September, 2012

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Franco-Fete Nouvelles Villes Jumelles (Franco-Fete Twin Cities) Sep 28-30, 2012

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

This weekend is Franco-Fete at the Nicollet Island area in Minneapolis. It’s been publicized before at this space. There’s still time to check it out, register and drop in.

All details are here.

Scroll to near the end of the site for a copy of the ten page conference program – the same program folks will receive this weekend.

There are four parts to the program. Participants can pick and choose. Fees are very reasonable, and the program is suited for all ages.

A. Friday beginning at 5 p.m. French dinner at historic Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Minneapolis, followed with a tour of a church and a concert featuring French music by noted Twin Cities performers. There will be limited additional seats at the concert for persons interested only in the music and not the dinner.

B. Saturday during the day is a jam packed conference with talks, seminars, music and performance events with a Francophone and French-Canadian flavor. (Don’t speak French? Don’t worry. We know that most do not speak French.)

C. Saturday evening at DeLaSalle High School, the beginning of the United States tour of the Quebec Juno (Grammy) winning group, Le Vent du Nord. This is a phenomenal group, performing in Quebec Folk style with Celtic features. I’ve written about them previously here. For this event only, tickets can be purchased on-line at Brown Paper Tickets. Tickets will also be available at the door the evening of performance.

D. Sunday noon and early afternoon at St. Boniface Catholic Church in NE Minneapolis, the West African Francophone community will host a Mass in French, followed by a lunch.

For sure, check out the website right away, particularly the program booklet.

At this late date, payment for tickets should be sent to Franco-Fete c/o Dick Bernard, Box 251491, Woodbury MN 55125. Use registration form at the site. Phone information from Dick at 651-334-5744.

#625 – Dick Bernard: Eric Lusardi’s Peace Pole and Garden, and the International Day of Peace

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Today is the annual International Day of Peace. Last night in an e-mail came a three minute video that helped set the stage for today. There are numerous sites emphasizing Peace, including May Peace Prevail on Earth, my own World Citizen, and others.

I knew part of my day today would be delightful, witnessing the public dedication of a Peace Pole and Peace Garden at the Community Commons in New Richmond WI. This was the culmination of an Eagle Scout project for near-15 year old Eric Lusardi, a young man who represents the kind of ideals our world could use a lot more of.

There isn’t much that I can say that would add to a few snapshots taken at the dedication. The New Richmond Peace Pole is unique among hundreds of thousands of Peace Poles around the globe, and it was unique because that is how Eric wanted it to be.

Here are some photos (click on them to enlarge).

The New Richmond WI Peace Pole, with globe affixed to the peak. This pole was designed by, and largely hand-made by the Lusardi family and friends, emphasizing local languages and materials.

The mayor of New Richmond, Fred Horne, reads the Proclamation for International Day of Peace. At his left is Cheryl Emerson, Director of the Commons

Eric Lusardi talks about his Peace Pole and Peace Garden Project

A representative of the New Richmond VFW Post 10818 spoke about the project.

The Dedication Plaque for the Peace Garden/Peace Pole. The plaque honors all who serve their community in any capacity

Melvin Giles helps dedicate the Peace Pole

Melvin Giles and Eric Lusardi and some of the group at the dedication

The group expresses unity with each other for the symbolism of the Peace Pole: a symbol of working for Peace.

A shy young lady became enamored by the Peace Pole.

The family joins the little girl at the Peace Pole.

During the events I had an opportunity to make some comments, and articulated my understanding of how the International Day of Peace came to be and evolved over the last 31 years. I gave a lot of credit to a young Englishman who in the later 1990s campaigned to have Peace Day set at September 21, rather than ‘floating’ as it had been in the earlier years. The last ‘floating’ Peace Day was, tragically, September 11, 2001, when participants at the UN in New York witnessed the Twin Towers being hit.

Afterwards a man with an English accent came up to me and asked more about the young man, who I remembered to be Jeremy. I thought the website was PeaceOneDay.org, and indeed that is the website, if you wish more information. (The young man’s name: Jeremy Gilley).

