January, 2018

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“It Can’t Happen Here”

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

A week from today is Minnesota Precinct Caucus day. Here’s the pertinent information from Minnesota Secretary of State’s office. Attending your caucus is the crucial first step in getting politically engaged.

Three days remain in FREE FILM FESTIVAL SCREENING of “The World Is My Country”, To watch it go here. Sign in and enter your access code CGS2018. Experiencing problems? Go to PS section (#1), here.


Tonight is the State of the Union.

Typically, I write before such events, as I am, here. Tonight I will tune in, and watch the President, the reaction in the House, and the response following. I expect to see the inauthentic President at the podium, as opposed to the authentic smoke and mirrors twitter or campaign bombast and very dangerous President.

We shall see, in a few hours.

Then, in following months, and years, we’ll see what is really happening behind the scenes.

Reichmarshall Herman Goering, quoted in the 1947 book, Nuremberg Diary, by Gustave Gilbert p. 278, Farrar, Straus & Co., 1947. Gilbert was psychologist assigned to the Nazi prisoners on trial at Nuremberg.

Last night we had dinner with our friend, Annelee, the lady who wrote “War Child. Growing Up In Adolf Hitler’s Germany.” She was six years old when Hitler and the Nazis achieved political power.

I met Annelee when I read about and purchased War Child in 2003. We’ve gotten to know each other well over these many years. She lived how it was. At 92, she remembers.

This night I asked her to tell again of how Hitler and the Nazis came to power in 1933. It is really a very simple story: they came to power in a time of overwhelming poverty, humiliated by defeat in WWI.

Hitler and his Nazis promised a better day.

Their party got the largest number, but still a minority, of the votes in 1933, but was successful in achieving power and then control in Germany’s political system. They rapidly consolidated their political power, especially elections; as soon as possible made control of the public communications a key instrument of taking over minds. They promised and delivered on jobs, jobs, jobs: Constructing the autobahn, houses for the workers, and on and on. It became risky to exercise free political speech; essential to join the Party. Fatal to dissent.

It only took a few years, but by then it was too late for the Germans. It took many years to recover.

Long ago, I asked Annelee when the Germans realized it was all over. She said “1943” with no hesitation. The 1,000 year Third Reich was dead, in its early youth.

Reichmarshall Hermann Goering summed it up pretty well (photo above, click twice for detail). It speaks powerfully for itself. He was awaiting death at the Nuremberg trials when he expressed his opinion to American psychologist Gustave Gilbert. He was only 53 when he killed himself in his cell. (We tend to forget that our leaders are most often young.)

I first saw the Goering quotation in some e-mail or other after we invaded Iraq in 2003. I was skeptical about its authenticity, so skeptical that I went to the University of Minnesota Library, found the actual book, read it through till I found the quotation, then photocopied the actual page which I present above.

Is the U.S. in 2018 different than 1933 Germany? Yes, but barely. There are parallels to what happened then, in Germany, to what is happening now, in our own country. Our malignancy may even be worse…as we destroy ourselves from within. We are very easily played for fools by manipulation through media of all sorts.

“It can’t happen here”, as it happened in WWII Germany? It certainly can. And it will if we allow it to happen. What we’re seeing now is simply a variation on an old and failed playbook.

Get engaged.

An interesting read came my way, via a local Indivisible netword a couple of days ago: “Why Liberal Hearts Bleed and Conservatives Don’t”. Read it here

Overnight and relevant: Capturing the Flag


Picture an eagle flying with only a single wing, or with simply a head…. photo by Dick Bernard, October, 2008, at dedication of gift by Mary Lou Nelson at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

from Fred: Very insightful quote from Goering. I am impressed and grateful that you personally took the time track it to the original source. This particular statement was new to me. Its basic assumption is correct. I’m not knocking “the masses” anywhere in the world when saying individuals in great numbers can be convinced to take action that could threaten their lives. This has happened even in the more recent Good Wars—winners of conflicts are the only ones describing them this way—when a fairly well informed warrior class sallies forth into the valley of death and conquers.
People make decisions based on what they know to be true—how they come to that knowledge is, of course, the real issue.

from Mert: I have read Sinclair Lewis’ book and it seems very prophetic. It can happen here, and I wonder if we have gone too far down that road already to ever find our way back.

from Dick: I thought a while before adding this paragraph, above: “Is the U.S. in 2018 different than 1933 Germany? Yes, but barely. There are parallels to what happened then, in Germany, to what is happening now, in our own country. Our malignancy may even be worse…as we destroy ourselves from within. We are very easily played for fools by manipulation through media of all sorts.”

If one searches my writings at this space, and elsewhere, I’d mostly identify with two themes concerning politics and people generally: “Two Wolves”, and “Gratitude”. I caught them both in my Christmas blog on Dec. 22, 2017 (here).

