors bring a particular richness to its sanctuary. (Its address is 679 NE 2nd Street in near northeast Minneapolis.)

We were at this particular Mass at the invitation of Fr. Jules and Dr. Virgil Benoit, who is planning a major Francophone event in Minneapolis September 28 (at Our Lady of Lourdes and DeLaSalle High School – stay tuned for details. Announcements will be here and elsewhere. It promises to be a stellar event, involving people such as the Africans in attendance on Sunday; locals of French-Canadian ancestry; teachers of the French language; people that love the French language, etc., etc., etc.

Mass – Messe – concluded, Fr. Omalanga walked down the center aisle, holding hands with what seemed like a dozen adoring kids. I thought back to a similar experience at Ste Clare church in Port-au-Prince Haiti, when Father Gerard Jean-Juste had a similar devoted following from his Haitian congregation. One could feel the love.

After Mass Dr. Benoit and two of his African colleagues, both doctoral students at the University of North Dakota, spoke with those interested about the September program.

It was a very good day, indeed.

Fr. Omalanga and children process out after Mass

In front, from left, Moussa Nombre, Amoussa Koriko and Virgil Benoit are introduced to persons interested in the September 28-29 event.

Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, Ste Clare Port-au-Prince Haiti December 3, 2003

#541 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #3. A blizzard of insanity: the internet Lie machine.

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

The ‘ink’ had not even dried on Election 2012 #1 when in came a “forward”, containing a piece of video purportedly proving that President Obama was born in Kenya. There he was, on videotape, President Obama himself, saying he was Kenyan at a public meeting with real people who looked like normal white people. They were his words. His voice.

The forward-er was someone I only very recently had heard from via e-mail. Except for Christmas cards, we really weren’t in touch. The correspondent said in that earlier e-mail that the President lies, without evidence. Well, apparently here in this forwarded video, was the evidence….

It was easy to dispatch this one, as it is most all of the internet lies circulating constantly. As we all know from watching those cute TV ads of babies talking like businessmen, the insurance companies talking duck and gecko, etc, experts can cut and paste both video and sound, and mix them masterfully, and this they had done with the so-called President Obama video. But many people don’t seem to grasp the obvious with the political stuff: that their hates and fears are being manipulated and massaged by liars who are, in turn, accusing the hated other of lying. So it goes. Lies work. All one can do is respond.

Computers and the internet are marvelous – and dangerous – things. They’re dangerous in the hands of the small Army, largely older people like me, who share the garbage I’ve come to call “forwards”.

This seems a good time to dust off and send the following, which was gathering dust in the ‘draft’ bin of my computer, and which I’d dealt with on-line a few weeks ago. The inquiring e-mail came from a good friend in London, England, who’d gotten a “forward” from his wife’s grandfather in the U.S. Here is what I said about this topic, then:

“My usual source for checking stuff like this is www.snopes.com.

[Yours] is the first international version of passing on the big lie(s) that I’ve seen.

Snopes had nothing I could find on either of these – perhaps I keyed in the wrong search words, or perhaps this is so completely outrageous as to not be worth the time.

My guess: the data is made up, a very, very common strategy. It is extremely time-consuming to validate/refute “data” like what [was forwarded]. The beginning premise is that the reader hates Obama (or liberals, or socialists) and will buy anything that verifies his/her point of view.

I actually don’t mind getting this kind of stuff (I call it “forwards”), and when I do I make it a point of responding.

Things I look for:

1. Is there some kind of reasonably plausible source of origin (who originated the e-mail in the very beginning of its travels)? The answer is always “no”.

2. These things live on by being passed from (usually) one senior citizen (like me) to another…. They’re usually from men, but they sometimes come from women too.

3. Is there some kind of reasonably safe link to check the data? For instance the websites for [the purported source of information, in this case], IBD [International Business Daily] or WHO [World Health Organization]. The answer is always “no”.

4. Does snopes have anything to say about it? Often they do. I would guess that well over 90% of the stuff that is out there is either false or so massacre’d (misleading) that it may as well be false.