As I concluded my remarks, I mentioned seeing a brilliant rainbow when I was nearing the western Wisconsin town – one of the most brilliant rainbows I’ve ever seen. Of course, Rainbows are nearly impossible to capture on film, I was driving and I was running a little late as it was, so you’ll simply have to imagine that rainbow. That rainbow seemed a little bit more than simply a coincidence to me. Something wonderful was happening in this little community.

Mission over, I took my cold and my sore back to the car and drove home.

I felt really, really good inside.

Eric Lusardi was still in the community center, getting his Eagle Scout rank, the 108th granted by his troop.

He is richly deserving, and to me he represents the best of our future. His family and fellow citizens of New Richmond WI gave me cause for hope.

#624 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #46 – 4000 days at War in Afghanistan

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Someone has calculated that today, September 19, 2012, is the 4000th day of the beginning of the War in Afghanistan: the day the bombing began, October 7, 2001.

Except for isolated demonstrations, including one this afternoon from 5-6 p.m. at the Lake Street bridge in Minneapolis, there will be little attention paid to this anniversary.

One of the few newspaper articles I have kept for posterity is one from October 8, 2001: Afghanistan Oct 7 2001001

This is a short article, simply describing the results of a poll of Americans at the time about going to War. It is worth reading. If you don’t care to open it: succinctly, 94% of Americans approved of the bombing of Afghanistan for whatever reasons they might have had for the action.

For a politician to be against the war in 2001 would have been almost certain political suicide.

I was one of the 6% who, had I been asked, would have disapproved of the bombing in 2001.

My opinion wasn’t based on being anti-war, then, though it was that singular event that launched my subsequent activist life.

As a military veteran myself, in the Army at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, in a unit that was mobilized for possible action, I was not altruistic.

Very simply, on that dark day in 2001, I could see absolutely no long term good coming out of attacking a country, Afghanistan, whose only ‘sin’ was harboring an isolated bunch of terrorists who were soon to become enshrined in our political conversation as “al Qaeda” (which, to my knowledge, is simply an Arabic term, al-qa’ida: “the base”).

October 8, 2001, was a very lonely time to be against War, I can attest.

Only about one of twenty Americans agreed with me, and most thought there was going to be a long war, and were okay with the idea and (I suppose) thought that we’d “win” something or other.

Not long after, of course, our sights shifted to Iraq, a country which had nothing to do with 9-11-01.

Of course, our futile exercise in supposedly attempting to eliminate evil in the world is succeeding only in slowly destroying ourselves.

“The Base” has to be pleased.

I probably won’t change anybodies mind, but take a bit of time today to consider a few numbers related to that number 4000 (my apologies for any math errors):

2977 – the number of deaths on 9-11-01 (including citizens of over 90 countries, but excluding the 19 hijackers, none of whom were Afghan)
2686 – the number of days of War on President George W. Bush’s watch
1314 – the number of days of War on President Barack Obama’s watch

Nov. 9, 2009 – the approximate date where we’d been at war for 2977 days: one day of war per 9-11-01 casualty.

There is no prospect of ever “winning” the war against terrorism, or Afghanistan, yet we persist in our fantasy for all the assorted reasons we might have. There is no still sane politician who will argue that we must end war now, or ever.

The fault is not the politicians (unless we extend the definition of “politician” to include ourselves, each and every one of us.)

There is no truer example of the truth of Gandhi’s words “we must be the change we wish to see in the world”.

Start where you’re at, as an individual, today, now.

A good place to begin to focus is this Friday, September 21, the International Day of Peace. There are numerous links. Here is the one that is at the top of the google search list.

Personally, I’ll be over in New Richmond WI, witnessing 14 year old Eric Lusardi’s becoming an Eagle Scout (the public ceremony is at 4:00 p.m., New Richmond Community Commons). Part of the ceremony will be dedication of a Peace Site.

Eric exemplifies Gandhi, and I think he’s an exemplary example of youth for our future as a people and a planet.

For some personal inspiration for Peace, visit A Million Copies, here.

#623 – Dick Bernard: “Radio Silence”; Franco-Fete; Le Vent du Nord; and Lori Sturdevant

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

For the past few, and for the next few days, this blog will be relatively inactive. The primary activity for this blogger is to help make a success of a major Minneapolis-St. Paul event called Franco-Fete which can be read about here, here and here.