We are ALL responsible for the manner and tone of our government at the federal, state and local level, and this includes who we select to make decisions which impact on our own lives, and the lives of everyone else.

This week, in my own Twin Cities, comes the ultimate in excess in our society: The Super Bowl, a celebration of by and for the Richest among us. And at the end there will be a “winner”, for an instant, and a celebration. The world that is the U.S. will virtually come to a standstill for a few hours on Sunday afternoon. The life of everyone whose life includes downtown Minneapolis is already interfered with.

64,000 fit in the U.S. Bank Stadium (everything seems to be an advertisement for Big Business these days). They say that there will be a million visitors to our town of 3 million – not plausible, but stated frequently. A troubled motel in our town, where there are occasional acts of violence, including a murder or two, is advertising rooms starting at $399 a night.

For the rest of us, life goes on. And we all are basically good people. But there is a hole in our lives, and that is how little attention we pay to maintaining our Democracy in this Republic called the United States of America.

The World Is My Country – Chapter Two

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

I watched the preview on-line yesterday. All worked perfectly. My suggestion, based on a few questions so far:
1. Reread first two paragraphs AND the PS of Thursdays post, here.
2. Remember the passcode CGS2018, which you need for access to the film.
3. Please watch the entirety of the film, including credits, and do the survey at the end. The survey is important information for the filmmaker. And certainly consider a donation to help get this film released to the public.
4. Share with others. On-line till February 1, 2018.

The World Is My Country

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

PRE-NOTE Jan. 27: I watched the on-line version a few hours ago. Note PS in this post if you experience any difficulty with your computer. The on-line film is perfect quality. (Do watch all the way through the credits, and complete the evaluation found there.) Free through Feb. 1. My e-mail: dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.


It’s arrived! The free week on-line full length preview of “The World is my Country” begins Friday, January 26, through Thursday, February 1, 2018. To watch it go here, and sign in. Then enter your access code CGS2018.

You are welcome to share that special code with all your friends, on Facebook, Instagram or whatever. It can be played as many times as you want but only during the free week.

Not sure if you want to take the time to watch a movie? Then please take just 2 minutes to watch the short video about the standing ovation and excitement generated by the film when we showed it at the World Premiere at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International film festival: here

I have literally watched this film evolve over the past seven years since I learned of the project, and from the beginning I have been impressed with the rich and little known historical story the film tells, and its appeal to those from high school age to senior citizens. From the beginning I’ve been a volunteer champion for it. Give the film 84 minutes of your time this weekend. I think you’ll want to encourage others watch it as well between now and the end of the preview week February 1. I wouldn’t be surprised if you watch it a second time.

In my opinion, this is a film that is ideal to watch in a group setting, among people of varied ages and similar or differing points of view. It encourages reflection leading to rich, civil conversation. It is about past, present and future…and our role. It is not a “birds of a feather” presentation. Yes, it has a point of view, but open to differing interpretations, on serious contemporary local and global issues.

Yes, the film is “free”. But nothing is ever free – you know that. I’ve watched Arthur Kanegis, the director of the film, put over a decade of his life plus all his resources into making this film to save this important story from the dustbin of history. He’s making this preview available to you in the hopes that you’ll help sponsor it at more film festivals or hold your own mini-fest of films for a better world. Please consider making a voluntary donation to help pay for final licensing and related costs so that this film can play on public television stations and be publicly released. This is a film deserving to be seen now and for years to come. You are part of its future.

Here is a flier I put together which can be shared: The World Is My Country006

More information about this 84-minute film is here.

Comments/Questions? dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.

Enjoy the show! (I’m quite certain you will.)

To show the film to your friends using your laptop and a projector or television:
1. Make sure your laptop has a strong WIFI signal to be able to stream the video without hesitating.
2. Connect your laptop to the TV or projector using an HDMI cable, description here.
(If you have an older laptop that lacks an HDMI port then ask a techie about other connection options)
3. Plug a good speaker into the headphone jack of your laptop or of the TV so you can have louder and clearer sound.
(you might have to use the “sound” control panel of your PC to choose if the sound goes right from the laptop or goes through the HDMI cable to the TV or projector.)
4. Enjoy! And invite everyone who watches to let the filmmakers know how they feel by filling out the survey here.

A long-ago Blizzard

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

This morning a blizzard began in our area. We knew exactly when it was coming, and pretty accurately what it would be. There’s not much unpredictable in the present day.

It wasn’t always that way.

I grew up with blizzards, the ferocious snow storms of the dry high plains. North Dakota.

Out at the farm home near Berlin ND was a trove of “junk”: albums, many photo portraits, and large numbers of old photographic negatives taken with two box cameras. In the collection, of the 110 year history of the farm, were two negatives that are especially intriguing, taken the same day, most likely about 1916 or 1917, just over 100 years ago.