5. The right wing has taken to trying to discredit snopes as being a left-wing tool, and if you want an interesting take, go to a competing fact checker, www.truthorfiction.com, and type snopes in the search box. I happen to know that the person who founded truthorfiction is a minister in southern California. I know that because a number of years ago I heard him interviewed on a Christian radio station I happened across when on the road. He and I actually shared a couple of e-mails back then. His debunking does not change the senders mind. They’ll believe whatever they want to believe. Sometimes the “data” will include a supposed link to Snopes, proving it is correct. They really don’t expect people to go to Snopes, after all, they’ve already made up their mind, and the link itself may not be valid (or if you go there, Snopes says it is false.) But you have to go there, and few do.

6. I do think that it is worthwhile (even if it seems a waste of time) to challenge the one who forwards the item, and if I’m lucky enough to have an open cc list, I’ll respond to them, too. Every now and then somebody will write that they were glad I spoke up. Other silent ones get this garbage as well. But the human tendency is to start believing the unbelievable if it is repeated often enough, and that is a conscious and deliberate strategy.

I’m actually glad you sent this on, and I’ll pass it on the group for their information. And if anyone in the group wants to add to my list above, please do. Feel free to send my item to your relative if you wish.”

“Election 2012” posts will appear periodically between now and November. Simply enter Election 2012 in the search box, and you’ll see where the others are located.

The Video and response links referred to in first two paragraphs: video; here’s the truth: here and here. (Truth or Fiction’s opinion of the video is here.)

#540 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #2 Looking in on Voter ID

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

More important information on this issue in MN: Our Voices Count MN, and League of Women Voters of MN.
Election 2012 #1 is here.

Through the day, today, from a number of sources, I heard a request to show up at the state Capitol on the Voter ID Constitutional Amendment proposal, possibly reaching a vote on the House floor this evening. (The Senate vote on this matter will follow soon. You still have an opportunity to take a position on this matter.)

We decided to make an appearance today. I infrequently go to these events, but this issue is a particularly compelling one.

There is a deliberate effort being made to disenfranchise certain people in Minnesota and thus suppress their vote. I have learned a lot about this issue – likely more than most people – and I am very concerned.

I wrote a note at the Capitol to be delivered to my local Representative on the floor of the House essentially saying that my wife and I had plenty of ID and a long-time address in our town. The issue is not about us.

The issue is, however, about making it more difficult for certain people to exercise their franchise, and that bothers me, a lot.

There were relatively few at the Capitol this afternoon, but I gathered that massive numbers was not the objective. There were no speakers – at least not while we were there. There was no vocal demonstration. The police and security had nothing to worry about.

I had a brief conversation with a couple of individuals representing organizations:

Steve Larson of Arc of Minnesota, and Michelle Gray of Brain Injury Association, March 20, 2012

Both Steve Larson (Arc of Minnesota) and Michelle Gray of Brain Injury Association of MN well represented their respective organizations advocacy for individuals who in one way or another need assistance, including when it comes time to defend their constitutional rights, such as the right to vote.

An action oriented handout was distributed to us by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. It is here: Facts on Voter ID001

There’s still time to contact your Senator.

Do it now.

March 20, 2012 outside the House Chambers at the State Capitol

UPDATE March 22: a pertinent commentary on the issue is here.

#539 – Dick Bernard: Thinking about Peace, near a vigil against War

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Today, March 19, is a tragic anniversary. As my friend, Wayne Wittman, of Veterans for Peace put it: “On March 19, 2003, after a terrific bombardment called “Shock and Awe” we and the other nations we could coax to join us launched an invasion of the sovereign independent Nation of Iraq.”

Our Conductors of War in 2003 likely had the same idea as the Japanese did, December 7, 1941, when they bombed Pearl Harbor: ‘we’ll show ’em our awesome might, and they’ll surrender’.

We all know how the attack on Pearl Harbor worked out for the Japanese; Shock and Awe in Iraq didn’t do so well for we Americans either.