Succinctly, Franco-Fete is in four distinct parts: Friday evening Sep 28, at Our Lady of Lourdes Church Minneapolis; Saturday during the day, and in the evening, at DeLaSalle High School on Nicollet Island in Minneapolis; and Sunday Sep 30 at noon into mid-afternoon at St. Boniface Catholic Church in northeast Minneapolis. All details are at the above websites.

For anyone with even a small interest in things French or French-Canadian, Franco-Fete will be an stimulating and interesting time.

8 1/2×11 event poster here: Poster (letter-size, image) (r03)-1

*****

Of course, life goes on in the larger world of politics, etc.

For everyone, Lori Sturdevant in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune writes a column “How do we break down our walls?” that is well worth reading.

Here’s to civil conversation – as impossible as it seems to be!

#622 – Dick Bernard: 9-11-12

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

9-11-2001 seems to have become a permanent fixture in the American psyche. I offer a reflection a little different from what appears to be typical this day.

On this anniversary of 9-11-2001 the front page of the Minneapolis paper had a photo of a beam of one of the collapsed NYC towers as it is exhibited in a park in rural city in southwest Minnesota.

I wondered how this would have played post-December 7, 1941. Who would have suggested dismantling my uncle Franks tomb, the USS Arizona, with parts taken here and there as monuments in various places?

I cannot imagine even a serious thought, then, of desecrating the relic that was the USS Arizona and shipping pieces here and there as relics of war.

To this day, to my knowledge, the Arizona rests where it was destroyed, undisturbed. I’ve been there.

I also wondered how this debris will be looked on by some successor to our civilization coming across this rusted beam in a remote town 150 or 1000 years from now.

It will be puzzling to the visitor to what remains of the United States.

Like everyone, I would guess, I remember exactly what I was doing at the time I heard of the Towers being hit on 9-11-01. I didn’t see it on TV until late in the afternoon of that Tuesday.

The event had a strong personal impact: when I established my first web presence in April 2002, I chose for my Peace and Justice page two photos I’d taken of the twin towers in June, 1972, right before they were completed. A year later I wrote a reflection that remains at that same place on the web.

I remember.

(click to enlarge)

The Twin Towers NYC late June 1972.

NYC skyline June 1972. Photos by Dick Bernard

I wonder what we have learned since 9-11-01.

Sadly, it seems we have learned very little.

On 9-11-01 we seem to have had two forks in the road to recovery from the attack of 19 terrorists.

We could have done the normal thing: after the shock wore off, normally a short period of time, we would have begun to regroup, to learn from what happened, to not react. We could have even found ways to reconcile and for certain not indict an entire religion and race for the vicious attack perpetrated by a few.

Of course, we didn’t do that.

Almost unanimously, our country took the other fork, by far the most popular route: a combination of negative emotions such as revenge, or exploiting an opportunity…. We ended up injuring ourselves almost fatally in many ways. We damaged ourselves far more than the terrorists damaged us on September 11, 2001. Afghanistan Oct 7 2001001

Fast forward to the current day.

The photo of the tower beam on display in Marshall jarred me a bit, but did not surprise because three years ago, at the Peace Garden near Dunseith ND, bordering Canada and the U.S. since 1934 as a Garden of Peace between our two nations, I saw one of those monuments of World Trade Center rubble on the grounds.

I wrote my feelings about it in 2009, and it is archived here.

At the same post, as an Update, much more recent, is a column written this summer by James Skakoon of St. Paul. After his own visit to the Peace Garden, with the same reaction as mine, he happened to find my column on-line, and his comments speaks for itself.

But the bottom line is that it appears likely that we will be solemnizing the tragedy of New York City in 2001 for the immediate future as a monument to War, not Peace. We are compounding our loss from the tragedy.

I hope that there is thought given to changing the emphasis from continued emphasis on war, to more emphasis on the need for peace.

Dick Bernard: A graduation and a commencement.

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

September 9, 2012, was a remarkable day for me. It has taken till December 10, 2012, to complete this brief post.

There were two events on September 9, one immediately following the other. That day I was to meet a young man I’d never met before, 15-year old Eric Lusardi, over in New Richmond Wisconsin.
The same afternoon, a little later, was the Memorial Service for Rev. Verlyn Smith, 85, a man I cannot say I knew well, but for whom I had huge respect.