Here are rough paper prints of the negatives. Click to enlarge.

After ND Blizzard 1916

After a 1916 Blizzard

Negatives aren’t labeled, of course. I think these are the winter of 1916 or 1917 because they show my grandmother, then about 32, and her four oldest children, Lucina, Esther (my mother), Verena and Mary. There was a fifth child by the time, George, but he would have been too little to frolic in the snow the day after the blizzard passed into history.

Prairie blizzards of my memory were ferocious affairs, sometimes several days duration. They differed from todays storms only in that the habitants of the prairie knew they were going to happen sometime, but had no idea exactly when or how severe they would be – there was no Accuweather then. The prudent settler prepared for the inevitable. Winters were not a time to take risks.

The storms pitted humanity against nature, and when they ended, it was time for a victory lap for the survivors. Photos like these were probably not uncommon.

This particular farm (pictured below about the same year as the blizzard) is one I know well, though it would be 24 more years before I made an appearance there.

Busch’s had some milk cows, then, and milking twice a day was mandatory. It could be a dangerous trip from house to barn; whiteouts could be disorienting. They also had a chicken coop, and the job of chickens was to lay eggs, which needed to be gathered.

(click to enlarge)

Busch farm 1916

The house was small and cramped and a challenge to keep warm in this time of cold temperatures and high winds. There was no electricity, no television or radio, no insulation, no indoor plumbing. One can only imagine living through a blizzard.

But as these photos show, there were celebratory aspects. The dry granular snow drifted into virtual bricks, well suited to tunnels, and igloos if one had the interest. Post-blizzard could be fun for kids.

There were no machines to move the snow on the farm, no trips to town by car for groceries or whatever. People knew, of course, that what came, would ultimately go, and the snow piles would melt…on nature’s timeline.

I can imagine the day of these photographs was something of an exciting day at the farm. I can imagine, too, that some reader memories will come back, looking at these photos.

Happy winter! For me, for years, spring has begun February 1. Yes, I know. By then the worst is past, I reason.

(most of those commenting grew up or have some roots in North Dakota)
From Bob: Your blizzard memories are similar to mine, having lived on a remote farm through the 8th grade, one room school house and all. As you said, no electricity, television, central heat or indoor plumbing. And too often lots of snow to shovel by hand.

Young folks today grumble about the horrible winter and tough conditions but don’t know how good they have it compared to earlier generations on the open prairie.

Now we winter in Arizona, so really are spoiled. No blizzards or snow to shovel. Just oranges to pick, and sweep occasional sand off the patio adjacent to the 6th green on our 9 hole golf course.

from Laurie: Wow what a storm that was. Hard to imagine living back then. Life was so hard, today’s kids couldn’t handle it! Most likely I would have a very hard time too! Fun to see all of this info! Thanks for sharing!

from Beth: Loved that post. Blizzards are different now, even from when I was a kid. Hope all is well with you and yours!

from Darleen: The blizzards of yesteryear that I remember are one in the late ’40’s when I froze my nose and the one in the mid 60’s when the drifts were so high between the house & barn that a person could not see over the drift. During that one my mother was in the hospital in Jamestown so my dad was on the farm by himself…Dick the memories are endless of the blizzards. In MN we have not had the depth or low temps that I remember we had in ND. I also remember when the wind was strongthere were snow drifts on the window sill of my bedroom. I was snuggled under one of
my mother’s sheep wool quilts & was warm.

from Jim B: These are awesome, to think I was complaining about a little cool weather here in Florida the last couple weeks…..

from Fred: Thanks for the memories. I grew up on a farm near Lidgerwood (SE North Dakota) and I do remember some of those barn burner blizzards. Dad had a loader on the tractor and was able to dig us out. Another thing I remember is the cold. Twenty below seemed colder back then that it does now. Maybe because of the coats, heaters and furnaces that we have now. I enjoy your reminisces.

from Jim D: Thanks for sending this. I’ve been through a few of these including the March 1966 blizzard, the snow/dirt storm of 1975, and the late April blizzard of 1984 plus a few more. Always exciting!

responding to Jim: I’m wondering if the March 1966 blizzard you refer to is the March 1965 blizzard I remember when I was a teacher in Elgin ND. That was a terrible storm. My wife, and one year old, and I lived in an upstairs apartment. There was no school, of course, and there was nothing to do. I remember sitting at our table and cobbling together some research about “Changes in Small Schools in North Dakota”. I had enough data to do this. Here is the resulting article: Dick Bernard 1965 School001. The Grand Forks (ND) Herald did an editorial about the article a short while later! The project was just something to do during a blizzard….