War is the triumph of short-term emotion: stinking, not sound, thinking. But War sells easier than Peace, albeit with a far greater long-term cost.

Yesterday the local Vets for Peace advertised a gathering at the Cathedral of St. Paul followed by a gathering at the USS Ward “First Shot” Memorial near the Veterans Services Building in St. Paul.

I’m a Vet for Peace, I’ve been to many events, and I traveled to the Capitol grounds planning to join the group, which appeared to be about 20 people.

I was there this year, but the attendees probably didn’t know it.

I decided to look at this years event through a somewhat different lens.

Near the First Shot Memorial site is large sculpted soldier called “Monument to the Living…Why do you forget us?” dedicated May 22, 1982.

(click on photos to enlarge them)

March 18, 2012

I’ve seen the sculpted work many times – in fact, I’ve photographed it. It is evocative and haunting.

But this time, for the first time, I noted the date of 1982. Later that same year, strictly by coincidence, I was in Washington D.C. the weekend the Vietnam Memorial was dedicated on the National Mall Vietnam Mem DC 1982001. I was there for a time that weekend. Seldom has there been such powerful emotion on display. I’ve been back there many times.

Between the “Why do you forget us?” sculpture and the State Capitol is the Minnesota Memorial to the Fallen remembering American war deaths in Vietnam 1962-73. I’ve been there many times as well, almost always at Veterans for Peace Memorial Day events. Sunday I looked a little closer.

I found the inscription for Army PFC Joseph Sommerhauser, killed 1968 in Vietnam. He’s the brother of my barber, himself a Vietnam vet, a Marine. Every now and then Tom and I talk about his brother. On the face of the memorial, above Josephs name, is the inscription “We were young, we have died, remember us“, Archibald MacLeish.

Indeed.

For the first time I stopped by the Directory of names on the wall, and this day I looked through it for names of casualties from towns in which I was living at the time of this deadly war.

Here’s what I found:
1962-63 – the few first casualties. (In 1962-63 I was in the Army myself none of us knowing that our newly reactivated 5th Infantry Division (Mech) was preparing for the war in southeast Asia. Some of my snapshots from this era are accessible here See “Photographs of 1/61 in and around Ft. Carson”.)
1966 – William Wilber, age 18, of Anoka was killed
1968 – Charles Clitty, age 19, of Spring Lake Park was killed.

In eleven years of the Vietnam War, only two people from towns I’d lived in were among the fallen. Even in that deadly war, few actually died in my sphere (two of my brothers are Vietnam vets…both lived.)

Of course, in those years, I believe you counted only if you died in a combat zone. Those permanently and totally disabled by war injuries, mental illness, agent orange or such are not reflected on the wall. They don’t include later homelessness, PTSD, suicide or the like. They don’t include the civilian casualties, like the 16 Afganis mowed down by an American soldier on his fourth combat tour in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Nor do they include the damage to the national sense of morality, not to mention pocketbook.

Those who died and listed on that wall are, tragically, the lucky ones.

War is criminal.

Back in the Vets for Peace circle, there appeared to be about 20 or so [one who was there says 35] hearing short talks on topics which I have doubtless heard many times before.

I drove by the VFP gathering on my way out of the area about 2:15, and had this thought which I have had more and more frequently lately: The circle, today, needs to be turned around, and the people in it need to seek out and get in conversation with the other folks who can’t see the problem with war, cuz they weren’t in it, or they don’t know anybody who died over there….

At the First Shot Memorial March 18, 2012

“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

#538 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #1 “The Road We’ve Traveled”

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

For subsequent posts on the topic of the upcoming election: simply enter Election 2012 in search box. Election 2012 #2 is here.

This morning I watched the new 17-minute video recently released by the President Obama Reelection Campaign. It is here.

Whatever your preconception of the President (I have huge respect for him and what he’s accomplished against overwhelming odds), I’d encourage to watch the entire video, and share it. The person who forwarded the video to me, a retired person from a large corporation, said this about the video: “Every American should see this video. Please share it.”