I knew Verlyn for the same reason I was about to meet Eric Lusardi: both were about the task of making the world a better place.

Eric was about to become an Eagle Scout, and his Eagle Project was to develop a Peace Garden at the local community center in his town of New Richmond WI. This was his idea, and as we all learned at the actual ceremony on September 21, he had enrolled the community in his efforts.

A main service project of his was to help the community effort called Empty Bowls, an initiative on-going since 2007.

On September 9, Eric seemed most proud to tell Melvin Giles and myself about Empty Bowls.

(click to enlarge)

Melvin Giles with the Lusardi family, September 9, 2012

Eric and Mark Lusardi explain the Empty Bowls Project September 9, 2012

In one of many ways yet to come, Eric was involved in his own commencement into the rest of his life.

I left New Richmond early, to get back to Minneapolis for the Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance” for the man I knew as Verlyn.

Verlyn was a South Dakota farm kid from west of Sioux Falls, a child of the Great Depression. He knew the hard times from experience.

The unseen markers of life took him to the Lutheran ministry, and within that ministry to the Vietnam era college ministry in California which is where, he said, he became acquainted with the Peace movement. He last ministered in the same Church at which he was buried, and he was a quiet but giant advocate for peace and justice in our world. Here is an excellent description of his life and work: Verlyn Smith001

He would have loved to meet Eric in person.

Verlyn Smith (second from right, in tan coat) one of honorees at the Nov. 5, 2010, Hawkinson Foundation* annual awards dinner.

I’m not sure what Verlyn’s hopes, dreams and aspirations were when he turned 15 in 1942, on the South Dakota prairies.

What is certain is that he added to the value of our world by his presence in the next 70 years.

It is the best that we can do, to make the world a better place by our having been part of it.

Congratulations, Eric, as your life continues, and commences.

And farewell, Verlyn**.

* – The Hawkinson Foundation website is here.

** – It is important to note, also, that one of Eric’s grandfathers passed on in the summer of 2012. Life continues.

#620 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #45. In 2012, it’s NOT “the economy, stupid”

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Thursday night when we watched President Obama’s acceptance speech, a drop-in guest was a member of our family who is one of those 8% of Americans who are unemployed.

In fact, he would qualify as one of those who are regularly interviewed on the evening news, or in the political ads, about how terribly hard it is to find a job.

He wants to work, he’s been, and he’d be, a very productive and loyal worker.

It is, frankly, very, very depressing to be in his spot. He fell asleep during the Presidents address…I’m guessing that was a survival strategy; a way to escape his depression; or perhaps a response to yet another failed interview earlier in another long day.

Back in the first Bill Clinton campaign in 1992, it is said that the campaign energized when James Carville re-focused the staff by framing the issues, including the famous quote: it’s “the economy, stupid!”

In 2012, I have heard it said, often, left, right, center, that there is a magic number which will determine the outcome of the Presidential election. The number is 8% unemployment. The mantra goes: no President has been reelected if the unemployment rate is above 8%. Last time I heard the number, it’s 8.3%. “The economy, stupid”!

So, if you’re running against the incumbent President, you hammer, hammer, hammer on the fact that there are more than 8% unemployed, and that it’s the Presidents fault, pure and simple.

Good (and cruel) strategy.

But there is a crucial difference this year.

The 8% is a completely artificial construct. The number could easily be less than 8% – I’ve heard it estimated as low as 6% by now – if the Republican party had chosen a course of action to help the country recover from the awful times of 2001-2009 – a time of their making.

Of course, they didn’t, and haven’t, and won’t.

This would require acknowledging that they were somehow responsible for the mess President Obama inherited (the mess was on their watch), and, even worse (from their standpoint), helping the U.S. recover now would take away their only viable issue in this campaign.

Our chronically unemployed relative has become their hostage, pure and simple.

Success for the Republicans this year is failure of the country to break the 8% barrier.

Some months ago, I heard a popular commentator from the Left report that in his opinion President Obama would lose if the unemployment was above 8%, that magic number.

This was from the Left.

It was about that time that it occurred to me that if 8% were unemployed, that must mean that 92% of us who did need a job actually did have a livelihood. Of course, there are folks in the supposedly discouraged worker class who have stopped looking for work (but this includes people who don’t especially need a job).