Dick, from Jim D: Proof of the 1966 blizzard, here

from Dave: Very interesting, since my Mother was born in Illinois in 1909 and moved to Devil’s Lake [ND] when she was two. They moved to Wisconsin in 1921. She had fond memories of her childhood. I never visited Devil’s Lake while at Valley City. I have a 97-year old Uncle who was born in ND in 1920. He was a C-47 crew chief and flew many missions from D-Day on. His life’s story was just published in a book, “Clear the Prop.”

Wonder if ND gets the cold spells like we did in the 60s. I recall 40 below and 40 mph winds. Walked seven blocks to the [Valley City State Teachers College] cafeteria (in the basement of one of the girl’s dorms) and did not care to walk eight.

from JP: Brought back a lot of memories growing up in the Red River Valley in Southern Manitoba in the 1940s & 1950s.

from Leo: The storm I remember was 4/5/6 of Feb. 1947. All the roads were blocked. The main roads were open in a few days but the side roads were blocked for about two weeks. Dad took us to school in a wagon with runners pulled by a team of horses. Many kids never got to school. My mother said that main street in Fingal looked just like it did when she was a child. Teams of horses in the street. There was a drift by the trees north of our farmhouse that was within three feet of the power lines. Dad drew a line in the snow and said if I went over that line toward the power lines I would get a licking. I used my sled to go off that huge drift for a least a couple of months. My memory was that the total run was about a hundred yards. I would pull my sled to the top and the dog would get on the front and I would kneel on the back of the sled and down we would go, My recollection is that about ten people in the region died. I think Dad had twine or small rope between the house and barn to follow so he would not get lost in the storm. That was the worst storm during my youth. After we moved to Valley City in 1956 the storms were less significant.

from Dick: Leo’s memory prompts me to include this story of a northeast ND blizzard of Nov. 1860, as recalled by the legendary Father Joseph Goiffon, who lost his leg as a result of the blizzard. Here is his story: Blizzard of Nov. 1860001

#45 at 1: Responding to Mollie Ziegler Hemingway

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Sunday Jan 21 1 p.m. at Basilica of St. Mary Minneapolis MN, Refugee Stories: Refugee Stories002. Immigration data: A Case for Solidarity001

Picture an eagle flying with only a single wing, or with simply a head…. photo by Dick Bernard, October, 2008, at dedication of gift by Mary Lou Nelson at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

I subscribe to the Washington Post (and New York Times). (Side comment: see the new flick, “The Post“, which we saw last weekend. Worth the time…mostly about the olden days, as in 1971….)

This mornings WaPo is full of commentary about #45’s first anniversary in office, which happens to coincide with the first day of the Government Shutdown, which doubtless you’ve heard about. I want to take a moment to respond to one column in today’s post by Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, “I wasn’t a Trump supporter. I am now.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway? I didn’t know who she was, either. So I did what I usually do, a google: here.

Three of my four children are older than she is, which is no problem for me. I’ve already told my kids that the future is in their generations hands, for good or ill. Mollie is apparently about 43, about the age of Teddy Roosevelt and John Kennedy when they were elected. (Donald Trump was the oldest at time of election of any President – 70 – to me, “just a kid”.)

I recommend a read of Mollie’s column, as a source of information. I do not support her conclusions.

Every since I’ve published this blog (since March, 2009) I’ve identified myself as stated at right: “Dick Bernard is a moderate pragmatic Democrat who speaks from his heart in matters of family, justice and peace.” I’m comfortable with that label. I’m not uncomfortable with occasionally being called “progressive” or even “socialist”, though those labels are often dispensed as if I’m something evil. I’m not, just someone who cares about this community which is called Planet Earth and everyone on it.

I say “planet” and not “country”, since “country” is much too limiting, and almost obsolete.

As things have evolved, it no longer fits to identify oneself as ruler of his “cave” (a contemporary term – living “off the grid”); or even “city-state”; or even increasingly large divisions of geography. From time to time appear rulers who think they can control, and sooner than later they are punished accordingly. Hitler tried for a 1,000 year Reich, and got about ten years. “States Righters” pine for the old days (which really never existed). Grover Norquist has had a pretty good run to date, with “drowning government in a bathtub” or words very much to that effect, for individual “freedoms” sake.. Make people despise their government, and success is closer….

Within the complexities of conversations involving over 7 billion people, there are some general worries that I have.

My greatest concern with the mindset of the Mollie’s of the World is the potential catastrophic problem of a minority (really a small minority) attempting to dominate and control the rest of the population through means we all have had an opportunity to notice.

We know about the efforts now ongoing to pack the federal courts with “conservative” judges whose terms go on for years and years and years.

Get the right judges, and you are more likely to get the right opinions far beyond the term of a Senator or Congress or President….

Similarly, in recent months I’ve heard more about serious efforts by some operating in the shadows to implement an interesting part of Article V of the U.S. Constitution, working state-by-state. The end-game is to remodel the Constitution to fit a particular bias, and thereby to control everyone else.