Minneapolis MN Feb 2, 2008, photo by Dick Bernard

Minneapolis, February 2, 2008 photo by Dick Bernard

Of course, being American politics, not every one will be enthusiastic about this video. From even before the President was inaugurated, Rush Limbaugh has been on record “I hope he fails”, as has the leadership of the Republicans in U.S. Congress and Senate and Governorships and state Houses and Senates, and, of course, Fox News and right-wing talk radio. It hasn’t worked, though it’s been a powerful and constant drum-beat. So be it.

Nonetheless you owe it to yourself to watch the video, and ask yourself if we’re better (or worse) off now than four years ago, when our national House of Cards was collapsing around us. It was a terrifying time, coming to a head in September, 2008, right BEFORE the 2008 election.

I’m formally, on this blog, a “moderate, pragmatic, Democrat”. That’s how I tagged myself when I opened for business here three years ago. I’m comfortable with the label. It means I get confronted, from time to time, from both poles of the political spectrum (who in many ways seem like “peas in a pod” (albeit with diametrically opposed points of view on issues).

I’ll post from time to time on this topic at this space, perhaps once every week or two. Just enter the words “Election 2012” in the search box.

If today is your last visit, consider printing out a one page document I first generated in April 9, 2009, just weeks into the Obama presidency; and added a small revision August 12, 2011. It is a helpful base for assessing who’s been responsible for what, since. Here it is: Congress 1977-2011001

It is a given that we despise Politics and Politicians, and many despise Government itself.

What is essential to note, in my opinion, is that we ARE all of these things: politics, politicians and government itself.

If we despise them, we need to take a look at ourselves, not someone else.

UPDATE March 18:
Judy Berglund: The Obama tape [linked in this post] is excellent.
Bob Barkley: This will continue your Obama support level.
Bruce Fisher and Corky Marinkovich have also added comments at the comments section of this blog.
From Harriette Ternipsede, an album of photos from Peter Souza
From Jacob Grippen, A sign of the times, by a deaf student who met the President March 14, 2012.

#537 – Dick Bernard: Spring “Yard Work”

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Today, being a late April day (albeit in the middle of March), with all the snow gone, a short sleeve day and all, seemed a good day to begin the annual housekeeping trek along my walking route which ends on the north side of Carver Lake.

Helpfully, one of those small plastic buckets, about a half-gallon in size, materialized near the beginning of the walking route. In its previous life it probably held a plant. Perhaps it had blown off someone’s deck. Whatever, it was useful. (Actually, it had sat there for several prior days, but the time was not yet right to pick it up.)

Today was the day it would be of service to the community.

Our walking route is pretty clean. There is a small crew of people – mostly unknown to each other – who do “police call”.

Still, the first post-snow day out yields its share of treasures, mostly off the beaten path.

For instance, a bright piece of paper beckoned me into the off-trail woods, and when there I spotted three old and gray beer bottles, well disguised from many moons of anonymous living.

Along the way I was fetching something in the weeds and I met a guy who noticed, and groused about those people who toss stuff “when there are all sorts of garbage cans along this walk”. So true. I subscribe to the philosophy, though, that left garbage along the path is a magnet for more garbage, and policing helps keep down careless disposal of anything from cigarette buttes to tissue. Every little bit helps….

At the bench where I learned, a couple of years ago, that it is important to carry along one’s cell phone – it might come in handy – I met the pleasant guy I see frequently, pushing his Dad in his wheelchair for a walk in the park. We chatted a bit, and he commented that he’d filled two bags full of trash this same morning.

He usually does policing of the pond and lake banks, but he doesn’t sound quite as enthusiastic about doing it this year. Too big a mess. Maybe some of us will “step up to the plate” and help?

Past Carver Lake swimming beach and up the hill I went. A one liter plastic pop bottle beckoned, and when I got to it, assorted other trash magically appeared in its neighborhood. I was rapidly filling that little bucket a second time.

At the playground, a Dad was supervising playtime for his two year old. The youngster saw me dumping the garbage, and the Dad said “thanks”.

It was a good day on the trail today.

Have a great one yourself.