By and large those who want a job are working and doing well, relatively well satisfied with their state in life. I see them every day.

The morning after I heard the 8% comment, I noticed two guys sitting in the corner at my coffee shop having an earnest conversation about a book which I think was titled “The Bible of Barbecue” or some such. They were interested in the perfect barbecue.

They, along with people like my wife and I, who are not struggling, represent America the Bountiful.

We can help those 8% who are – we can attest – really, really struggling.

Will we?

#619 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #44. Four years later, Barack Obama, the expense of “Citizenship”

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

UPDATE Sep. 8: If you wish to watch the President Obama speech, here’s a link provided by a friend.

Watching and listening to President Obama’s speech tonight at Charlotte I kept thinking back to one of the last campaign events we attended on October 13, 2008, at Macalester College in St. Paul MN.

The event was a campaign rally, and the featured guest was Michelle Obama. We were guests of the Paul and Sharon Miller family of Northfield, whose daughter Natalie had been chosen to introduce Michelle Obama at the rally.

As I recall, Natalie was chosen to introduce Michelle because of her family message: a need to do something about access to health insurance for all in this country. Natalie made her case well in the introduction of Michelle Obama at Macalester that day. The largely student audience was with her.

Health insurance reform with access for all was a top priority need.

Natalie’s parents had good reason to be very proud. She did a masterful job, far better than my attempts at photography that afternoon. Here are a few that more-or-less turned out that afternoon.

(click to enlarge.)

Natalie greets Michelle Obama as she comes to the podium October 13, 2008

The Millers and Grandma after the speech, October 13, 2008

Similarly, Michelle Obama was outstanding. Natalie watched the speech with the rest of us.

Michelle Obama October 13, 2008

Michelle Obama October 13, 2008, Macalester College St. Paul MN

Natalie and Sharon Miller, October 13, 2008

I don’t remember the specifics of Michelle’s message, but I do know that the general message to the students was “cell phones up”: “if you want Barack Obama to win, you have to get out and go to work”.

Cell phones went up that afternoon, and as we all know, people got to work, and President Obama won by a landslide.

It was a cooperative effort.

But it was not long after the election that I began to notice something that has dismayed me during Obama’s entire first term:

The ink had hardly dried on the newsprint of the reports on the 2008 election, and Obama’s friends were criticizing him for what he hadn’t done, or done enough of, for their particular issue.

It was if they had hired him to do their bidding: “don’t bother me for any effort on my own part. I have my own life to live.”

There were few “cell phones up” after the election, or in the subsequent, so far, 3 1/2 years.

My small e-mail list knows that I started noticing this attitude problem even before the President took office: “I voted for you, now it’s your problem. What are you going to do for ME?”

Passage of the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – in early 2010 was one of the signal accomplishments of any President and Congress in any time, but there was wailing and gnashing of teeth…even among Obama’s supporters: “too little”; “the wrong stuff in the bill”, etc., etc., etc.

In 2010, a good share of those people who elected Obama stayed home from the polls, with the resulting landslide of the angry tea party types in the 2010 election.

To me, the troubling fact of 2010 was solely that: Democrats did not vote.

Which leads to the present day:

I was at a meeting this evening and got home just in time to watch the entirety of President Obama’s speech.

I felt the speech was, from Obama’s rhetorical standards, good, but not great…

UNLESS one looked at the content of what the President was saying to every one of us.

As I translated what he was saying, I’d summarize it this way: “This Job Wasn’t, and This Election Won’t, Be Easy…I Need Your Help For the Long Haul.”

The cost of citizenship is far more than just voting for one person, then expecting him or her to do our heavy lifting.

Get on the court.

For other posts of a political nature at this blog, simply enter Election 2012 in the search box and click enter. Especially note yesterdays, here.

UPDATE: September 7, 6 a.m. My favorite blogger, Just Above Sunset, summarizes what was said about the most politically newsworthy item of the day, most every day. Here’s his summary of what was said about last night at the Democratic Convention.

#618 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #43. Why I’m strongly supporting President Barack Obama for Reelection, and the Democratic Party in the November election.