Article V? Here it is from the pages of a radical right wing “rule book” helpfully sent to me by someone I know (emphasis in the illustration is mine): (here’s the national archives version of the Constitution. Notice the notice you see when you open this page.)

(click to enlarge)

Article V of the U.S. Constitution

Leaders of the radical right have gotten close enough to control in sufficient states to be able to seriously talk about how a few people (out of we hundreds of millions) can amend the U.S. Constitution to fit their own wishes.

Here a serious discussion of that initiative to amend.

Pay attention. If you think it only matters who is President, or even who it is in the U.S. Senate or Congress, or you only need to cast an uninformed vote, think again. Every office is important. In Minnesota, you can begin by attending the Precinct Caucus on February 6, 2018.

If the minority view, which is Mollie’s, is to prevail, it will happen only because the rest of us are very sloppy.

The future is in all of our hands. WE are the U.S.

from David: I had read the Mollie Ziegler Hemingway piece in the Post. No one should be surprised that folks with conservative Republican leanings are happy with Trump. Although they might quibble with his style, they should be thrilled with his agenda, and, yes, his accomplishments. Gorsuch is only the most prominent. Rolling back regulations, passing the tax bill, and appointing conservative judges are all things that send waves of ecstasy through the right wing body politic. Trump’s style appeals to his hard-core base, his support for the conservative agenda appeals to mainstream Republicans.

Democrats seem to be taking a page from the Republican obstructionist playbook thinking that all they need to do is be anti-Trump and making it their number one goal to assure that he’s a one-term president. I’d rather see them learning from the recent Wisconsin 10th district senate special election where the Democrat Schachtner campaigned without mentioning Trump but focused on issues important to the electorate: employment, education, and the environment. Currently, national Democrats are shutting down the government over immigration issues. Important issues, yes, but Dems are in danger of sending the message that they are the party of identity politics.

from Dick: Understood. I have to try to simplify things, so I look at the reddest county I know, which voted 23% for Clinton, 69% for Trump and 5% for Johnson in Nov. 2016. In rough terms, that is about three to one. Out of four votes, three were for Trump. Based on that, its game over for Clinton (or like) forever. On the other hand, it would take a single person changing their vote to make the 3-1 into 2-2. Of course, about 40% of the eligible voters didn’t vote at all, which is not unusual. We don’t know how they stand.

Now, the fact of the matter is that the nation is essentially evenly split. In fact, Clinton won the popular vote, which Trump will not forget. There are endless variables, such as the ones you cite, and they are all factors to be taken into account.

The key variable is people actually on the court, contributing in the ways available to candidates, local, state and national; voting themselves; educating ourselves, and educating and encouraging others to vote well informed. Tip O’Neill famously said, “all politics is local”, and I think it is. Schachtner knew this in northwest WI, and apparently played it masterfully, regardless of outside money, ads, or etc. We are all local ourselves.

from Madeline, a post from two years ago, January, 2016. Very, very true.

from Harold (pseudonym) (who sends endless tirades – eight so far, today – from the farthest reaches of the far right): Your first mistake is to buy into two rags that present themselves as unbiased news sources! Wrong, they are two of the Democratic/Marxist proganda arms that can constantly put out fake news with the sources always named as unsubstantiated/unnamed. I would have thought that anyone that sees unmitigated bias for the sake of lack of a better topic to talk about than “overfeeding goldfish in Japan” or “the presidency of Donald Trump will implode the Stock Market” are as useful as the 95% certainty that Killery Clinton will be the first /next vagina in the W.H.

As I have mentioned in the past to you, you make the perfect SJW with your emotionally doing your thinking for a critical analysis of a Global agenda that your mind can’t seem to wrap around. Not only is your political views askew, but your inclination to still fall into the nonsense that having two illegitimen simultaneous Popes is what Christ wants in his halls of Luciferian pedophilia and child -sacrifice of the upper echelon of Vatican City curia and a Jesuit Black Pope who is bound to add his Globalist Cabal rhetoric to the masses of his congregation globally. The priesthood is in essence a save haven for gay men, many of them abused sexually themselves. How soon you forget that the Arch Bishop of Mpls/St. Paul had a good enough incentive to cover the wanton criminality of 100 innocent young boys, who like myself were molested by these predators. Continue with your Cognitive Dissonance Mr. Bernard and your unicorn misconceptions of reality. Maybe some day you will realize that just because you belong to a “group think mentality” of supportive self -righteous peace
apostles, doesn’t mean you don’t even see your soon to wane allegiance to the imploding Democratic-Progressive SJW Corporation global governance with a bit of Democracy, what’s left of it, in their agenda.

from Dick: I don’t block these, rather relegate them to junk. I pass this along as one of his occasional personal expressions of opinion.

from Christina, passed along from National Catholic Reporter: This was an article in the NCR–National Catholic Reporter.