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

UPDATE 10:30 p.m. CDT September 5, 2012: Watch or read President Clinton’s address if you can. Link is here. This is a long speech, very on point.
Useful information resources if you are interested: Republicans should stop talking about the Moocher Class from Bloomberg News here and Economics for Voters here.
See postnote at the very end as well.

Two months from today – Wednesday, November 7 – we Americans will wake up and learn what we decided on November 6. I use the word “decide” deliberately. The word “decide” differs from “choice” in its finality. Decide is directly related to words like suicide, homicide, etc.*

As I reflect back over 50 years of eligibility to vote – I always vote – I see this as the most important election of my life. It is an election with huge long term consequences, especially for the people who think that buying the Republican siren song will serve them well.

I enthusiastically support President Obama for these reasons:
1. President Obama inherited the disastrous consequences of, particularly, 2001-2009 policies, and took on the task of getting the nation back on an even keel. He has succeeded beyond all odds. Against all odds, he advocated working together – negotiating and compromise. This was a major strength, in my opinion, even though some of his friends thought he’d sold out, and his enemies considered compromise a weakness to be exploited.
2. From day one his Republican adversaries made their number one objective making Obama fail. They announced this publicly and from the very beginning, they played it out in all of the ways they could muster in both U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate and Republican-controlled state-houses and legislatures. [Update Sep 8: How they did this is shown here.] They have tried to disappear the consequences of their own being in control of the government in the disastrous years of the first decade of the 21st century.
3. The Republicans failed in their efforts to make President Obama fail. Today, we are not where we’d like to be, but by any measure we’re far better off than we were four years ago when we were on the verge of collapse. By most any measure we remain an exceedingly wealthy country. There seems to have been one overriding objective of Obama’s enemies since he took office: to keep unemployment above 8%. They considered this is a winning number.
4. Unfortunately, people’s memories are very short; and we tend to be short-sighted. I am very concerned by the combination of very big money and the absolute lack of honesty in the media advertising onslaught to come in the next two months. This is the first election where, it appears, there is almost no interest in fact-checking, and lying is expected and accepted. We are seeing the reality of Newspeak (George Orwell’s 1984). Both sides manipulate information, but the Republican propaganda machine has been perfected, is far worse, and is far better financed than the Democrats. It is a dangerous development.

A little history:
Four years ago, September, 2008, no one, including the then-George W. Bush administration, could deny that our United States was on the verge of financial and industrial and real estate collapse. The reckless policies of the 2000s were coming home to roost.

As a nation we had lived on a credit card, where debt didn’t matter. As many know, life on a credit card is easy and fun…until the bill comes due. The people who gave us the credit card in the first place are now blaming Obama for the consequences.

2008 – four years ago – was a frightening time. For the first and only time ever, in 2008, I took steps to try to get my small 401-k account insured against the free-fall then occurring in almost the entire Financial and Big Business sector.

Here’s my graphic of who has run things in Washington since 1977: President, Congress, Senate (each has their roles, as set by the Constitution of our country); and their own internal rules: Congress 1977-2011001. I think this division of powers (and responsibilities) is important to understand.

We are the ultimate ‘politicians’, and we are reflected by whom we elect to office. Before you judge the current situation as “their” or “his” fault, consider reflecting on the recent past preceding 2009 and your personal role in it.

Minnesota State Fair Sep 1, 2012

Minnesota State Fair Sep 1, 2012

Then there’s the matter of political parties and the other offices.

I’ve always been Democrat (DFL, Democratic-Farmer-Labor), or at least so inclined. I’ve always felt that the Democratic Party has most in common with the ordinary people of this country, people like myself, or what is called the 99%. This year more than ever is a year to vote Democratic…unless you’re very wealthy and have only an interest in greater wealth.

But it isn’t that simple. My political hero and in a direct way mentor was former Republican Governor of Minnesota Elmer L. Andersen. I have had a great deal of respect for other old-line Republican lawmakers.

Elmer L. passed on eight years ago, but were he still alive he would have suffered the fate of moderate Republican leaders by being purged out of the Republican party, or at least made irrelevant by a more radical right wing.

Today’s Republican Party is a radical version of Republicanism, and until the moderates regain some control of the party activities, it is not a party to be trusted.