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote once, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” It’s the congressional silence in the face of President Donald Trump’s unpresidential, international insult of black countries that is bothering me right now.

I haven’t been writing columns as much lately as I did before the 2016 presidential election — for lots of reasons. But one of the most salient of my concerns was that I wanted to call myself to all the objectivity about this new presidency that I could muster because I certainly had not voted for it. At the same time, I did not want to pile on.

I was actually censoring myself in the hope of coming to new insights about the current presidency that could help to bring the country together rather than divide it even more than it is.

But last week a line was crossed in my heart. It touches the way we deal with people. It touches our very integrity as a nation. It touches my understanding of what it is to send people to Congress on our behalf.

I believe that if we do not as a people say “Enough!” now, we will regret it for years.

To elect a racist, misogynist, street-corner-brawler as president is one thing. We knew what we were getting. We watched him perform unabated in the campaign. But the present situation is beyond defense.

Crude, rude and emotionally uncontrolled presidents are dangerous. They affect foreign policy, national welfare and international relations. As a result, a nation once thought to be the gold standard of governments, thanks to Trump, is now dealing with all three issues.

More than that, the Congress that reminds us regularly that they are a “coequal branch of government” is at least as much a factor at this turning point in American politics as the president.

It is difficult to decide which is worse: A president unworthy of the office or a Congress unworthy of their power and place in American society. A Congress that stands by meekly — silently — while the standards of the presidency and the character of the nation deteriorate from the top down also betray us.

Congress and its leaders say not an official word of public censure about the racism that has been exposed in relation to our immigration policies. The silence in this case is not virtue. By saying nothing about the racism that underlies the president’s attack on black countries, Congress abdicates its responsibility to the nature of American democracy.

The question, then, is what can you and I do to stop this slide to the bottom of the international pit?

Only the public can say a word now that can signal to the world that, at its root, America is still American in all its ideals and all its colors.

A censure is a military procedure used to publicly and officially address “conduct unbecoming an officer.” It is a public rebuke of the commander in chief that is halfway between opening impeachment proceedings and doing nothing at all.

If you want to be part of the voice that “Makes America America again”, contact Congress and call for censure.

By Sister Joan Chittister, Benedictine Sister from Erie, Pennsylvania.

from friend who prefers not to be named: Your statement “I’m not uncomfortable with occasionally being called “progressive” or even “socialist”, though those labels are often dispensed as if I’m something evil” caught my attention. It was those Progressives, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight D Eisenhower, that drew me to the GOP, a center right progressive party when I turned 18. I’m sure we have talked about the Southern Democrats and the transformation of the GOP from a progressive party into the dysfunctional conservative party it is today. Not sure there is any hope that intelligence will creep back into the GOP any time soon.

The film “The World Is My Country”. One week to the free week, online

Friday, January 19th, 2018

PRE-NOTE: An organization in which I’m active, Citizens for Global Solutions MN, sponsored the very successful World Premiere of this film, “The World Is My Country”, in Minneapolis in April, 2017*. Film Director Arthur Kanegis is offering anyone with internet access one free week access to this film, beginning one week from today, Jan. 26-Feb. 1, 2018. Details follow, as provided by the films producers. This is a unique opportunity. I hope you take the opportunity. Dick Bernard
For years you’ve known that our current path of war and ecological destruction is insane.

You’ve been trying to tell the world: ​”​There is a better way.​”​

Finally, a movie says it all – in ways you never dreamed of!

“The World is My Country,” is the perfect tool to show people there are GLOBAL SOLUTIONS!

It’s the movie that’s getting people out of their doldrums. It’s inspiring people with new hope. It’s the antidote to a world of “politics gone mad!”

It’s the intriguing story of how one little guy, a song and dance man on Broadway, turned his war guilt over bombing civilians into an electrifying action that galvanized war weary Europe and sparked a movement. A mighty movement that helped spark ​recognition that we have ​universal human rights​. A movement that helped inspire people to unite the nations of Europe – which ended a century of wars between its member states!

Now this film can help inspire the world to do ​something even better ​- so​ human rights can truly be honored and​ disputes can be taken to court not the battleground!

It’s a lost piece of history, that gives us what Martin Sheen calls: “A roadmap to a better future!”

The FREE FILM FESTIVAL SCREENING WEEK is January 26th – February 1st, 2018.

Sign up now to get your special viewing code here.

Here’s the deal. This film about World Citizen #1 Garry Davis is so new that it’s not yet being shown on PBS, in theaters or on Netflix or Amazon. It’s only being shown at film festivals​ – where it’s getting sold out crowds and standing ovations!

​T​he director of the film, Arthur Kanegis, wants you to see it — so you can help get it into film festivals in your area. ​ Or ​even make your own GLOBAL SOLUTIONS festival of films!

​After you see it, he’ll tell you how.

​Meanwhile, n​ow is the time ​to share the good news:

1. Forward this post to all your friends and family.

2. Contact other groups and organizations and invite them to send announcements to their members.

3. Here is the ​​Facebook post social media: link here (actual text shown below, click to enlarge).

As one of those special people — who is ahead of your time — don’t miss this opportunity to make a ​huge​ difference.

Of course you have tons of things to do – but this is the time to put them aside — while you take on ​what Einstein thought was the most important thing:

”Mark my words, this boy, Garry Davis, has grasped the only problem to which I myself am determined to devote the rest of my life, up to my very last day: a problem which is, very simply, the problem of the survival of the species. It is a question of knowing whether mankind – the very universe of man – will disappear by its own hand, or whether it will continue to exist” – Albert Einstein​ (​Quoted in the transcript of 10/4/1949 hearing before the 14th Court of Corrections in Paris, as translated by Richard V. Carter in Survival Meetings, Writers Club Press, 2001​)​

​Start now by signing up at: www.theworldismycountry.com/freeweek

Together we can fulfill your lifelong hopes and dreams for a better world!

* – I previously wrote about this film on Jan 5, here.

The House Cat

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Today is the one month anniversary of the appearance of the “house cat” on the blackboard at my coffee place, Caribou Coffee at City Center, Woodbury MN. Here it was this morning:

(click to enlarge)

January 17, 2018

Here it was on December 17, a delightful surprise visitor:

The cat appears, Dec. 17, 2017

I came to look forward to the cat, and wondered if it would survive anonymous fingers with chalk in hand. Here it is on January 1, 2018.

That Caribou Cat, Jan. 1, 2018

By this time I was noticing it was being noticed. The notation above the cat was by a man facing very serious surgery. (I don’t know the outcome, since I haven’t seen him since, and he never shared contact information. I hope the surgery went well for him.)

On Jan. 10, I took another photo. It was beginning to look crowded out. I wrote a note to the manager, hoping that somehow this marvelous cat could be saved, as long as possible.

Here’s Jan. 10:

The cat on Jan. 10, 2018

So, am I a “cat person”? Actually I prefer dogs, but neither are helpful to me – allergies. My visits to home with dogs…or cats…are always of limited duration.

But animals are good to bring calm to a stressful time. They are good companions, and I applaud them all – mostly.

Today, as you can note, the blackboard was cleaned, and I like the topic theme at the beginning of 2018.

Have a great day!

The Caribou Cat

Best wishes to the cat! May it have many lives yet to live!

Martin Luther King, a look back to 1963…and forward.

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Free preview, inspirational film “The World is My Country”, January 26 – February 1. Details: To pre-register for the free week click here and spread the word. More here.
Today, I find myself wondering what Martin Luther King Jr. would be saying to us on his 89th birthday.

Ten or so years ago my friend, Lydia, sent me a small book which gave me some clues. The book was “Why We Can’t Wait”, by Martin Luther King Jr., about 1963, published just months after John Kennedy was assassinated. Dr. King was just 34 years old. 1963 was the year of the Letter from Birmingham Jail; and the “I Have a Dream” speech on the Washington D.C. Mall.

The book is still in print, and well worth a read.

Even at only 34, by 1963, King was a veteran as a leader in a difficult and indeed dangerous struggle. He was already a national figure, known to U.S. presidents (a chapter is devoted to the political process, with people like Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson mentioned specifically.)

Being a leader was not easy. King’s was a lonely job.

It’s been a long while since I read that book, page by page.

What I think was on King’s mind back then in 1963 was that it took more than one person to make a difference in civil rights or anything else. That everybody had an important role to play. That leaders faced difficult decision making, agree or disagree.

May we all take our own leadership role in the days, months and years ahead.

As Gandhi so famously said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”
Check in on that preview full-length film mentioned at the beginning of this post, “The World Is My Country”. You’ll find it inspiring.

Peter Barus: The Great and Terrible Oz Does Another Lucy

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

My long-time friend, Peter Barus, lives in rural northeast U.S. and has a gift for thought-filled writing.

Here is a recent post, passed along here at Peter’s request.

It’s been awhile since he’s written here, his attention on a book in preparation. Great to see him back.

Take a look.

Peter’s comment about Oprah’s recent comments at the Golden Globes: “Interesting, what Oprah said about Rosa Parks; it was many years before anybody seemed to learn about her career as a Civil Rights activist, and not just a cleaning-lady who was tired that day. Even back then, Attention was being recognized as a nexus of power. It lacked the technological reach in which we are now immersed, and the battleground has moved now, and most of us don’t seem to understand.”

POSTNOTE: Twelve days to the free week on-line access to the film “The World Is My Country”. Don’t miss out. More information and registration for pass code here.