In many ways, todays Democratic Party resembles the old moderate Republican structure. Progressives don’t like to hear this, but I think I’m pretty accurate. The Democrats represent the center.

Those who vote Republican just because they’ve always voted Republican are making a huge mistake, in my opinion.

Those inclined to vote for certain losers or solely on their own specific single issue(s) just to make some point or stay true to their own ideals are making a mistake. Third parties as often hurt the so-called “lesser of two evils” than helping the third parties cause. In a diverse society, single pure ideological issues are easy to promise and almost impossible to attain.

On November 6, vote, and vote well informed.

* – NOTE: There is an “end-game” referendum aspect to this particular election. For many years an oft and publicly stated goal of powerful anti-tax leader Grover Norquist and his acolytes has been to shrink the size of government (at least the aspects of government he doesn’t like) till it can be “drowned in a bathtub”. How to do this? Very simple (it’s already been done). Make the government seem unwieldy and dysfunctional and unresponsive, de-fund it (the big tax cuts of 2003), make the citizens angry at it because they can’t get services they need, and they see the gridlock in Congress…and use this frustration to take over that very government. This strategy is very close to paying off for Norquist and his ilk. If he succeeds it will be a day most of those voting for it will come to regret…but by then it will be too late. Sure, this is speculation, but it is informed speculation from watching the political propaganda process for over 40 years.

POSTNOTE: I write often about political topics. This is #43 in the last several months, all of which relate to 2012. To see a list of the others, simply enter Election 2012 in the search box and click enter. A list will come up. The 42 previous posts relate to an assortment of topics. There will be many future commentaries as well. Check back once in awhile.

#617 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #42. Thinking “Conservative”

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

A number of years ago I began receiving what I’ve come to call “forwards”. I decided to receive them, not ask to be taken off the mailing list for them, fact-check them usually through snopes.com, and respond to the sender if not always, frequently.

These forwards were uniformly false, either in fact or in implication. The rare ones that were true were simply somebody’s angry opinion. President Obama, or Democrats, or some specific lawmaker, Pelosi or Reid were favorite targets. Some of them would be considered hate mail. Others were nostalgia laced items about the good old days – the days in which I also grew up, and didn’t see quite so positively.

Their appearance seemed to spike after an announcement from Karl Rove’s operation that they were going to be spending money on advertising. Of course, I can’t prove the announcements and spikes in forwards were connected but….

I’d often respond to the sender, usually somebody I knew, with the other side of the story. Sometimes I’d get an angry retort that the responder didn’t care: he (rarely she) declared he/she was “conservative”, and that was that.

The word “conservative” came to interest me. It is very commonly used on the right, but in many ways I consider myself a conservative, and I know many people way to the left of me that are far more truly conservative than I am.

Recently, I had reason to look up Newt Gingrich’s GOPAC “100 words” from 1996 (which really are 128 words – 64 good, and 64 bad) which have been effectively used for years to label supposedly good people and bad people (apparently, people like me). For instance, “unionized” is a bad word, and I spent my whole career in or working for a union, which labels me as bad.

Interestingly, in this list, which was doubtless very carefully composed, the word “conservative” does not appear. One wonders why.

Definitions matter. And the word conservative is not owned by the angry right-wingers.

For the heck of it, I looked up conservative in my big dictionary here at home. Here are the definitions of Conservative, without further comment:

conservative, a
1) conserving or tending to conserve; preservation
2) tending to preserve old institutions, methods, customs, and the like; adhering to what is old or established; opposing of resisting change; as, a conservative political party, conservative art.
3) of or characteristic of a conservative; as conservative views
“The slow progress which Sweden has made in introducing needful reforms is owing to the conservative spirit of the nobility and the priesthood.” – Bayard Taylor.
4) moderate; prudent; safe; as a conservative estimate.
5) [Canada] pertaining to the English or Canadian Conservatives or their principles
conservative system: any physical system exemplifying the principle of the conservation of energy; any system the total energy of which is constant, whatever form or forms that energy may take.

conservative, n.
1. a person or thing tending to preserve; a preservative
2. one who wishes to preserve traditions or institutions and resists innovation or change; a conservative person.
3. [Canada] a member of the major right-wing political party of Great Britain or of the similar one in Canada.

Just interesting.