A “Shithole country”.

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

POSTNOTE Jan 14: Ruthanne notes this link, which I would also recommend. Rebecca sends this from Boston Globe.
Each morning, including this chilly day in Woodbury, as I get into and out of my car I see two lovely Haitian ladies (photos below). A member of our Fonkoze study group took these photos at a market in Ench (Hinche) in central Haiti in the spring of 2006. I had put them on a poster for a church display back then, and truth be told, they’re on display now only because I didn’t want to throw the poster away, even though I doubted I’d ever use it again. I’m very glad I kept it. These ladies help center me each day.

Haiti market 2006

Haiti market

Now I’ve scanned them, and the poster is back where I found it. They are very elegant representatives of that place less than two hours east of Miami, Florida.


I only went to Haiti twice, both on study trips, in December, 2003, and again in April, 2006. They were historical times, both of them.

In 2004, I put together a map comparing Haiti to Minnesota (many thanks to Paul Miller for his assistance), and for getting me to go to Haiti with he and five others in the first place:

(click to enlarge)

Back then, I also put up a web presence about how I was coming to understand the small and impoverished place, our neighbor in the Caribbean. The site remains there, maybe a bit dusty, but perhaps a few people might want to wander around its nooks and crannies, now many years later. Here’s the link. Yes, the link is outdated, but still pertinent.

Likewise, here’s the link to some writings I did back then….

Suffice, we Americans have a rather inglorious history with Haiti, beginning with our refusal to recognize the country when the slaves revolted against France in 1804 and declared their independence. We were rather frightened by this, and these freed slaves have been punished ever since.

Best we start seeing Haiti, and those other “shithole” countries so summarily dismissed.

In many ways, they are superior to our own.

Haitian Money 2003 and 2006

Haitian Goud 2008

from Rebecca: Thinking about you and your Haiti trip compatriots today, about Ruben, April, Joelle, etc. (our local friends) and all the beautiful people I met in Haiti with Witness for Peace back in 1992-3.

from Ezildanto: Thank you for sharing Dick. Will circulate.
Wish the headlines were about the shitty imperialism, US-EU occupation, and neoliberal plunders that contains the countries that get TPS in poverty and dictatorship. Be well, è

from Alan: We have been there three times. I don’t remember exactly what years, but the first time was when we went to a Club Med resort, it’s name was Magic Haiti, and it was truly magic. We were there a week and met the head of the largest bank of England who invited us to visit his home if we ever got to London. Lou Ann, I would say the first or second day that we were there saw a poster advertising the CITIDAL. She said that she had read about it, but there was no way to get to see it, except the poster said there was.

Now as far as a shit hole goes, I think that explains the brain of Donald J. Trump. The people that we met in Haiti were friendly. The two times that we were there we stayed at the Hotel Montana. We did have dinner one night at the Grand Hotel Olafson. Haiti had a wonderful Tomato Ketchup that was produced there and I tried to get help from our government so I could import it and sell it to grocery stores but I got no help. We both had 3 good times in Haiti meeting many of the locals.

from Paul: small gesture of resistance / donate a toilet in honor of Don Trump

(click to enlarge)

from Mark Schuller: I’m still speechless. Here’s the best I can come up with.
There are lots of powerful words already said. H-Net has compiled several, including powerful Miami Herald op-ed by award winning Haitian author Edwidge Danticat.

from David: Thanks for the post. As you know, ever since the last election, I’ve advocated that voters had many reasons for pulling the lever in favor of Trump. A vote for Trump doesn’t define a person. If Democrats hope to win those voters back, they need to offer something that addresses their needs. The Democrats have allowed themselves to be cast as the party of coastal elites who are quick to put down “non-college-educated-white males” as a “basket of deplorables.” If you question any progressive position you are immediately identified as a racist, bigot, homophobe, zenophobe, etc. At that point, conversation ceases.

That being said, Trump’s latest “shithole” remarks and the general silence from the right in response, makes me wonder where we’ve come as a country. If Haiti, and, according to Trump, all African countries, are truly “shitholes,” isn’t that MORE reason to allow their citizens to come to the United States? What’s truly being said is that we’re happy to take in white folks and keep black and brown folks out. The very definition of racism. A Fox News commentator stated that Trump was only saying publicly what many Americans believe privately. Has our country truly come to that? I hope not. In his January 12, Washington Post commentary, Philip Kennicott, makes the case far better than I when he writes about our growing indifference to human suffering.

One would think that merely pointing out the awful things that Trump has said and done would be enough to turn the electorate against him. But, we knew all of those things on election day in 2016 and he still was elected president. Clearly, the Democrats need to find a different strategy than merely, “Trump sucks, vote for us.”

from Mary T: This is appalling – don’t know whether you have heard of it yet, but this article was the first report I have seen.